Hey all you wonderful folk, welcome to the one and only Big Finishing Move here at One Of Us! For the uninitiated, this is the clever little niche I have to take a look at the various releases from the audio drama juggernaut, Big Finish, and giving you, dear reader, the the low as to if they are worth giving up a chunk of that hard earned paycheck of if you are better off saving that cash for buying some beer from the Drekker Brewing Co., the best brewery (in my humble opinion) in North Dakota.
We’re back with our summer-long look at Elizabeth Klein, today we examine Klein’s shocking return since appearing in Colditz in in the early 2010 release, A Thousand Tiny Wings. Let’s jump in and see what’s what.
TARDIS Team: The Seventh Doctor
A group of white women have fled to a remote farm on the edge of the jungle. It’s Kenya in the 1950s, a land caught in the midst of the Mau Mau Uprising. Among these ladies is the time-displaced Elizabeth Klein. Her timeline, one where the Nazis won WWII, was wiped from existence and she has come to Kenya for her own mysterious purposes. A strange disease is affecting some of the party and there appear to be other alien forces at work here in the jungle. All this would be more than enough for anybody to handle when who should appear at their door with umbrella in hand but the Doctor himself. Bound together by circumstance, the Doctor and Klein must work together to uncover the truth about what is going on and remain free from the Mau Mau forces. Can the Doctor succeed in this impossible situation, or has he stumbled into something that is even too big for him to handle?
Setting this story during the Mau Mau Uprising was a stroke of genius. It is rich fertile ground to place a tale and is otherwise untouched by Doctor Who. The socio-political revolution is right around the corner and the British Empire is in the decline. I applaud Big Finish for having the balls to set a story here, let alone one as complicated and nuanced as this. In lesser hands this could easily have went very badly, hurting Big Finish and the the Doctor Who franchise.
What I appreciate most here is how it takes all the characters and shows the good and bad sides to both. Take Sylvia O’Donnell as an example, by most measuring sticks an awful person full 0f the racism and bigotry held by many British at the time and also a bit of a Nazi apologist, but the story goes out of it’s way to show how she cares for the other women and wants to keep them safe. She has redeemable qualities even if they are buried under ignorance. The running theme of groups or individuals justifying horrible actions knowingly or even unknowingly because those that are being hurt or oppressed are seen as other then themselves shows just how much tragedy is born out of that line of thinking.
Even the Doctor comes out of things not smelling like roses. While his views about non-violence and peace on the macro scale wring as correct and true, they are not entirely useful in the immediate microcosm these women find themselves in. Whatever the causes, these ladies are in imminent danger and survival can and does get messy. Also, while well intentioned and done for the right reasons, the Doctor’s defense of Joshua ultimately leads only to more sadness and loss. The Doctor is still the good guy and every inch the hero we know him to be, but it nice to see his philosophy challenged as much as anyone else’s.
On the performance side of things I have to give a tip of my hat to Tracey Childs as Klein. To so easily slip into a character you only played once a decade ago is an impressive feat. You can hear McCoy upping his game in their exchanges. While nothing will ever touch the chemistry Sylvester has with Sophie Aldred, Childs in a close second.
A rich, dark, morally complicated tale with complex and compelling characters, what more could any Doctor Who fan ask for?! Klein’s return (now with a first name!) could not have been better handled. We are quickly are reintroduced to Klein and her central conflict with the Doctor defined, but writer Andy Lane is also working magic adding layer upon layer to make Klein a more sympathetic character. Klein is still an unapologetic monster at heart, but she is no longer just another Nazi baddie, but instead a deeply flawed and wrongheaded woman that despite how much we may not want to, can relate with. Highest recommendation.
Purchase Doctor Who: A Thousand Tiny Wings Here:
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We continue our look at Klein next time with:
Check out my introduction to this series as well as all my previous reviews. Links are below:
Big Finishing Move Special Edition: An Introduction To The Series
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), Aquitaine, The Peterloo Massacre, Doom Coalition 3, The War Doctor Volume 03: Agents of Chaos, The Beast of Kravenos, Colditz