In a Victorian-style asylum, the patients complain of betrayal
and Faustian bargains rather than illness. What procedures
are the staff carrying out, and to what purpose? Mel knows
that the Doctor is the best person to find the answers, but
the TARDIS has returned without him...
(Bonnie Langford) separated from the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)?
Sounds a bit like The
Doctor imprisoned in a loony bin? That's happened many times
before, in Minuet
in Hell and The
Sleep of Reason, to name but two examples.
On this occasion, the fact that the Time Lord has recently
regenerated lends extra weight to the possibility that he
may truly have descended into madness. Remember that when
the Sixth Doctor suffered from post-regenerative dementia
in The Twin Dilemma, he described himself as "unregenerate".
A bewildering story that appears to make little or no sense?
The same could be said of the Seventh Doctor's previous Big
Finish adventure, Dreamtime.
Fortunately, although deliberately perplexing to begin with,
David A McIntee's story gradually makes more sense as it develops,
offering up clues to the more dedicated Doctor Who
fan before eventually disclosing all the answers.
the eventual explanation of what is going on in the asylum
seems rather convoluted, it intriguingly ties in, whether
deliberately or coincidentally (and not wishing to give too
much away here), with events in Eighth Doctor novels such
as Alien Bodies and The Shadows of Avalon.
Potter's incidental music uses some of the same instrumentation
as Jonathan Gibbs' score for The Mark of the Rani,
which makes it a little distracting for me. Perhaps Potter
is trying to highlight the similarities between the two stories
(unethical scientists messing with people's heads, and all
that) but more likely this is just an unfortunate coincidence.
McCoy, never the world's greatest actor, goes over-the-top
as the institutionalised Time Lord. Another vexing vocal problem
is that I had trouble distinguishing Gail Clayton's character,
Rigan, from that of Jennie Linden (who played Barbara in the
Who and the Daleks movie), Klyst. And it's
sometimes hard to tell what the gestalt entity Shokhra (Sam
Peter Jackson) is trying to say.
the plus side, though, Bonnie Langford remains as reliable
as she has ever been during Mel's Big Finish renaissance,
and she is ably assisted by Toby Longworth as a plain-speaking
isn't one of Big Finish's best-ever works, but it shows
encouraging signs of recovery in the Doctor Who range
following a recent lapse in quality.
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