1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
After three seasons of Leela in the Fourth Doctor Adventures, it certainly nice to get a bit of variety. Sure, Leela's been pared with K9, and we had a season with Mary Tamm's Romana, but other than that, we've not had much change in the Fourth Doctor line-up. However, after the great success of the fourth Doctor Novel Adaptions based on Gareth Roberts' Season 17's novels, it's really nice to see Big Finish giving Tom Baker and Lalla Ward some new material to work with. And while I can't say that Wave Of Destruction is the most novel, or even the most enjoyable story, it is one that perfectly fits in with the tone and feel of the Douglas Adams era of the show.
The plot of this story is pretty lightweight stuff: involving an attempted invasion of Earth by a race of aliens. Sure, that's classic Doctor Who plot, but that's the sort of story that works, when told well. And, while there are some moments that don't quite come off, I thought that, overall, I really liked the central premise. It takes the idea of radio being used as an invasion tool as a basis for it's initial story. It doesn't really push these ideas that far, just using them as a basis for a fun adventure story. I did think that, however, Justin Richards could have pushed the boundaries a little with regards to the comedy and the lightness of tone, however. I did think that the story, at times, took itself a little too seriously, and I thought that with a bit more of a brisk touch, I could have been a really enjoyable piece. The lack of comedy in the situation wasn't necessarily a huge major flaw, but I felt that this was something that could have been pushed more in order to increase the story's appeal. I'm certainly waiting for Jonathan Morris' two stories to really push the comedy elements forward.
Of course, if you haven't listened to this release, you might want to stop reading now. Because, of course, I think the main talking point about this release will probably be the Vardans, who turn out to be the antagonists of this adventure, and I have to say that I'm not quite sure about their inclusion. I was surprised that they were in this story, but only because they were as camp as hell. It was a bit weird, to be honest, because Big Finish usually avoid making their villains that camp, and most often full of menace, but here, I think Justin Richards tried to push the campiness a little bit too much with regards to their characters. It was rather odd, considering that under David Richardson's watch, they let this slip through, considering the work that was done on the race in the Companion Chronicles. I loved the work that was done there, in both The First Wave and The Locked Room, but here, I found the Vardans to be really, really overdone on the cheesy level. It was a bit of a shame, as I think had they been toned down a little bit, it would have worked wonders.
All that said, I thought that this story was a ton of fun, and the way Justin Richards treated his leads was testament to that. The Doctor, Romana and K9 were all given great stuff to do, and they were placed squarely in the centre of the story, which was great. Sometimes, it's better to have focus upon your guest characters, but I think in this case, Richards was absolutely right to place focus upon the regulars. Giving each character plenty to do reinforced the roles for each member of this TARDIS team, and I was particularly happy with the way that Richards forced Romana into a number of uncomfortable situations, such as having to go shoe shopping, or present a Pirate Radio show, using slang words like 'cool' and 'groovy'. It's not really anything new, putting Romana into uncomfortable situations, but I thought it was handled well enough here for them to get away with it. Tom Baker and Lalla Ward have a wonderful chemistry together, almost as good as him and Louise's, and I really liked the way they bounced off each other, the dialogue really aiding that. Together with John Leeson, they create a fantastic group dynamic, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how that plays out in future audios.
The guest characters were diverting, not really that interesting, but nevertheless, mildly interesting. My personal favourites were Mark and Miller, simply because they felt very Douglas Adams-y in their approach. They were characters who could have fitted into a story written by Adams, no problem. I did think they were lacking a little in depth, but they were still interesting, and I thought that Karl Theobald and Phil Mulyrne were excellent in their parts, and the standout members of the cast. The rest of the cast were also good, not quite as excellent as Mulyrne and Theobald, but they were good. I thought John Banks chewed the scenery brilliantly, despite the fact that his part was camp as anything. He actually sounded like Lady Adastra from Creature From The Pit for some reason, why I can't think. Jane Slavin and Alix Wilton Regan did the best they could, but I did think their parts, like the Vardans themselves, were rather insubstantial. Nick Briggs' direction was good, but I would say that it wasn't one of his stronger plays. He kept the cast on the right lines, but I don't think injected any spark or energy into the script, something I think was sorely needed. Alistair Lock's sound design and music was excellent, however, really capturing that tone of the era, without feeling the need to have that permeate the whole soundtrack. I thought it was incredibly polished, and would stand as some of his best work for Big Finish.
While I wouldn't say that Wave Of Destruction was a complete right-off, on the contrary it was a very polished piece, it perhaps suffered from a few major faults that prevented it from being the great story it could have been. I did really like the ideas behind it, and the brevity and lightness of touch, from both writer and lead actors, meant that this story simply flew by. However, I don't think it's going to be one I'm going to remember in years to come.