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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Paper Cuts


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 413 9
Available 30 September 2009

The Empire is lost. The Deathless Emperors are dead. The future may never happen... An urgent summons returns the noble Doctor to a planet he saved from disaster long ago. But Draconia, so elegant and so savage, is in worse turmoil than ever. Who will be the next Emperor: the highest Prince, the lowliest peasant, the soldier with no name, or the Doctor himself - his life at their command? Who controls the army of deadly origami warriors? And is the truth about Charley Pollard painted on paper walls in the Emperor’s tomb? History is taking its revenge on the Doctor...

This characteristically strange adventure from the pen of Marc Platt explores the culture of the Draconians from the Pertwee-era story Frontier in Space. Taking his cue from the obvious Japanese influences in the creatures’ conception, the author adds origami, paper screen walls, ancestor worship and a peasant underclass to the mix. I got a little distracted by the regional accent of said peasant, Gomori (Paul Thornley), but otherwise this is an intriguing examination.

Like Jonathan Blum in the Bernice Summerfield anthology Nobody’s Children, Platt delves into the role of Draconian females (personified by Sara Crowe), revealing them to be a more potent force than the silent and subservient sex they appear to be on the surface. The role envisaged by Platt is a little different from the one imagined by Blum, but the two are not irreconcilable.

These events take place before Frontier in Space as far as Draconia is concerned, several decades after the Doctor’s first meeting with the 15th Emperor (Platt agrees with Blum that the Time Lord was in his first incarnation at the time), but of course it’s several lifetimes after Frontier from the Doctor’s (Colin Baker) point of view.

The ongoing Charley Pollard (India Fisher) arc (in which Charley has been replaced by a duplicate) is only referred to fleetingly in this tale, but all the same it’s probably best if you listen to the previous release, Patient Zero, beforehand. As the saying goes, you don’t have to have heard it... but it helps.

This release is a big one for Platt fans, since the bonus Companion Chronicles adventure The Three Companions, which continues at the end of the second and final disc, is also written by him. Though relatively little happens compared to previous mini-episodes, a couple of big story threads are drawn closer together.

The return of the Draconians didn’t enthral me as much as certain other recent monster reappearances, but Paper Cuts still cuts it.


Richard McGinlay

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