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Stargate 1.4 - Perchance to Dream



Blurb: Doctor Carson Beckett finds himself in an uncomfortable situation when he becomes a patient in his own infirmary. After a disastrous mission, Beckett is brought back to Atlantis with a broken leg – and a bad case of amnesia.

But that's the least of his troubles. Cared for by Doctor Gilbert, Beckett watches as a strange affliction overcomes his friends and colleagues. One by one, members of the Atlantis crew are brought in, unconscious and unresponsive yet with no sign of trauma. What's causing this peculiar illness? And why doesn't anyone want to hear what Carson has to say about it?

Format: Limited cast audio drama recounting a story in the life of Doctor Carson Beckett. Published by Big Finish Productions and released July of 2008.

Setting: The city of Atlantis

Continuity: This story takes place between the television stories Inferno and Allies.

Discussion: There are a lot of advantages to using the audio medium. Often, you can create scenarios that are scary just because you're missing one of your senses. Something can sneak up behind someone on audio or have a terrifying voice or aspect that may not be as terrifying if you could see the creature. Big Finish is usually good about understanding the subtleties of using audio for maximum impact. Yet, this time they bungled it by putting a Wraith on the cover of the CD. This is a story that would have never been as interesting on TV because you would have seen the wraith in the flashbacks, you would have seen Dr Gilbert, and you would have put two and two together. In this one we have the mysterious indication that various people in Atlantis are being fed on by a wraith. No one can see it, and there's no wound on the bodies. Meanwhile, Carson starts interacting with new character, Dr Gilbert, and we start realizing long before Carson does that no one can see or hear him. That made it pretty obvious from the get go that there was a wraith masquerading as Dr Gilbert that was somehow incorporeal. I initially thought that it was a wraith who had somehow partially ascended ala Anubis, but other than that it was easy to predict the direction of the story. It would have been nice to come to those deductions on my own, but knowing a wraith was in this and knowing that Dr Gilbert was the only other character in it made it too easy to figure out.

The plot is one of those deep examinations of someone's character. Beckett wonders why everyone is ignoring him, and we get some wonderful insights into his thought process. We also get him pondering his mortality and how he feels about passing on. The plot that interleaves with this is pretty basic as Carson, who is the only one that can see the wraith, has to battle it to send it back to the dimension where it had been banished. It works well enough, but some things don't seem to be adequately explained. Why do the doors open and close for Beckett and the wraith if they don't have a physical existence, and why doesn't anyone notice the doors opening for what they'd see as nothing? Also, why does the wraith give back the energy it stole when it's already being banished again? There was zero incentive to do so. Of course, it was necessary to have a happy ending and ensure that the continuity with the TV series was maintained, but it just seemed to come out of left field.

As far as the cast is concerned, I really enjoyed listening to Paul McGillion for this. I also was surprised to discover that the Scottish accent isn't his natural way of talking. He mentions in the interview that his parents are from Scotland, so it makes sense that he can use it so naturally, but it was still a surprise for me. I think that he does a good job with the audio format. He never deviates from Beckett persona, which in some ways is disappointing. We don't get any imitations of the speech patterns and mannerisms of his fellow cast members. Still, in a way that helps to make this a more personal story. It's Carson's introspection rather than a story he's telling to another person, and that gives the story a personal touch that helps to synchronize the listener with Carson's melancholy. Sarah Douglas is fine as Dr Gilbert and the Wraith. I didn't get much from her performance. As Dr Gilbert she came off as a strict authoritarian and her wraith voice was so treated that little of her performance shown through. Everything that she did certainly worked well enough, but doesn't require any special mention.

I still absolutely adore listening to all of those Stargate sounds. It's all the same whether I'm listening to the ocean around Atlantis or hearing the crackle of machine gun fire from an SGA soldier. I really enjoy living in this world again, and Big Finish does not disappoint by using their audio palette of Stargate series and other sounds to create a vivid world, but also evoke the style of Stargate: Atlantis.

Final Rating: 7/10

Recommendation: What would have been a mystery story is let down by the cover of the CD case. It's a nice, introspective tale for Carson Beckett, and Paul McGillion performs the role admirably. Despite the disappointment with the plot, the performance is strong, and there are definitely enjoyable moments in the narrative. I'd recommend listening to it if you can track down a copy.
Tags: atlantis, carson beckett, paul mcgillion, perchance to dream, stargate
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