Review by Doctor Squee (Head Reviewer & host of Gallifrey Stands podcast)
I have been looking forward to this 2-part adventure! Not only is it always a pleasure to have Tom Baker stepping back into his role as the 4th Doctor, but to have the return of David Warner as Cuthbert and Toby Hadoke as Mr Dorrick is something not to be missed. These characters were originally introduced at the end of 4th Doctor series 2 (The Dalek Contract and The Final Phase) alongside Tom and Mary Tamm’s Romana 1. So it is a little bittersweet when you hear on the extra’s Nicholas Briggs talking about how bringing in Lalla Ward for this series meant that they could continue some of the storylines left open from Tamm’s adventures. As always though the trick of making you feel like it’s the same person no matter which Romana you are dealing with is achieved; something we maybe take for granted sometimes.
It’s great to hear Hadoke’s Mr Dorrick, which he once described to me as probably having ‘a cold wet handshake’ going from Cuthbert’s toady to feeling like he is in big wheel as he had his own posting to rule over. Hadoke also ably performs the switch back to type in the site of Cuthbert, revealing himself as the smiley lackey he is underneath it all. There are also some great scenes between him and Romana where she easily outwits him and shows him up as the impudent child he is at heart.
It’s also another great example of how John Leeson can turn from fan favourite K9 in one scene to in this case Oortac. Aided by a bit of audio trickery and his versatile acting you would never guess it was the same person. I also really love the Oortac. It’s a character you warm to despite him working from a totally different moral frame work at times to our own. Moral relativity always being a fun one to play with in Who.
Then added to everything, there is some Doctor Who legacy in the mix with David Troughton as the the Edge, a character with more going on than might first appear. As well as additional voices from the Big Finish powerhouse that is Lisa Bowerman (she gets everywhere, they woman must never sleep!).
Then of course the main cast, Tom Baker verses David Warner! I’m starting to think Warner is now under contract to appear in half of Big Finish’s output and I couldn’t be happier. Like Leeson he never feels like the same person and Cuthbert is a great role to showcase his acting chops. In the extras he puts it that
“If I’m playing a heavy or heavy-ish character I enjoy it being a little bit lighter that just saying “kill him, get him” and that kind of stuff. I like the fun”
and boy does he have fun with the character. This seems like a character that could and should keep coming back.
And then we have Tom Baker doing his usual Columbo like job of toying with the baddie and looking like he doesn’t know what he is doing as he plays about the place, while really always being 5 moves ahead at least. I noticed Tom’s voice has gotten even deeper with the years, that only lends more power and strength to the role (not that Tom needed the help).
I would also give a shout out to the music that gives a nice feel of the original 4th Doctor era. The music like the rest of this story and indeed range, feels like it belongs in the original series but with a few bits all of its own.
Even though these are released as 2 adventures, they are really one 2-parter and should be picked up together. I won’t go into any deeper plot points as to do so could get into spoilers very quickly. Sufficed to say this is some amazing writing by Nicholas Briggs and should be on your next BF shopping list!
Find these adventures and the entire 4th Doctor range here… https://www.bigfinish.com/ranges/v/doctor-who—fourth-doctor-adventures