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Review: "Technophobia"

Spoilerific review after the second listen.

Since I listened to the new Tenth Doctor Adventures alone, I'm getting a second listening with my husband now, and here's my review

I think the thing that hit me the hardest was hearing the series 4 theme music after the opening scene, just like in the TV show. It was really the thing that told me that yes, the Tenth Doctor has returned, and the orchestral version of the theme is just gorgeous. (Okay, yes, I prefer the series 1-3 version, but series 4's is wonderful, too.) Getting into the story was a bit difficult, though. The opening scenes switch back and forth between Jill, the Doctor and Donna, and Bex and Brian very quickly, it was difficult to figure out what was going on. Bex and Donna also have a very similar vocal quality (and to my American ear, though they had different accents, they sounded similar), making it even more difficult to figure out who I was listening to after a scene change. My husband felt the same way, so I'm glad I wasn't alone. However, this confusion disappeared pretty quickly, especially as Donna and Bex got together and Jill started devolving, and the scenes set up the central conflict very well and at a good pace.

The main conflict in the story (the invasion by the Koggnosenti) was pretty vanilla and uninteresting, but the method was brilliant. I love that the infrasound affected people differently depending on their experiences, exposure, intelligence, and, in the case of Kevin, genetics (I suppose), and the story explored each one of their experiences. I also love that the Doctor was not immune to it - it's so easy to make him immune and therefore the only person able to solve the problem. The loss of use of the sonic was a clever way to demonstrate that he was losing it, and gave us the opportunity to figure out the problem before he did. (No, I didn't.) It also gave him the opportunity to suffer, which is something that Ten always tends to do in his stories. (He certainly suffers a lot in these three stories - physically in two and emotionally in one.) And boy, did DT take the opportunity to suffer on-camera (on-mic?) - almost to the point of chewing the scenery. Donna's role was to keep everyone together and moving, which is really what she excels at.

Bex and Kevin were great additions to the adventure, though their part of the story was a little too cleanly tied-up. Actually, in general, the entire story was too cleanly tied-up. I didn't like the "it's amazing what humans will forget" explanation for people not remembering that this happened - it harked back to the stupid explanation in the same vein at the end of "In the Forest of the Night" ("People will just forget about the entire planet being covered by trees, including the flippin' oceans" despite the prevalence of camera phones and such in today's society) so that they could have people forget about the Cybermen murdering people across the globe a few years ago, just to have that inane scene in "Death in Heaven" of people taking selfies with them. A much more plausible explanation would be that the infrasound blocked long-term memory (which it did, really - not only were people not understanding the technology in front of them, they were unable to remember what the objects did).

One thing I did notice was that they made an attempt to include as many Doctor and Donna tropes as possible: the Doctor saying "I'm sorry", Donna and her temp skills, the Doctor spewing technobabble, the two being asked if they're a couple and them vehemently denying it, the Doctor giving the bad guys the choice to stand down. I felt very much like this story was meant to announce, "The Tenth Doctor and Donna are back, and they are just like you remember!" They did a good job of it, while also giving us a fun adventure.

I'd give this story a 7/10. (Note: On my scale, most of series 4 is 7/10; Fires of Pompeii gets a 9; the Library gets an 8. Midnight gets a 10.)


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 19th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
Funny you mention about the tropes, because I was just listening to the "Behind the Scenes," and apparently Catherine Tate and David Tennant actually pushed doing the "Vehemently denying they were a couple" thing! I find that amusing....

I do like your idea for tying things up, that the infrasound blocked the memory of what happened. It is much better than "Little humans, they always forget what they don't want to see."

It was clear they were having so much fun doing this, and you could just see them in their booths emoting all over the place.... and probably running in place to get that "breathless" feeling.
May. 19th, 2016 07:20 pm (UTC)
I've only listened to part of the "Behind the Scenes" stuff. I'm glad they did, because it really is one of the running jokes through series 4. Not to mention, "the lady doth protest too much, mehinks!"

Oh, I am absolutely sure they had the best time, and yes, I'm sure that DT at the very least was jumping all over the studio booth. He's known for his performance energy. I believe that Krysten Ritter commented that when he was called on set, he would run in eagerly.

May. 19th, 2016 07:28 pm (UTC)
I think one of their fellow actors mentioned watching him in the booth, and how he really got into it, facial expressions and body motion.

Aww... like an eager puppy!
May. 19th, 2016 08:07 pm (UTC)
I think that "eager puppy" is one of the most apt descriptions of DT ever.
May. 20th, 2016 06:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, watching video of him doing voice acting is always a hoot.

I can't remember who else it was I was watching some BTS thing of, talking about voice acting, but they said outright that the all the movement and extreme facial expression in the booth was where they "found the voice" for the character. Seems like it's just kind of something you have to do when you don't have a direct visual. (Possibly it was Andy Serkis?)

Edited at 2016-05-20 06:23 pm (UTC)
May. 20th, 2016 09:33 pm (UTC)
I think acting is a very physical activity. Not that I've tried it at all, but I would think that you can't truly get into your character if you don't feel it all the way down to your bones, which is why DT is brilliant at it. And I'm sure making the facial expressions even when your audience can't see them helps a lot.

I suppose I do that a little when I write. When I'm trying to picture what a character is doing or feeling, sometimes I'll act it out. It does help a lot.
May. 20th, 2016 06:50 am (UTC)
*Reading spoilerish reviews because until I see it I will have forgotten it anyway*

I agree that David does suffering so well! Not just as the Doctor, also in his other roles. That breakdown in "Single father" blew me away, and he also was really great in "Recovery".

I wonder how it will work with just the voice but no facial expressions.

I also love what you write about the tropes. You definitely made me want to listen to them now. I only have to wait till money appears again in my bank account. There seems to be a black hole there. Do you think I can call the Doctor to fix it?
May. 20th, 2016 09:23 pm (UTC)
He does fantastic without the facial expressions. You can just picture the Doctor writhing as he's trying to fight off the mental oppression.

My first thought was that of course, the Doctor can fix anything, but then I remembered how bad he is with money, and now I'm not so sure.
May. 21st, 2016 07:09 am (UTC)
He was good with the sonic screwdriver getting money out of that cash machine... I'll have to see whether my Sonic does this ;)
May. 20th, 2016 06:57 pm (UTC)
Just finished listening to it. Will be on another later. I'll have more to consider once I've heard the others, but this was a great re-into to the characters.

You know, I'm finding that the more vehemently something is denied the less the denials are believed. Isn't it better to just laugh in their faces and ignore it as not worth dignifying with an answer?
May. 20th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
Definitely, the more they protest, the more I think that there's more to it than they want to admit. Though, you'd think they be used to the question by now! :)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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