Review: "The Fighting Dead" by Jeri Massi (FanFic author)

Review by "The Outsider"
Original story by Jeri Massi

Featuring: The 3rd Doctor, Liz Shaw

Synopsis: A rash of ritualistic murders are occurring across London, conducted by a gang of occultist martial artists, possibly using the techniques of a young female martial arts master. Can the Doctor and Liz stop the gang before they kill again, especially now that they are the next targets?

A short story in five episodes, The Fighting Dead showcases Massi's strengths of storytelling, atmosphere and characterization very well. This is essentially a story about Liz Shaw, and Massi has taken aspects of the character only hinted at in her brief time on the show and built upon them to really flesh out just who Liz Shaw is as a person. It is unusual for Massi to let the Doctor take a supporting role, but she has such a feel for his character that she is able to move him into the companion's normal position without any loss of status. As always, her research into the subjects she discusses is superb, and she easily captures the feeling of fear that pervades the city. She handles dialog and interactions between the Doctor and his companions with as much skill, and oft times more such, than many professional Doctor Who writers.

Unfortunately, I feel that this story needs a little more work. As a character driven story, the plot and timing sometimes leave a little to be desired. There are some small questions which are left unanswered, again which is unusual, given Massi's normal level of detail. Given the depth of character that she gave the young female martial arts master, she then did not give the same treatment to a slightly less important supporting character, a young priest.

At times, the pacing of the story seemed rather rushed, as if she couldn't wait to get to the action. However, in other spots, it was just the opposite: the action was glossed over while supporting dialog lingered on longer than necessary. My biggest disappointment: there was no real climax to the story. While I was immensely satisfied with the development of Liz Shaw, I felt really let down by the ending. Without giving away too much of the story, I expected a much bigger confrontation between our heroes and the cult of the Fighting Dead. I was, however, very pleased that the Doctor did not "rush in to save the day", a trite ending in many Doctor Who stories that Massi has handily avoided.

Mainly, I'm a little sad that I picked this particular story to begin my reviews with, as I am a big fan of Jeri Massi's work, and don't want to hurt anyone's feelings (Obviously, I could never do this professionally =-) ). While an over all enjoyable read, this is not one of my favorites as a whole. It had numerous beautiful parts, excellent dialog, and fantastically realized characters, but just left me with too many questions, and feeling unfulfilled at the end. Jeri Massi is a good, solid Doctor Who writer, and I firmly believe that we will be seeing work from her in print within the next few years. Yet, while not receiving a high recommendation, I do recommend it to any fan of Doctor Who, and especially fans of Jon Pertwee and Liz Shaw.

Jeri Massi's home page is located at:

http://www.pipeline.com/~jeriwho/index.html


The Outsider
"Always apart, Never a part."
HTTP://www.flash.net/~outsdr

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