Greetings all you crazy guys, gals, and otherwise out there scouring this crazy thing we call the information superhighway (people still call it that, right?!) I want to bid you welcome to Big Finishing Move. This is the place where I pretend to justify all the money I spend on Big Finish audio dramas by Big Finish by reviewing them for you all.
Today we’re here for the final chapter of the Drashani saga and it is time for the Seventh Doctor to try and bring it home with The Shadow Heart. So does this tale of the Umbrella Man close this thing out properly our should it be swept under the rug and never mentioned again like WWE is trying to do with Hulk Hogan (lookit me folks, I’m topical!)? Let’s get this show on the road and find out!
TARDIS Team: The Seventh Doctor riding solo
Okay, where do I even begin to summarize this sucker? So we begin in a bar deep in what was once the Drashani Empire. Two dudes named Talbar and Horval are in the corner working on a deal for some salvage when the TARDIS materializes in the middle of the joint and the Doctor stumbles out of his trusty blue box with some manner of gunshot wound and passes out right in front of the pair as he begs for their help and from there things get all timey wimey with a side of space snails. Can the Doctor fight off the Wrath, Prince Kylo, and the beautiful bounty hunter Vienna Salvatori to save the day all the while meeting all the players out of order and confusing everybody?
I have to admire just how beautifully this story is structured. The opening bits feel like you’ve come in the middle of a story (and in way you have) which leads to a bit of confusion on the listeners part. Now audience confusion is something generally to be avoided for obvious reasons, but when used correctly it can be a powerful tool in the writers arsenal. In this instance what makes this work is that the other characters are just as clueless as we are and there are more than enough breadcrumbs in these early exchanges for our genre savvy brains to pick up that the Doctor is experiencing this tale in an entirely different order than the other main characters and the listener. Through clever placement and dialogue we get a clearer and clearer picture of what is going on that snaps into full focus even allowing the audience to be ahead of the Doctor in terms of understanding at points. The very fact that this story doesn’t fall apart into incomprehensible gibberish is a feat in and of itself.
This story is the introduction of Vienna Salvatori played by by geek world favorite, Chase Masterson. Chase does an excellent job in this easily inhabiting the character in a way that makes you feel like she has been playing this character for awhile even though this is her very first story. At point s she seems so big and bright that it may prove a distraction from the main story to some. Masterson’s performance takes this somewhat stock character and elevates it into something unique and exciting. It doesn’t surprise me that Big Finish wanted to do a series with this character, I just wish she had more to do in this story
I was not excited to see Kylo back, at least not in the way he was in this story. The Acheron Pulse provided a fitting end for the character, he didn’t have redemption but at least he was in a place where he could find peace. This story has Kylo regress back into his past villainous ways, he returns to find the empire gone and his Wrath running across space as a crazed militant police force and instead of bucking up and taking some responsibility for the state of things he instead hides out in his super-villain fortress on a remote planet scheming on how to take control of the Wrath so he can go a-conquering again while cloning his dead girlfriend who hated and tried to kill him. I know the guy has had it rough, but this is downright pathetic!
What would have been way more interesting is if Kylo came back and the conflict between him and the Doctor was in how to stop the Wrath. they could work with and against each other to end this threat they both had a hand in creating. It would have allowed the character to grow while not losing his role as an an antagonist.
Speaking of the Doctor and his culpability in this whole sad state of affairs, it is a bit of a pain to hear him be so flippant and glib about about his role in bringing the empire to in ashes and unleashing the Wrath on countless worlds with no guiding force to help keep them in check. I’m not saying the Doc had to break down and give a fifteen minute soliloquy explaining his feelings of guilt, but more than a few lines of passing lip service would have been appreciated.
Despite my complaints this here is an extremely enthralling and satisfying tale, I just don’t know how well it works as the closing chapter of this trilogy. While it does provide resolutions it doesn’t give the sense of completion I was looking for to round things out. Still, faults and all we have one hell of a story on hand here and you should scoop it up even if you have not bothered with the other two chapters and it does a good enough job covering things so you won’t be too lost.
Purchase Doctor Who: The Shadow Heart Here:
Next go around we finish out The Fourth Doctor Adventures for 2015 in:
Looking for even more cool stuff? Well we just may have something for you. 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, the one and only Salt!
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