Rage of the Time Lords was actually released a few months back, but due to all the crazy nonsense in my life, I decided to save it for when I was better able to settle down and listen to it… and here we are! Admittedly, after all that, Rage of the Time Lords is good, but fails to live up to the hype of the previous two War Master sets, which have been among my favourite Who related material each year they were released. That’s not to say this is bad though! Let’s take a closer look…
With all of space and time in chaos, the Master plots his most audacious project yet. Only one other Time Lord has ever been able to stop him. But where is that Time Lord when the universe needs him?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Rage of the Time Lords is closer to Master of Callous in terms of storytelling, though rather than one story across the whole box set, it’s more Episode 1 being a prologue to the two-part finale (with Episode 2 standing out as rather pointless… see below!)
We may as well start with Episode 1 then! “The Survivor” is a now-classic “Master without the Doctor story”, we hear somebody’s life come crashing down around them while the Master watches and subtly manipulates everyone to get what he wants. In this case, Alice Pritchard (Katherine Pearce), a normal girl in a World War II village doing her best to help the war effort, turns out to be a very rare “Chronopsychos”, a being with extremely powerful mental abilities, even compared to Time Lords. The Master gets his way and kidnaps her, after failing to convince her that it was good that all her friends and family either died, ended up hating her, or both, and that she should come with him willingly… shocker!
A simple but effective cover, even if that particular shot of Time War era Eighth Doctor is becoming a tad over-used…
Ignoring the side-step, this leads to the two-part finale, “The Missing Link / Darkness and Light”. It turns out The Master is building a truly unbeatable lifeform by using the genetic make-up of several rare species across the universe (including Alice’s mental powers!), a being that ends up being nicknamed “The Rage”. The first half is a long string of events that make it seem like The Master cocked up and ended up getting The Doctor involved when he talked to Alice about him, but it of course turns out that it was the plan all along because he needed The Doctor’s body as it had been exposed to the Time Vortex “like no other being in the universe” to complete The Rage… which he does!
Well… he completes it, but unsurprisingly given it’s made up of people The Master kidnapped and often dissected, it ends up rebelling against its master, leading to a great run around with Derek Jacobi’s Master and Paul McGann’s Doctor… Bit of a dream pairing, really! The two reminisce about old times, save each other’s lives, and eventually The Doctor destroys The Rage entirely, much to The Master’s distress (he was still convinced he could have controlled it…) Oh and at the very end The Master reveals he planted a device in The Doctor’s head that would erase his memory of the past day, explaining why David Tennant’s 10th Doctor doesn’t recognise this Master right away in his TV appearance!
Episode 2 “The Coney Island Chameleon”, is… not great. It’s more “Master manipulates people from afar”, but it leads nowhere. A couple of Americans (with decent accents for a change) are in a travelling show, but the female of the two has the ability to change her skin into whatever she touches, and The Master appears and want possession of her… or so we’re led to believe. The only good bit in this otherwise flat story is that it turns out The Master wanted the man instead, who actually had rare super strength, rather than the titular chameleon. The story was still dull and had no effect on the following two-part finale, but still… that was something!
Not much directly linking this to any story. The Master does use his old Reverend Magister alias during Part 1, which he first used in Third Doctor TV classic “The Daemons”.
As I previously mentioned, The Doctor gets his memories of this incarnation of The Master wiped at the end of the story so Jacobi’s debut on TV in Utopia can still make sense.
Rage of the Time Lords is a really entertaining two-parter with a good prologue before it. Sadly Episode 2 drops the ball a bit, and nothing in the set reaches the highs of the first two War Master sets, but it’s still a worthwhile listen, if nothing else than just for more Jacobi Master!