Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 1/18/17 10:14 pm
2 out of 3 found this review helpful.
In the first story of 2017 run of Fourth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor (Tom Baker), Romana II (Lalla Ward), and K9 (John Leeson) have traveled to Victorian London on the trail of massive, anachronistic energy spikes. Meanwhile, a crime spree is baffling the police, with the mysterious "Knave" breaking in and stealing valuable items, all without being caught. The Doctor and Romana team up with their old friends Henry Gordon Jago (Christopher Benjamin) and Professor George Litefoot (Trevor Baxter) to stop this "Knave" character. But they are about to get far more involved than they planned... The Beast of Kravenos was a solid opening story to this year's run of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. It didn't really stand out too much, but it was a rather fun opening story, and any excuse to get the Victorian investigators Jago and Litefoot into the studio is good enough for me.
Tom Baker is the Doctor here while Lalla Ward is the companion Romana II. Both did a good job in their roles; I thought Ward stood out a bit more in her performance, as she was given most of the subtle and exasperated humor in this story. John Leeson also did a fine job as K9. I always love hearing K9 in stories set during historical periods, because it gives him a whole new range of humor apart from "The Doctor is wrong", and he's usually a small highlight of those stories. Here is no exception, as he gets a great role in the very beginning of the story, and has several witty asides throughout the story.
The guest cast is mostly filled with members of the Jago & Litefoot range, with Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter back as the titular heroes Jago and Litefoot, respectively. I found them to be very fun here, with Jago given a slightly larger role throughout the story. I particularly liked Benjamin's chemistry with Baker throughout the story, as I felt they worked well together. Baxter did a great job as well; I particularly enjoyed the scene right at the start of the second episode, though I found that his scenes with Ward tended to drag a bit too much. Also returning from Jago & Litefoot is Conrad Asquith as Inspector Quick, in a smaller role. Asquith didn't leave too much of an impression in this story, and I suspect it was basically a cameo role. Rounding out the guest cast is Ed Stoppard as Sir Nicholas Asquin. Stoppard did a perfectly fine job with a rather uninteresting character, giving him a bit life more than just standard guest star, but he still never really managed to stand out. However, a line right before the end seems to imply that Sir Nicholas will return in a future Jago and Litefoot story, so I will reserve full judgment until then.
Justin Richards delivered a perfectly fine, if generally uninspired story. The story of a villain using alien technology to commit a crime spree has been done more times than I can count, but the format can be shaken up a bit. However, I think, apart from the welcome addition of Jago and Litefoot to the mix, it didn't really have anything terribly interesting going for it. The story arc was rather cookie cutter, with a mysterious, bland villain and a meandering, standard Fourth Doctor plot line. It was perfectly fine, and did the job set out for it well, don't get me wrong; I just wish Richards had tried to rise above more than just perfectly fine with the story. One final thing to note with this story is that this really felt like a backdoor pilot for the next series of Jago & Litefoot. It seems like Asquin was being set up to return in the Jago & Litefoot, Series 13 and, with the incidental music being basically identical to the Jago & Litefoot theme music, it seems like Richards wasn't so much writing a Fourth Doctor story, but a Jago & Litefoot story featuring the Doctor. That's more just an observation, rather than a compliment or criticism.
I also just wanted to note one little thing about the music. The first is that this is one of the first times I've noticed Big Finish using the Season 18 theme (apart from A Full Life) and certainly the first time it's been used in the Fourth Doctor Adventures. The change in theme music is a nice little change, and I'm happy to see they reflected the change on the cover, by changing the story info banner to match the Season 18 opening credits.
Overall, The Beast of Kravenos was a perfectly fine story, even if it was a bit bland. The cast did a good job, with stars Ward, Leeson, and Benjamin all standing out a bit more than the others in this story, and writer Justin Richards delivered a perfectly fine script. It does have its share of issues, namely the overall bland nature of the story, from the bland plot all the way to the bland villain. But it was a fine, enjoyable start to the sixth series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures, and that's all I can ask for.