‘Human Resources’ (Audio)

 

‘HUMAN RESOURCES’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Lucie Miller meets the Cybermen

“You will move against the wall! All of you!”

That’s how ‘Part 2’ of this story starts with the Cyber Leader ordering the aliens on the planet Lonsis. 😀 ‘Human Resources’ is a great story and one of my favourite audios with Paul McGann as the Doctor. It’s also one of my favourite Cybermen stories by Big Finish. I highly recommend this audio adventure.

This Cybermen adventure ends the first season of ‘Doctor Who’ audios with Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith on a high. It’s a lot more sophisticated and intelligent than any other ‘Doctor Who’ story I have listened to, but it’s full of wit and charm. That’s what makes it more appealing to listen to.

‘Human Resources’ is a 2 x 50 minute episode story that was broadcast on BBC7 from the 11th to the 18th of February 2007. On CD release, it’s spread across two discs and sold separately. It’s a shame they didn’t put both the two episodes into one two-disc CD set, but that’s only a minor complaint.

If you haven’t followed what’s been going on in these Eighth Doctor audio adventures by Big Finish with Lucie Miller, it’s best to start with the two-part bumper adventure ‘Blood of the Daleks’ before getting an idea of what happens in the tale. Essentially, Lucie has travelled with the Doctor for a while.

In the story, Lucie Miller has been captured by Katarina Olsson as the Head Hunter. Waking up, she finds herself at the offices of Hulbert Logistics where she was meant to be going for her new job before getting involved in her adventures with the Doctor. She is so surprised to find herself back for this job.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is in the TARDIS, trying to set it in motion in order to find Lucie Miller. But he can’t as the TARDIS won’t operate without her. A Time Lord then appears. This is Straxus and he gives the Doctor a time ring (similar to the one from ‘Genesis of the Daleks’) in order to find where Lucie is.

This is while Straxus and a number of Time Lord technicians repair the TARDIS. The Doctor reluctantly goes, not knowing what’s in store for him. He eventually finds Lucie at Hulbert Logistics. Together, they solve the mysterious goings-on at this seemingly ordinary office block which may not be ordinary.

It soon transpires that planning meetings at this company don’t deal with mundane daily logistics. They actually involve plans for underground war strategies on alien planets, something which the workers are unaware of. Lucie discovers this when she is with Louise Fullerton as her workmate Karen.

They also discover that on the outside, the office is a walking robot tank with guns patrolling in the jungles of an alien planet. It’s a very mysterious organisation and one that the Doctor hopes to unravel. But he gets more than he bargained for as the Cybermen come in onto the scene and he didn’t realise.

This story by Eddie Robson is at its classiest and high quality. I really like the familiar setting of the office block and the mundane routine going on between workers and having chats over coffee. The atmosphere feels very business-like and down to Earth. Some of the office personalities are believable.

It’s what you expect a working office block to be like. For me, working in an office myself, it feels real to me. Even the voice announcer, played by Barnaby Edwards, providing amusingly-written office announcements felt believable. It’s where you expect Lucie to come from as the dialogue’s very witty.

Paul McGann is great as the Doctor. I enjoyed his scenes where he gets concerned about Lucie Miller and he goes off to find her. He eventually hires Lucie as his aide and the two soon split up to investigate the goings-on at Hulbert Logistics. I did like it when the Doctor passes himself off as a member of staff.

Eventually, the Doctor gets to meet Todd Hulbert, the head of the company. He passes himself off as an alien client getting information about what Hulbert Logistics is like in its mission statement and objectives. Paul comes out well in his role as the Doctor and he gets given meatier stuff in these audios.

Sheridan Smith is great as Lucie Miller too. Both the Doctor and Lucie have mellowed since their first meeting. They seem to like each other, despite some friction. Lucie is rough and has her own sense of independence. She knows her own mind and she is capable of keeping it together when things go bad.

This is especially when she and Karen get thrown out of the office block after being fired. Lucie uses her mobile phone to take a picture of the walking robot office block which was an inspired moment. Lucie also keeps Karen safe when they met up with Malcolm, the former manager at Hulbert Logistics.

Sheridan Smith in ‘Human Resources’.

Katarina Olsson comes into her own as the Head Hunter in this story. She’s a mysterious character who’s been popping in and out for most of the first season of Eighth Doctor and Lucie adventures. We’re not sure what her motivations are, but it’s clear she’s determined to get Lucie back into Hulbert.

The Head Hunter comes across as a very mysterious character with a posh voice and a business-like attitude and strategy. Katarina plays her wonderfully throughout. Throughout the story, you wonder why she keeps following Lucie and hunting her? What does the Head Hunter want Lucie for…and why?

Roy Marsden guest stars as Todd Hulbert, the head of Hulbert Logistics. Marsden appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ not long after this in the TV story ‘Smith and Jones’ with David Tennant. Here he plays a professional business man who seems to know how to deal with alien clients and sort wars on planets.

Marsden plays the role superbly with the business-like attitude and doesn’t sound too dissimilar to his TV role in ‘Doctor Who’. 😀 I enjoyed hearing Roy Marsden and could picture him easily after watching him in the TV episode that he was in. Roy clearly enjoyed reading the script according to the CD extras.

Nickolas Grace guest stars as Straxus, a member of the High Council of Time Lords. We don’t get to see much of him in the first episode, as he only appears in the prologue before the opening credits. Straxus is your typical Time Lord High Council official who seems proud, snooty and is a bit of a coward.

It was a joy to hear Nickolas Grace. He plays Straxus very well. I would later hear him in more Big Finish audios such as ‘Equilibrium’ with Peter Davison and ‘The Sword of the Chevalier’ with David Tennant. This isn’t Straxus’ only appearance in ‘Doctor Who’ and this isn’t the final time that Nickolas plays him.

Owen Brenman (who I’ve seen in ‘One Foot in the Grave’) guest stars as Jerry Cooper, who’s in the charge of Lucie and Karen’s department. Jerry is a typical business manager who has delusions of grandeur. He thinks he’s funny and easy to get on with, but the ‘girls’ like Lucie and Karen find him quite annoying.

He doesn’t impress Todd Hulbert much either. Same for the Doctor. Very soon, Jerry accuses Karen and Lucie for getting data records wrong and has them fired. He throws them out of the office. Jerry is what you’d expect a typical office manager to be like who is very much in the business side of things.

I enjoyed Louise Fullerton as Karen, as I liked how she and Lucie got on well with each other including the office gossip. 😀 There’s also Andrew Wisher (related to Michael Wisher, the first actor to play Davros) as Malcolm, who was a former manager of Lucie’s department before Jerry Cooper took over.

I love the cliff-hanger to ‘Part 1’ of this story. Once Hulbert has a business meeting in session on an alien planet with alien clients, the planet’s defences get shut down. It was the Doctor who switched them off. The Doctor doesn’t like what Hulbert is doing with his business and is determined to stop it.

Then there are stomping footsteps. The Doctor sees them. He’s shocked. He didn’t realise it was them. The Cybermen! They stomp closer; face the Doctor and Hulbert and speak in voices similar to the new series ones. This got me excited. 😀 They threaten Hulbert, claiming he has invaded their ‘home world’.

End of episode! I found ‘Part 1’ to be a great first episode to an exciting Cybermen story with the Eighth Doctor and Lucie. After I finished the first episode, I keen to find out what would happen next. I couldn’t wait to put the next CD in. Will the Doctor get out of a tricky situation he’s in with Cybermen?

‘Part 2’ of ‘Human Resources’ continues where ‘Part 1’ left off. The Cybermen dominate the opening scene as they sort out everyone on this alien planet. I love the opening scene. It’s scary and terrifying when the Cybermen speak. The Cybermen are a mixture of ‘The Age of Steel’ and ‘The Invasion’ voices.

That’s just brilliant! The Cyber Leader gives orders to its units and they comply by saying “Understood” before they stomp off. I can’t tell you how memorable and exciting that opening sequence is for me. I do find myself listening to that opening scene from ‘Part 2’ of ‘Human Resources’ over and over again!

The Doctor is forced to surrender his sonic screwdriver and the time ring to the Cybermen. Despite the Doctor denying that they are weapons, the Cybermen insist. The Doctor reluctantly gives the sonic screwdriver and the time ring to them, wondering how he’ll get them back. I wonder how he’ll get them back too.

The Cybermen are wonderfully voiced by Nicholas Briggs. Despite their ‘Invasion’ look on the front cover for ‘Part 2’, I can’t help but think they’re new series Cybermen from ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’ speaking with a glowing blue mouth whenever they are talking to Hulbert and the Doctor.

I enjoyed it when Jerry Copper picks up the phone and the Cyber Leader talks to him through it, making threats and demands. Jerry, in his delusional mind, thinks it’s one of the workers called Kieran and laughs it off. I could not help think how funny that was and wondered if Jerry would realise his mistake.

I also enjoyed it when the Doctor confronts the Cybermen and mocks their determination to ‘survive’. He defies them, telling them how they achieve ‘nothing’ and simply oppress other species to be like them. The Doctor’s glad that he now finds the Cybermen ‘oppressed’ themselves when meeting them.

Hulbert finds himself switching sides and working with the Cybermen, causing the aliens on Lonsis to be killed. It’s interesting how Hulbert becomes flexible in his decision-making and wanting to avoid conversion by working with the Cybermen. He gets his just desserts when he soon gets killed by them.

It turns out that the planet Lonsis happens to be the Cybermen’s new home planet. The Doctor’s confused as he thought it was Telos. But the Cybermen don’t know Telos yet and it transpires they settled on Lonsis after the destruction of Mondas in ‘The Tenth Planet’. This is where it gets confusing.

The Cybermen are out of place in their ‘Invasion’ look and new series Cyber voices as the implication is made that ‘Human Resources’ takes place between ‘The Tenth Planet’ and ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’. But that’s Cyber history. It is convoluted. I’ve done my best with their timeline on my blog.

Meanwhile, Lucie gets back into the office block with Karen, Malcolm and the Head Hunter, who they’ve apprehended. They discover a strange crystal-like technology hidden under the floorboards of the office department they are in. Meeting with the Doctor, Lucie shows him this very odd technology.

The Doctor knows it. It’s a quantum crystalliser and it’s Time Lord technology. He wonders how it got here. With Lucie, they use the time ring that the Doctor manages to recover and return to the TARDIS. They both arrive to meet up with Straxus who with his Time Lord technicians have repaired the TARDIS.

The Doctor confronts Straxus about this quantum crystalliser. An embarrassed Straxus reveals all. The Doctor doesn’t like what he hears as it connects Time Lord politics and Cybermen warfare in the mix. The reason why Lucie was stuck to the Doctor for her first season of TARDIS adventures also gets given.

Lucie happens to be a project for the Celestial Invention Agency (CIA). She’s meant to be a political figure in Earth’s future. The CIA wanted to experiment and control Lucie’s life in order to change things slightly. So, they decided to stick her with the Doctor and to make the TARDIS inoperable without her.

Lucie can’t believe what she’s hearing. I liked her reactions of “Me?!” in that scene. The Doctor can’t believe it either as Straxus tells them this. Lucie is upset and threatens the Doctor and Straxus with a gun. She also takes the quantum crystalliser with her when the TARDIS arrives back in the office block.

But no sooner have they come out of the Cybermen chaos at Hulbert Logistics that the Doctor and Straxus discover that Lucie isn’t who she’s meant to be. She’s not the future political figure in Earth history. It’s actually Karen – Lucie’s workmate. Straxus is annoyed, blaming the Time Lord High Council.

He doesn’t blame himself for this blunder. I liked it when the Doctor ridicules Straxus for blaming everyone else but himself in this as well as being a coward. The Doctor tries to find Lucie and tell her what’s happening before she gives the crystalliser up to the Head Hunter who seems to want it herself.

The Doctor soon gives the crystalliser for the Cybermen to have. But it causes their weapons to blow up in their faces when the crystalliser’s used. On the sound speaker, the Doctor warns the Cybermen to cease their fighting before they all get what they don’t wish for. I did enjoy listening to that moment.

The Cybermen refuse to listen and very soon the crystalliser works against them. The Cybermen get destroyed. Many of them groan in pain, before collapsing to the floor. So, could this be the end of the Cybermen…yeah you know the answer that. The Cybermen always keep coming back, don’t they?! 😀

With everything sorted, the Doctor and Lucie start clearing up the mess. They get Straxus and Jerry, who was locked up in a cupboard for most of the second episode 😀 , to get the aliens on Lonsis and everyone working in the office block back to their own times and places on Earth. Should be very easy!

Meanwhile, the Head Hunter has acquired Karen aboard her ship after discovering what significance she has to human history. What will happen to Karen next, I don’t know! I suppose we’ll have to find out in the next season of Eighth Doctor audio adventures. I must get round to hearing them sometime!

The Doctor is about to leave in the TARDIS. He tells Lucie she’s free as the ship can work without her. But somehow, Lucie doesn’t want to leave the Doctor. Neither does the Doctor want her to go. Very soon, the two friends go off together in the TARDIS and have some more adventures in time and space.

Lucie is very excited about this, whereas the Doctor knows he’s going to have a hard time contending with her. But somehow, he doesn’t seem to mind that. And fortunately, Lucie has had more adventure with the Eighth Doctor, especially after her time ended in the mainstream series. This is very good. 😀

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of the ‘Human Resources – Part 1’ disc, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Sheridan Smith, Katarina Olsson, Roy Marsden, Nickolas Grace, Owen Brenman, Louise Fullerton, Andrew Wisher, etc. I enjoyed hearing these cast members providing their insight on ‘Human Resources’ as a story as well as on ‘Doctor Who’ in general.

At the end of the ‘Human Resources – Part 2’ disc, there’s a trailer for ‘The Girl Who Never Was’ with Paul McGann and India Fisher. There are also more behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Sheridan Smith, Katarina Olsson, Roy Marsden, Nickolas Grace, Owen Brenman, Louise Fullerton, Andrew Wisher, etc. There’s more discussion on ‘Human Resources’ as a story and there’s also a discussion for what’s next with Lucie Miller. This leads into the trailer for Series 2 of ‘The Eighth Doctor Adventures’ with Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith.

‘Human Resources’ is one of the best Cybermen stories by Big Finish with Paul McGann as the Doctor. It’s one of my favourites and hearing new series/‘Invasion’-style Cybermen gets me excited and happy. Sheridan Smith has also done wonders as Lucie Miller, especially throughout her first season of stories.

The story ends the first season of ‘Eighth Doctor Adventures’ with the Doctor and Lucie on a high. I highly recommend ‘Human Resources’! You will really enjoy this two-part bumper adventure! It’s great! With Cybermen added into the mix for a season finale of Big Finish audios, you cannot go wrong.

‘Human Resources’ rating – 10/10


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2 thoughts on “‘Human Resources’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    EPIC, AWESOME, FANTASTIC REVIEW LOL.

    Quite possibly one of my all time favourite Cybermen stories which is up thete with Spare Parts, this story contains everything i love about Doctor Who, good story, well written characters. action, drama, scares, surprises & plenty of tension.

    Eddie Robsons best script for Big Finish, the story grabbed me from the get go & Eddie builds up the mystery so that when the drama hits it packs a wallop, Paul McGann is just awesome in this as The Doctor as is Sheridan Smith as Lucie, the threads that have been revealed in this first series of Eighth Doctor & Lucie adventures are neatly tied up as it builds up towards a fantastic final act which pays off perfectly.

    Loved reading this review Tim, you perfectly summed up this two part audio perfectly my friend & i agree it’s deserving of a 10/10.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Human Resources’.

      Yeah I guessed you rated this story highly as well as me. Indeed, it is one of the best Cybermen stories along with ‘Spare Parts’. I had a good time listening to this adventure featuring Paul McGann’s Doctor and Lucie Miller. I greatly enjoyed the ‘Part One’ cliff-hanger and the ‘Part Two’ opening featuring the Cybermen voiced by Nick Briggs.

      I need to review more Eighth Doctor adventures with Lucie Miller. I have ‘Blood of the Daleks’ and ‘Death In Blackpool’, but not the others. Shocking, I know. Hopefully I’ll get to review more Eighth Doctor audios with Lucie soon. From reading the previews and seeing some of the cast lists, they feel and sound pretty good. 😀

      Very pleased you loved reading my ‘Human Resources’ review and agree with my rating for it.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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