It’s time for another set of two four-part Third Doctor stories from Big Finish! Once again Tim Treloar does an excellent job filling on for the sadly departed Mr. Pertwee and in this first story we have Rufus Hound returning as his incarnation of the meddling Monk. What could go wrong? Not much, thankfully! Let’s take a look…
When a man dies after falling from the top floor of a multi-storey car park, the Doctor and Jo wonder why it should be of interest to UNIT. Then they see the protuberances on the man’s back… As he fell, he tried to grow wings.
Looking into the man’s past leads the Doctor and Jo to a remote private hospital where the staff aren’t as helpful as they could be, and the Chief Administrator is unavailable to meet with them.
Breaking into some restricted wards, the Doctor notes the presence of alien and futuristic technology. The whole thing bears the unmistakable hallmarks of one of his own people’s interference, one of his old foes. Except not perhaps the one he might have imagined.
The Monk is back. And this time his meddling may have gone too far.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Tom Treloar) – The Doctor is enjoying his freedom, back on board his TARDIS, but when UNIT calls him in to help with an odd case on Earth, he just can’t help himself…
Jo Grant (Katy Manning) – Jo is always happy when travelling with The Doctor, be it by TARDIS or Bessie. That being said, a trip to the morgue wasn’t exactly what she had in mind…
The Monk (Rufus Hound) – The Monk has been around the block a few times, always trying to help the innocent… if it benefits him. Screw the rules of time travel, there’s profits to gain!
Dr. Kurdi (Mina Anwar) – Dr. Kurdi believes that the human body should be able to live forever, free from disease and trauma. That’s why she couldn’t believe her luck when a strange man offered her all the money and equipment she’d need for her experiments…
Harriet (Clare Corbett) – Harriet is an unfortunate patient at Dr. Kurdi’s clinic, having been injected with a serum that makes her body adapt to any potentially threatening situation, so well in fact that she is being constantly drugged to stop her from adapting a way out of the ward every day…
Francis (Silas Hawkins) – A former criminal, Francis was beaten to near-death by a bunch of thugs and his lifeless body was brought into Dr. Kurdi’s clinic. The serum worked on him as well, but instead of curing his wounds the foreign infection decided his body was too far gone and it was easier to give him a new, ghostly form instead…
This is the only problem with the Third Doctor Adventures range, no individual covers! Rrrr…
The story has a really good Third Doctor-y feel to it. It opens in a morgue with The Doctor talking about the Brigadier not wanting Jo to follow him in to see the body, being a lady and everything, much to Jo’s annoyance. After an inspection they’re off in Bessie to a creepy manor house where the experiments are taking place, including a walk across a muddy field and coming into contact with a group of armed guards. It just all fits in the era. Later UNIT even drops by (not any of the known members, sadly) and you can easily picture it all being from the early 70s.
The Doctor and Jo are still on fine form, and Rufus Hound’s Monk is once again a fun, if not over-egged, incarnation of the Time Lord. One of the best exchanges of the story has to go to The Doctor saying “… he calls himself: The Monk!” leading to an immediate response from his foe of “He doesn’t you know. Honestly, you don a robe for a few days and all of a sudden you’re typecast.” What is especially interesting is that The Monk mentions “brassy blondes from Blackpool” as The Doctor’s past companions, putting this Monk as after the incarnation played by Graeme Garden in the Eighth Doctor Adventures range. It makes sense, if the Monk is so willing to play with the rules of time then why would he not travel up and down his own time stream? Puts the confrontation between himself and the Eighth Doctor from the “Doom Coalition” story “The Side of Angels” in a new perspective… Anyway! Sorry, got lost in continuity there for a second…
The general idea of a virus-like infection that’s causing people to mutate to survive their surroundings in an interesting one, and Dr. Kurdi’s idea of a near-immortal human race living across the Earth, from the deserts to the poles and even the ocean, is a suitably mad one that is at least rooted in good intentions. Harriet, the poor patient kept drugged because her infection is almost working too well, is interesting, and when she escapes and starts spreading the “virus” to everyone else, creating a hive-mind situation, it creates a good old fashioned alien-like army to walk around, giving us an equally good old fashioned “base under siege” finale. Finally Francis, the criminal who enjoys his time being all ghost-like, is a fun side-character, and his interactions with Jo are quite sweet.
To sum up the story as a whole, the first half builds the mystery well, and then the second half is more of a bog-standard run-around, but no less fun for it, especially with The Monk and The Doctor’s interactions.
Not a lot to criticise, really. Like I said, the end half is perhaps disappointingly generic compared to a more interesting opening half, and Rufus Hound probably should have been toned down in a few scenes. Otherwise, it was a fun two hours!
The Monk first appeared in the First Doctor TV story “The Time Meddler”, and would reappear again in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. Beyond that he never appeared in the TV series again, but did reappear on Audio, as I mentioned, played by Graeme Garden and then later Rufus Hound, who we now know is indeed the latest incarnation, despite first appearing in the Second Doctor audio “The Black Hole”.
Beyond The Monk there isn’t anything to say, continuity wise, beyond The Doctor mentioning a confrontation he had recently with Omega, putting this after the TV story “The Three Doctors”.
The Rise of the New Humans is a fun story, with a better beginning than an end, but still far from bad. The interactions between The Doctor and The Monk are often funny and the rest of the cast play their roles well. A highly recommended story that may not reach the pinnacle it sets up for itself, but doesn’t stop being entertaining.