The fourth volume of Third Doctor stories from Big Finish is here and it features two iconic villains in one heck of an audio experience.
The two stories we’re looking at today are polar opposites in tone and intention. One is playful adventure which is designed to make us smile while the other will scare us. Neither are carbon copies of the Third Doctor era but both are reminiscent, if not heightened to Big Finish expectations. It’s a beautiful mix.
Each story is exceptionally well cast and boasts some top-tier guest actors. More on them later. Tim Treloar and Katy Manning reprise the roles of the Third Doctor and Jo Grant and are, as always superb. Manning is especially excellent in ‘The Tyrants of Logic’ and her relationship with Treloar is now in full swing!
The Rise Of The New Humans
The first story hits the ground running. After a quick but exciting plot introduction we have the Third Doctor and Jo Grant already approaching the scene of a crime. The Brigadier has assigned them to a case which looks relatively straight forward, but the Doctor is quick to point out a few oddities. Within moments we are aware of what this adventure will be about and with no time wasted our heroes are in Bessie and on their way to solve this matter.
Guy Adams, the writer of ‘The Rise of the New Humans’ strings us along at a pleasant pace. This could easily have been a short trip if it were just to tell a plot. Instead, we’re given room to feel like a proper four part, Third Doctor adventure, with characters and ideas worth exploring. Despite some repetition, the plot unfolds quickly and we spend more time trying to fix the problem rather than uncover it.
Rather than racing through the plot to fill it full of twists or action we’re able to learn about the characters and their motivations. The conversations, and dialog, are interesting and and entertaining. Having The Monk and The Doctor banter back and forth is extraordinary fun! There also some nice cliffhangers which are sure to keep listeners coming back quickly.
We’re granted a real treat with Rufus Hound as The Monk. He steals the show and should most certainly be making more appearances as The Monk. His charm is infectious and despite being a crooked lowlife you enjoy when he’s around. Like a Batman villain, you kinda root for him, despite yourself. Guy Adams has given Hound some terrific lines and they are delivered with joy and panache. It’s only a matter of time until we have a full range for The Monk.
It’s a pleasure to listen to a story that doesn’t fight for your attention, with unnecessary plot twists. Everything has its place and its place is earned. For those that love a good Third Doctor yarn this is it. There’s action, humour, monsters and it doesn’t bog itself down in sub plots.
The Tyrants Of Logic
Depending on the type of fan you are, you are either excited for the Cybermen to meet the Third Dotctor, or upset by it. Either way, you’ll want to check this out for yourself because this story is going to receive a lot of love and attention.
‘The Tyrants of Logic’ is, again, retro in all the right ways. Pacing, music, and tone are all accounted for while still taking advantage of the audio medium. The Doctor and Jo land in a small mining town on an alien plant which has next to no one in it. One other new person has shown up and is prepared for something major to go down. The small group of people do their best to avoid the dangers of the Cybermen while uncovering a mystery surrounding a crate.
This is a surprisingly touching story which manages to capture a lot of the essence of what makes the Cybermen scary. First, the amount of time we hear them is limited. A lot of this story is defensive which increases the tension and suspense. Second, the Cybermen may be the threat but the intent which brings them is what gives this story its impact.
Another interesting element is that the Doctor is not entirely our primary hero. Jo really stands up on her own and holds a lot of the weight and strength of this adventure. Manning owns this. However, it’s the supporting characters who we really come to care for that make this so strong of a story.
We have a, much less aggressive, Abslom Daak type character, but for Cyberman. Played by Ronan Summers, Hollisen Grier is a character we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing again, and learning more about. Jeff Rawle has a very unique character in the role of Chad. A music lover to the most creative extent. There is also the saloon manager and supporter of Chad, Linda Marlowe as Gusta and Carolyn Pickles as Professor Schaeffer to round out this stunning cast. They play strong women who clash heads. Their outstanding performances make these two women believable in a world going bad.
Marc Platt, who fans will know as the great Big Finish writer of Cyberman stories, ‘Spare Parts’ & ‘The Silver Turk’, may have just surpassed his own best. This story has a similar tone to Spare Parts, but it’s a touching and human story which is a stellar counterpart to the ‘The Rise of the New Humans’.
Two great, and wildly different, stories which pit the Third Doctor against classic foes we haven’t seen him up against before. There’s a diabolical, comical romp to start and we conclude with a suspense story that will move you and scare you. Both having characters you won’t want to leave. This set has it all.
The music by Jamie Robertson is going to floor listeners! The sound design is solid though never takes centre stage, which only helps aid the stories. It’s present and creates an atmosphere and visuals for listeners but never dares to be the focus. Director Nicholas Briggs knows his Third Doctor and gives us the best we could hope for.
What more could someone want from this set? I don’t know. It delivered more than I was prepared for and my expectations were rather high.
Go to Big Finish to purchase your copy of The Third Doctor Volume 4.
4.1 The Rise of the New Humans by Guy Adams
When a man dies after falling from the top floor of a multi-storey car park, the Doctor and Jo wonder why it should be of interest to UNIT. Then they see the protuberances on the man’s back… As he fell, he tried to grow wings.
Looking into the man’s past leads the Doctor and Jo to a remote private hospital where the staff aren’t as helpful as they could be, and the Chief Administrator is unavailable to meet with them.
Breaking into some restricted wards, the Doctor notes the presence of alien and futuristic technology. The whole thing bears the unmistakable hallmarks of one of his own people’s interference, one of his old foes. Except not perhaps the one he might have imagined.
The Monk is back. And this time his meddling may have gone too far.
4.2 The Tyrants of Logic by Marc Platt
The Doctor and Jo land on Port Anvil – a bleak, abandoned mining colony on the remote planet Burnt Salt. A huge armoured crate has recently arrived in the almost derelict Spacehub. No-one knows who it’s for. No-one knows what it contains.
Strange creatures lurk around the outskirts, and a rag-tag population of misfits inhabit what is left of the town: a saloon bar owner, a literal one-man band and a hunter of very unusual prey. If they want to survive the night, they’re going to have to work together.
Because the Cybermen want the contents of the crate. And they will stop at nothing to get hold of it.
Written By: Guy Adams, Marc Platt
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Tim Treloar (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Rufus Hound (The Monk), Mina Anwar (Dr Kurdi), Joe Sims (Chief Orderly / Wilde / Jumper), Clare Corbett (Harriet / Woman / Radio Technician), Silas Hawkins (Francis / Morgue Attendant / Patient / Orderly), Linda Marlowe (Gusta Pardo), Carolyn Pickles (Professor Marian Schaeffer), Ronan Summers (Hollisen Grier), Jeff Rawle (Chad Caramel), Deli Segal(Skippa) and Nicholas Briggs (The Cybermen). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery