Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 9/10/17 1:19 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
This is the story that finally convinced me to stop worrying about continuity. I used to one of those people who was terribly concerned that all of the stories should fit together at least reasonably well, and that it was very important for Big Finish to respect established continuity. After hearing this story, that was simply no longer tenable. After all, "The Caves of Androzani" clearly happens right after "Planet of Fire". There is no gap there. So additional stories featuring the fifth Doctor and Peri were already on shaky ground. But this story has Peri living for two years in the 15th century. There is no way that Peri traveled with the Doctor for well over two years (and counting) between her first and second story. And what about Shakespeare? Are we really supposed to believe that he swapped places with Richard III in 1597? So that guy in "The Shakespeare Code" (set in 1599) was actually Richard III? No. I refuse to believe any of that.
So forget about continuity. It can be useful when it adds dimension to a story, but the moment it gets in the way, just forget about it completely.
I don't even know what else to say about this story. It's extraordinarily good. The comedy is actually funny, and even when you think it should break the illusion (the "press conference", for example), somehow it doesn't. And the comedy is only the beginning. This is a very funny story that doesn't take it self very seriously, and yet it also explores some extremely serious themes. It raises unsettling questions about the Doctor's relationship to history, gives the Doctor an easy way out, and then admits to having given the Doctor an easy way out. The unsettling questions remain.
The plot is complicated, but surprisingly easy to follow (even with events happening "simultaneously" in two different time periods), and one of the great joys of returning to this story is having a chance to puzzle out the intricate little details you may have missed the first time through. And like all the best "Doctor Who" historicals, it leaves you wanting to learn more about the events depicted.
If you wanted to give a non-fan a taste of what a Big Finish "Doctor Who" story is like, or what "Doctor Who" is like in general, this is not the story for that. But if you want an example of just how far the concept can stretch without breaking, this is a perfect story.