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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles


Starring: Daphne Ashbrook, Yee Jee Tso and Geoffrey Beevers
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 083 1
Release Date: 31 July 2013

When the clock strikes midnight, it means just one thing. The prisoner is going to wake up…” Welcome back to the Vault – jokingly referred to as “The Museum of Terrors” – an archive of alien artefacts securely stored deep beneath the Angel of the North. There’s also a prisoner in this high-security establishment, an extraterrestrial known as the Master. He has been on Earth for some time, but now he’s under lock and key. This is his story. Or, as Captain Ruth Matheson and Warrant Officer Charlie Sato are about to discover, perhaps it is theirs...

Goodness me! Daphne Ashbrook? Yee Jee Tso? The Master? Is this a sequel to the 1996 TV movie? Well, not quite.

It is a sequel to 2011’s Tales from the Vault, with Ashbrook reprising her role as UNIT archivist Ruth Matheson and Tso playing her assistant Charlie Sato. However, Mastermind also picks up on the events of the TV movie. This surprised me somewhat, given the participation of Geoffrey Beevers and the production’s use of the 1970s Doctor Who theme, which had led me to expect a pre-Keeper of Traken Master. Events from Short Trips: The Centenarian, in which a disembodied Master escaped from the Eye of Harmony, are recapped very effectively here – which is a good thing, since the book has been out of print for a few years now.

The grandfather clock striking twelve might be a more oblique reference to the TV movie, in which Earth was due to be turned inside out at the peculiarly precise time of midnight. This could indicate that the number twelve is in some way significant to the Master (the regenerations he has used up, perhaps?) and that he may have carefully planned the timing of Earth’s destruction as a kind of twisted joke. Nit-pickers like me will also appreciate the fact that writer Jonathan Morris has the Master refer to his snake form as a “morphant deathworm”, a combination of the terms applied to it in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip The Fallen and the novel The Eight Doctors. We know what his specialist subject is!

Given that we are dealing with a post-Centenarian Master, with a habit of possessing human hosts, the villain could have been played by an actor new to the role, or even a variety of actors. However, the Time Lord explains that his body keeps reverting to its former (pre-Keepership) decayed state, which means that Big Finish can hire Geoffrey Beevers once again. This is also a good thing, since he has such a splendidly silky yet sinister voice.

This story has a gripping beginning and a riveting end, but it flags a bit in the middle, as the Master recalls, via flashbacks featuring members of the cast, what he has been up to during the intervening years. There are shades of Forrest Gump as it is revealed that he has been involved in real-life criminal organisations such as the Mafia (like Vito Corleone in The Godfather, he wants a young man called Michael to take over the family business) and ends up as a Howard Hughes-style recluse. Other movie allusions include Casino and The Silence of the Lambs.

Mastermind is not a complete success, but it does sow some very exciting seeds that could be developed further in other Big Finish Doctor Who ranges, including the main one. At the end of that round, Big Finish has scored 7 points and no passes.


Richard McGinlay

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