What an ish title. Warning: I’m probably going to use a lot of bad puns. That’s how it goes.
…ish is good-ish. (I know, it’s starting already!) What makes it work ish that Colin Baker could not have been better selected to be the Doctor for thish story. I mean, this story. His love of language ish well known and no other Doctor would have carried thish story nearly as well. Perish the thought of having any other companion than Peri in thish one. Her Americanisms add to the fun and her botany knowledge ish well defined. Beyond what it adds to the episode, I love that Big Fin write her as an intelligent character. (Oh, where has that ish gone now… Big Finish, I meant to say!) It was a tragic shame that her television personae was often depicted as a bit… dim. And I do take ishue… ahem, issue.. with that because Nicola ish great in thish story, alongside Baker.
Some kudos to Big Finish too, for “stage setting”. When the Doctor and Peri arrive, they are at a university campus and my attention was caught by the sound of bicycles going by. I could envision the setting with that one little audio cue. On the downside, I hate that the Doctor must walk so far ahead of his companions that he never notices when they wander off. Thish might work in a television episode, but I find it very silly in audio. That said, a television episode would never show Peri going off to a bar… and order a beer!! Equally, later in the episode, I am pretty sure the Doctor tests a Babel Fish by saying an expletive; another no-no for the televised medium.
So what’s it all about? A bunch of professors are working on the biggest dictionary in the universe. One might see this as a precursor to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – the digital book, I mean, not the novel/audio drama/movie/comic book/etc… But the Guide goes rogue and starts redefining the suffix “ish”, and the “ish” becomes a race or something… a sentient word? I don’t know. At a certain point, I didn’t care. The cliffhangers were weak-ish too. A group of people saying “ish” wasn’t my idea of scary. By that point, I was not interested in the story! But I didn’t want to stop listening because I was extremely interested in the language! The idea was what was carrying me. How was Ossifer dead and why would no one think to call the authorities? No idea, and by then, some of it made too little sense. But there was this idea about words that went on, not only making sense, but being brilliant all on its own.
This is a story that illustrated that Doctor Who could make an excellent teacher’s aid. I was so fascinated by the use of words and idioms, puns, prefixes and suffixes and every other form of grammar, I completely understood why Colin Baker might have wanted to take part in this script. We could all learn from this and it was a thought-provoking story for that reason alone. I didn’t care about the “monster of the week” but the idea of what was happening was fantastic. Words are powerful, they have meaning, and I guess that’s why I write for this blog; I want my words to make an impact and hopefully make people happy, or make them think… or just reach those who I would never have the chance to meet to say “we are of like mind and it’s good to know you”. Words have great power and I really enjoyed that element of thish story. Oh, you know what I mean!
I also realized that if Big Finish decided to write scripts where the Doctor met people from history or went to historic times to discuss some strange event or personality, I would probably find it quite interesting even if it were used solely as a teaching aid. I never expected to change my focus from a story to the background idea behind the language, but there it ish.
…ish ishn’t … um… isn’t my favorite story, by any means, but it was an utterly fascinating concept worth of a listen. Bravo for another worthy experiment in the universe of Doctor Who! ML