My subscription to the Main Range audio dramas from Big Finish ended just before Christmas, and its taken me this long to find the funds to re-subscribe. On the plus side, I now have a good eight or so new Doctor Who Audios to listen to! On the negative side: this story. Ah well. I’ve heard good things about the next one, so let’s just get this out of the way, shall we? It’s not terrible, just not terribly interesting…
Two thousand years ago, all civilisation on the planet Teymah was wiped out in an AELE – an Anomalous Extinction Level Event. Now, the galactic entrepreneur Lyam Yce hopes, at last, to learn the reason why the ancient Teymahrians went extinct – by funding a huge archaeological dig.
While the Doctor probes a strange sphere found by Yce’s diggers, his companion, former Bletchley Park cryptographer Constance Clarke, agrees to help translate symbols written in the lost ancient language of the Teymahrians. And soon, they’ll learn that ancient Teymah’s secrets were best left buried deep beneath its shifting sands…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Colin Baker) – The arrogant, but no longer obnoxious, Doctor with the multi-coloured dream coat.
Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison) – A WREN who was working at Bletchley Park until The Doctor came along. She still plans on returning to her home and settling the troubled feeling she has about her husband…
Lyam Yce (Paul Reynolds) – Your classic money-hungry businessman who only sees potential gain, even when faced with an invading alien force made of electricity…
Florrie (Jenny Bede) – Undercover agent who has had the misfortune to have to pretend of be the airheaded lover of Yce.
The Ninexie – Electric-based lifeforms looking to colonise a new world, but ended up just robbing another one of all life. Still, second time lucky!
The first episode did a wonderful job of world building. A deserty landscape, old ruins of a long-dead civilization whose end fate is still unknown, The Doctor and Constance being shown around the dig site. Great stuff.
The relationship that forms between Constance and Ammar, the cowardly assistant, was rather lovely and well acted on both accounts. The fact it leads into Constance finally deciding to go back to her time and see what happened to her husband was a nice touch, and set up the next story well.
While the Ninexie were forgettable and plain, I did at least enjoy the backstory of them trying to settle on this planet by taking over people with their electric forms, only to end up going from person to person until the planet became dead due to the low-level technology was too slow to build them what was necessary. I guess that tied more into the world building, rather than them, mind you…
Good story or bad, Big Finish always deliver a great looking cover image…
Mr. Yce was as one-dimensional a character you could ever see (or hear), and his American accent was on the thick and heavy side, which in a story that’s purely audio, is annoying. The Ninexie were similarly plain, with the old modulated voices and wanting to conquer planets etc. The people from the race that had wiped them out were also just basic military types who soon got wiped out anyway. Basically, with one or two exceptions, the story was full of completely underdeveloped characters.
The handheld telepathic device The Doctor happened to be working on for “several regenerations” being found at the start of Part 1 and then becoming significant in the plot as a way to spot the bad guys was incredibly… cheap. Like as soon as it was discussed at the start I knew it would be a key item in whoever the villains were and their inevitable defeat.
The story as a whole was a bit too… talky. It took a while to get going, and when it did it was near the end and not very exciting, mostly due to the fact that a lot of the characters weren’t interesting, as stated above.
Not much to talk about, no. Beyond The Doctor asking if the Ninexie were related to the Nix (the water-based lifeforms from Fifth Doctor audio story “The Waters of Amsterdam”) and the obvious cliffhanger getting resolved in the next story thing, that goes without saying…
While I can’t say this was bad, I can’t say it’s particularly good. It’s one of those stories that just fits in the middle, you watch/listen/read it once, then promptly forget about it a few weeks later unless it happens to come up randomly down the line. I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on it, but if you just have to own it, it will pass two hours … slowly at times.