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“It would appear that I’ve been translocated in time and space, yes.”
I’m a little later than usual on this review and I apologize but on the bright side I’ve let this one digest and percolate in my mind a little more than I usually do so hopefully that will translate into a more well rounded review! (Well we can hope at least.) If you recall in April, Big Finish brought us the first part of a trio of Locum Doctor Stories which displaced the 7th doctor into a 3rd doctor adventure. This second release in the trio of stories sets Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor into in the era of the Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor alongside his classic companions Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot.
The following synopsis comes from bigfinish.com:
“It’s been ten years since the final assault on Telos, the last act of the Great Cyber War. Thanks to the Glittergun, humanity prevailed – and the half-machine Cybermen were utterly obliterated.
Out on the furthest fringes of the galaxy, however, they left their mark – in the form of a giant Cyber-head, hundreds of feet high. A monument? A memorial? A tomb? The Doctor, the Cybermen’s most indefatigable adversary, sets out to investigate… but he fails to return to his TARDIS. Leaving the Ship, his two companions – brave Highlander Jamie MacCrimmon, and super-intelligent Zoe Heriot – find a stranger in the Doctor’s place. A stranger in a coat of many colours, who insists that he’s the Doctor – transposed in time and space with one of his former selves…
But why here? Why now? Has the universe really seen the last of the Cybermen..?”
I’ve made it no secret how much I’ve been looking forward to this release, the Big Finish Sixth Doctor in a Second Doctor adventure? A Cyberman story to boot? I can’t conceive of too many things I’d like to see more of than this. (Maybe more classic companions returned in the modern series?.. but that’s besides the point.)
Whovians like to play the “who is your doctor?” game cuz it’s a great ice breaker, but in reality most Whovians find a little love in their hearts for each incarnation of the doctor. For me the obvious answer to “Who is your Doctor?” is Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. I’m from the era that grew up with him, I’d be a liar if I said he didn’t hold that super special spot but as I’ve grown into adulthood one of my least favorite doctors “on Television” has rapidly become one of my absolute favorite doctors “on audio.” I’m sure I’ve said it before but it bears repeating these Big Finish stories really illuminated some of the great potentials we didn’t quite get to see from ole Sixy in his televised run. You get to see beyond the arrogant stubbornness he was known for and see that he truly is fond of so many things and the compassion that so encompasses the doctor’s motivations is available in Six in abundance. Enough of my fanboy love!… on to The Last of the Cybermen! Did it live up to my elevated expectations? Let’s see shall we? Let’s just see…
Some of my favorite parts:
- The Dynamic between The Tardis Crew… I love the Jamie and Zoe stories, I also know that often times the Sixth Doctor reminisces about the legendary companions he had in his Second Doctor Era, and I guess really the doctors should… Zoe and Jamie were ripped from the Doctor and had their memory of their travels erased. It would stand to reason that the Doctor would feel a little melancholy about the companions he couldn’t ever really visit as they wouldn’t remember him. As most fond memories generally work… it’s not all joyful reunions… despite Six’s fondness Jamie and the Doctor don’t automatically hit it off quite the way he might initially hope.
- A giant cyberman head shaped citadel! What?! Can you imagine seeing that on television? That’s an incredible image! We’ve see so many things from the cybermen now but this is still a fresh idea which has that air of mystery which harkens back to the 2nd Doctor era where the Cybermen were still fresh mysterious and new.
- Sixy gets nostalgic, from what I understand Colin Baker is quite fond of Troughton and his era of Doctor Who and even in character he’s able to let that fondness show through when he looks through his “old trunk” full of Troughton era artifacts.
- The River Song style “where are we now?” moment. I can’t say it was a direct nod or anything but Six tried to calibrate with his companions on what was happening based on what he remembered happening in his past. It was fun and uniquely different from how the Seventh Doctor handled his “locum” experience.
- Six’s willingness to involve the timelords, without giving too much away… when things seem kind of lost Six is willing to involve the Timelords to set things right… which is not something that Two would have done until things were at their most dire. It was also somewhat surprising considering Six’s past dealings with them in his Trial of a Timelord. This approach ALSO shows just how far Six has come since his televised adventures.
- Lanky! Nicholas Briggs doesn’t have writing or directing credits on this one but as the go-to guy for cyberman voices he pulls multiple voice acting credits in this story. “Lanky” is a character who was a new take on the Cyberman conversion process and all stops in between. The character of Lanky was an awesome example of just how versatile Briggs is in his voice acting. He really helps to create a wholly new sounding character while staying true to the cyberman voices that are quite signature to him.
- The writing! Wow, Alan Barnes knows his cyberman lore! Just wow! He crafted a story that harkens back to Tomb of the Cybermen and yet gave us lots to look at in a post Telos war story. Very impressed with it on that front but he also does not shy away from the character development either! Both our established characters and the new characters get some meaty character development and we get to hear more about Zoe and her backstory than we had gotten before.
So are you getting a sense of how I feel about this story yet? Like I’ve said I had time to mull this story over and honestly the more time I’ve had to think about this one… The more I love it.
I mentioned last month that I am super impressed with how they came up with this Locum Doctors idea and executed it in such a way that it doesn’t ever feel silly/campy/gimicky.
This story in particular had really interesting elements from start to finish and really had me wondering: “How can they resolve this?!” It was wibbly wobbly, it was true to the Sixth Doctor while being a really cool homage to all things Second Doctor. Troughton may not have been present in this story but you really do feel like this is a proper Second Doctor story and he COULD have been in it and despite it being set in the same trilogy as the first part (with Doctor 7) it didn’t resolve in quite the same way. Six’s eventual solution wasn’t the same as Seven’s was for his story. I like that it’s not going to be the same formula or solution each time.
I don’t think I’ve done this yet and it may be due to some biases but… I can’t come up with a single reason why this shouldn’t be my first 5 star review. I’ve actually re-listened to most of this story again just because I had it playing automatically and I didn’t want to shut it off. I don’t know if it’s perfect but I’m hard pressed to come up with a single thing I’d want changed… maybe I just want MORE? That’s it… they left me wanting MORE! 5 STARS and “BRAVO!”
This Trilogy is delivering for me in a huge way. 2 out of 2 awesome stories so far and I’m now really looking forward to the finale so I can see what’s going on here! It sounds like we’ll get an idea of why this is all happening when Peter Davison’s 5th Doctor meets up with Hartnell era companions in June’s “Main Range” milestone 200th release!
How does my review track for YOU? Agree with Me? Disagree with me? How does this Cyberman story stack up for you? Are there other Big Finish Audios you think we should review? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think! By Grawlix, have a great month!