How you doing space cowboys, and welcome one and all to Big Finishing Move! With this series I have the privilege to review all the cool audio drama stuff coming down the Big Finish pipeline. I put down my own hard earned cash to let you fine folks know if you should follow suit or keep your ducats stashed away for a rainy day.
For this thrilling installment we’re finally back with the Fifth Doctor (whom was last seen in The Burning Prince way back in June of last year). After wrapping up this year’s Fourth Doctor Adventures, it felt right to move on to the fifth incarnation of everyone’s favorite Time Lord, and from the previews alone, this looked to to be the perfect self-contained story to do that. So, did I choose a winner or a loser? Let’s take a look and find out.
TARDIS Team: The Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan
Life is very busy for Hargreaves. As the AI in charge of managing and maintaining everything for the crew of the research vessel, the Aquitaine, he keeps a full schedule. It waters the plants, cleans the ship, provides general maintenance, makes the meals, and adjusts the ships flight plan so the crew can keep studying the black hole they are circling. Yep, Hargreaves sure has a full and fulfilling day to day that is thankfully without problems…well, other than the tiny little fact his crew seems to be missing.
Enter the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan, who land on the Aquitaine in response to the distress signal. Can the Doctor and the gang solve the mystery of the missing crew before they end up missing themselves?
The humor of this piece is really sharp. There is really only one big joke from which stems a dozen or so smaller ones, but it never becomes tiresome, and the writers made it central to the plot so it makes sense to keep coming back to it. Usually in Doctor Who when they follow this sort of path, it is to provide social commentary, such as all the barbs at political bureaucracy in The Sun Makers, however, this is not the case with Aquitane. This story uses the main gag as a symptom of the real issue at hand, working as a guiding force to drive our cast towards the real threat. This shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does the job here and it does it with style.
The standout performance here has to be Matthew Cottle as Hargreaves. Given what is going on with his character, he has to hit the same lines and react in the in the same way even though the other characters are reacting differently to him each time. This would be a struggle for any actor, but Cottle not only hits the comedic mark every time, but he makes it sound effortless and easy.
Aquitane starts off on the silly side and you think everything is going to be a light romp, but then the tension and danger start ramping up and keep on doing so up till the very end. The solution doesn’t make much actual sense once you stop to think about it, but given the crazy time tricks the Doctor can pull off on a good day, along with being so close to a black hole, which would cause further time distortions, it’s real easy to give it a pass. It even brings up these points in the story as the Doctor is doing them to let the audience know that the writers were pushing it for all they were worth with their resolution. This a is a fun, smart, and easy to digest self-contained story that wisely doesn’t try to be more than it is. In the grand scheme of things, you can skip this one and not miss out on anything important, but anybody who does decide to give this a chance will have fun, and that is enough to get a thumbs up from me.
Purchase Doctor Who: Aquitaine Here:
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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, The Pursuit of History And Casualties of Time (dual review)