“A man is the sum of his memories. A Time Lord even more so…”
Big finish brings us four new adventures featuring the Fifth Doctor and Turlough in The Memory Bank & Other Stories.
All four pieces fit the loosely running theme of Memory. Whether that be autobiographical memory, telling stories to pass on memories, deja vu, or tradition/race memory, the synthesis of this recurring theme and some great writing and performances really resonate with the fears and values of a modern audience.
The Memory Bank by Chris Chapman
The Doctor and Turlough arrive on a planet where to be forgotten is to cease to exist. But the Forgotten leave a gap in the world – and that’s where the monsters are hiding.
This story by producer/director-cum-writer Chris Chapman, is the jewel in the crown of these four tales. This high concept science fiction yarn plays beautifully on our collective fear of being forgotten and the value of leaving a legacy and is an idea worthy of televised Who. Chapman achieves an impressive feat of creating a narrative that feels like a full story in only 30 minutes.
The Last Fairy Tale by Paul Magrs
Deep in the heart of old Europe, the village of Vadhoc awaits the coming of a mythical teller of magical tales – but not all such stories end happily, the TARDIS travellers discover.
Paul Magrs brings us a lovely story of a mythical storyteller and mistaken identities. Whilst this tale fits well with the running theme it is perhaps the only episode that feels condensed and that it could have gone further if allowed more time.
Repeat Offender by Eddie Robson
The Doctor has tracked the deadly Bratanian Shroud to 22nd century Reykjavík – where he’s about to become the victim of a serial criminal. Again.
This wonderful and oftentimes comic living room drama is another highlight of the set. Featuring a bureaucratic police inspector, and an innovative villain, this four-hander feels like an Alan Ayckbourn play meets Doctor Who, which is just great.
The Becoming by Ian Potter
A young woman climbs a perilous mountain in search of her destiny. The Doctor and Turlough save her from the monsters on her trail – but what awaits them in the Cavern of Becoming is stranger even than the ravening Hungerers outside.
The final piece written by Ian Potter plays on the power of tradition and the imperative need to adapt. This more serious piece rounds off the set perfectly.
Hats off to director Helen Goldwyn who’s singlehanded vision gives these stand alone stories a real sense of continuity. Big Finish’s anthology releases can be a little hard to engage with, as just as the story is getting going it comes to an end. However, in this release the writers have used the short structure to their advantage and the 7 strong cast demonstrate their versatility and skill to bring to life the set’s 13 characters.
For those that aren’t always fans of anthology releases, I would highly recommend this one as all four stories compliment each other beautifully and share a compelling collective theme of memory.
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
Written By: Chris Chapman, Paul Magrs, Eddie Robson, Ian Potter
Directed By: Helen Goldwyn
Peter Davison (The Doctor), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Suzann McLean (Max/Autumn Voice), Ian Brooker (Archivist/Computer/Elder), Mandi Symonds (Alitha/Inspector Jill Sveinsbottir) Duncan Wisbey (Grayling Frimlish/Shiri/Zounds), Kae Alexander (Waywalker)
Producer – David Richardson
Script Editor – Alan Barnes
Executive Producers – Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
The Memory Bank and Other Stories is available to buy now direct from Big Finish.