Doctor Who
Excelis Rising

Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 64 5, BFPDWCDEX2
Available now

The Doctor returns to the planet Artaris, a thousand years after his last visit. The city of Excelis has grown into a global empire, with a level of technology roughly equivalent to that of 19th-century Europe. The Doctor is surprised to see a familiar face - surely the Warlord Grayvorn cannot still be alive...?

Sadly, Anthony Stewart Head does not open this single-CD release by saying, "previously on the Excelis trilogy", as I had hoped he would in my review of the previous instalment, Excelis Dawns! However, he does turn in a creditably different performance from last time, being a more genteel and civilised character in his role as a respected member of an industrialised society.

Unfortunately, the long-lived nature of his character - who is now known as Reeve Maupassant - is noticeably similar to the immortal Grayle, the villain who faced the Eighth Doctor in several different eras of Earth's history in last month's Seasons of Fear. Perhaps Big Finish should have rescheduled their releases to avoid this clash of subject matter.

Even taking into account the shorter than usual running time of this adventure (70 minutes), writer David A. McIntee's story is extremely slight. There's a nice in-joke about a museum's restoration team (a reference to those sterling chaps who clean up the BBC's video and DVD releases of Doctor Who), but apart from that, there is little to distinguish this sort-of ghost story.

And whose idea was it not to include cliffhanger episode endings in this trilogy? They are an intrinsic part of the fun of Doctor Who.

A rather uneventful affair, Excelis Rising fails to rise to the occasion.

Richard McGinlay