Drawn by the distress call of a fellow Time Lord, the Sixth Doctor and Flip land in the now-disused underground of 24th Century London, or to be more precise, a future Britain now ruled over by sinister Concorpia. London is now an over-populated, ruined city where the locals are heavily drugged to avoid potential revolution. However, with mass unemployment and poverty being the norm and Concorpia struggling with a forever-expanding welfare budget they cannot afford, it’s time to turn to the Universal Monetary Fund for help, forcing them to deal with a very familiar face from the past.
Phillip Martin, writer of Vengeance on Varos and Mindwarp, returns to Big Finish with his most infamous and iconic creation, Sil, in this dystopian tale designed to satirise current UK Coalition policies. Sil initiates an austerity drive that the writer here satirically imagines George Osborne and Ian Duncan Smith could only dream of – if they happened to have the immoral capitalist ethic of those from Thoros Beta, of course.
Martin paints some dark, if unoriginal ideas, attempting to use this tale to reflect on current political issues in the UK; however, with these ideas being handled in a very ‘on-the-nose’ manner and at times on case-by-case basis, you never quite feel that either the ideas behind the story, the themes presented or the morals played out ever quite mesh into a cohesively satisfying whole – each of the four parts have their own distinct tone and sub-plot, yet somehow they all fail to come together by the end.
As a result, the pace slows, particularly around Part Three, leaving the last installment with everything to fight for. Clearly designed to be a timely political satire, having set out this dark tone, Antidote To Oblivion ironically doesn’t seem to want to go as far as it should, and seems to shy away from fully exploring the levels of evil that can exist in humanity.
For fans of Colin Baker’s era, there are some surprising touches to enjoy – this becomes more of a emotional sequel to a certain TV story than you first realise; Nicholas Briggs gets the best out of his ensemble cast here, and the mood and music evokes the mid 1980s well, along with some fantastic use of sound design. Some great ideas, strong performances and nice touches to the show’s past and knock-out performance by Nabil Shaban (very much stealing every single scene he’s in) balance the lack of an overall story.
Oh, and there’s the use of the very modern word “amazeballs” which is, against all the 1980s Colin Baker-era touches, just exactly that.