DW: Ravenous 3 – Deeptime Frontier & Companion Piece Review

DW Ravenous 3 P1

“Deeptime Frontier” picks up right from the end of Ravenous 2, with The Doctor and co. in immediate danger from the titular threat, but the highlight of this double bill has to be “Companion Piece”, which decides to step away from the core storyline almost entirely and have a bit of a celebration of the Eighth Doctor’s audio history by bringing back a bunch of past companions for a one-off (or a companion piece to the core storyline, if you will!) It made for a fun start to the set, so let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

Stranded on a desolate world by a dead TARDIS, the Doctor and his friends are trapped, surrounded by creatures from Time Lord nightmares – the Ravenous…

Elsewhere, on the edge of the vortex, a Gallifreyan research station takes on board an extremely dangerous artefact. Are the Time Lords sowing the seeds of their own destruction?

And if one Ravenous creature rattles the Doctor’s nerves, what will happen when the whole clan is hunting him?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW Ravenous 3 Cover

The overall boxset cover, also shows most of the cast! Handy.

The Doctor (Paul McGann) – The Doctor and his companions are stranded on a planet with the endless hunger of the Ravenous approaching them, all the while The Doctor is still trying to get used to the idea of feeling fear…

Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) – Liv is trying to remain her usual calm and sarcastic self in the face of seemingly immediate death… and is holding up surprisingly well!

Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan) – Helen is also trying to see the bright side of being on an unknown planet with no TARDIS and the Ravenous slowly approaching, but is finding it challenging.

The Eleven (Mark Bonnar) – The Eleven has run off with The Doctor’s TARDIS in the hope of avoiding the Ravenous, but he should have remembered that they’re not that easy to escape from…

The Ravenous (George Asprey and Susie Emmett) – The Ravenous were a clan of a race that the Time Lords wiped out long ago and sealed within a pocket dimension. Now they’re back, hungry and more than a little annoyed…

Rasmus (Damian Lynch) – Rasmus is one of The Doctor’s last remaining Time Lord friends who hasn’t actually betrayed him and turned out to be villainous… Hooray! … For now.

River Song (Alex Kingston) – River was left floating in the Time Vortex after he run in with the Doom Coalition, and she finds herself rescued by a TARDIS… but not the TARDIS she was expecting…

Charley Pollard (India Fisher) – Charley is currently travelling with The Doctor and C’rizz, but has suddenly found herself kidnapped by a crazy collector and constantly shifted between two wings full of the Doctor’s past companions…

Bliss (Rakhee Thakrar) – Bliss will one day end up as an ally of The Doctors during the Time War, but before that she is kidnapped by a strange man in a time travel device…

The Nine (John Heffernan) – The Nine is two personalities less than the more commonly seen Eleven, but is no less insane, and does love a good bit of stealing… and collecting.

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Ravenous 3 Companion Piece Cover

Good to see Charley on a cover again, especially during Big Finish’s Doctor Who 20th Anniversary year.

While I feel each story had a little niggle that stopped them from being great, both were really strong in their own right.

“Deeptime Frontier” has a genuinely claustrophobic atmosphere, with The Doctor, his companions, his “old friend” Rasmus and an Earth scientist all trapped on space station with a Ravenous corpse that slowly reveals itself not to be as dead as it seemed. During the course of this horror show we get The Doctor and Rasmus telling Liv and Helen (and therefore the listener) the origin and backstory of the Ravenous. It’s a rather on-the-nose info dump, but it works, though they’re just another old race that Rassilon screwed over, so… nothing major. Throw in some body possession and everyone getting split up and that’s your story. Oh, and Rasmus actually doesn’t turn out to be bad! He even feels sorry for the human he dragged into the conflict. Overall, a fun little horror story…

“Companion Piece” is, as I mentioned, pretty much stand-alone. River Song, floating in the Time Vortex from Doom Coalition, is “saved” by The Nine, who then decides to collect The Doctor’s companions because “he can’t just have one”. Cue an amusing scene of The Nine walking down corridors labelled “1, 2, 3” etc. and each corridor corresponding to each Doctor. We hear Jamie, Jo, Leela, Romana, Adric and… someone called Margaret, who I guess is a future companion of the Fourth Doctor given her placement between Leela and Romana (interesting!). The Nine, for the record, is brilliantly played here, he’s got such a cheery beat in his step and performance that you can’t help but love him, despite being the clear antagonist…

Liv and Helen wake up next to Charley, who has been ripped from the time she was with The Doctor and C’rizz, and is constantly moved from wing 8 to wing 6 and back again, much to her confusion (ho-ho!). They’re soon joined by Bliss pre-Time War, and therefore pre-Doctor, and soon the four women break out and rescue River, who has been intentionally giving The Nine the identities of companions who could help in an escape (warriors, people with smarts, that sort of thing). In order to distract The Nine River sent him to retrieve the body of Katarina, the lady who very, very briefly travelled with the First Doctor during the Daleks’ Master Plan, which caused The Nine to run into a younger version of River, leading to a funny showdown. In the end it was Katarina’s confused mind that The Nine had linked to is TARDIS’ telepathic circuits that distracted him enough to be taken down… so very fan-wanky, but still good!

River wipes everyone’s minds apart from Liv and Helen, and soon the duo are reunited with the Doctor, who is now palling around with The Eleven (who remembered where Liv and Helen were thanks to being here as The Nine). Overall it was a really fun side-step, even if it clearly just for the sake of doing it, rather than holding any significance to the Ravenous plot arc.

The Bad:

DW Ravenous 3 Deeptime Frontier Cover

Oh look, a creepy clown looking thing… with glowing red eyes! Original!

I still don’t particularly like the Ravenous. Evil clown-looking things that talk about feasting while making various inhaling or slobbering sounds? Pfft. They’re just so… dull. Evil clowns, especially, never did anything for me, and given these things are supposed to be the big bad of the four-box storyline, they’re really lackluster. They’d be fine as a one-off, but here? Nah…

While I enjoyed Companion Piece, I couldn’t help but feel like it was … a waste of time? That seems a bit harsh, but half way through the third of four sets and it doesn’t feel like anything in the main plot is particularly advancing, so spending an episode doing a reunion and then wiping nearly everyone’s memories before resuming the key story just seemed like it wasn’t the right time. This should have been a one-off special release for Big Finish’s Anniversary or something… Still good though, don’t get me wrong, but it did seem odd.

The Continuity:

Beyond the obvious links to Ravenous 2 and before, there is at least one slightly less in-direct connection, and that’s River Song. Her floating in the Time Vortex was actually an unresolved plot point from Doom Coalition 4 (“Songs of Love” specifically), which is nice to tie up at least.

As mentioned, Charley is from her time travelling with C’rizz, but not exact detail was given. Jamie mentions having only met The Doctor once, meaning it’s Jamie from after the Second Doctor era, and Bliss is from before the Time War, meaning prior to her first appearance. All the other companions could be from anywhere.

Katarina, also as previously mentioned, was killed early on in the Daleks’ Master Plan epic, River claims to have taken her body to give it a proper burial after The Doctor was unable to do so at the time, all as a thank you for her saving her husband’s life (well, first life, I guess…) That being said, a future Early Adventures release will shed more light on her soon…

Overall Thoughts:

Ravenous 3 is off to a good start, with a fun horror story and a really enjoyed celebratory spin-off. Neither is full-on 5-star must re-listen, but they were definitely fun while they lasted. Hopefully the second half of the set will live up to, or surpass, these stories!

4 Star Listen

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