‘Creatures of Beauty’ (Audio)

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‘CREATURES OF BEAUTY’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

A Matter of Perspective for the Doctor and Nyssa

I was pretty unsettled after I finished listening to ‘Creatures of Beauty’.

This four-part story really terrified me! Not because of monsters or anything like that. But the story’s structure is so unusual and psychologically effective. This story is all about matters of perspective.

‘Creatures of Beauty’ is another Fifth Doctor and Nyssa story that is worthy to add to your ‘Doctor Who’ collection. But it’s not a story to be taken likely. This story is pretty scary because of its odd structure, as it raises questions about what is going on and it asks some ‘how’ and ‘why” questions.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Creatures of Beauty’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton, at ‘Big Finish Day 6’ in Slough, January 2015. I’m not sure whether Sarah found ‘Creatures of Beauty’ enjoyable to make.

This is a complex story written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. I read the CD sleeve notes to prepare myself for the story. I managed to listen to it in one go on a trip to Bath before Christmas 2008. There were holds up and traffic jams, that gave me and my family the chance to listen to both discs.

The story is this. The TARDIS makes a forced landing on the planet Veln. The planet has suffered from an ecological disaster. The Doctor and Nyssa get caught up in events, as Nyssa gets arrested and the Doctor has to rescue her with Lady Forleon’s help, before meeting the alien Koteem on Veln.

That’s it! That’s the story! But the way Nicholas Briggs tells the story is by taking it inside and out and he takes it from various perspectives like the movie ‘Vantage Point’. The story is out of order, making certain scenes disjointed to follow. If you listen to this story bit by bit, you will find it very confusing.

Nicholas Briggs gets his audience to think about questions on who’s right and who’s wrong and who’s beautiful and who’s ugly. There are themes of moral and ethical issues raised about the planet’s ecological state and prejudice between two factions as the Doctor and Nyssa get involved.

The story starts oddly in the middle instead of the beginning. ‘Part One’ has Brodlik giving his report to Gilbrook about Nyssa; ‘Part Two’ has the Doctor meeting Lady Forleon; ‘Part Three’ has Nyssa meeting Veline stabbing herself; and ‘Part Four’ has the Doctor and Nyssa actually arriving on Veln.

So, the beginning of the story isn’t in ‘Part One’ at all. It’s in ‘Part Four’. And the story’s climax is in ‘Part Three’. That’s confusing, weird and strange. It’s so easy to lose the plot when you’re putting the pieces of the jigsaw together. But it’s cleverly done with superb direction; pace and haunting music.

Apart from these inconsistencies, the cast is very good and it is well led by Peter and Sarah. I believe the cast read a linear version of the story before Nick Briggs mixed it up for us ‘idiots’. I’m sure Nick didn’t mean to do that as he wanted his audience to get a dynamic interpretation on the characters.

peter davison and sarah sutton

Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion. I really felt for Nyssa as she goes through a tough time and she experiences violence on a scale that shatters her Trakenite delicacy. Nyssa’s beauty gets touched upon and she gets to express her compassionate nature throughout.

I found the scene where Nyssa witnesses Veline stabbing herself horrifying, as it echoes in parts of the story. I felt frightened when Nyssa was taken away to be tortured. You can tell how scared Nyssa is through Sarah’s amazing performance. But Nyssa’s strong when she stands up to Brodlik’s interrogation of her.

Peter’s Doctor is also brilliant. This is a story that suits the Fifth Doctor, who lets his curiosity get the better of him. He’s curious about what goes on Veln and bumps into Lady Forleon. He’s shocked to discover Nyssa’s arrested and is determined to rescue her, whilst learning more about Veln’s history.

Jemma Churchill guest stars as Lady Forleon. Jemma would work with Peter Davison again in ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’. Jemma plays Lady Forleon with such vitality. Lady Forleon owns a country estate. She is secretly working with the Koteem in order to find an antidote for her people on Veln.

David Daker guest stars as Gilbrook. David has appeared twice in ‘Doctor Who’ in ‘The Time Warrior’ and ‘Nightmare of Eden’. Here he plays a nasty character in charge of Veln security. He’s pretty bitter and extremely prejudiced on beauties, for the simple reason that he’s ugly infected with the disease.

The alien race is the Koteem, voiced by Nicholas Briggs. I initially thought these aliens were evil, as they have deep booming voices that were pretty frightening. But it turns out there’s more to these aliens than it seemed as they were the ones involved in the global disaster on Veln in the first place.

‘Creatures of Beauty’ ends on an anti-climax that made me unhappy when my parents and I arrived in Bath in December 2008. I’m not sure how much I should give away. It turns out there’s more to the accident with the Koteem crashing into Veln than it seemed. It concerns the Doctor and Nyssa.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are some trailers for ‘Dalek War’, the second series of ‘Dalek Empire’ and a trailer for a ‘Stronium Dog’ audio adventure called ‘Down To Earth’.

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‘Creatures of Beauty’ is an interesting if unusual experiment of a ‘Doctor Who’ story. I didn’t like it first, but I’ve been able to appreciate it more and it’s great with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. This will require more than one listen, but you’ll be able to get a clearer idea of what’s going on in this story.

Just remember this! It’s all a matter of perspective.

‘Creatures of Beauty’ rating – 8/10


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2 thoughts on “‘Creatures of Beauty’ (Audio)

  1. To quote the late Eric Morecambe, “I’m playing all the right notes just not necessarily in the right order” lol.

    I’ll admit i loathed this story upon first listen as i just couldn’t get my head around it, it was only when i was in bed with flu one day i gave it another listen & somehow i found myself really enjoying it.

    It’s a great story with a different narrative structure but on the whole it was certainly a unique listen.

    As ever Tim you get to the bones of what this audio dramas about my friend, i love this comic strip pics you add it really adds character to the reviews mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember that ‘Morecambe and Wise’ Christmas special very well, Simon. The one with Andre ‘Preview’! 😀

    I remember you saying you didn’t like this story on first listen. I’m glad you gave this one another chance when you were in bed with the flu. It is a very unusual story with an unusual structure to it. But I’ve enjoyed more recently and found it interesting what Nick Briggs was trying to do and Peter and Sarah are absolutely amazing it. I remember being scared when hearing it on first listen in the car to Bath.

    I’m pleased you like how I get into the heart of this story with this review. I wish I could find a better version of the comic strip illustration image for ‘Creatures of Beauty’. It was an small image when I found it and I had to enlarge it to make it clearer, which resulted some of the bubbles of dialogue being distorted I’m afraid. But it makes the review colourful I hope, and I’m glad I found a photo of Peter and Sarah from the recording of ‘Creatures of Beauty’.

    Many thanks for your comments, Simon. Tim. 🙂

    Like

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