Welcome to Big Finishing Move! Around these parts I get the chance to review audio releases from Big Finish, giving you the low down on whether they’re worth your cash or if you’re better served by saving that bit of coin so you can by that tasty craft beer instead of whatever cheap garbage is on sale the next time you hit up the liquor store.
This week we’re looking at the final two entries in the Fourth Doctor Adventures for this year, The Pursuit of History and Casualties of Time.
Let’s dive in and see what’s what, shall we?
TARDIS Team: The Fourth Doctor, Romana II, and K-9 Mark II
Once again chilling out in the vortex, we find our heroes enjoying some down time. K-9 and Romana are tracking this strange bird creature that has taken up residence inside the TARDIS, while the Doctor seems adamant to ignore and/or dismiss the animal’s existence any time it is brought up. However, all this animal wrangling is put to the side as the Laan, a creature with psychic and time manipulation abilities, makes mental contact with Romana, who had previously communicated and aided the Laan when they were in trouble.
The Laan soon sucks Romana into the vortex, not understanding that this is lethal to our Time Lady, but luckily, the Laan is able to get Romana safely back into normal space and to where they need to go, the headquarters of the Conglomerate. It seems the mega-corporation is once again up to no good, and is using the Laan to further their nefarious plans. The Doctor in turn seeks to find Romana and instead runs into Cuthbertt, the man in charge of the Conglomerate, who travels throughout time to make sure that his company will one day grow into the unstoppable juggernaut we know it to be in the future.
This story is a follow up from a series of stories from the second season of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. I haven’t covered any of these tales in this series, but to give you the short version, they were weak stories in the weakest season for this series, and it was made all the more tragic as it would be the last time Mary Tamm would take up the role of Romana before losing her battle with cancer. The whole deal with the Conglomerate and Cuthbertt ended with more questions than answers, and with Lalla Ward now on the Fourth Doctor Adventures, the team at Big Finish seized the opportunity to fill in the rest of the story, and after listening to it, I wish they had instead skipped it and done something else.
The issue here isn’t that anything is overpoweringly awful. My issue is that this two-part story, along with the installments from Season 2, are tales littered with the seeds of great ideas that just don’t seem to go anywhere, and don’t bother to provide a satisfactory conclusion. While these episodes talk about the nature and culture of corporations (both good and bad), they don’t do anything particularity compelling.
I’d love to say that the character of Cuthbertt was worthy of having an actor of David Warner’s caliber bringing him to life, but sadly, it just isn’t so. Second Doctor Patrick Troughton’s son, David Troughton, who is a fine actor in his own right, also has a pivotal role in this pair of stories, and sadly, he feels more wasted than anything else. These two fellows, along with everyone else, act their asses off, but there isn’t enough meat on the bones of their characters to make what they’re saying and doing all that compelling.
The ultimate problem is that the whole Laan/Cuthbertt saga never congealed into anything of note. It’s dripping with wasted potential, and that is frustrating to no end. Stories where the plot is driving towards the reveal of greater mysteries only work if the final reveal works, and bless everyone’s hard working hearts, but when the curtain was finally pulled back, it left me feeling cold and unfulfilled.
I apologize if I’m coming off as overly negative here. To be clear, there are some good things to be found in these episodes in terms of pacing and character interaction, but as good as those bits may be, there aren’t enough to make up for the unsatisfactory resolutions in both this set of stories and the previous Laan/Cuthbertt entries.
Unless you’re a completionist, go ahead and give these stories a pass.
Purchase Doctor Who: The Pursuit of History And Casualties of Time Here:
Hey, as long as I have your attention, I think you might want to check out the rest of One Of Us for all the other great stuff we have available. We have articles, reviews, podcasts, and even some audio dramas, including a new sci-fi survival series called The Orphans. So do yourself a favor and take a peep around the site to see if anything tickles your fancy!
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, The Cloisters of Terror, The Acheron Pulse, The Fate of Krelos, The Shadow Heart, Return to Telos, The Sixth Doctor – The Last Adventure, Doom Collation I, The Yes Men, The War Doctor: Only The Monstrous, Wave of Destruction, The Labyrinth of Buda Castle, The War Doctor Volume 02: Infernal Devices, Doom Coalition 2, The Paradox Planet, Legacy of Death, The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume 1, Gallery of Ghouls, The Trouble with Drax