Creatures of Beauty (#44)

Big Finish Main Range

Ugh. Out of the comedic and heartfelt and into the not so interesting. Sometimes Nicholas Briggs hits a winner with his stories (Sword of Orion, Embrace the Darkness) and sometimes he just hits where it hurts (Mutant Phase and this story). The frame of the story is definitely intriguing—the TARDIS being in the way causes all of the problems which they then try to solve too late so the Doctor causes the problems, accidentally. But after the Doctor and Nyssa arrive, the mystery and the operations and the madness are all just, well, not very heartfelt or interesting.

Accident? So basically there’s an anti-industrial, anti-capitalist message behind the story. No, that’s not quite it. I think it’s more of being aware of the damage that can be caused by your actions when you put money over safety. When capitalism goes awry, basically. That’s the frame of the story, the basis of the adventure. The way the story is told is definitely interesting, everything out of order. It’s like the pieces of the story were on the table, in chunks to be told, and they moved them around, to tell things in a different way, to keep us interested. And it works to a certain extent. The moment when Nyssa tries to keep the girl, Vilene, from killing herself, moved to the third part of the story.

The intentions of the aliens, the security chief, the Lady Forleon—the intentions and the politics of the planet, Veln, are the flesh of the story with the backbone being the consequences that they’re trying to put right. With the Doctor being the random factor that is the wrench in the works, causing the issues and also trying to help with them, as he usually does. It’s good in a general sort of story arc way but it just doesn’t further anything, other than the culpability of the Doctor, his guilt without realizing. The Doctor’s adventures do put him in the thick of it, it’s just rare that we get to see his inadvertent interference and its results, all a morass of intentions and effects. All getting so muddled up that it’s difficult to enjoy the storyline. Perhaps it’s just too much torture and mayhem, two stories in a row? This one just doesn’t come off as well with a complete lack of humor and convincing torture sound effects all around…

Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton

Written and Directed: Nicholas Briggs

Release: May 2003

Laura Vilensky 2019