It’s no secret that I have little love for the average historical.
A few intriguing examples aside (the Mary Shelley introduction and episodes with the Paul McGann Doctor, the Erimem ones with the Peter Davison one, the teleseries’ Meddling Monk), the tendency is towards a dry, if generally cleverly integrated insinuation of The Doctor and some potential science fiction elements into the accepted record of writ.
Occasionally it works, with some clever hypothetical “explanations” for known real world events evoking a knowing smile or even some thoughtful speculation thereon.
Generally speaking, however, the very restrictions of slithering some very modernist characters and situations into what we know to be the facts and circumstances of record delimits the writers into some rather awkward maneuvering…and worse, a failure to actually add anything thereto.
Such is the case with this month’s Short Trips, by Mark B. Oliver. Nominally a Seventh Doctor story, this is actually a surprisingly straightforward “you are there” slice of history from WWII. Landing on the British sub HMS Thunder, the Doctor more or less takes a cameo role as Ace joins the sailors in an attempted rescue of some post-combat induced shipwreck(ed) crewmen.
And that’s all there is to say, seriously.
Sophie Aldred throws her usual (and perpetually, surprisingly youthful-sounding) vigor and force into Ace’s emotionalism and “(wo)man of action” role, but there’s absolutely nothing to this one to intrigue the Who fan – no real science fiction, no clever attempts to re-attribute causality to a historical event. It’s very much a “slice of life” bit of wartime action, where the best you can offer is that it brings to life the human element that tends to be lost in the “big picture” driness of historic writ.
Of interest far more to the diehard World War II historian than the Whovian, this Short Trip comes up surprisingly shorter than usual, at least in terms of relative merit and interest thereto.