Welcome all you hep cats and kittens to Big Finishing Move, the little section of One Of Us granted to me by Lords Cox and Salisbury to review the audio works of one Big Finish. After the utter brilliance that was last year’s Afterlife, the next story in the Hector Thomas arc has some big shoes to fill. Does the first outing of this (sort-of) new TARDIS team live up to the high expectations set upon them or does it stall out into plodding nonsense that is a waste of your time and dime? Let’s go find out!
TARDIS Team: The Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Hector Thomas
We open with the Doctor and Ace taking in the sights of some far off scenic planet. Seems they’ve been taking Hector on a sort of “beauty of the universe” journey to ease him into the whole zipping through time and space thing. This also has allowed time for the wound between the Doctor and Ace over Hex’s death to heal and they once again are like peas in a pod. Kind of hard to be mad at someone for getting your best friend killed when said best friend is alive and (mostly) well right beside you. While the Doctor and Ace are out and about, Hector wakes from a long nap and wants to join them outside. While trying to get the door to work Hector is exposed to the Swarm. The Swarm has been hiding out and laying dormant in the TARDIS since it encountered the Fourth Doctor back in The Invisible Enemy (talk about patience) and it sees in Hector a chance at revenge. What follows is a crazy twisting story through time and the timeline of the Swarm itself.
One thing that is certainly off here, especially when you are coming off the previous story, is that our main characters seem to have been set back to their default states. I can understand that healing has begun between the Doctor and Ace, but he has let her down and failed a great deal lately. The very existence of Hector Thomas serves as walking, talking proof of that, yet she has this whole section where she goes on about how great the Doctor is and how he always pulls through. I just don’t see Ace saying that given recent events, it just doesn’t fit.
Meanwhile, Hector comes off way flatter and uninteresting when compared to Afterlife. He had a real edge to him in that story. He ran a semi-seedy nightclub and had a group of thugs to do his dirty work. Here, it seems they just have him play “Not -Hex.” The Doctor is always the Doctor, so he makes it out the best of the bunch. This story has the strong scent of being written well in advance of the recent shake-up in the Seventh Doctor stories. Instead of going through and reworking the piece to reflect these developments, they just slapped on some connecting lines at the beginning and end relating to the overall arc.
The reason that I find this such a glaring error with the characters’ overall attitudes is it distracts me and ruins my immersion at points of what is otherwise a damn fine story. Jonathan Morris has formed a well crafted tale full of twists and turns you don’t expect. The second half leans toward the sort of adventure implied by the cover, a slick cyber adventure. However, the first half is an equally intriguing bit of work with time itself. The Doctor is running the risk of altering events from his own timeline and watching him try to manage the loss of life as best he can while still seeing a horror come into being is quite interesting.
The cyber adventure wears its fandom on its sleeve as it references the two most well known pieces in the genre, The Matrix and Tron. The Matrix may be the one directly referenced in the story, as we have Ace mention the movie outright (when in her timeline she had the time to see the movie is not explained). However, the cyber world itself pulls heavily from Tron. The addition of the motorcycles lets you know that any similarity is entirely and lovingly intentional.
So what we are left here at the end is an exciting and fun tale that could have just used one more pass before recording so that it could fit in with the larger story. Still, as a standalone I have nothing bad to say about this tale. It is well worth a listen so grab yourself a physical or digital copy when you get a chance.
Purchase Doctor Who: Revenge Of The Swarm Here:
Do note dear readers, we here at One of Us have our own audio drama series which goes by the name of Infinite Variations and we are also home to Jason Neulander’s new spin-off series from The Intergalactic Nemesis entitled Salt. Go get yourself some glorious audio goodness!
For next time, prepare for some classic Who horror with:
Until then, happy listening!
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