Four more Big Finish audios

Some Doctor Who plays that I listened to over the holidays:

The Gathering is a sort-of sequel, sort-of prequel to Lidster’s Six/Peri/Cybermen story, The Reaping – set in 2006 rather than 1984, with Peri’s schoolfriend Kathy now practicing in Brisbane, Australia, and treating a certain Ms Tegan Jovanka for brain cancer. I thought the portrayal of the Doctor/Tegan relationship, picking up after 20 years, was fantastic, and although it leans very heavily on the precedent of School Reunion, it does at least take it somewhere slightly more interesting, with us getting a much better feeling of how Tegan has tried to fit her experience of travelling with the Doctor back into her normal life in Queensland. The ending is rather bittersweet, but very plausible.

Unfortunately the bit of plot with the Cybermen is pretty dull except where it is gratuitously horrific, but I still liked it much more than The Reaping.

At one point in Memory Lane, C’rizz complains with some reason that he, Eight and Charley have been landing in a lot of prisons lately, as the eponymous lane turns out to be yet another one. It isn’t as threatening as some, but it is definitely rather weird, with its prisoners believing themselves happy and usually back in their childhood (which gives an excuse to bring back Anneke Wills as Charley’s mother). I wasn’t completely satisfied by the explanation of the means and motivation of the imprisoning entities, but the cast just about manage to make it work.

If C’rizz has reason to complain about landing in prisons, Hex and Ace can equally complain about war zones, having jumped from 1649 in Ireland to 1917 on the Western Front, in a British field hospital near the eponymous No Man’s Land where mysterious things are happening and a murder has been announced. The story turns out not to involve any alien or time-travelling presence other than our regular cast, but does invoke some scientific knowledge which is probably more advanced than what the British really had at the time. There are some potentially interesting thoughts on the horrors of war, but these are weakened by the plot being a bit too clever by half, and by the implausibility of some of the behaviour the characters display. Also The Settling did the horrors of war rather better.

Jumping ahead to the latest Big Finish regular audio, we have Six and Charley arriving in today’s Manchester where they meet up with a memorable detective character who apparently features in one of the earlier audios I haven’t heard yet, Anna Hope’s D.I. Patricia Menzies. Here she is investingating odd goings-on in a casino that turns out to run by aliens. The Raincloud Man of the title has a special ability which I believe originates in a Douglas Adams novel, and operates here rather for the convenience of the plot. Charley is urged by another character to reveal her secret to the Doctor, but doesn’t do so. However the sparks from Anna Hope’s Mancunian policewoman very much keep it going.

In summary, The Gathering and The Raincloud Man are OK; less wowed by the other two.

On a rather tangentially related subject, most of the people I know who are from Manchester are also lesbians. Is there something in the water?

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