The TARDIS brings the Doctor, C’rizz and Charley to Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, but when the blue box in the Crystal Palace begins to attract too much attention, C’rizz and Charley leave it unattended so they can find the Doctor and make their escape again. What they don’t count on is the pair of French diplomats who stumble into the time machine and accidentally activate it, leaving the time travelers stranded. The Doctor finds a woman latching onto him in the mistaken belief that he is her missing explorer husband, while C’rizz falls afoul of the owner of a freakshow. Charley tries to seek the help of the Duke of Wellington, only to find that he needs her help to impersonate one of the missing French diplomats…and possible avert a war in the process! And while the time travelers each assume these new and unlikely roles, they wonder if the TARDIS will make its way back to Hyde Park in their lifetimes…
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Conrad Westmaas (C’rizz), Ron Moody (The Duke of Wellington), Michael Hobbs (Mr. Fazackerly), Mike Holloway (Jacob Crackles), Peter Howe (Maxi), Francesca Hunt (Georgina Marlow), Maitland Chandler (Rufus Dimplesqueeze)
Timeline: after Scaredy Cat and before Time Works
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A low-key dark comedy of errors, manners and mistaken identities, Other Lives doesn’t try to be science fiction; the only fantastical elements are the TARDIS (which vanishes early on without its crew) and the alien nature of C’rizz, which is a bit of a plot point. Actually, after having felt a bit let down by 2005’s other eighth Doctor audio adventures, I found the non-SF approach to be refreshing. Other Lives doesn’t get into a lot of angst about the time travelers’ worries about the TARDIS; indeed, only the Doctor himself even knows that the TARDIS is gone, and when Charley and C’rizz are separated from him, they’re not even aware of this. They simply want to get back to it, not knowing that it’s no longer there for them to get back to.
Conrad Westmaas and India Fisher own this one, with Charley having to impersonate a French diplomat and fend off the advances of a dirty old man, and with C’rizz being kidnapped and becoming a chained-up exhibit in a freak show. The Doctor, in the mean time, only briefly has to impersonate someone, and doesn’t do it very well (though that’s how the script is written). I was almost a little disappointed with the denouement – it seems like all of this impersonation is going to come to a head with a bunch of hilariously catastrophic unmaskings, but perhaps that’d be too obvious. It really is quite entertaining enough as it is without turning into broad farce.
This is the third and final eighth Doctor audio story released in 2005, and having listened to all three in rapid succession, it’s also the most satisfying by far. It says a lot that the Doctor Who format can suddenly veer away from science fiction and do a period comedy piece, but it also seems to say that Big Finish is struggling to find its footing with the eighth Doctor when the rigid serialized story arc concept is stripped away. The characters are plenty interesting, and the regular cast members are as always excellent, but something about the eighth Doctor’s other stories in 2005 left me feeling perplexingly empty, despite the admirable attempts by Big Finish to keep the decks stacked with fresh writing talent.