Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 9/26/17 12:12 am
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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.