Doctor Who
Human Resources - Part 2

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 262 3
Available 06 August 2007

Business as usual? Not at Hulbert Logistics, where the staff are facing a menace far worse than the prospect of embarrassing antics on Red Nose Day or the office Christmas party. Lucie Miller has made some new friends, while the Doctor has met some very old enemies - the dreaded Cybermen. But why is a usually peaceful species, the Shinx, taking such aggressive action against the cyborgs? What is the role of the Time Lords in all this? And who will become the Headhunter’s new apprentice? Welcome to the job interview from hell...

This is the second and final part of this story and also the last episode in the present series of BBC 7 adventures featuring the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and Lucie Miller (Sheridan Smith).

There’s a change of emphasis from the previous instalment, with less of a focus on the humorous aspects of the office environment - though Jerry (Owen Brenman) does get one amusing scene in which he mistakes a communication from the invading Cybermen for a crank call from one of his workmates. The spotlight shifts to the threat of the Cybermen and the machinations of the Time Lords. Nickolas Grace as the devious Time Lord Straxus plays a greater role here than he did in the last episode. So does Katarina Olsson’s recurring character, the Headhunter, whose voice is particularly slinky in this instalment. Not to be outdone, Roy Marsden’s urbane Todd Hulbert adapts his business model to suit the situation - in other words, he switches sides and claims allegiance to the Cybermen.

The depiction of the monsters borrows the motif of stomping footsteps from the Cybermen of the new television series, while Nicholas Briggs’s Cyber-voices contain more than a hint of the sing-song delivery of the Tenth Planet versions. These are quite early Cybermen, who are regrouping following the destruction of their home planet, Mondas, in 1986.

In another kiss to the past, the Doctor’s time ring is temporarily mislaid, just as it was in Genesis of the Daleks. As in Genesis, the Doctor anxiously reminds his companion (and the audience!) that the time ring is vital as their only means of getting back to the TARDIS.

The Time Lord/CIA plot is rather convoluted, while some of the battle scenes are also somewhat confusing and may need to be listened to again. I’m sure the battles would have looked great on screen, but this is audio.

I’m also a little disappointed that some of the material from the behind-the-scenes Beyond the Vortex programmes, which followed the original BBC 7 transmissions, has not been included among the CD extras. I distinctly remember Briggs discussing his development of the Cyber-voices and the production team talking about this series’ relationship with the mythology of the new television show - and the sad fact that they are unlikely to depict the Time War or the Doctor’s regeneration into his ninth incarnation.

Nevertheless, this is a respectable resolution to the current series.

Richard McGinlay

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