Howdy-do, people and welcome to another fine edition of the greatest review series of the works of the masters of audio over at Big Finish here on One Of Us (it’s easy to be the best when you’re the only one), BIG FINISHING MOVE! This time around we cover one of the final installments of the Fourth Doctor Adventures for 2015. A little diddy by the name of The Cloisters of Terror. Is this new installment worthy of your attention or just another passing distraction? Let’s hop right in and find out!
TARDIS Team: The Fourth Doctor and Leela
There is evil afoot at St. Matilda’s College in Oxford. A young girl has gone missing and the Doctor, Leela, and the Dean of the College, Dame Emily Shaw (mother of a former companion of the Doctor back in his Third incarnation, Liz Shaw) are on the case. Can they figure out the secrets of this convent turned college, or will their meddling only cause more disaster and suffering?
This is a pretty basic Who-type story. the only real thing that sets it apart is the fact that save the Doctor, this is an entirely female cast. To the story’s credit, this situation is acknowledged and then we move on, which is how it should be. Don’t misunderstand, I’m glad we can have a Who story that is almost all women. I just know of too many stories in fiction where the fact that all the characters are women is the only thing they have to show or say and that does little to entertain or move the world socially forward in any way. The setting is such that it makes complete sense why there aren’t other males than the Doctor around and then nothing more is said about it. No pining for a man to come save them or speeches about how they don’t need men, just characters getting on with the situation as they are the ones who are there dealing with it at the time.
The high point of of this whole thing is Rowena Cooper as Dame Emily Shaw. Supposedly hand picked by Caroline John (who played Liz Shaw) herself to play Liz’s mother in a previous Companion Chronicle from 2012, The Last Post. Sadly, this was John’s final performance in Who before her death, which shelved all the plans Big Finish had to bring Cooper’s character back and develop her more. Cooper injects the story with a level of warmth and sophistication and it is my sincere hope that they find a way to bring her back for more.
The low point is the two main college girls played by Allison McKenzie and Claudia Grant. Now I went through the trouble of looking both of these these ladies up and I can verify that they both have considerable chops, so it isn’t any lack of talent on their parts. If anything, it is that they are too good at playing these characters I find grating. These characters could have been written a thousand different ways, why they chose to go for the deer in the headlights sort of portrayal is well and truly beyond me.
Look, save your money and don’t pick this one up unless it goes on one of those super deals Big Finish occasionally runs throughout the year. I want to wave my progressive flag and champion this story, but its flaws are too numerous for me to look past them. The big problem here is that the audience is expected to do all the heavy lifting. The set up of a mystery of disappearing girls throughout history in this convent (so they can use all the Catholic architecture and iconography) turned all girls college seems perfect for a gripping ghost/horror story, but the way the story is paced along with sound design that except for a few spots does hardly anything to enhance the experience leaves the whole thing coming off flat. Perhaps as a television episode or a comic book where the visuals could compensate for what wasn’t in the script this thing might have had legs, but as an audio this sucker is lacking. It is too in a hurry to move from one point to the next then to take a moment and build the atmosphere it is so desperately trying to invoke. Bottom line, it tells, but it doesn’t sell.
Purchase Doctor Who: The Cloisters of Terror Here:
On the mood for even more audio goodies? Well looky here, we here at One of Us have our own audio drama series Infinite Variations, and this is also the home of the spin-off from The Intergalactic Nemesis, Salt. Now, all this is stuff happens to be 100% FREE here, so get to it. Your ears will thank you.
Oh, and next time we are heading back to the Drashani Empire with the Sixth Doctor in:
Check out my previous reviews:
Phantasmagoria, The Fearmonger, The Light At The End, The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, Storm Warning, Blood of the Daleks, The Chimes of Midnight, Seasons of Fear, The King of Sontar, White Ghosts, Dark Eyes II, The Crooked Man, Project: Twilight, The Evil One, The Harvest, The Last Of The Colophon, The Council Of Nicaea, Destroy The Infinite, Afterlife, The Abandoned, Zygon Hunt, Revenge Of The Swarm, Philip Hinchcliffe Presents Box Set, Dark Eyes 3, Mask of Tragedy, The Fourth Doctor By Gareth Roberts, The Exxilions, The Darkness of Glass, Dark Eyes IV, Requiem for the Rocket Men, Signs And Wonders, Death Match, Suburban Hell, The Burning Prince