Past Imperfect


William Merlock

August 2002

Past Imperfect is about a paradox. But it manages to be far more than that, itself combining apparently paradoxical ingredients to build a far greater whole than any of its individual components. It’s a traditional Dr. Who romp with over-the-top villains, with captures and escapes, with the Doctor relying on the usual assortment of McGuffins and wishful thinking to get him out of tight scrapes. But permeating all the typical Dr Who story elements is a darkness that makes this story one of the most disturbing that we’ve gotten from the DWAD crew.

I won’t say too much about the storyline here, because saying much of anything would spoil things greatly, I think. I will say that the pacing of this five-part story is very unusual, and works well to enhance the plots’ twists and turns. Jym DeNatale’s delivery feels rushed on occasion, but for the most part he’s right on in probably the wittiest script he’s had as the Doctor. Rachel Summers does well as Christine, tackling a challenging script. The rest of the regular cast (Sheri Devine, Chip Jamison, Peter Hinchman, Thomas Himinez, and David Segal) were for the most part at their best, though on occasion taking an over-the-top line a bit *too* over-the-top. As Director, Himinez kept things moving along nicely, providing what I feel is the best sort of direction, the sort that keeps things so natural that the director fades into the background. My only complaint, a minor one that is an issue with many audio dramas, is that there were a few moments when sound effects would overwhelm dialog; this didn’t interfere with my ability to understand the story, and

Julio Angel Ortiz deserves a lot of credit for a bang-up script, in his DWAD debut. He and Script Editor Himinez earn particular kudos for taking a very complicated script and making sure it made sense and was internally consistent throughout. I was still catching new things in my third listen to this story, particularly the wonderfully subtle use of foreshadowing. A plethora of ideas and themes are explored, time travel paradoxes are examined, and at the end we are left to wonder about commitment and sacrifice, about ends justifying means, about whether or not, as the Doctor once said, “there should have been another way.”

Overall, “Past Imperfect” presents some pretty radical ideas in what is pretty traditional packaging. The crew at Everlasting Films has once again produced a must-have fan audio.

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I was impressed with how the two Christines were handled. The older Christine was more experienced, more confident, in just the way one would expect, and Rachel delivers her lines with just the right attitude. Even more impressive was the far more subtle difference between the two Doctors. We wouldn’t expect him to change much, and he doesn’t, though the older Doctor does seem to be slightly more irreverent and wittier.

I loved the use of stereo with the dialog of the two Doctors.

The cliffhanger to part 3 was outstanding in its vagueness. Clearly *something* bad is happening, and the Doctor seems to know what it is, but we don’t…..I really felt pulled into the drama at this point; the DWADs usually have very good cliffhangers, but the Part 3 cliffhanger was the closest I’ve come to violating my principles and listening to two “first-run” episodes in one day.

The initial scenes with Stirg and Doctor were very menacing; I liked the way the threats to Christine were handled (clear enough for the adult listener, but worded so that the worst of it went over the heads of younger listeners.) The later torture scenes in Part 4, though done well, were maybe a little too strong for younger listeners. The “I am already dead” line carried a great emotional punch---a great line delivered perfectly. I really liked the way that the Doctor seemed to lose his aura of invincibility starting in Part 4. The mood seemed to change at this point. It was like stepping from the Dr Who universe into something far grittier, where pain and torture are *real*.

And, what an ending!!!!!


Last updated: Sunday, August 18, 2002