Paradise in Chains, Long Shadows
FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 9, Number 3 Winter 1997-98
"Paradise in Chains"
from Timebase Productions
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan
Those who haven’t already ordered "Regenesis" from Timebase Productions might not be aware that there are other two fan videos available on the same tape: "Paradise in Chains" and "Long Shadows".
"Paradise in Chains", written by Lee Paterson and Rupert Booth from an idea by Paul Ferry, again stars Rupert Booth as the Doctor. The two-part story opens (with nicely done effects) on a ship transporting a prisoner. Just as the ship is about to emerge from hyperspace, something goes seriously wrong…
Cut to the Doctor in an empty white space. A casual watcher is going to be slightly confused–the Doctor is apologizing to an absent Lesley (the companion from the end of "Regenesis") for not being able to save her. Yes, there is a story being filmed that takes place between "Regenesis" and "Paradise in Chains", and if the Doctor's reaction is any indication, "Phase Four" is going to be a 'must see'. Gone is the light-hearted Doctor from "Regenesis", this Doctor is grief-stricken and sounds weary of rushing in to help. In fact, he's actually contemplating returning to Gallifrey and taking a desk job in Records. His mind made up, he emerges from the TARDIS…and finds himself in a black void. Facing him is a silent juggler in a Jester costume and makeup. The Doctor is about to close the door and leave (after all, this isn't where he planned to be), but despite his resolution, his usual curiosity wins out. He follows the beckoning Jester to a hidden door in the darkness and into a beautiful garden. There he meets the young woman (Deborah Relley) the viewer will remember as a prisoner on board the ship in the story's beginning. But she has no memory of who she was or how she came to be there. She seems human, but the manner in which she questions the Doctor about his past and her expression when the Doctor suddenly 'sees' his memory of a past event projected before them seems oddly eager.
Questions start leading to other questions. Who are the other people in the void and why are they drawn to the TARDIS? Why does the Doctor, after displaying genuine grief at the beginning suddenly dismiss Lesley with 'I hardly knew her' when talking to The Girl? And why is he so bad-tempered toward her? Is it his new reluctance to help, or does he suspect something about her?
This video has a few rough spots with some overlong dialog and some uneven acting; but, with excellent model effects, beautiful location shots, and a 'all is not what it seems' plot with a clever twist at the end, "Paradise in Chains" is very thought-provoking. Much as I like straightforward adventure stories, some of my favorite DW tales include such experimental pieces as "Warrior's Gate" and "Mind Robber". If you like these stories as well, give "Paradise in Chains" a try. I notice different things with repeated viewings, and one answer I came up with for a 'why does that character do *that*?' has already excused a scene that I previously thought overacted.
If you dislike the experimental DW stories, but get this tape for the other two tales, watch at least the beginning and end of "Paradise". The Timebase crew do an excellent job at character development and these scenes, at very least, should not be missed.
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"Long Shadows" from Timebase Productions
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan
With "Long Shadows", the Timebase Productions crew demonstrate that they are a very versatile group indeed. Now that they've done an adventure and an experimental tale, the next choice is a historical. And who better to visit than someone whose name the Doctor keeps dropping: William Shakespeare.
"Long Shadows" is a good establishing piece for the new companion, Amaryllis. She's still a mystery after losing her memory in "Paradise in Chains", but indications such as her first choice of a new name at the end of "Paradise" (which the Doctor loudly rejected) and her attitude toward humans lean toward interestingly weird.
She's independent, strong-minded, very resourceful, and has a wicked sense of humor. She knows immediately to blame the Doctor that they have managed to arrive just where and when a cult is attempting to contact something nsty.
"Long Shadows" has a lot of things in its favor: wonderful location filming with scenes such as a distant shot of the Doctor and Amaryllis walking against the setting sun, nicely done special effects, and great period costumes. There's a lot more humor in this mixture of historical and occult, and I've got several favorite Doctor lines, such as "Generations of school children will hate you for this." And "Just call it one of my many talents."
Lisa Gledhill's script has several interesting characters besides Amaryllis and the Doctor. Selina Lock presents a believable and resourceful Judith, and Ian Patterson is a delightful William Shakespeare. Lisa Gledhill (who also directed) turns in a strong contrast between the meek Sarah and the commanding Guldrack. Tom Hibbert's performance as Malachai Curwen is uneven at times, and Malcolm Herron's lines are difficult to understand. Rupert Booth is again marvellous as the Doctor, at times wise, funny, perceptive, despairing and, above all, caring.
"Long Shadows" is nicely plotted story with intelligently written characters. It's fast-paced, but also allows moments of nice character development. The use of a chant from the TV show was jarring, but since that wasn’t the only chant used, it's excusable (who knows what countries a student of the Black Arts traveled through). There are a few spots of overacting and some monologues could have been shortened, but all in all, this is a very enjoyable video. I highly recommend it.
As with "Regenesis", there are short blooper segments at the end of both "Paradise in Chains" and "Long Shadows".