Kieran Brennan reaches the end of the Eighth Doctor and Lucie’s first series of adventures with Human Resources!
The Headhunter has finally caught up with, and captured Lucie Miller. After all this time, whoever hired the Headhunter can at last enact their sinister plan of making Lucie an… office worker?
Human Resources is the finale to this first series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, tying up the loose ends from the series so far and seeing the respective arcs of our dynamic duo come to a close. With that, there’s a fair bit of pressure. The range has been varied and creative in its approach to stories, each having a great pace and sense of adventure to them. It’s also the first (to my knowledge) outright narrative finale to any Doctor-led Big Finish series. That makes it all the more strange for writer Eddie Robson to make the first part of this story an almost outright comedy.
Even stranger still, is how well that choice works. Human Resources: Part One is funny. More than that, it’s consistently funny. That’s a hard thing to pull off, especially in a finale but it just works so well, the workplace humor is so spot on, the interactions with managers, the meetings, the inductions all just feel right and relatable. On top of that, we of course have the actual plot, which, for this first part, is moreso set up than pay off, but the setup feels natural and well done.
Speaking of which, that payoff in Part Two is also excellent. The concepts and ideas are built upon and we get some great new takes on classic villains. The comedy disappears, but at times intense drama between characters takes its place and it becomes a much more traditional finale to the series. It’s here we see the payoff of the last seven episodes, all the way from Blood of the Daleks. Where part one is the slow unwrapping of a mystery box, part two is attempting to re-wrap the box and does a surprisingly good job at it. It’s a satisfying end to series one, and leaves our characters in a really great place for series two.
Performance wise, Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith give their best of the series here. As a rule of thumb, McGann is always a pleasure to listen to, but it’s always been clear that when he particularly enjoys a script he’ll have an extra bit of energy to his performances that really brings out that little bit more life in the Eight Doctor that adds so much more. Smith has so much to work with, firstly playing to her comedic strengths, but also later getting a chance to really flex her dramatic muscles as the plot develops. With them, Katarina Olsson gets a bit more of a chance to shine as the Headhunter, though I think its fair to say not quite enough given how prevalent the character has been in the series thus far. Louise Fullerton is also a guest star, playing Lucie’s co worker “Karen” who, although very much being a guest in the episode, gives a memorable performance.
Human Resources is the strongest story in the range so far, delivering on both a comedic and dramatic level. It brings the arcs of these characters to a close, but leaves just enough loose ends to set up a sure to be excellent second series.
And there you have it, the first series is finally done. An exceptionally strong group of stories, this is clearly the range that Big Finish spent most of their time on. It’s also clearly time well spent as it was able to breathe new life into McGann’s Doctor. Can the second series sustain this momentum? I’ll be finding out very soon…