Doctor Who Audio Review: The Master, A Witch, And The Doctor

Solo is a Doctor Who audio boxset with two adventures starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. There are two stories directed by Nicholas Briggs and released by Big Finish Productions.

Blood of the Time Lords is written by Timothy X. Atack. James Dreyfus plays an early incarnation of the Master, which sort of messes with the continuity of the series, however he is sounds even more vicious than some of the known iterations of the character. He’s pretty compelling, so I won’t be too annoyed by his inclusion in this story. The guest cast includes Emma Noakes, Annette Badland, Jane Slavin, and Christopher Naylor. This Doctor attempts to return a powerful book from Gallifrey. The Doctor decides to take it to an old friend who is posted at some mysterious Time Lord base on the moon of Gallifrey known as the Recusary. As usual, there is trouble afoot, and the Master is back to challenge the Doctor’s good intentions. This turned out to be pretty engaging once the deaths started. The performances of Tom Baker and James Dreyfus really engage the listener. Quite a few familiar voices to Big Finish listeners in this one. Slavin seems to have become a favorite in recent years, and that is nothing to complain about. It was kind of fun revisiting Gallifrey without quite the Doctor getting there. Atack gives the audience a pretty good kickoff here, but Tom Baker continues to impress with his participation even though he is closing on ninety years old.

The second story is The Ravencliff Witch written by David Llewellyn. Nerys Hughes, Lucy Pickles, Richard Earl, Deli Segal, Trevor Cooper, and Nicholas Briggs make up the guest cast. The TARDIS once again finds another English coastal village besieged by what appears to be curse. The Doctor is intrigued by a recently constructed power station, and of course a spectral woman is lurking around the beach. This turned out to have some familiar elements seen in the series before, but Llewellyn manages to spin a pretty good yarn. Of course much of the enjoyment stems from Tom Baker’s boisterous enthusiasm which is still impressive in spite of his approach to his ninth decade. These kind of settings just tend to work well for the series when not overused.

This set takes place just before the Doctor meets Leela. Both stories deliver the goods here. I think I prefer the second one but not by much. I rather like the notion of this Doctor traveling alone for a bit. Not that I would not miss the other known companions. I like Leela, Romana, and the return of Sarah Jane Smith, now played by Elisabeth’s daughter. Tom Baker likely does not have long on this side of existence, so I hope Big Finish is able to record as much as they can with him for however long he is healthy and enthusiastic enough to participate.

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