Review by Michael Goleniewski
On a whirlwind solo trip to see the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe, the Eighth Doctor decides to travel to a pleasure planet filled with floating cities, large-scale oceans, and a wondrous statue that’s all the talk of the galaxy. But upon arriving, he finds an inhospitable desert filled with metal debris and a young woman with a peculiar Ood servant, both of whom are injured and seemingly desperate for help. As the group makes their way across the landscape to a battered ramshackle town, a ruthless killer is waiting for the opportunity to make his move. But a bigger problem is hiding behind the scenes that’s about to drag the Doctor headlong into something far nastier…..
“He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not” begins both the Eighth Doctor’s and Big Finish’s official journey into the Time Lord Victorious multi-media event. Carrie Thompson’s script is somewhat small on the surface with the Doctor getting caught up in a tense misunderstanding regarding a same-sex marriage and a disapproving vengeful father. But the bigger thread of disappearing civilisations and changing worlds is really where the narrative obviously wants to be. Multiple small clues hint at something very wrong with time that are interesting but never really make an appearance in the foreground. Honestly despite the obviously higher quality of everything around it, the plot really doesn’t have a lot going for it if you aren’t invested in the smaller threads going on which is hard given that neither Pauline Eyre nor Misha Malcolm’s characters aren’t all that interesting.
Thankfully the smaller details and other performances are where the story ends up succeeding the most. The soundscape is decent with a grounded wild west atmosphere and the direction is paced in a slow but tense way with quiet energy built up and waiting for the big revelations and plot points to explode into prominence. It has the feel of an old Western story with multiple parties caught up in the confrontation which is nice and certainly different from what one might expect given what this adventure is really meant to be. While the side cast is typical and fairly run of the mill, two big performances stand out. One is obviously Paul McGann who is as strong as ever even if his character isn’t given anything different to do. The other one is Silas Carson as Brian the Ood assassin who carries most of the audio by himself. Amusing in dark humour but far nastier in motivation and dialogue than you’d think, he makes for a surprisingly compelling presence and every moment he’s present in the audio is an absolute joy. He’s one of the best new creations the Whoniverse has delivered in a long time and it’s his character that really helps to keep things going in the smaller and bigger picture.
‘He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not’ is a slow-going start for the Time Lord Victorious event in audio form. The immediate premise is executed in a fairly average way with only the smallest of clues and hints at the larger picture to where a lot of fans going into this expecting something bigger might be a tad disappointed with it. But if you can get past that, this is a very good Eighth Doctor adventure with a decent atmosphere and great performances particular from Silas Carson as Brian the Ood who is a unique and very engaging threat that begs to be expanded on with more appearances in the Whoniverse at large. Though it’s hard to say it’s a story that’s worth revisiting again, it does exactly what it needs to with what it has and it’s a nice place for both fans of the big event and new fans in general for that matter) to start the journey with in regards to both TLV and Big Finish as a whole – 8 / 10
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