Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 9/25/17 9:00 pm
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In Truant, the Doctor (David Warner) has gone missing, and Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman) is on his trail. But Benny just keeps missing him, as the Doctor looks for adventure, but is continuously disappointed. So when the two finally meet, and are captured, the Doctor is thrilled, while Benny is just frustrated. Soon, the Doctor and Benny will become embroiled in a planet's conflict, and the two must stop bickering and work together to solve it; the planet's doomed then. Truant continues Guy Adams' focus on the Doctor and Benny's relationship and how the two interact with one another with a brilliantly funny story. While Adams' previous contribution felt a little lacking in the story department, here we have an enjoyable, shallow story that acts as a complement to the greater story at large. Bowerman Warner get another chance to show off his comedic chops here as Benny and the Doctor, as the two have an excellent chemistry with one another. The guest cast, namely Catrin Stewart and Jonathan Bailey, were excellent here, serving as excellent, comedic complements to the story at large. It was a solidly funny release, and an extremely enjoyable one.
Lisa Bowerman and David Warner return as Benny and the Doctor, reunited once again in the Unbound Universe. Bowerman is yet again a positive delight in the role as Benny, which she's an old hat at playing nowadays. Warner is similarly excellent as the Doctor; I particularly liked the more humorous bits of his character in this story, as he laments that people are scared of him, and that people are willing to give up when they see him. One of my favorite moments is him exclaiming that being dosed with knockout gas is "lovely". Meanwhile, Benny plays the straight man in their two-man act, though she herself has her comedic moments, such as presenting her coffee shop card to the guard of the library. Bowerman does a great job playing it straight throughout the story, and I'm sure her costars were dying in the booths. But the best part of these two performances are the excellent chemistry that the two actors share. Bowerman and Warner hit it off so well together, and the story is so much better for it. The moment where the two are in the prison cell at the very beginning, and the moment at the end as they threaten Lakis and his forces with destruction should they oppose him are two brilliant scenes that work so well because the two actors feed off one anothers' performances, making for a brilliant double act by the two.
Joining Warner and Bowerman and guest cast members Catrin Stewart as Killian, and Jonathan Bailey as Lakis. Stewart, who is know to most Doctor Who fans as Jenny Flint, a member of the Paternoster Gang, here steps into the role of ever suffering aide to President Lakis, with a lot of fun. She plays her role more deadpan than I would've expected from here, but does it so well. I particularly liked the way she played off of Bailey's overreactions throughout the story, as they felt like a great double-act in their own right. Bailey too is excellent in his role as Lakis, the president of the planet that Benny and the Doctor have come to. Bailey plays his character nervously, with a sense of fear at his plans being discovered, and an honesty that I wasn't expecting from the character. He acts against Warner very well, portraying his character well as a frightened young man in way over his head.
Guy Adams' final contribution for this box set is a brilliantly funny affair. I particularly liked the cold open of the story, which I felt was a comedic highlight of the set, as the Doctor goes planet to planet attempting to stop several horrific events, only to have the villains cower at his mere appearance. The script is filled with moments like that, from Lakis babbling his entire plan to an unsuspecting Doctor the minute he walks in to his office, to moments like the ending, where the Doctor is able to convince Lakis to stand down with a small threat, and then have Benny extract so much from him in the process. The script really runs through it's comedic beats well, with lots of sarcasm and dry wit throughout the story given to Benny and the Doctor. I also quite liked how the story was set up, such that while Adams' previous story felt like an interesting story overshadowed by the character work between Benny and the Doctor, this piece, while still unmistakably character work between those two, had a story that was more organic to that idea. It was a very simple Doctor Who story, where the Doctor and his companion go off and have an adventure. But what makes it so brilliant is that this is one of the first times we've actually had this kind of story with this Doctor. And it comes out so well; it's funny, it's rompy, it's silly and irreverent, and throughout it all, it's just brilliant.
The sound design work for this box set has generally been pretty great too, and no more so than it was here. Steve Foxon did both the sound design and music for this set, and his sound design work is really good throughout. Sound effects and ambient noises throughout the story give the listener an excellent world to immerse themselves in. Lots of little noises and touches, like small sounds in offices or the ambient sound of a crowd, all play a part in making a release, and often are taken for granted by listeners. I like pointing out when Big Finish does good sound design work, because they are one of the best companies for this exact reason.
Overall, Truant is a fun, silly, irreverent, rompy story that showcases the excellent chemistry between its two leads. Bowerman and Warner are both wonderful as Benny and the Doctor, but together, they are a force to be reckoned with, as the two share a lovely, strong chemistry. The guest cast, including Stewart and Bailey, were similarly great, feeding off the performances of the two leads to craft their own, excellent performances together. Guy Adams' final contribution to this box set was an extremely enjoyable, rompy affair, with lots of brilliant humour, some great character work for Benny and the Doctor, and a solid story to go hand-in-hand with that character work. I'm very excited to hear how Goss is going to close out this set too, given the cliffhanger ending.