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< 6.8 - The Skin of the Sleek

6.9 - The Thief Who Stole Time

Rating Votes
10
15%
2
9
15%
2
8
15%
2
7
8%
1
6
23%
3
5
15%
2
4
8%
1
3
0%
0
2
0%
0
1
0%
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Average Rating
7.2
Votes
13
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Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
4
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: thisoldcanReview Date: 9/26/17 12:12 am
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

In the final story of Series 6 of The Fourth Doctor Adventures, Romana (Lalla Ward) has been abandoned by Sartia (Joannah Tincey), while the Doctor (Tom Baker) is off with the villagers, as they try to find a new Sleek to worship. Fundrell itself holds a mystery, one the Time Lords have a large stake in, and will stop at nothing to use. With events running wild on Fundrell, the Doctor and Romana will have to work quickly to find one another and prevent Sartia's plans from coming to fruition. The Thief Who Stole Time ends this series with an enjoyable enough story, even as it felt a bit boring at times. Lalla Ward and Joannah Tincey continue to do fabulous work as Romana and Sartia in this story, while Alan Cox also emerges as the enjoyable Eamonn Orensky. Marc Platt's script doesn't match the quality of last month's story, but is nonetheless enjoyable enough. Parts of the story certainly drag, especially in the first half of the story, and the arc of the villain is questionable at best, but overall, it ends up being a mostly enjoyable story to listen to.

Tom Baker returns as the Fourth Doctor in this story. Now sounding inevitably older, Baker still hasn't lost the winking charm he once had playing the role. Still, Baker takes more of a backseat here in this story to costar Lalla Ward, who gives another excellent performance. I don't know what Ken Bentley said to Ward, but throughout the last two stories of the series, Ward has never sounded more youthful in the role. She captures the giggling little Robin to the Doctor's Batman throughout the first story, while here, she takes on a different line of acting, giving a performance filled with genuine hurt at Sartia's betrayal. My favorite part of the story is Romana in the end, expressing doubt in herself, leaving herself a little more vulnerable, as she questions is she's boring and stuffy and annoying. It's a lovely little scene, because Ward really sells the hell out of her uncertainty and her hurt with that scene, and it's made all the better by a delightful bit of acting from Baker, as he assures her that she is none of those things, and she's greater than Sartia will ever be.

The guest cast of the first story returns for the second story, and yet again Joannah Tincey stands out as Sartia. While the reveal that she secretly despised Romana fell flat in last story due to some bland writing, Tincey claims the role of villain in this story with an excellent performance. Sartia, as played by Tincey, is almost running parallel to Romana in this story; she's unsure of herself as well, but in a slightly different way. As observed by Klick Chervain (Kieran Hodgson), Sartia has never done anything criminal or evil, and that shows in how she tries to negotiate. Tincey gives her a bit of desperation in this aspect, as she tries to figure out how to harness the energy of the planet's core and make sure she has help with it. Also standing out, in a bit of a surprise, is Alan Cox as Eamonn Orensky, the videographer of the events of the stories. Cox is a great comedic presence who largely went underused in last month's story, while here, he ramps it up a bit more, standing out amongst the cast.

Marc Platt's script is where the bulk of the issues arise from with this story. The best part about the story though was the second half of the story. Once each faction was on a collision course for one another, it became a highly enjoyable story, for the most part. I particularly liked the scenes of the Doctor on the ship hunting for a new Sleek, and the interactions the Doctor had with Greygul (Jamie Newall) and others. Likewise, the few moments where Ward's Romana expressed her vulnerability were highlights throughout the story, giving a deeper look at an already interesting character, and showing how she's progressed over the years. However, to get to the second half of the story, you have to trudge through the rather boring first half of the story. Not much happens in the first story, beyond setting the characters on a collision course for one another, and even that drags on and on. There's not a whole lot in the way of interesting stuff going on in that first part; Romana is still devastated by the betrayal of Sartia, Sartia is lying about what happened to Romana, and the Doctor and company are trying to work together. Once all the groups get together, the story starts to move, but getting to that point is a drag.

That brings me to my last issue with the story, which is with Sartia and her character arc. Sartia worked so well in the first story, because she didn't really have an ulterior motive, beyond wanting to take revenge on Romana. It was a laser-focused drive for her, and all she wanted to do was make Romana feel the same way she did. It was a compelling arc, and one I liked, going into this story. However, coming into this story, it becomes clear that Sartia does have ulterior motives, and wishes to harness the energy of the planet to become powerful and more well-known than Romana, and that's where the character starts to unravel. Sartia is brilliantly played by Tincey, but when her characters moves away from her desire for revenge on Romana, she loses a lot of her appeal. The character was so compelling because she was almost defined by her desire for revenge, and when she obtained it, it was a triumph. But it feels like Platt shoehorned in a "grand master plan" plot for Sartia, simply for the sake of having a straight up villain in the story, when I think they had a compelling questionable villain with Sartia already in place, without the need for the character to have an ulterior motive.

Overall, The Thief Who Stole Time is an okay ending to Series 6 of The Fourth Doctor Adventures. There are several problems in the script, such as the rather boring first half, and the rather disappointing arc for the villain of the story, but there's also a lot of good in it. The cast is strong throughout, especially Lalla Ward as Romana, while guest stars Joannah Tincey and Alan Cox shines as their respective characters. After the meandering first half of the story, the story gets a bit of a kick in the backside, and becomes a lot more enjoyable to listen to, as you can hear each faction interacting with one another. Taken as a story on it's own, it's enjoyable enough, and taken as part of a two-part story, it's a good ending to the series.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: SpaceFritter Review Date: 9/14/17 2:11 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

All I'd like to say here in contrast to the other reviewer is that both of these final stories have received a consistent 10/10 rating from almost all the major Dr. Who critics, such as Blogger Who, RedRocketRising amongst a few I can recall right now. Check out BigFinish's Twitter feed for quick access to reviews. Or check out BigFinish's news section on their website. They often discuss reviews of particular titles. Of course, they're hand picking the most favourable per release so don't limit yourself to their chosen few. I'm just saying its as good a place as any to find a list of reputable sci-fi critics. Just remember reviews, both amateur & professional, can often simply be someone elses personal views about what kind of stories they like. The challenge is finding those reviewers who have similar tastes to your own.

Overall, for me personally, the Fourth Doctor Adventures are one of my absolute favourite series at BigFinish. So why would I choose to read a reviewer who systematically discredits this range. Obviously they don't like this series and I do!

In terms of the fourth doctor adventures, certainly some stories are better than others but overall I've never been disappointed and am so grateful to Nicholas Briggs for convincing Tom Baker to return to his canonical role as one of the very best doctors of all times. I simply can't get enough of his stories. Same can be said of the return of third doctor @Bigfinish with the new Third Doctor Adventures with Tim Trelor - absolutely fantastic. Anyhow, all I'm trying to say here is that I often think your enjoyment of Dr. Who stories often comes down to personal taste and which doctor you enjoy more.

Another good thing to consider is the style of writing you enjoy more. Each series has been given an overall style which limits what kind of stories can be written for it. Generally this is done in an attempt to play homage to the writing styles in fashion at the time of the TV series. And some ppl naturally of course, prefer a certain style over others. I in fact really struggled with the Fourth Doctor series both on audio and TV initially because they follow a distinct pattern that is very different to modern story telling. For one, the pace is much much slower. Some of you have called that boring but that's just how it was at the time. And BigFinish have chosen to rerepresent those thematic styles in this audio series. If they didn't, how could we actually call it the fourth doctor? But of course, that can take some getting used to.

Another thing to consider, I find, is the actual writer of each story and their personal story telling preferences and style. Each of them has strengths and limitations which each of us is more likely to enjoy or otherwise.

For example, Marc Platt is considered one of the very best writers, writing for BigFinish. I'd struggle to find many of his stories anything less than awesome. But hey that's just me and most the world! (Kidding, a wee joke.) But seriously, if he's not your thing, then what I've done is to use timescales to find those Ep you really love. Then, check out who wrote each of them and search for other stories they've written. I'd be surprised if you didn't enjoy many of them also.

I've read some very harsh reviews on here for this series and with each one, I couldn't have disagreed more strongly. I'd encourage anyone reading these personal reviews to also please check out at least one or two reviews by the professional online critics, especially if it's overly critical.

One final comment, if you can bare it, is that it simply leaves me aghast to visit this site and within days of a release the most common ratings are below 5, for releases getting 10/10 everywhere else.

It's really made me think - are there ppl purposefully messing about with the ratings? If so, please stop, it's not funny. This place works well because ppl are honest, well most ppl anyhow. If you just don't like a range of stories why rate them at all?

Thanks everyone. I hope some of my comments prove helpful to some ppl. I think this is a fantastic website and I thank everyone who contributes. These comments are only my own views and I don't mean any offence to anyone. I just happen to disagree with some views on here and wished to voice my own. Happy listening folks!
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
5
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 9/13/17 3:48 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

After the events of the previous story "The Skin of the Sleek", Romana II has been abandoned by her 'friend' Sartia in the barren gelatinous wastes of Fundarell while the Doctor has been taken by the villagers as their new mystic of sorts with a goal of searching for a new god to worship. But as was discovered, Fundarell has a deep secret and one that the Time Lords themselves are eager to protect and with events spiraling out of control it will be up to the Doctor and Romana to find each other and prevent Sartia's plans from happening. As a conclusion to a two part story, 'Thief' works OK for the most part and continues the quality of the story of being good but not great. The good elements continue to be good of course with more details on the world itself, the main cast working well, and a decent enough pace once the action picks up in the second half on the story as every faction heads on a collision course with each other. However, the boring and lackluster stuff continues to be quite dull and it doesn't really get a chance to improve much. I really couldn't care about this world and what was going on around it and the details become so muddled at times that I honestly didn't know what I was supposed to be paying attention to or not. However, what saves this story from mediocrity is the main cast. Tom Baker is good as the Doctor as always but this story really feels like Romana's story overall and thankfully this is some of Lalla Ward's best work in the role. She really runs the gambit of emotions beautifully here especially in how she begins to doubt and question herself and her vulnerabilities with what Sartia said about her in the moment of betrayal. By the end however, the Doctor has brought her back around and reassured her that she is greater than Sartia will ever be and that to me is what works in this entire two parter. Sartia herself serves a good villain until the end but I honestly wish her motivation had been kept simply to revenge against Romana rather than the grandiose plans that she has for herself and the Time Lords. That drive seemed to be what really defined her and when her character begins to skew from that in this story, she does lose a little bit of the interest I had for her. The rest of the cast and details of this story honestly aren't worth mentioning for me as I barely remember anything else minus the character points between Romana, Sartia, and the Doctor. Overall, I would say 'Thief' and it's predecessor story 'Skin' are a major disappointment for what they were built up to be especially as a conclusion to this series of Fourth Doctor stories. The good stuff however does shine through especially if you are a fan of this TARDIS team as I am in particular Romana herself who continues to remain my favorite Classic Who companion. I would say that there are definitely better Fourth Doctor and Romana stories out there and I wouldn't revisit this one again but overall this one is a decent distraction if you want something new and different even if you don't necessarily get much out of it by the end.