Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
It’s Constance’s (Miranda Raison) birthday; so Flip (Lisa Greenwood) decides she needs to throw a “Wren party” for the occasion. When the Doctor (Colin Baker) takes them to the planet Formica it seems like an ideal world for the occasion, with the locals living a life of luxury. But what is the price of the freedom to do anything you want? Where are the older people & what is the mysterious Middle they keep hearing about? When people start giving the Doctor funny looks they soon find out.Mild Spoilers!
This is a story with a big plot twist which I will not spoil, but that said, this really is a hard story to review without some mild spoilers, so you have been warned.
This starts off looking to be a somewhat derivative story. I was still in for listening on though as Big Finish often has a way of making an old idea new with clever storytelling. What they do instead is a wonderful misdirect and reveal that leads to a wonderfully original tale from Chris Chapman, brought to life by director Jamie Anderson.
No matter how much I have or haven’t enjoyed the 6th Doctor stories with this crew, I’ve always found them a great mix. Constance brings out the more serious side of the Doctor and sometimes gets to chastise his more flamboyant excesses. Whilst Flip is fun and plays off 6’s bigger side and even gets him to think more creatively and outside the box. In this story all of this is balanced very nicely. Constance wanting to forget her birthday and just get on with her day, Flip trying to make a fuss of it & the Doctor in the middle (no pun intended). Their relative ages and how they might see the world also plays into the story is a way few other Tardis crews would be so apt for.
I had a feeling Colin Baker might have something to say about how people of different ages are treated in the extras & indeed he does, but not in the way you might think. Instead of talking more on just how the older members of our society are treated he talks very eloquently on how we see the young too, as he is a Father. Guest casting is as always nicely done, with often overlooked Mark Heap as the Middleman bringing a lovely self serving man behind the scenes & Sheila Reid as Janaiya who proves pivotal to the plot.
This is a great ‘fun-house mirror’ for our modern society on one hand, whilst a marvellous sci-fi bit of escapism on the other. 8/10
You can buy this adventure on CD or download here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-middle-1262