The Doctor, Charley and C’rizz find themselves trapped in a maze-like prison whose occupants call it the Cube. The Doctor and the TARDIS are snatched away, leaving Charley and C’rizz to hide in the darkness with a trio of desperate prisoners. Once recruited to by psychically augmented to help their world win a war, the “prisoners” have now been banished to a Cube, as their recruiters can’t find a way to deactivate or control their psychic powers. Something called the brain worm stalks the Cube, killing its victims after burning out their minds. The prisoners insist that the Doctor vanished because he was the brain worm’s last victim. Charley refuses to believe it – and then C’rizz disappears, leaving her at the mercy of her fellow prisoners. The Doctor, however, isn’t in the clutches of the brain worm. He’s held prisoner, tortured and interrogated to Rawden, the man who operates the Cube and keeps the prisoners captive. And Rawden is just as worried about the brain worm as his prisoners are…
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley), Conrad Westmaas (C’rizz), Steven Elder (Rawden), Ian Brooker (Mr. Twyst), Liz Crowther (Tessa), John Killoran (Gordon Latch), Louise Collins (Jane)
Timeline: after Time Works and before Memory Lane
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Imagine taking something not unlike the setting of the movie Cube – right down to it being an inescapable military-built deathtrap – and then setting the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Hunted inside it. That’s the basic recipe for Something Inside – a story that turns out to be as derivative as it is bleak.
Paul McGann and Conrad Westmaas make a heroic effort to keep this story afloat, but the story is so bleak that the whole endeavour is robbed of just about any joy whatsoever (something that, if you can’t credit it with anything else, the new TV series at least gets right – a sense of fun). The characters with whom we’re meant to sympathize, the downtrodden underdogs, are bleak; their captors and torturers are even bleaker. There’s no one to root for aside from the series regulars. Only the Doctor’s witticisms and flippant retorts to how savagely he’s being treated offer any buoyance whatsoever.
There’s some nice sound design, including environments that take advantage of the stereo environment, but that’s overridden and undermined by a musical score that seems to fixate on something not unlike the electric organ sound patch on a mid-1980s Casio keyboard. I don’t know if the idea was to make the music sound “retro”, but it doesn’t ever quite meet up with the rest of the story and almost sounds comedic at times.
It’s all conceptually interesting, but is extremely lacking in heart. One doesn’t walk away from the story feeling that anything or anyone has been redeemed; only the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz survive, out of the entire cast. Even one character who makes a suicidally noble sacrifice does so only after getting his parting shot in and killing his mortal enemy, making his tragically horrific fate more a case of poetic justice. Maybe the story’s writer thought that would make it easier for the audience to leave that character behind. In the end, there’s a high body count, and a sense that very little was accomplished aside from mere survival for our heroes. Not one of audio Who’s finest (two) hours.