With three stories left until the earth-shattering conclusion of the Eighth Doctor’s monthly adventures, Kieran Brennan tackles Memory Lane!
A never ending street filled with the same house, which all contain the same two people. Is this an endless suburban dream… or a nightmare, that sees the Doctor and co trapped with no end in sight? Grab a cup of tea and let’s have a stroll down Memory Lane…
Being the final story converted from a Divergent Universe adventure to a regular universe one, its nice that Memory Lane seems to be able to finally pull the switch off and have everything feel quite natural (or at least, not being set in the Divergent universe hasn’t appeared to harm this in the same way it has other releases). A lot of Eighth Doctor stories as of late have tried to rely on an interesting higher concept or mystery location and, while it began to become grating and almost dull after a while (trying to break from a formula or put the Doctor in a high concept environment only really works if we see him working within the formula more often), Memory Lane has enough charm to land as a surprisingly solid addition to the Monthly Adventures catalogue.
We open in an almost Robert Shearman-like world: an odd new environment that’s effortlessly charming with distinctive characters that have the right balance of believable and fantastical nature to work within the confines of Doctor Who. Notably we’re introduced to Mrs Braudy and Tom Braudy (played by Nina Baden-Sempter and Neil Reidman respectively) and, while the performance of the latter leaves… a bit to be desired, the former is such a fun and memorable performance and character it’s hard for her to not leave a mark instantly. It seems the more Doctor Who content I consume the harder and harder it is to recall specific one off guest characters so to have a handful that really stand out says quite a lot.
Where Memory Lane does fall a bit is that it can’t quite keep up with that Shearman-esque nature the whole time. It’s opening part is by far its strongest with each subsequent one dipping just a bit in quality until coming back around in its final part. The wonderful tone of the opening half an hour or so feels almost entirely lost by the third part which is unfortunate, though to be fair the story remains strong throughout even if it doesn’t quite reach the status of classic or Eighth Doctor highlight.
Where most recent Eighth Doctor stories have been serious, Memory Lane is a nice little breath of fresh air with a much more lighthearted feel to it, it’s a lovely way to end this era of Eighth Doctor stories. You see, this was the final Eighth Doctor Monthly Adventure to be released before he got his soft reboot with a fresh new companion Lucie Miller in his own dedicated series, The Eighth Doctor Adventures. After that first series ended to much acclaim and success, two more Monthly Adventures stories were commissioned as a farewell to this era of Big Finish. As a semi-finale to this era, I feel it’s appropriate. Bringing together many of the best elements of previous stories with a fun premise and lovely performances.
While Memory Lane is unable to be consistently amazing, it’s able to be consistently enjoyable. With a fun premise and great cast it’s hard to deny it’s a standout in the Eighth Doctor’s post-Zagreus Monthly Adventures.
Memory Lane is available as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com