Reviewed By: dtom
Review Date: 1/29/17 10:24 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
Of all the Big Finish, stable of Doctors Colin Baker is the one with the biggest point to prove. It is well publicised how the he was unceremoniously dumped by the BBC, and that he refused to return for the usual regeneration scene. He remains one of the least well known and least popular Doctor’s, he came 14th behind Rowan Atkinson (Spoof Doctor) in an IMDb poll.
I must admit I always felt sorry for him. He suffered from a combination of poor scripts, decidedly iffy production decisions and a hostile production company. The decision to make him unsympathetic and unlikable combined with ever changing scheduling, gave Baker, a Doctor Who fan, little chance to shine. This then is his opportunity, and he seizes it with grateful fists.
Writer Justin Richards is another graduate of the Virgin New Adventures and serves up an intriguing plot, with the hook being the big bad is a sound creature, seemingly ideal for audio. Much of the substance deals with political intrigue on an unnamed planet at an unknown time, which is never a gripping setting. The tale is quite dark, centering around murder and revenge. It is not an easy listen, and needs a bit of concentration to follow. However, the plot is still too thin to stretch over the 4 episodes. The big plot twists are somewhat telegraphed and the whole thing lacks pacing, with many scenes feeling like padding. There are also a couple of jarring plot moments which don’t bear too much scrutiny but this is Doctor Who, and the same could be said of most TV stories.
There are some cracking lines including my favorite "We can't stay - the Doctor's clothes are too loud for this Museum" and it’s good to see Big Finish try to play to an audio audience rather than rehash old TV themes but the whole thing lacks a bit of vroom.
Most of cast give decent turns, but it’d Baker who stands centre stage. He is clearly having a ball, and his performance rescues the production. He booms, quotes Macbeth, makes a few in-jokes and steals just about every scene. He portrays the Doctor as a much softer, kinder character than his TV stories. The only quibble I had was the decision to have him mock Peri near the end. It did not sit with the rest of his portrayal. It may have been a misfired in-joke regarding Bryant’s infamous fake American accent. Nicola Bryant for her part, doesn’t have a whole lot to do, but the fact that they don’t have her constantly squabbling with Baker’s Doctor is a move in the right direction. She still puts in the odd one-liner aside but that is fine.
The Soundscape is generally very good, although the sound of typing and general button pushing was over loud. The final explosive scene was very cinematic and well executed.
Overall, this is a solid production, which ticks most boxes without dazzling. It’s certainly worth the price of a cup of coffee. You probably won’t return to it anytime soon but still a decent play.