Review: Doctor Who – Ravenous 1

Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)

Following on from the Doom Coalition boxsets, the 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) and Med-Tech Live Chenka (Nicola Walker) are back; in search of their friend Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan) and the insidious, multi persona’ed The Eleven (Mark Bonnar).Their Finest Hour by John Dorney

Churchill (Ian McNeice), Calls the Doctor back to Earth during the Second World War to help with a mysterious new type of aircraft which is seemingly invisible and is taking out allied aircraft. With few troops to spare the Doctor enlists the help of some Polish fly boys who haven’t yet taken to the skies in the war.

This is a wonderful story. Always good to see Ian McNeice back in as… well anything, but especially Churchill who is riding high on the Churchill boxsets. McGann is in fine form as the 8th Doctor and he and Nicola Walker bounce off each other with ease.

Dorney has turned in a fantastic script. The 8th Doctor and Churchill have a relationship that feels familiar but is pleasantly unique from Churchill’s relationship with the other Doctors he’s met. The idea for the story is also very original, concentrating on the part Poland played in winning the war. And as Big Finish has a deft way of doing, it feels like it has undertones of modern politics in it without hitting us over the head with it. It felt to me there was a point in the contributions to our history Europe has made that some might not like to remember.

How To Make A Killing In Time Travel by John Dorney

In another diversion on the way to finding Helen, the Doctor & Liv finds themselves on Scapegrace space station. Cornelius Morningstar (Roger May) & his assistant Stralla Cushing (Judith Roddy) are working on a time travel experiment. But are these experiments everyone will survive?

For a story that entails murder, this one is a lot of fun. May as Morningstar is suitably irascible and Roddy as Stralla plays being out of her depth in a web of her own making in a way that feels both very human and sometimes verging on the comical. The perfect playground for the ever moral Doctor to get caught up in.

World of Damnation & Sweet Salvation by Matt Fitton

In this 2-parter we rejoin the running story arc. Helen has been on Rykerzon, a maximum security facility with the Eleven for some time. Where he seems to be responding to treatment, they have developed a friendship. But has he really changed? When the Doctor and Liv arrive the Doctor seems unsure and unsure if he can trust Helen after so long alone with him. Another suspicious development is the therapy which consists of sweet foods delivered by none other than the Kandyman (Nicholas Rowe).

Well this is how you wrap up a set! I was not overly taken with the TV take on the Kandyman. A murderous giant Berty Bassett, it always seemed like an interesting idea not done right. That’s why it was so good to hear Fitton talk about having gone back to the original concept for his take. More frosted sugar than ‘allsort’. The idea of foods effecting our moods is something science has and continues to look into, so again we have that ‘based on scientific fact’ feel. Rowe gives a great version of the character too. Hints of the original portrayal but with increased sinister undertones. The ride Helen goes on is great too. Dealing with how the effects of the sonomancer affected her want to see the best and the ability to change in the Eleven. The Doctors world weariness in not knowing if he can trust his friend; & Liv just knowing it’s the Helen of old. All this goes to a very satisfying conclusion. Not to mention Bonnar’s constant ability to play 11 real & distinct feeling characters at once.

In conclusion…

This set is entertaining from start to finish. The only problem for me is the idea of starting a new set promising to follow a theme and having two stand-alone episodes to start it off. They’ve always done these stand-alone episodes within the sets, but at least usually they set out their stall first. True this is following on from a previous set, but it feels like we should have something in the over-arching story to open things. If they want to do stand alone story’s could we not have had a stand alone set between Doom Coalition and Ravenous? These stories are all great just the first 2 don’t really tie in at-all save a cursory mention in the opening scene of each.

But the main thing is we have 4 really imaginative and engaging stories that are up there with some of the best of the 8th Doctor and the last 2 stories will make you Ravenous to learn what’s going on with the story ahead! 8/10.

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