If you have a penchant for the musical episode of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and the puppet show story in ‘Angel’ then ‘The Scorchies Companion Chronicle’ along with memories of BBC’s ‘Play School’ and other disturbing childhood programmes will tickle your trombone.
‘The Scorchies’ is a little twist on the usual ‘Chronicles’ in which Third Doctor companion Jo Grant faces danger, appalling singing, ‘make and show’ and nearly gets the stuffing knocked out of her.
It opens when Jo is stuck in the studio, the special guest of a special show where the ultimate prize is death. ‘Blue Peter’ was never like this. She is the guest of ‘The Scorchies’, who are not only the hosts of the most annoying children’s show ever but also happen to be evil aliens intent on world domination. Pretty much average kids telly in the UK come to think of it.
Whilst the Brigadier, the whole of UNIT and the Doctor are outside trying to get in, it is Jo who must bravely try to solve the problem of ‘The Scorchies’ whilst ‘making a thing’.
The trick here is not to annoy your audience too much, so let’s see how or if this is achieved. Firstly, I do like this story as it puts a great spin on an old idea. If you are ever freaked out by puppets then this is going to add to those night terrors. It also makes a point about how and why people are scared. ‘Doctor Who’ used to get into trouble for putting ideas in that would worry children. I used to avoid the shop window mannequins for years after ‘Spearhead From Space’. The idea of life in a ventriloquist dummy was also used to good effect in ‘The Talons Of Weng Chiang’. ‘The Scorchies’ is basically saying that you might as well have nightmares as those cute toys are just trying to take over the world by hypnotising the audience into submission.
Although none of these ideas are new, the presentation is spot on for those of a certain age with highlights being Professor Baffle who is baffled and the mice who are not the sweet innocent creatures from Bagpuss but are downright scary.
All this is good and the songs area high-quality and also brave decision to include. The lyrics are clever but I found the songs overlong and thought that there could have been reduced. Overall, though, I liked it and developed a creeping sense of terror in out of very little. I’ve put all my teddies away now. They kept looking at me.
(pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: £ 8.99 (UK), Download: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-064-0)
cast: Katy Manning and Melvyn Hayes
check out website: www.bigfinish.com