I bid ye welcome, one and all to Big Finishing Move. Here is my cleverly craved out little section of One Of Us where I get to take a look at the works of Big Finish and let you know if you should plunk down a few dollars of that hard earned paycheck on one of their stories or save you dough so you can buy some good beer instead of the cheap swill this week.
This month marks a year since we last covered the Fifth Doctor in The Council Of Nicaea. I never meant to take so long to get back to this incarnation,or the Sixth Doctor for that matter, who is even longer overdue for some coverage around here, but things happen and that is just how things rolled out. When it came time to reintroduce the pair to my little review series I wanted to do it as big as possible, and 2012’s epic Drashani trilogy seemed the perfect fit. This story spans the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctor, each with their own individual story that tells a greater whole. We will be covering the entire trilogy before summer’s out starting today with The Burning Prince. So does this epic begin with a whimper or a bang? Let’s find out.
TARDIS Team: The Fifth Doctor Flying Solo
While his companions are off checking out Amsterdam in the 1980s, our intrepid Time Lord is zipping through time as per normal. As The Doctor is swinging back to the decade I was born in to pick up his friends the TARDIS has one of its classic funny turns and deposits the Doctor onto a Drashani battleship on a top secret mission and the Doctor finds himself in the brig. The Drashani are kinda like space Romans and have been in a long and messy war between two great houses and their claims to the Imperial throne. This secret joint mission between the houses is to locate Princess Aliona whose ship went missing on her way to meet up with Prince Kylo and be married, their union bringing an end to the war. Can the Doctor survive this intense game of politics, sabotage, conspiracies, and hatred or were both he and this mission doomed from the start?
Part of putting together any good Doctor Who story is to play to the strengths/weaknesses of the incarnation of the Doctor at hand. It is true the core of the Time Lord remains consistent, but each version of the Doctor is not a carbon copy of the last. Case in point, unlike his other incarnations the Fifth Doctor is unique in that he is neither a schemer or a thundering presence that takes control of a room. The Fifth Doctor is the most openly cooperative and willing open version of the Doctor that ever was and because of this most of his best stuff comes in stories like the one we have today where nobody listens to him.
Now they could have had characters not listen to the Doctor for petty or silly reasons, but we side step that trap this time for reasons steeped in logic as well as secret character motivations of several characters. The Doctor is a stowaway in this story and his presence is an unforeseen threat to some people’s hidden or public agendas. Suspicions and tension is running high as it is, why should they listen to the crazy man that popped out of nowhere claiming no allegiance to either of the houses?
We of course know the Doctor is telling them the truth is only trying to help and we share in his frustration while trying to hold things together and not get himself shot. All his good intentions are met with fear and mistrust. There is a saying among the Drashani, “Empire be praised” and throughout the story you hear people state this repeatedly and what they are willing to do to each other as well as themselves in the (real or believed) service of that empire is simply tragic. The final time we hear “Empire be praised” it is spoken by the Doctor, the full weight and horror of those three words is laid bare. The moment isn’t corny or preachy, it is only sad.
I’d love to point out any standout performances, but everyone is so damn good here that they all deserve an ovation. All the performances are exactly what is needed for that moment. Many characters are putting up a front and playing a role and it is so interesting to hear the actors change gears as characters true selves are revealed.
The real strength of this story is that it stands up so well all on its own. I have yet to listen to the other two parts of this trilogy, but please know that even if the next entries suck ass this story right here is worth your time. It does a fine a job of setting up the struggles within the Drashani Empire and you do wonder what happens next, but keeps the focus on the story that is being told within as entertaining and fulfilling as possible. There is a lot going on here and things happen very fast, so I suggest taking it slow and listening to this one in chunks as I think you might miss or not fully appreciate certain things if you try and go through with no breaks. This might seem like nothing more than a popcorn white knuckle ride, but I assure you there is depth here and you will do yourself a disservice listening to it that way. Bottom line, this one is a real winner and you need to pick this one up as soon as you can.
Purchase Doctor Who: The Burning Prince Here:
On the lookout for even more audio goodies to snag up? Not to toot our own horns (okay, maybe a little), we here at One of Us have our own audio drama series Infinite Variations, as well this being the home of the spin-off from The Intergalactic Nemesis by the name of Salt. Now, all this is stuff happens to be 100% FREE here, so any argument you were about to make about not listening to them is invalid. Get to it, your ears will thank you.
For our next go around we’re back with the Fourth Doctor for:
And then we’ll be getting back to the Drashani trilogy with:
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