The mid-point of the tenth season of Doctor Who: Short Trips brought the first Doctor to 1850s Mesopotamia. Peter Purves narrates the action in Out of the Deep as Steven Taylor and the Doctor deal with ancient alien forces. Their cause is not helped by the arrival of an explorer and his daughter.
Welcome to Eridu
Yet another mysterious signal brings the Doctor and Steven to yet another site of ancient alien activity on Earth. Eridu, thought to be the earliest inhabited city in history. Something is inside a buried ziggurat; old, alien and promising power. Enter Professor Wood and daughter Jessica. While the Doctor and Wood investigate the interior of the ruin, Steven gets to stand outside. He doesn’t get to do very much. There’s some attempt to get to know Jessica but not much. Steven also seems to have a good grasp on poetry, a theme running through this story. The storytelling takes an odd direction, with all the Doctor’s scenes are presented as ‘when the Doctor told me later’. It seems needless. We know the whole piece is narrated by one person, why not just get on and tell the story from two points of view?
War — what is it good for?
After making contact with the alien power, there’s an element of Wood being tempted. There’s some dialogue around not trusting those in power with advanced weapons and some sort of confrontation with ancient guardians. There’s mention of continuing human conflict, with despair at the nature of humanity. All familiar themes. At times though, the story goes through the motions. That’s a great pity with John’s writing bringing the setting to life and evoking a real sense of place. We wonder if this might have been better served as a full cast, longer adventure. It needs more room to breathe.
Out of the Deep is a moody reflective piece, well performed but may not be to everybody’s taste. While pointing out flaws we need also remind ourselves what excellent value this range is. Out of the Deep is thought provoking and available now from the Big Finish site.