I’m going to keep this one very brief – sometimes when I review one of these I’ll have more to say than other times. This time, I’m looking at a story I actually refuse to listen to a second time, so I won’t be able to go anything like as in-depth as I otherwise would.
Flip-Flop by Jonathan Morris is one of the nastiest things I’ve ever heard, yet somehow is actually considered in some way ‘good’ by many Doctor Who fans. Its high reputation comes entirely from the way it’s structured. It consists of two discs, a white and a black, which can be listened to in either order. Either way, the story is the same – the Doctor arrives on a planet, discovers that the horrible fate that has occured to it is the result of meddling in time, and goes back in time to fix it. Meanwhile, in a parallel timeline, the Doctor arrives on the same planet with a different horrible fate and goes back in time to fix *that*, and they end up in each other’s timestream, with nothing going right either way.
So far so dull – it’s adequately constructed as far as that goes, but it’s hardly the great innovation that some of the online reviews of this story make it out to be. For all that everyone talking about this says it’s incredibly tightly-plotted and cleverly done, the multiple plot-lines would have required no more work to create than the average Choose Your Own Adventure book – and even so the story can only work at all because of the massive cop-out of having both parallel Doctors decide to leave the planet and let the other Doctor sort it out, which is about as far out of character as you could get.
But leaden plotting and bad characterisation are not the world’s worst sins – I could forgive them, for the sake of the story being one that was trying to do something different, but failing. I could also forgive the heavy-handed references to It’s A Wonderful Life and Groundhog Day, Sylvester McCoy’s much-worse-than-usual performance, and even the fact that once again Big Finish have a female leader who is an obvious Thatcher stand-in (I hate Thatcher as much as the next man – if the next man is Arthur Scargill – but even I’m sick of seeing these stereotypes with their whiff of misogyny). These are all faults of 99% of genre fiction, and would merely put Flip-Flop into the category of tired filler.
What makes me actively loathe this story though – to the point where I find it slightly puts me off Big Finish’s other work – is the fact that one of the discs is essentially propaganda for the BNP (or at the very worst, ripped straight from their fellow-travellers at the Daily Express).
The story, which I presume is meant to be ‘satire’ (though I always understood the purpose of good satire to be telling truth to power, rather than exerting power over the powerless) is – and this is not an exaggeration – that blind slug-like aliens have come to a planet and claimed minority status, overwhelmed the ‘native population’, insisted on special laws for themselves because they ‘feel threatened’ and made all the
white people humans their slaves. They’ve also banned Christmas, because it’s offensive to their religion. Saying anything bad about them is a hate crime.
In short, it’s merely a recitation of Express-leader lies about asylum seekers and Muslims, placed in a science-fictional setting. It’s absolutely revolting, and every single person involved should be ashamed of themselves.
Quite glad I never got around to listening to THAT one.
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