Review by Michael Goleniewski
“Memories of a Tyrant” begins a new trilogy of stories for the Sixth Doctor and Peri (Perpugilliam) Brown continuing with a return of the Daleks next month in “Emissary of the Daleks” and a meeting to come with Harry Houdini in “Harry Houdini’s War” in September. It’s a fantastic time in 2019 for one of Big Finish’s most prolific and popular Doctor / Companion teams and ‘Tyrant’ starts things off again in fascinating fashion.
The Sixth Doctor has brought Peri to a research station out in space that accesses, analyses, and stores memories even those hidden deep in the recesses of the mind. The Doctor is looking for one of the foremost authorities on the station who happens to be a good friend of his while Peri is looking to delve into and recall memories of her past with her father. But instead of a warm welcome, they find the place in almost total lockdown and with a skeleton staff examining a man named Garius Moro with a reputation for war crimes and genocide on a mass scale. Problem is he can’t exactly remember who he is, his memories are foggy, and the surrounding evidence of his supposed crimes are somewhat circumstantial at best. With multiple parties counting on finding out who he is and if he’s innocent or guilty, the Doctor decides to intervene and make certain of things himself. But it’s not long before things start to go wrong with murders aplenty and a nasty commander looking to take things over himself. But the biggest surprise might be what’s in Moro’s mind and where it ends up leading for Peri herself….
Roland Moore’s script is a surprisingly intricate one with lots of interlocking pieces, detailed dialogue, and some fantastic twists and turns that really keep you guessing. But it never once loses you with its complexity and despite a minimal amount of action is still surprisingly fun to follow along with. The whole plot is a very cerebral puzzle that reinvents and rearranges itself in more ways than one and it forces you to keep your mind focused and on your toes just as much as the character do in story. There are plenty of interesting ideas around the subject of memories, how well the brain can recall them, and if our own recollections can, in fact, be trusted and it really puts the Sixth Doctor and Peri’s investigative abilities to the test. T
The cast is also another exceptional one. Colin Baker is fantastic as usual with his Doctor though to say more beyond that would give away major spoilers to the story. Diane Keen as a kindly alien lawyer, Steven Wickham as a gruff cyborg commander, and Joseph Mydell as the muddled man in question all bring great characterisation to one of the most memorable side casts delivered by Big Finish in a while. But it’s Peri who gets a good amount of development and time devoted to her than you’d expect. She ends up driving the narrative forward in more ways than one and her dedication and perseverance in the face of scheming doubts get to be put on full display. It’s another outstanding performance for Nicola Bryant who by now knows her character and her relationship to the Doctor inside and out and she continues to establish herself as one of the best underrated Doctor Who companions of all time.
The smaller details also work outstandingly well. The direction and soundscape from John Ainsworth do exactly what they need to do, the musical score is fine, and the pacing fantastic leading to a dramatic climax that’s a bit of a copout but still a lot of fun. Granted some minor threads are brought up and then immediately dropped in favour of other developments and the audio does lose a bit of steam and subtlety at times in the second half. The action is also a bit more minimal than a lot of Who stories focusing much more on the dialogue and the bigger ideas rather than anything too visceral. But it seems appropriate for what the adventure is trying to be and it doesn’t take away from things at all if you go in with the right mindset.
In general, despite some minor issues, this is a great Sixth Doctor release and a return to form for the Monthly Range especially after the disappointing ending to the recent Seventh Doctor trilogy. Original, well handled, and absolutely intriguing from start to finish, “Memories of a Tyrant” is well recommended re-establishing things in true form for one of the best TARDIS teams in all of Who canon. It’s great to have Ol’ Sixie and Peri back again and here’s to next month with the Daleks to come!
9 / 10
Download/buy here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/doctor-who-memories-of-a-tyrant-1283