An ambitious project begins with a whimper and not a bang.
Time Lord Victorious is an ambitious, cross-format story arc that encompasses books, comics, magazines and even escape rooms (for the UK), as well as audio dramas. Each story is an independent entity and it is not necessary to see, hear or experience all the pieces to get the whole. Big Finish, of course, have jumped on board with a slew of releases connected to the story that will be issued over the coming months. It began earlier this month with a couple of lacklustre Short Trips involving two incarnations of the Master. They served as teaser for the main story. That begins with He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not which is the first of three stories to feature Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor.
The Doctor is looking forward to visiting the planet Atharna with its vast oceans and giant statue. Instead he finds a desert planet that resembles the old west. While contemplating why this might be, he chances upon a young lady called Felicity and an Ood called Brian. What the Doctor doesn’t know is that Brian is an assassin who is charged to not only bring Felicity back to her father but to kill her wife, Sophie, who is hiding in a basement of a saloon.
Carrie Thompson’s script is entertaining but is let down by a lot of ham-acting from some of the supporting cast who seem to think they are in Blazing Saddles instead of High Noon. The American accents are wildly over the top to the point of distraction. That director Scott Handcock – usually fantastic at reeling in such excesses – has let this pass is a mystery. Elsewhere, the cast are excellent. McGann himself is his usual world weary and exhausted Doctor and carries the weight of the story well. Silas Carson makes a menacing Brian the Ood, while both Mischa Malcolm (Felicity) and Melanie Stevens (Sophie) play their roles superbly. The sound design by Peter Doggart is also excellent despite being hamstrung by partially recording this in lockdown and partially in the Big Finish studios.
Included is a lengthy set of interviews with the cast as well as some of Ioan Morris’ evocative music in a stand-alone track.
Mercifully, this particular release is under an hour and, despite its faults, does not outstay its welcome. One suspects that the better stories in this range are yet to come (and will also feature David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor) and that Big Finish are merely setting the stage for the larger story to come. That moment cannot come soon enough.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: October 2020
Approx RRP: $20 CD, $9 Digital Download