Four Big Finish releases

Other Lives is one of those rare stories where the only sfnal elements are the Doctor and companions, and the Tardis. On a visit to the Great Exhibition (as promised originally by the Fifth Doctor at the start of Time Flight), everyone gets entangled in their own plotline – the Doctor embroiled in a case of mistaken identity, the Tardis arbitrarily wandering off with a couple of French tourists, C’rizz kidnapped by the proprietor of a freak show, and Charley rather gloriously hooking up with the Duke of Wellington, memorably portrayed by Ron Moody as a paragon of aged courtesy occasionally flipping into anti-revolutionary frothing. The plot doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but it is enjoyable stuff.

While most of Peri’s on-screen adventures were with the Sixth Doctor, most of her audios have been with Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor; so this Baker/Bryant combination is relatively infrequent. In Cryptobiosis they are taking a holiday cruise, but the first mate is keeping a captive mermaid in one of the guest cabins. The plot is a pretty standard contact-with-hidden-race affair, allowing Baker and Bryant to go through their standard motions, but it hangs together all right.

The Veiled Leopard brings together Peri and Erimem, but no Fifth Doctor, and Ace and Hex, but no Seventh Doctor, in Monte Carlo in 1966, to avert or arrange the theft of a famous jewel known as the Veiled Leopard. The first half of this is very good, with Nicola Bryant particularly sparking and Peri and Caroline Morris reacting nicely as Erimem. I have to say that the second half, with Ace and Hex, did not grab me and I waited in vain for the punchline.

As has been noted around the place, last Sunday was the forty-fifth anniversary of Doctor Who. Big Finish’s commemoration is four one-act, 25-minute plays, each by a different author. False Gods takes the team to Howard Carter’s excavation of the tomb known as KV45; Order of Simplicity sees them deal with a virus which reduces its victims’ IQs to 45; Casualties of War takes us to Ace’s mother and grandmother in Streatham on VE Day in 1945; and The Word Lord resolves it all in a Bad Wolf-style revelation. The final playlet seemed to me the strongest, playing with concepts of language as a reality of its own, and with Paul Reynolds as the eponymous villain seeming to channel David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor occasionally. I enjoyed the other two historical plays, but was a bit underwhelmed by the second of the four. The same guest cast appears in the first and second plays, and a different guest cast in the third and fourth, but the characterisations (and accents) are very different, so it all works rather well.

One thought on “Four Big Finish releases

  1. Yes indeed.

    When you hear him read that it makes the hair stand up on your neck.

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