23 May 2016

Audio Review: Doctor Who - Time Reaver


So here we are, a week after the release of Big Finish’s highly anticipated reunion of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble. They’re widely known as one of the definitive TARDIS teams to grace our beloved show and, quite frankly, they’re *my* TARDIS team. So how do the three new stories stack up? Do Tennant and Tate still have it? Is it Saturday evening in 2008 once more? Allons-y!

The Tenth Doctor Adventures Volume 1 | Part 2: Time Reaver

“My father’s last words were... 'Give up your cache of alien weapons.'”

The second story in the set is penned by the brilliant Jenny T Colgan, who I am pleased to say is becoming increasingly prolific in the Doctor Who world. I mentioned In the Blood in my review of Technophobia, which is a slight sequel to Time Reaver, but was released a few days before these Big Finish adventures. I devoured her novel upon its release, so knew that she was the perfect choice to capture the Doctor and Donna’s relationship and couldn’t wait to hear David Tennant and Catherine Tate play out one of her stories.

Time Reaver is set on the spaceport planet of Calibris. Think of Star Wars’ Mos Eisley, albeit a massive planet. The alien Vacintians exist to impose order on the streets of Calibris because an illegal weapon is out there and it’s dangerous; the Time Reaver. The concept of Time Reaver, both the story and the aforementioned weapon, is grim and horrific, the victims are destroyed... agonisingly slowly. In fact, it wouldn’t have gone amiss as one of the Infernal Devices in the second War Doctor set by Big Finish! Perhaps there will be a link between the ranges in the future and the Time Reaver’s origins will be explored? After all, the Tenth Doctor certainly seems to know about them.

As with Technophobia, the plot rattles along at a great pace, but I think Time Reaver steps everything up a notch or two. Everything about the story is well realised; the Doctor and Donna’s relationship, the story and its concepts, the Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired soundtrack and the supporting characters. It isn’t just the Doctor and Donna saving the day in this one, the vivid and well fleshed out supporting cast all have an influence on the climax of the story, more so than the two regulars. Special mention must go to John Banks, who plays Gully the gangster octopus, who is an absolute delight and a villain I’d like to see Big Finish use again, and Sabrina Bartlett, who plays Cora. On the face of it, Cora may seem like a naive girl, who chooses to believe that the Time Reaver can be used for good rather than bad (an example is happy moments being played out very slowly opposed to death), but if you delve into the story further, you will see that the Vacintians have created a world that Cora belongs to in which everyone thinks alike and don’t think wrongfully. Bartlett conveys this wonderfully and reinforces what a complex and layered story Jenny T Colgan has crafted. A special mention must go to a character telling Donna that “there’s something on your back”. It doesn’t have anything to do with the plot of the 2008 series, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.

Time Reaver is an utter joy to listen to. Tennant and Tate are once again on fine form, the supporting cast are excellent and Big Finish are building up on the established Technophobia. This story is the only one out of the three that really takes advantage of its audio landscape. It isn’t a criticism of the two stories either side, but it makes for a refreshing listen. 

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