Kieran Brennan continues his look at some of the Eighth Doctor’s earliest adventures at Big Finish with Scaredy Cat!
When the Doctor is asked to show C’rizz a newly formed planet, he happily brings his friends to Endarra, a planet isolated from the outside influences of the universe. But something’s wrong: there appears to be an outside force disturbing the planet, tormenting it. Can the Doctor find the source of the problem or will he be too late in stopping a potential war?
Standing at a measly one hour and thirteen minutes, Scaredy Cat is the shortest release in Big Finish’s Monthly Adventures. This is just one of the many signs that point to something going wrong behind the scenes here. Originally, this story would have fit into the Divergent Universe arc, but was retooled into a new story once that arc ended prematurely. On its own, this can be seen as the reasoning for the shorter length, but the odd pacing leads me to believe this isn’t the only reason.
Scaredy Cat’s biggest problem is in its failure to explore its ideas. It’s a story that zooms by at a breakneck pace, never giving any moment or story beat time to breathe. For instance (and there will be some spoilers in this paragraph), around halfway through the story the Doctor teaches C’rizz about the rules of time travel, specifically about trying to change a future you’ve already experienced. C’rizz doesn’t listen, tries to change the future but when he returns to the future he sees that the universe has bent to account for his small impact and nothing has ultimately changed.
On its own, this is a great concept. Simple but with a nice conflict to flesh out the underdeveloped C’rizz. It’s a rare moment that puts the Doctor in the role of the antagonist, and can even be turned on him as being no better than the Time Lords he runs away from so often. Instead, this entire subplot is introduced and tied up in about ten minutes, with C’rizz sort of just accepting what happened and moving on sadly. Even if one was to try and spin this as some sort of lesson for him, it begs the question: what was the lesson? You’ll never make a difference so why bother trying?
Small moments like these happen surprisingly often, these interesting ideas that are brought up and discarded far too quickly in what isn’t exactly a long story. It just makes one wonder why this ended up so short, there obviously wasn’t a timing issue so it just feels unfinished. I can only hope this poor idea of changing scripts originally intended for the Divergent Universe into regular scripts isn’t about to become a recurring theme in what remains of the Eighth Doctor’s Monthly Adventures stories.
Performance-wise everyone is doing solid work as usual, the only expectation being India Fisher who gets nothing to do in the story as she is mostly stuck talking to a rather boring villain. However, because of the super fast pacing and jumping straight into the plot, we lose those small character interactions that have proved time and time again that even the weakest Eighth Doctor stories are worth listening to.
Scaredy Cat is a casualty of the cancelled Divergent Universe arc, often speeding through its most interesting ideas in favour of weaker, more standard ones. There’s dozens of Eighth Doctor stories to listen to, this is nowhere near the top of that list.
Scaredy Cat is available as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com