Both the classic and modern show have only ever briefly touched on the consequences of the Doctor’s intervention. When the TARDIS fades and the credits roll, that’s usually the last we see of whoever the Time Lord helped. They all lived happily; peace and prosperity reigned. Supposedly.
This month, Big Finish’s latest adventure for the Seventh Doctor, Mel and Ace takes the trio back to the planet Prosper. A century earlier, the Doctor brokered peace between the native race and human colonists, which lasted all of eight months. The Doctor must confront monsters of his own making, on a planet that is desperate to survive at all costs.
Our Own Demons
“The tides of time wash in as well as out, Mel.”
“So everything comes back again? Fashions…architecture…everything.”
“Everything. Except the Loom bands. They were just a one-off.”
As Matthew Elliott’s first full-length Big Finish script, he absolutely nails the chemistry between the Doctor and his companions. The story opens with a flashback to the unseen adventure that incites this one. Then we get a long scene in the TARDIS, folding the remaining exposition into a natural conversation between the crew. In just the first five minutes it sets everything up and has some of the funniest moments of the story. It’s incredibly efficient writing on Elliott’s part.
After a breakneck first part, the pace slows down and most of the story takes on a more introspective tone. Ace gets the most interesting sub-plot, seeing those who suffered because of the Doctor’s interference from their perspective. This allows for some excellent character moments and a thorough deconstruction of the Doctor’s ‘time we were going’ approach. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Mel meet the colonists’ descendants and try to repair the damage. But who are they really helping? The story is one part buddy comedy, one part political allegory and seven parts The Tempest.
Suspiciously Similar Speaking
Everyone in the story gives an excellent performance. The only slight issue is that some of the characters sound very similar. In several places, most noticeably in part four, it was very difficult to tell the voices apart. Ewan Goddard shines as Talpa, injecting an incredible amount of emotion into a character with such a dopey voice. You can’t help liking him, even as he holds Ace hostage, making him an ideal emotional centre for the story.
In-keeping with the thoughtful tone of the story, the ending will definitely give you food for thought. The Doctor makes a decision at the very end which is at once counter-intuitive, given what’s happened, and also perfectly logical. It’s left up to the listener to decide which course of action is the right one. McCoy delivers the final line with a weight that reflects the Doctor’s regret and indecision. It’s a clever double-edged dilemma that Elliott presents the listener with and it offers no easy answer. While it’s slow at times and a little thin on plot, the excellent character dynamics and the intelligent writing makes this an excellent listen.
Blogtor Rating – 8/10
Decades ago, the mysterious time-travelling Doctor and his cheerful companion Mel became the toast of the planet Prosper, when they brokered a peace between the native Mogera and humans from the colony ship The Duke of Milan.
But when the TARDIS at last returns to Prosper, the Doctor, Mel and their associate Ace find only a war zone. The burrowing Mogera have become brutal monsters, dominated by their terrifying leader Caliban – and it’s all the Doctor’s fault!
Written By: Matthew J Elliott
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Andrew Hall (Alonso/Caliban/Gonzalo), Lucy Briggs-Owen (Miranda), Rachel Atkins (Juno), Ewan Goddard (Talpa), Aaron Neil (Stephano/Klossi/Trink/Setebos). Other parts portrayed by the cast.
Maker of Demons is available now from the Big Finish website.