‘IN MEMORY ALONE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Stranger and Miss Brown Meet Minor
After watching this episode of ‘The Stranger’, I found it to be pretty weird!
‘The Stranger’ series continues in its third instalment called ‘In Memory Alone’, starring Colin Baker as the Stranger and Nicola Bryant as Miss Brown. I know that the mystery of our two main leads adds a certain appeal to viewers and that it’s rather the point we knew less about them in the series.
I know I shouldn’t be too dismissive in acknowledging how the characters develop in the series. It’s just I can’t really connect to the Stranger and Miss Brown as characters when there’s not much of a character drama going on in these episodes. There’s also a lack of humour featured in the episodes.
Yeah, everything does seem to be taken rather seriously and there isn’t the friendly banter to be found between the Stranger and Miss Brown as identified with the Sixth Doctor and Peri. If I was handling ‘The Stranger’ series, I would have made it more character-driven than it actually was here.
It also doesn’t help matters that this is Nicola Bryant’s last appearance as Miss Brown in ‘The Stranger’ series. Yeah! After this episode is over, Nicola Bryant’s gone. I don’t know why she didn’t continue for the rest of the series. And in terms of how she departed, well…we’ll get to that later on.
Anyway, my best mate from school Stephen saw ‘In Memory Alone’ before I did. He warned me in advance that he found it confusing when he watched it first time and that it took him a number of watches to understand it. He does understand it now. Thus I gave this an open mind as I watched it.
‘In Memory Alone’ is by Nicholas Briggs. Nick Briggs would go on to voice the Daleks in the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ as well as be the executive producer of Big Finish. From here onwards, Nick Briggs would write the rest of ‘The Stranger’ series including an audio story that we’ll get to later on.
It seems then that Nick Briggs more or less sets up the rest of ‘The Stranger’ series with a trend of storytelling that would be darker and provide richness to the characters. That’s something I’ll talk about more when we come to the next episode especially in regards to the Stranger’s own identity.
Once again, the episode is produced and directed by Bill Baggs. In this episode, the Stranger and Miss Brown find themselves on a deserted railway station with no idea who they are. They’ve lost their memories and have to solve the mystery of why they’ve been brought here and who they are.
I’m sure you need to watch this story more than once in order to get the overall picture. As I understand it, an alien intelligence crash-lands nearby Rothley station. It’s not clear whether this is Earth or not at first, but as the story progresses it seems to be in some kind of alternative dimension.
The Stranger arrives via train whilst Miss Brown is already waiting at the platform. I did like the railway station and train setting for this ‘Stranger’ episode. It put me in mind of ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ with steam trains as well as the Fifth Doctor adventure I wrote called ‘The Railway of Time’.
Whilst waiting at the station, Miss Brown comes across a funny man in a bowler hat, played by Nicholas Briggs of course. It’s also amazing that this episode is all handled by a cast of three. Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nicholas Briggs are the only people appearing in this episode throughout.
Colin Baker is very good as the Stranger in this episode. He’s dressed in a suit and has a top hat on his head. He also seems to be wearing glasses whilst reading the newspaper. Oh incidentally, when Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant first appear in the story, they seem to be plastic dummies first. Weird.
I did like it when Colin’s character tried to sabotage a control panel in the train carriage he’s in to figure out what’s going on in the story. He gets tackled by a huge floating robot that demands his train ticket and stops him from interfering with the control panel, insisting him to go back to his seat.
I liked it when Colin and Nicola’s characters interacted more in this episode compared to the previous two episodes where they didn’t have much interaction. I like how the two work things out and solve the problem regarding who Minor is and what the holographic simulation they’re in is for.
Nicola Bryant is equally good as Miss Brown in this episode. Nicola’s very good at being confused and frustrated, especially when she meets up with Minor on the railway platform. She looks good in her costume, all prim; professional and ready for work unlike those costumes that she wore as Peri.
There is a sense that Nicola’s character likes to charge, especially when she handles the huge floating robot and when she calls Colin’s character as her second-in-command. Miss Brown insists that she goes back upstairs to look for his suitcase whilst he remains in the basement with some kind of web.
Yeah, before Nicola Bryant’s character reunites with Colin Baker, she discovers a strange basement that contains answers to their whereabouts. It was interesting when Miss Brown and the Stranger first met each other and she seemed to be reacting against him as part of this odd railway program.
Nicholas Briggs is equally good in his roles as both writer and actor in this drama. The character he plays is a peculiar one and he’s simply known as Minor. Hints are given as to whether he’s a robot or not. But then it turns out he is actually a hologram and seems to like beating Colin up with an umbrella.
Minor insists that the Stranger abides by the rules of the simulation they’re in by going to work and catching the train that’s very late. Not sure why Minor seems to want the Stranger to catch the train as it’s not clearly explained. The Stranger is even confused by what Minor is insisting upon him to do.
It gets interesting when the Stranger and Miss Brown discover that the real Minor is inside some kind of combat suit. And the real Minor happens to be dead, all bloodied and gory which was disturbing. The Stranger works hard to tame the combat suit in a number of complicated procedures.
‘In Memory Alone’ ends on rather an anti-climax in my opinion. The Stranger puts everything and everyone back to where they were, including himself and Miss Brown. They even revert to dummies in the end. And I’m not kidding here, that’s how the story ends. Once all is sorted, it literally just stops.
End credits roll up and that’s it. I was surprised by that ending and felt disappointed there wasn’t a resolution on what happened to the Stranger and Miss Brown. I don’t know what’s become of Miss Brown after this as she isn’t back in the rest of the series. I hope it’s explained in the next instalment.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s ‘The Making of In Memory Alone’ behind-the-scenes featurette; the ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ full-length making-of documentary and outtakes from the episode. There’s also an Easter Egg to look out for on the DVD featuring the original crash sequence.
‘In Memory Alone’ has been pretty weird as a drama in ‘The Stranger’ series. But I enjoyed the imaginativeness of the episode and Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nicholas Briggs are excellent in their performances. I’m curious about where ‘The Stranger’ will go next after this certain instalment.
‘In Memory Alone’ rating – 7/10
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