Rewritten from material that I originally posted 5/8/13 on another forum:
Blurb: Fragrance is a paradise world – a utopia that the travellers are loathe to leave after a relaxing stay. But the way of life is different here. And so is the way of love – as Barbara discovers when the Fragile Yellow Arc is broken...
Format: Limited-cast audio drama with narration. Adapted from an unmade television script. Published by Big Finish Productions and released November 2010 in a box with Farewell Great Macedon.
Setting: The Planet Fragrance, time unknown.
Continuity: Masters of Luxor refers to Fragrance as having happened some time ago. This means that the line of stories from The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance through Farewell Great Macedon and into Masters of Luxor takes place in a single gap. Other than some references to Barbara wanting to get home, this story does not reference any other and only Masters of Luxor has to date referenced this story.
Canonicity Quotient: This story takes place over the span of several months, which helps to explain any clothing oddities due to placing stories within the gap of Marco Polo and the Keys of Marinus. The Doctor's actions here are suspect. He has always been shown to have a proprietorial attitude towards his ship. The idea that he'd just invite people inside to show them how advanced he is is kind of preposterous and flies in the face of his established character. It also seems unlikely that he would have blueprints of the ship or that the TARDIS could even be written up and shown on simple 2-dimensional blueprints. Still, it should be remembered that this script was never even intended for production and was merely created to show the Doctor Who production office what they could do. Still, since Big Finish has embraced it into their canon I must rate how it stands up to the series at large. It puts in a better showing than Farewell Great Macedon but still has problems with Doctor acting very out of character. 0.75
Discussion: The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance was a far more interesting piece than Farewell Great Macedon. It's a shame that it didn't get developed back in the 60's into a 2-parter. John Dorney once again does a fantastic job playing the effeminate Rhythm after playing the very masculine Alexander and clearly showing the range that he has. The Fragile Yellow Arc isn't a very complex story but its one that deals with difficulty that can't be solved and does a great job in the span of a single episode to examine a lot of the interrelationships of the TARDIS crew members. It was also interesting to see the nasty Hartnell Doctor of the first three television stories coming to the fore again.
In this story Fahri does a fantastic job of realizing an alien world and its a shame that he never wrote any further science fiction for Doctor Who because based on this story he could have done a great job. As always there's a problem with paradise but its a problem that only exists because the travelers from outside are there and interfering with the natural order of things on that world. It feels like Doctor Who crossed over with the Twilight Zone for a week but the fact that I can imagine the story being performed on the television so vividly tells me how well this was realized. I think that this story was excellent and highly recommend anyone to give it a listen as alternative Who.
Final Rating: 8/10
Recomendation: Wonderful and experimental. Fahri gets three of the four TARDIS crew members spot on here and he gets the Doctor right towards the end. The realization of the alien world is very well done, the short length means that it keeps its pace, and it feels like a classic sci-fi tale extrapolating some aspect of our everyday world to a level that goes beyond what we'd normally imagine. I also like the understanding that sometimes there are no easy solutions. I definitely recommend giving this one a listen.