Sunday, July 1, 2012

Big Finish - The Butcher of Brisbane

Back to the main monthly releases and this is number 161 The Butcher of Brisbane by Marc Platt, directed by Ken Bentley. Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Mark Strickson all return as the Tardis crew and Angus Wright plays Magnus Greel.

Let me get my confession out of the way first. As the co-host of a podcast all about British science-fiction television it is rather shameful to admit that I have never seen The Talons of Weng-Chiang. It is reputed to be quite possibly the best Fourth Doctor serial ever and one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time. And yet I still have not got round to watching it. Maybe that puts me in a unique position to review this story which is a sort of prequel to Weng-Chiang with a rather complicated time structure. This is the Fifth Doctor meeting a man who he first encountered in his Fourth incarnation. However it is a younger Greel who has yet to acquire the time machine which he will use to travel back from the 51st century to Victorian London for the encounter depicted in Weng-Chiang. So the writer has to be careful about how much time Greel has with the Doctor himself in order to not interfere with continuity.

Marc Platt solves this problem by making full use of the Doctor's three companions. The role of a companion has varied over the years. Some have been required to do the action stuff for the Doctor such as Ian, Steven, Jamie and Leela in classic Who and Captain Jack, Micky and Rory in new Who. Other companions are needed to ask the Doctor questions so that he can explain to them and us what is going on. Examples include, well just about all of them apart from Liz Shaw, Romana and K-9. The one standard for all companions is that they must get separated from the Doctor and get into some form of trouble. The neat trick that Platt pulls off in this story is to explore the concept of time travel and have the companions separated by time rather than space. It is an idea that has been explored in recent Doctor Who television stories, in particular with Amy Pond and her dilemmas in The Eleventh Hour and The Girl who Waited. The result is a very interesting story which has Nyssa and Turlough embroiled in political intrigues and espionage.

The Doctor himself has a back-seat role in this one. It's almost like one of the Doctor-light episodes that new Who does once a season. As ever the Big Finish production values are top class and the whole thing cracks along at an enjoyable pace. I particularly liked the music by Fool Circle which reminded me of some of the incidental pieces used in the BBC TV version of The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This maintains the recent high standard of Big Finish stories that I have been listening to. It gets 4 out of 5 Time Cabinets. Now I get a bit of a break before Protect and Survive. Time to catch up on some of the shows I am supposed to be watching for British Invaders.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this and also picked up on the music which reminded me of Vangelis.