Short Trips 6.12 – The Hesitation Deviation

Holiday nostalgia, quirky Benny humour and deadly danger provide lightweight Christmas listening, perfect for wrapping packages.

Have a trailer.

The kinder, gentler, comedic Seven takes Bernice to a planet that does Christmas exactly right. For a little while, it looks like our heroes are going to get away with a thoroughly enjoyable holiday, facing nothing sharper than Benny’s wry sarcasm. But of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without…

…or rather Doctor Who wouldn’t be Doctor Who without protagonists running for their lives.

There’s one sneaky twist in this story which is a slight copout, but I’m willing to forgive dramatic license.

It’s a 35-minute Short Trip rather than a full audio play, so adjust expectations accordingly. I always get a kick out of hearing Who actors mimicking other members of their TARDIS crew. In this case, Lisa does everything: narration, all character voices, and in this case, directing. This is the opposite of a problem, since she’s an old pro with an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek delivery.

It’s no Chimes of Midnight, of course, and sometimes Benny’s fondness for the Doctor reaches Jo levels of maudlin affection. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But the story does raise tantalising questions about the benefits and drawbacks of traveling with him, nicer Seven or no. The “deadly danger” portion of the story comes with action, adventure, and an interesting premise for an antagonist, one that BF hasn’t quite done before. And it’s a Benny story. There’s something to be said for a Christmas Big Finish you can listen to without traumatising your relatives.

Spoilerific Comments

Possibly because I was wrapping packages, it took me two listens to realise that Benny wasn’t trying to cure everyone on the planet with her robot psychotherapist gambit, just herself. I’m not sure why a “virus” infecting a new host, the robot, would mean it left the previous host, which certainly didn’t happen with the rest of the planet. It sounds like Benny pulled off the mental equivalent of reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.

Also, if Benny isn’t really intending to wipe her memory of the Doctor if she can help it, she doesn’t really need to monologue at lengh about how awful it will be to forget him… does she? Or does she really think the virus is so sentient it might be fooled by her sob story? Then again, it wouldn’t be the first Benny story I’ve heard where she’s hamming it up and leaning heavily on the fourth wall.