Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 9/25/17 9:04 pm
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In the final story of this set, The True Saviour of the Universe, the Doctor (David Warner) is facing an impeachment hearing, and Benny (Lisa Bowerman) is powerless to stop it. However, Benny is approached by an unlikely ally: the Master (Sam Kisgart). Despite the complete lack of trust Benny has in the Master, she's out of options, and agrees to try and save the Doctor from his impeachment hearing. But underneath it all, the Doctor has some secrets of his own; something he's been keeping close to his chest, all these years, and something that's about to come out. The final story of The Ruler of the Universe set mostly sticks the landing, with an enjoyable story, resolving several lingering plot lines with a good bow. Lisa Bowerman and David Warner are great here, and the very welcome return of Sam Kisgart as the Master and Rowena Cooper as Mother Superior. Goss' script is enjoyable and fun, though I did feel that the resolution went by far too quickly for my liking.
Lisa Bowerman is the unquestionable star of this set, starring as title character Bernice Summerfield. Bowerman was a delight to listen to throughout the story; as I said in my review of the first story, she can run the gamut of the emotional spectrum depending on what's asked of her, and she's given the opportunity to do it all. She's able to portray relief and elation at the end of the story, and she's able to portray a real anger and sadness at other parts of the story. She's sarcastic, she's biting, but more than that, she's never dull, and she's always engaging and compelling. David Warner is the main co-star of this story, reprising his role as the Unbound Doctor. Warner has been a jaded delight throughout the entire box set, and here he's on rare form again, delivering a rather excellent performance. I particularly like his careful performance during his big speech to the assembled government members. And that's not to
Returning also are Sam Kisgart as the Master and Rowena Cooper as Mother Superior. Kisgart, who was criminally underused in the first set, is once again underused here. His sly, silky smooth performance as the Master belies a deeply dangerous streak that Kisgart just hints at throughout the story. What's more impressive is that for once, it seems like the Master really isn't the cause of all these issues, and instead, he's actually simply trying to help for once. And Kisgart delivers this convincingly, a rare feat for actors who often delve too far into the schlocky sometimes with these kinds of evil roles. Cooper too is enjoyable as Mother Superior, the Ohila to the Warner Doctor, giving an excellent performance alongside Warner and his Doctor throughout the story. I particularly liked the small nod she gives at the end of the story to Warner as he goes off into the sunset, as I felt that was so in character for her and her character, and that it was such a sweet little moment.
Tasked with ending the set, James Goss mostly delivers on that front, with a solid ending that pulls together the best elements of the Warner Doctor's era of Doctor Who, for a finale to remember. The highlight of the set is absolutely the character work for the three main characters of the story: Benny, the Doctor, and the Master. The Master's character was my favorite for this story, because he truly was innocent in this story, compared to other stories. He wasn't trying to conquer the universe, and even as he competed against the Doctor for the presidency, it wasn't his plan. He had planned for the Doctor to win, because that's what he wanted, and when he won it instead, it was an excellent about face for the story. Similarly, the arcs of Benny and the Doctor in this story were excellent little arcs; I quite liked how Benny decided not to wait for the Doctor here, even though the Doctor was convinced she would. It was a sad little scene, and it was one of my favorites of the story. However, the story did lack in one respect: the ending. At the end of the story, Goss is forced to pack about 20 minutes of ending into about 5 minutes of actual storytelling, having to explain the Doctor's plan to Benny in record time. It goes by so quickly that you practically have whiplash after hearing it, which is shame because I quite like how the ending plays out.
The big news from the ending is that Benny has been returned to the main universe... as has the Doctor. This is a development I had almost been hoping for, but not one I was expecting; I was frankly either expecting Warner's Doctor to regenerate into someone new, or for Benny to get dropped off in the main universe. I had hoped for this ending, but I didn't think it would happen; that it does is excellent in my opinion, and bodes well for the series moving forward. I don't know what this could mean; maybe we'll have some adventures with both the Seventh Doctor and the Warner Doctor together, or maybe we'll have the Warner Doctor interacting with characters from the main universe for the first time. Either way, I'm excited to see where future box sets lead to.
Overall, the final story of The Ruler of the Universe is a fitting ending to the set, reuniting all the key players for an excellent ending. Bowerman and Warner are both at the top of their game as Benny and the Doctor, sharing their excellent chemistry once again, and both selling the hell out of their performances. Kisgart's return is a welcome one too, providing an excellent character for Benny to bounce off of, and providing a bit of menacing fun to the story, and the return of Cooper from the first set is another welcome return. Goss' story manages to mostly stick the landing, though it stumbles a bit at the end, trying to explain how the story is being resolved. Given all those aspects, and the excellent look towards the future at the end, this was an extremely enjoyable release, and on I'm very happy Big Finish took another chance on.