The TARDIS team you probably never realised you were missing is back for one concluding story, ‘The Kamelion Empire‘. Previously from the Big Finish Monthly Adventures range came ‘Devil In the Mist‘ and ‘Black Thursday/Power Game‘. Three adventures split into two releases explored Kamelion, the shape shifting android, and his attempts at better understanding life. This audio drama release, though stand alone from the above mentioned, works as a powerful conclusion to the trilogy.
‘Power Game‘ left us with a mini cliffhanger and ‘The Kamelion Empire‘ picks up immediately after, though the two stories are possible to enjoy separately. However, after all of the great work leading up to this grand finale, it would be a shame to miss some great character building and well told stories. This is especially true if you’re not overly familiar with Kamelion, like this reviewer. Those stories give us a better appreciation of who that character really is.
Parts of the machine
As with much of classic Doctor Who, spread out over multiple weekly parts, there are some episodes which felt padded in order to reach their run time. ‘The Kamelion Empire‘ also suffers a tad from this. Parts 1 and 2 flow wonderfully but come Part 3, when the big drama begins to unfold, elements feel tagged on. It’s not excessive and it doesn’t hold the story back from being exciting. In fact, there are some wonderful moments to be found in Part 3, but if Parts 3 and 4 were condensed it may have flown smoother.
That said, it’s a fantastic adventure full of great character moments and it fills in some of the blanks from the TV programme. The jeopardy also feels real where consequences could happen and do. This isn’t something Big Finish can always deliver on due to the obvious fact that they can’t over write what’s gone before them. Filling in gaps and expanding on character is what they do best. Perhaps it’s knowing the inevitable outcome for Kamelion that adds to this story but it’s also the brilliant sound design and music by Kelly Ellis at Fool Circle Productions. ‘The Kamelion Empire‘ masterfully walks that line of feeling so much like the TV programme but as if it had a bigger budget for this story.
Set or real?
There’s always that question Big Finish fans ask one another. “When listening to an adventure, do you picture the show on a set, or as if it’s real with no budget constraints?” Depending on the fan, and the audio, the answer will vary. Some stories have such a charm that you can’t help but picture the TARDIS console room set, while others could actually be happening in the room next to you or far out in space. ‘The Kamelion Empire‘ is like a TV movie. It makes the listener picture the action occurring on a TV set, but a great looking set which makes the viewer all the more excited. This feels like a proper television event. But on audio.
Cast Iron performances
‘The Kamelion Empire‘ features a limited cast including our TARDIS team plus one other actor. This gives the listener a lot of time to hear the Doctor and companions squirm their way to a solution. This could almost be a Seventh Doctor script given the way the Fifth Doctor keeps plans to himself. However, Peter Davision, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson, along with Jon Culshaw and Christopher Naylor all deliver, and maintain, strong performances throughout. This is a story with highs and lows. It’s not afraid to slow the action to challenge the moment and it pays off with gripping performances.
Writer Jonathan Morris and Director Ken Bentley have delivered a more than satisfying conclusion to this Kamelion story arc. If you listened to the previous Kamelion stories you are not going to want to miss this big finish! This trilogy of stories have challenged our companions to assess how they relate to one another, doing this with a character who can shape shift. It’s such a great opportunity put to excellent use. ‘The Kamelion Empire’ sheds a lot of light on a character who never had an opportunity to meet its full potential. If you were one of those fans who had wanted more from Kamelion, this story is a must.
This title was released in March 2019. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until April 30th 2019, and on general sale after this date.
Once upon a time, a people of great artistry and great knowledge ruled the planet Mekalion: the Kamille. For a thousand years, they prospered peacefully.
Then came disaster, when their sun set forever. Facing extinction, the Kamille made the Locus, a device to sustain their minds; and fashioned shape-changing machines, to act out their wishes on the physical plane…
Servants they called the Kamelion.
Written By: Jonathan Morris.
Directed By: Ken Bentley.
Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Jon Culshaw (Kamelion), Christopher Naylor (Alternative Kamelion / Chaos Soldier). Other parts played by members of the cast.