Three years after Vilįg was laid waste by the Killorans,
the Doctor is back - with a different companion. Rossiter,
now head of a tripartite government, is working to secure
a peaceful future by researching abandoned Killoran technology.
But he faces opposition from a campaign for the destruction
of all alien artefacts, led by his own daughter, Sofia. As
if that weren't enough, Sofia doesn't approve of her new stepmother
either. Emotions soon boil over into violence...
audio drama is a sequel to last year's Arrangements
for War. It is penned by the same writer, Paul
Sutton, though this time the directing chores are handled
by Edward Salt rather than Gary Russell.
wonders whether, had he directed it, the continuity-conscious
Russell would have allowed Mel (Bonnie Langford) and Evelyn
(Maggie Stables) to meet each other, apparently for the first
time, in this adventure. These two companions of the Sixth
Doctor (Colin Baker) previously met, also apparently for the
first time, in Russell's Doctor Who novel Instruments
of you who wish to incorporate both stories into the same
continuity could assume that Instruments
of Darkness was their first meeting from Evelyn's point
of view (so the Doctor instructed Mel to behave accordingly),
and that Thicker Than Water represents their first
encounter as far as the Doctor and Mel are concerned (and
therefore Evelyn realises she must act accordingly). Alternatively,
you can assume that this audio drama marks the women's second
teaming by mentally inserting the word "again" after Mel's
wish to "meet this miracle worker [Evelyn]" and plugging your
ears when Evelyn asks Mel: "So, you're the latest model he's
dragging around the universe, are you?"
If you can get past that knotty continuity problem (and I
hope I've been able to help you there), then this double CD
provides some intense character-driven moments, not to mention
the chance to learn "what happened next" to the people of
Vilįg (or, dare I say it, the Vilįg people!) and discover
the final destination of Evelyn Smythe.
does appear that the good Doctor is more in touch with his
emotions these days. Writers, as well as viewers and listeners,
seem more comfortable with letting the Time Lord and his companions
express feelings of love for each other. Paul McGann truly
broke the ice with "that kiss" in the
TV movie. Since then, we've had Charley and the
Doctor expressing their mutual love in the Eighth Doctor audios
and all those "will they/won't they?" moments during the Ninth
Doctor and Rose's association. Now Evelyn also uses the "L"
word, as she and the Sixth Doctor heal the latest rift in
Sutton has, of course, written for this particular TARDIS
team before, but here he also writes well for the Doctor/Mel
partnership. They exchange some excellent banter, particularly
during Part One.
Meanwhile, perhaps in response to a comment I made in my review
of Arrangements for War, guest actor Gabriel Woolf
sounds less like Pyramids
Sutekh the Destroyer this time around! Perhaps it's because
the fortunes of both his character, Rossiter, and the planet
Vilįg have improved, so he doesn't need to talk about death
and destruction as much.
Than Water isn't quite as good as Arrangements.
The story flags somewhat during the relatively uneventful
- and short - second and third episodes. However, a flashback
in the first episode and dramatic revelations in the fourth
manage to compensate for the watered-down middle bits.
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