Happy new year everybody and welcome back to Big Finishing Move! For those unfamiliar with what we do here, this is the little section of One Of Us where I get to look at the output of audio drama powerhouse Big Finish and tell you if I think it is great or utter garbage. In the past we focused entirely on their work with the Doctor Who franchise, but this year I’d like to also look at some of the original spin-off series they’ve done as well.
We’re back to our regular schedule, which means you can expect one to two reviews from me a month. I’m rather proud of this series and I want to make 2015 an even bigger and better year and I hope you will come along with me.
Stepping back into things, it is about time I look at the second entry of the most recent trilogy of Seventh Doctor stories. After the events of Revenge of the Swarm our merry band has decided to hit up ancient Athens to have some fun and catch a play or two. What adventures await them there?! Let’s find out!
TARDIS Team: The Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Hector Thomas
While tragedy may be the word in the title, this sucker is firmly filed under the comedy side of the equation. Oh it has its darker moments, but they don’t last and none of them have any lasting punch. It fully embraces its lighter nature and the nature of plays of the time itself, with a hero, a villain, and Ace of all things as the Greek chorus.
One of the more interesting choices taken here is the idea that all of Athens is so used to being visited by aliens and time travelers that it has become commonplace. Usually the TARDIS crew lies or is otherwise nebulous when asked where they come from, here you can feel the Athenians roll their eyes as they pretty much say to all the travelers “look, could you just say your from space and be done with it?!”.
This installment also continues the trend of messing with Hector “don’t call me Hex” Thomas’s mind. third straight entry that seen forces screwing with his head, this keeps up and Hector will be staring off into space while drooling into a cup before long.
One of the parts that doesn’t work for me is Ace’s line through the story which is all about female empowerment. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not against female empowerment stories and I don’t think women are in any way lesser then men, but it does bug me how contrived these stories often are. Ace goes out spoiling for a fight due to the poor treatment of her gender in the time period. You’d think this version of Ace, one that has been traveling with the Doctor for untold years at this point would be a little more savvy about things like this and their inability to change something like that in Earth’s timeline, but she has always been proud to be a women and has a fiery temper when pushed so I can go along with it. Where you start to lose me is when she is captured and only exiled. The villain had just captured and tortured an alien for his own ends and knows Ace is a traveler as well and sees her as little more than property, and all she gets is booted out of Athens?! She then barely has time to deal with the harsh reality of being outside the city walls when she runs into an all female group of Spartans marching on Athens to attack it who accept her and take her on as one of their own. Look, I get why they didn’t push things with this plotline too far in what is supposed to be a lighthearted romp, but I there is a real dark, tragic, beautiful, and ultimately way more empowering story that could be done with this plot thread alone.
Normally this is the part where I point out out either positively or negatively the actors’ performances as well as the overall sound design, but nobody turned anything either good or terrible enough to merit special comment. Nothing is lazily done, but nothing passes the level of “competent” either.
Bottom line is Mask of Tragedy is okay for what it is. If you are really into the main storyline or are really in the mood for something more akin to early Seventh Doctor stories before the dark turn than this is a must have, for anybody else this is an enjoyable yet entirely skippable outing.
Purchase Doctor Who: Mask of Tragedy Here:
Please remember distinguished readers, we here at One of Us have our own audio drama series which goes by the name of Infinite Variations and the site is also home to Jason Neulander’s new spin-off series from The Intergalactic Nemesis entitled Salt! Give them a listen if you haven’t already!
As for this series, as the Big Finish train keeps a’movin so shall we, riding through the rest of January into Febuary it is a great time to be a Fourth Doctor fan as we dive into the first entry in his fourth series:
as well as
Check out my previous reviews: