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The Stranger: In Memory Alone


I have to come clean at this point - I haven't seen any of the other films in this series but I found them for sale at a price I was prepared to pay and chose this one because it features a railway station.

In the unlikely event that my televisually literate readers haven't come across this series, here is somebody else's account of what they are about:

The first unofficial Doctor Who spinoff video was Wartime, in 1988.  This was made by Reeltime Pictures, known for their Myth Makers interview tapes, and is the only one of its kind that was made while Doctor Who was still on television.  Their second effort was Downtime, in 1995, which we will be looking at soon, probably the best known unofficial spinoff.  The point of these things mainly was to fill the gap left by Doctor Who when it went off air in 1989, to give the fans something new.  Another company was also doing the same kind of thing in the 90s: BBV, which stands for Bill Baggs Video.

Reeltime and BBV had very different approaches.  Although both of them were going for the nostalgia kick, BBV were much more forward thinking.  Reeltime were all about bringing back the past with old monsters and companions.  BBV, on the other hand, sought to give us that thrill of nostalgia by using Doctor Who actors in different roles, and making those roles sufficiently vague, leaving us to come to our own interpretations as to who the Stranger and Miss Brown are, played of course by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.  Once the series was well-established it had a sufficient following to break away from Doctor Who a bit more, establishing the true history of the characters and also using Colin and other Doctor Who actors in specifically non-Doctor Who roles.  So eventually we got multi-Doctor stories that are not actually multi-Doctor stories, but multi Doctor-actor stories, such as The Airzone Solution.

The first BBV effort was Summoned by Shadows in 1991, followed by More than a Messiah in 1992.  The third in the series was In Memory Alone, in 1993.  The Stranger series continued through to 1995, and after that BBV tried some other approaches, moving further into the realms of gritty adult drama with the Probe series, and then finally going down a similar route to Reeltime with the Auton series from 1997, in the wake of the popularity of Downtime, bringing back a Pertwee monster. Source

That writer goes on to say that he can't bring himself to watch any of the series again except this one, but of course I can't speak for the others. You will all know my fondness for trains and train stations, and I will add this post to the tag about railways in TV.

Railways of course have associations with journeys between places, and this is often extended to journeys between dimensions. We have seen that used to great effect in the Sapphire and Steel adventure set in the railway station, where a very angry first world war era ghost creates trouble. Incidentally there is a very good Big Finish Sapphire and Steel set on a train which I would recommend highly.

By extension a railway station is where people set off on journeys and this not- Doctor Who adventure begins with journeys to the railway station. The article I linked to above suggests that this film can be understood as a Doctor Who adventure by merely understanding that the Stranger and Miss Brown are Doctor Who and his assistant Peri Brown, but they have amnesia and have forgotten their past.

Personally I quite see how you could see that, but I would prefer to see it as something different, largely because I feel the appearance, situation and the feeling of 'something' having broken through are much more like Sapphire and Steel IMHO. It obviously isn't Sapphire and Steel but I would rather not see it as Doctor Who, because nowhere does it say it is Doctor Who. I am afraid by saying this I am contributing to the reams of argument on that subject already on the internet.

I like this a lot, however am wary of being disappointed by the others. It also has a making-of feature on the DVD and I particularly like the revelation about the tie. My only criticism is that I would like more of it, however since pacing is perfect as it is any more would have made it rather slow.

I may return with a Christmas themed post in the week but in case I don't have a merry holiday.,

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