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Stargate 1.5 - Savarna



Blurb: Returning from a mercy mission, the Prometheus is attacked and Doctor Janet Fraiser is kidnapped. Finding herself amongst a crew of outlaws, the Doctor must treat a desperately ill patient and keep herself alive long enough to escape. But are things all that they seem?

Format: Limited cast audio drama recounting a story in the life of Doctor Janet Frasier. Published by Big Finish Productions and released August of 2008.

Setting: The spaceships Pegasus and Savarna.

Continuity: This story takes place between the television stories Death Knell and Heroes: Part 1.

Discussion: One of the great things about the Stargate audios is the chance to revisit old friends from the TV series. Obviously for me writing ten years later that's true of any of the characters. Listeners at the time, though, must have been overjoyed to hear Dr Frasier. I was always disappointed that they killed her off as a way upping the stakes heading into what they thought was going to be the final SG-1 storyline. It was so offhand and done in one of the absolute worst episodes of the series. It seemed like a poor sendoff to such a wonderful character. That's why it's so great that Teryl Rothery was allowed another chance to perform as the character.

The performances are one of the highlights of this story. Rothery admits in the interview that she's never done an audiobook before, but her familiarity with radio plays and voice acting in animation shows through in her strong performance. One of the things that differentiates a lot of these productions is whether the actor just reads the narration in their character's voice or if they actually perform it as if their character is telling the story to someone else. Rothery really puts the effort in. At times she's thoughtful as she considers past events, pausing as she loses herself in her thoughts. She elevates the reading by varying her tone and pace. It really makes you feel as if Janet Frasier is trying to process the events that she's experienced. Her performance makes you feel as if she never left the role of Dr Frasier. She's forceful when she needs to be and compassionate the rest of the time. The warmth of the character really comes through. The story allows Frasier to explore her roles as a doctor, a mother, and a soldier and Rothery rises to the challenge, showing a conflicted character who has to resolve the competing impulses within her to determine how to respond to the situation. She also doesn't do a bad job matching the cadences of Sam or Jack when she has to read their lines, which probably speaks to the years that she had working with them. My only issue is with the writing and not with her performance. I understand that Big Finish employs British writers, but Frasier is an American character. An American would never say that someone needs to be "in hospital". They'd say that they need to be "in a hospital". They also wouldn't say that someone "was sat on a chair". They'd say that someone "was sitting on a chair". For an American listener that distinction was really, really jarring.

Rothery is ably assisted by Toby Longworth as Luka. Longworth has a really great voice for audio, and he's also really interesting to listen to. The Irish accent feels a little too "on the nose" for a group of space drifters, but I understand that when trying to create an alien society it's helpful to inject some Earth stereotypes to reduce the need for explanations. He does an excellent job of playing as the "man who doesn't talk about his life or feelings but actually has a heart of gold". He plays the role as a confident, strong man who's quick to take offense with conviction, but when it looks like he's lost everything he gives the character the proper amount of panic and frustration. There's never a moment when you don't believe in Luka, and that's really necessary for you to enjoy this story.

The plot isn't the most complex, but to be fair Stargate typically didn't have the most complicated plotlines. It's clear from the way that the story is set up as Janet the doctor and mother vs Janet the military woman that there will be twists in the story. It then becomes obvious how things will shake out based on the way that they start. The narration helps you along the way as Janet hints at the path that the story will take. I think ultimately that the plot isn't the important thing here. The story is primarily about Janet and about what she would do if she were put in this situation. It answered that question, but I think the real emphasis was on the characters, and the performances the cast were able to give.

As always the sound production is excellent. There are typical Stargate sound effects such as the beaming effect. Then there are things like hospital diagnostic equipment, cell doors, communication equipment, and others that help to enhance the narration and aid the listerner's imagination to consider this as a fully developed world.

Final Rating: 9/10

Recommendation: It's the welcome return of Teryl Rothery to the role of Dr Frasier! Some strong performances by herself and Toby Longworth help to elevate a fair script into a very enjoyable listen. I highly recommend it if you can find it.
Tags: janet frasier, savarna, sg-1, stargate, teryl rothery
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