‘MORE THAN A MESSIAH’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Mysterious Girl of the World with the Stranger and Miss Brown
It’s not a sunny paradise world. It looks like it rains a lot there. It also has a green sky. (Pause) Yeah.
I was encouraged to watch ‘The Stranger’ series from BBV after showing ‘The Airzone Solution’ and ‘Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?’ to my best mate from school Stephen in 2019. He was intrigued about BBV as much as I was. So I endeavoured to find out about ‘The Stranger’ series itself.
Stephen did too. We bought DVDs of ‘The Stranger’ simultaneously, although I purchased the first episode whereas he purchased the second episode. Weird I know, but as a result we saw the two episodes together when I brought over my DVD of the first ‘Stranger’ episode at his house to watch.
We enjoyed watching ‘Summoned By Shadows’ and ‘More Than A Messiah’ together at Stephen’s house. Stephen seemed to rate ‘More Than A Messiah’ pretty highly and I was curious as to why. When I saw the episode, I agreed that ‘More Than A Messiah’ was a particularly special production.
‘More Than A Messiah’ is of course the second instalment of ‘The Stranger’ series by BBV. It stars Colin Baker as the Stranger and Nicola Bryant as Miss Brown. It also features Sophie Aldred, who is well-known for playing Ace, companion of the Seventh Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ and is excellent here.
The episode is by Nigel Fairs, who contributes a lot to BBV both as an actor and as a writer. He’s also contributed a number of ‘Doctor Who’ audio stories for Big Finish, especially for Louise Jameson as Leela. I do know Louise Jameson and Nigel Fairs have become friends over the years in ‘Doctor Who’.
Once again, ‘More Than A Messiah’ is produced and directed by Bill Baggs of BBV Productions. It’s interesting to talk about this video drama. It’s based on one of the Audio Visuals plays of ‘Doctor Who’ called ‘More Than A Messiah’ that was also by Nigel Fairs and Nicholas Briggs was the Doctor.
The Audio Visuals plays were a number of unlicensed ‘Doctor Who’ audio dramas that would inspire some of the Big Finish audios like ‘The Mutant Phase’ and ‘Sword of Orion’. It’s interesting that one of these Audio Visuals plays became the inspiration and basis of this episode in ‘The Stranger’ series.
But of course, BBV couldn’t include the Doctor in the episode. So the Stranger character that Colin Baker plays takes the Doctor’s place in the story. Also Nicola Bryant plays the companion role in the story that was originally called Ria in the Audio Visuals play. ‘Ria Brown’ would’ve been great too! 😀
In the episode, the Stranger and Miss Brown visit the paradise world of Majus XVII. How exactly they got there is unexplained since the Stranger and Miss Brown’s mode of transport is never established in the series so far, but whatever. The Stranger of course takes his nap in a deck chair on the beach.
Miss Brown gets annoyed before exploring off somewhere else. The Stranger soon meets a mysterious girl who has a connection to nature in this world and develops an infatuated obsession with him. Miss Brown also finds a young man washed up on the beach as he fell out of a speed boat.
Eventually the presence of Bernard Darton and his wife Charlotte who have come to spend a holiday on Majux XVII comes at a high price. With nature threatened and the mysterious girl’s obsession with the Stranger increasing, can our heroes solve the mystery of what is happening on this planet?
Colin Baker is very good as the Stranger in this episode. It’s interesting to see how this could be an episode where the Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ might end up falling in love. It’s been done rarely in the classic series and this ‘Stranger’ episode predates what will occur in the new series of ‘Doctor Who’.
I enjoyed the interaction Colin Baker had with Nicola Bryant in this episode as well as with Sophie Aldred. I don’t think the Stranger and Miss Brown have had much of a relationship in the series so far. I do not know much about them as characters and how they first met each other in their travels.
I know they’re supposed to be archetypes of the Sixth Doctor and Peri in, but considering this is a separate series from ‘Doctor Who’ we are sort of left in the dark about them. It was interesting how the Stranger reacted to Sophie Aldred’s character getting infatuated with him and how he handles it.
Nicola Bryant is equally good as Miss Brown in the episode. She also plays the mystery girl that Sophie Aldred plays when she takes on the form of Nicola Bryant to seduce the Stranger romantically. It was interesting to see those sides of the mystery girl’s character when she becomes Nicola.
Aside from that, Miss Brown has her own adventure when finding Nigel Fairs’ character as Nic washed up on the beach and before they meet up with Bernard Darton and his wife Charlotte. Miss Brown does suffer when she gets caught in a trap by the mystery girl with forest trees and brambles.
As I indicated, it is a bit of a struggle to get into the characters of Miss Brown and the Stranger when not knowing much about them. Again, you could agree this is Peri in ‘Doctor Who’, but Nicola Bryant isn’t using her American accent as she did for the character. She uses her normal British accent here.
Sophie Aldred is great as the mystery girl who gets no name in the episode. Seriously, the least you can do is give Sophie Aldred’s character an exotic name. That way we can identify with who she is later on in the story. She’s simply referred to as ‘the girl’ but with a peculiar connection to the world.
The make-up on Sophie Aldred’s face is interesting. She looks like she’s half-muddied on her left side that appears green whilst the other half of her face looks normal and human. The mystery girl’s infatuation with Colin Baker’s Stranger is interesting, especially as she telepathically connects to him.
There’s an odd scene where Sophie Aldred and Colin Baker stand (ahem) semi-naked in front of a dripping water pool in a cave where the mystery girl lives. Sophie Aldred’s character gets angry when Colin Baker’s Stranger refuses to stay with her once she declares her love for him which is dramatic.
As well as Nigel Fairs who acts and writes in this ‘Stranger’ production, the cast also includes Peter Miles as Bernard Darton with Barbara Shelley as his wife Charlotte. Peter Miles has done a number of ‘Doctor Who’ TV stories like ‘The Silurians’, ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ and ‘Genesis of the Daleks’.
He also starred in ‘TravelWise’ not long after appearing in this ‘Stranger’ production. Barbara Shelley has also been in ‘Doctor Who’ too, guest starring as Sorasta in ‘Planet of Fire’ with Peter Davison. I enjoyed Peter Miles and Barbara Shelley together. Charlotte called Bernard ‘Bunny’ a lot in this tale.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s ‘The Making of More Than A Messiah’ documentary with Nigel Fairs and an interview with Peter Davison and Mark Strickson taken from ‘The Doctors – 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond’. There’s also the bonus audio story ‘Force of Nature’ and there’s a re-mixed and extended music soundtrack from ‘More Than A Messiah’ composed by Alistair Lock.
I enjoyed ‘More Than A Messiah’ more than I enjoyed ‘Summoned By Shadows’. ‘More Than A Messiah’ feels more like a ‘Doctor Who’ story with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant. Whilst it was a challenge getting to know the characters in this series, I found the storytelling and characters better.
‘More Than A Messiah’ rating – 8/10
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