Original Sin introduces us to Roz Forrester and Chris Cwej and is an adaptation of the novel of the same name from back in the 90s “New Adventures” range. Given their final stories haven’t been adapted into audios I wasn’t going to include them in this marathon, they’re really Book companions rather than Audio or Comics, but Big Finish have started releasing new, audio only stories with The Doctor, Chris and Roz so that made them… straddle the line. Given their intro story has been adapted into audio though, I thought it’d be fair game! So let’s take a look!
A warning from a dying alien leads the Doctor and Bernice to Earth. However Earth in this time period is not a good place to be.
The murder rate is rising, but the killers seem to be acting without motive. The TARDIS crew’s investigations lead them to a military training planet, a prison inside a star, and a terrifying old foe.
And all the time they are being pursued – by two dogged Adjudicators who’ve stumbled onto a terrifying conspiracy. Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester.
Things will never be the same again.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) – The Doctor and Benny arrive on the planet Oolis just in time to see a distressed alien be killed. His last words were a warning to avoid Earth for the next few years, a warning The Doctor cannot possibly agree to…
Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman) – Benny is angry that the friendly alien she and The Doctor met was mercilessly gunned down for no reason, so for once she’s happy to plunge head-first into potential danger.
Roz Forrester (Yasmin Bannerman) – Roz is a proud member of the Adjudicators, a police force across the Earth Empire. She has recently been through a rough time, her partner was killed by an alien foe, and she’s doing all she can not to end up with a racist bias.
Chris Cwej (Travis Oliver) – Chris is a brand new Adjudicator who has been given Roz as a superior. Mr. Cwej is looking forward making a difference, especially with such a famous partner by his side…
Provost-Major Beltempest (Andrew French) – Beltempest is a Provost-Major in the Imperial Landsknechte, the military of the 30th Century Earth Empire. He is looking into potential corruption in his own outfit, or at the very least this person is looking into the corruption…
Robot (Phillip Voss) – A man who has been alive for countless years and has managed to amass a vast fortune and business empire… Okay, screw it, it’s Tobias Vaughn, who had his plans ruined by his own Cybermen allies in an incident involving the Second Doctor. He now controls vast segments of the Earth Empire and constantly transfers his “consciousness” into various robotic bodies. He wishes to use The Doctor’s time travel ability to regain his old body…
Powerless Friendless and Scattered Through Space (Jot Davies) – Originally known as “Daph Yilli Gar”, Powerless Friendless is a member of the Hith, a race all but extinct. He was on board the powerful ship “Skel’Ske” until it was captured by the Earth military. He was saved by the very captain who betrayed him, and he now has the only key to starting the ship…
Homeless Forsaken Betrayed and Alone (Robbie Stevens) – Homeless Forsaken, formally known as Vap Oppat Pol, was the Captain of the “Skel’Ske” ship and surrendered to the Earth alliance. He deeply regrets this action and after freeing his friend, is killed anyway by the Earth government as a cover up. His death though, does at least lead The Doctor and Benny down the right path…
A nice POV shot, it’s a shame Chris’ hand looks so… wrong, somehow…
Chris and Roz are certainly unusual companions, being what is essentially a pair of space cops. The first half of the story is very much a police procedural with aliens, complete with a classic “is the top of the precinct corrupt?” storyline. That isn’t a complaint, for the record, it does it very well, and as I said it makes for an interesting duo. Aside from the seemingly more and more obvious corruption, Roz and Chris are given a case which seems to point to The Doctor and Benny as the suspects, which leads them to run into each other. From there Roz finds out that her memory of her old partner being killed by an alien was manipulated by the evil man in charge of the whole corruption, and it was her who killed him after he was taking bribes and things intentionally got heated. Chris has less personally on the line though his near-death and restoration in a time tank of some sorts was interesting, in a technobabble kind of way.
The Doctor and Benny are still a great combo, they end up being hunted on the training grounds of a military planet, before making it back in time to stop the Earth from being destroyed. The Hith, who as a species aren’t up to much (apart from taking new names that reflect their feelings and situations, which is a neat little twist) have a ship that can travel the time stream and Tobias Vaughn and his great empire want its tech. In the end its destroyed so no one can have it, nor can it explode in a Hith revenge plot.
Speaking of Vaughn (whose name isn’t spoken, but given the dialogue between him and The Doctor, it’s clear it is him, just some rights entanglement meant his actual name couldn’t be dropped) he was fun, though he was more fun as a one-off corrupt businessman than he is here as a near-immortal robot (or series of robots) with a copy of Vaughn’s mind that had been copied and copied again and again over the years. Still, it’s fun in a “lived so long he can’t see other humans as anything other than short-lived things on his planet” kind of way, and the conversation between him and The Doctor at the end is great. He is essentially cut off from the network that he uses to switch bodies is then wiped out, so… good, I guess!
The Doctor, Benny, Chris and Roz make for a fun group, and certainly a sarcastic and sometimes drunk archaeologist and two police officers makes for a very unique period in the Doctor’s life, and one you’d never see on TV…
While I enjoyed the bizarre police procedural aspect of the first half, the “evil military who see nothing wrong in wiping out worlds if they don’t do what they say” characters and scenes were dull as hell, as is Provost-Major Beltempest, who is generic as they come (even though it turns out he isn’t the actual Beltempest but someone impersonating him to get to the bottom of the corruption). I was thrilled when the second half featured mainly Benny, Chris and Roz doing all the heavy work, leaving the military and their planet behind.
Apart from that and that I feel Tobias Vaughn was completely unnecessary (they may as well have just made up some powerful business man who lives via transferring their consciousness, no need to mine an old, admittedly classic, 2nd Doctor story and reuse the character) it’s a fun two hours!
The original book cover! I see Chris is a lot more blond in the novels…
As mentioned several times in this review (but never in the actual story!) the robot man is actually Tobias Vaughn from the classic 2nd Doctor 8-Part TV story “The Invasion”. Adjudicators and their general look comes from the Third Doctor TV story “Colony in Space”, where The Master pretended to be one in order to gain the colonists’ trust.
Original Sin is a fun story, with some refreshingly different companions and a police procedural story to get them started. It then turns into an equally fun, though more generic, Who affair to end, including a great (though unnecessarily connected) villain. Only some boring and unoriginal space marine stuff during the first half stops this from scoring higher. Still a great introduction to two interesting new companions (new to me… when this audio adaptation was first released. Old hat by many book fan’s view!)