The Syndicate Master Plan Concludes

“The Fourth Doctor Adventures: The Syndicate Master Plan- Series 8 Volume 2” is a Doctor Who audio boxset from Big Finish Productions.  It is the second half of the eighth series or seasons of audio dramas starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor.  Jane Slavin joins the Doctor as WPC Ann Kelso for this set.  John Leeson reprises his role as the voice of K9.  This is actually a sequel to a First Doctor television serial known as “The Daleks’ Master Plan”.  It explores what happened to various alien races introduced in that story who were apparently allied and then betrayed by the Daleks.  Most of the television story is still missing, and I have yet to hear the soundtrack.  It has also been several years since I read the novelization.

“Time’s Assassin” is the story continued by Guy Adams where the Doctor, Ann, and K9 are caught up in the machinations of the Syndicate on the planet of Kembel.  Jon Culshaw, John Shrapnel, and Anna Acton are included in the guest cast.  It’s not something that impressed me beyond measure, but it works well enough to get the second half of this saga going.  Once again, Baker’s performance makes up quite a bit of slow moments and lackluster dialogue.  It is also another story a little hard to imagine through audio performance.

Jonathan Barnes continues this collection with “Fever Island”.  The TARDIS crew land encounter what seems to be an English spy on a remote island where a dubious experiment is taking place.  Gethin Anthony plays a rather familiar type of caricature. Bettrys Jones, Carolyn Seymour, and Barnaby Edwards are included in this episode.  Of course, the Doctor discovers that that little is as it seems.  It was pretty interesting idea for a story, and the Doctor has an opportunity to display a more villainous performance at times.

“The Perfect Prisoners” by John Dorney completes this collection.  All is revealed, and Ann Kelso has been keeping secrets of her own.  I didn’t get too engaged with this until pretty late into the story.  It was an interesting decision to have the Fourth Doctor travel with an original Big Finish companion and it works for the most part.

I think disappointment is a stronger impression than I want to convey when describing my reaction to this set.  It just seems a little less epic than I was hoping for.  Slavin is a fine actress and her enjoyment with working with Tom Baker is evident.  Tom Baker still seems to have fun doing these things, so that delights me to no end.  May he have several more years left in him where he is well enough to continue his performance! I may appreciate this whole series more once I listen to it again, but I was hoping to be better hooked on the first go.

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