This is a decent set that fans of Jacobi’s portrayal of The Master will enjoy.
Sir Derek Jacobi returns for his third full set as the charming yet menacing War Master. It is obvious that the legendary actor is enjoying his time being an evil genius and this set sees him against the Eighth Doctor (portrayed by Paul McGann).
It starts on Earth where the War Master secures the services of two individuals who help him unleash an old Time Lord monster known as The Rage in an effort to help win the Time War against the Daleks. The Doctor also appears and he seems to be an unwitting accomplice to the plan. When things get out of hand though, the two will have to join forces before The Rage consumes everything in its wake.
This set is a lot more entertaining than the second volume released last year and the story shows the development of this Master persona well. There is certainly more than a hint of the original Master as portrayed by the brilliant Roger Delgado. Jacobi oozes old-time niceness whilst still maintaining the underlying threat of his character. It’s a fine balancing act that, in a lesser actor’s hands, could fall resoundingly flat.
Jacobi, for the most part, plays his part well although his American accent in episode two leaves (by the actor’s own admission) a lot to be desired. Paul McGann sounds like he is merely going through the motions a lot of the time but still delivers a credible performance of the angsty Eighth Doctor. Other supporting cast range from serviceable to good. The strong performances by Katherine Pearce (Alice Pritchard), Paul Clayton (Judge Hale), Ryan Forde Iosco (Fletcher) and Dominic Thorburn (Mandrake) should be mentioned as being the best of the bunch.
The scripts by Tim Foley and David Llewellyn generally flow well and maintain interest in the story without too much flabbiness (although episodes one and two seem to follow a very similar path plot-wise, which becomes a little mundane). The final half of the set is much more entertaining and action-packed (something sadly lacking in previous outings) even if the ending may annoy listeners who hang on the continuity between the audios and the television series.
Director Scott Handcock is no stranger to these longer arc stories and keeps the pace going well. The sound and music by Peter Doggart and Ioan Morris respectively are to be commended for their high quality throughout. There is also a bonus disc of interviews included with the set.
Despite some flaws, this is a decent set that fans of Jacobi’s portrayal of The Master will enjoy. It is great to see him tackling the Doctor again and it promises much for future sets from this series.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: July 2019
Approx RRP: $40 CD, $20 Digital Download