The Mad Monk Of Siberia

“The Wanderer” is a Doctor Who audio play from Big Finish Productions and is written by Richard Dinnick. This episode is one of the Companions Chronicles in which one of the actors from the early days of Doctor Who presents a story where there is usually another character played by a guest performer.  This time, William Russell returns to the mic reprising his role as Ian Chesterton and delivering dialogue that would have been spoken by the late William Hartnell. Mr. Russell is joined by Tim Chipping who plays a character named Grigory, who is revealed to be one Grigori Rasputin, a Russian mystic who would gain some influence during the era of Tsar Nicholas II.  Rasputin has made numerous appearances in various films over the years.  He was dubbed the “Mad Monk:, and Chipping certainly goes all out in this one.

The Doctor, Ian, Susan, and Barbara arrive in Siberia somewhere toward the end of the nineteenth century where they soon feel the effects of an alien influence.  With the Doctor taken ill and Susan and Barbara missing, Ian Chesterton is the one left able to start the efforts to reunite the crew.  He also has a chance to win the way home for himself and Barbara if he can find the source of potential cataclysm.  Of course, he has who will be later known as the Mad Monk to pitch in to assist.  Nothing can go wrong there, right?

This turned out to be a pretty good one.  Russell still sounds clear and in command of the story in spite of his age.  He does a pretty decent impression of the First Doctor.  Chipping also is quite convincing as the wildly unpredictable Grigory.  There is a great moment where he is able to see the future and the Doctor’s role in what’s to come for Earth.  Chipping basically goes a bit nuts and does it brilliantly.

I doubt I would call the episode as a whole brilliant, but I do find it to be a better than average contribution to the range in many ways.

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