I didn’t know what to expect going into a story called “The Tribulations of Thaddeus Nook”. It sounded like some done-to-death Victorian era story again, but turns out its nothing of the sort and was actually really good fun! Full of good characters and a twisty plot involving time travel and alien empires. Let’s take a look!
It’s time for the trip of a lifetime! Come along on one of Thadeus Nook’s Time Tours. See history as it really was. Get to witness wars and assassinations! See barbarian warlords right up close!
The Doctor and Leela encounter a most enterprising young gentleman – using time travel for his own financial gain. The Doctor is horrified at the irresponsibility – but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Because Thadeus Nook is about to learn that history is often best left in the past.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
So Thaddeus Nook (Brendan Murphy) is your classic Only Fools and Horses style “this scheme is going to be the one that gets us rich!” lovable failure whose current plan is to use a Time Machine he brought on the cheap to bring people to moments in history as tourists. Along with his significant other Jess (Laura Riseborough) he gets caught by The Doctor when one of his customers wanders off a few hours before D Day and very nearly lets it slip to Nazi guards. Nook and Jess return to their own time and get ready for the next lot of tourists but The Doctor and Leela give chase, the latter ending up in Nook’s time machine and going for a ride to the Kennedy Assassination with the group. The Doctor notices a dramatic shift in the timeline and follows it to where Nook’s ship landed, a day where famous warlord Grannus Drek (Kieran Bew) killed all his opponents under the guise of a ceasefire and then was killed himself for it. This is something I really liked, it was a big, fixed moment in time that wasn’t an Earth-related event we already know about but still would have disastrous consequences if altered.
It soon turns out that a member of Nook’s tourist group, a girl named Flaia (Georgina Hellier), is a member of a cult that worships the legacy of Drek and had gone on the tour to try and alter history by saving Grannus and bring him to her present, which she eventually does after a good Part 3 runaround. Sadly for her Drek is more interested in using the machine to tell his younger self about his few mistakes and how avoid his death rather than starting a new empire in an unknown-to-him time period. This leads to The Doctor, Leela, Nook and Jess to now have a run about, jumping back, forth and into each other in their two time machines, eventually leaving Drek floating in timeless void left after the death of the universe, which… serves him right, I guess. Of course “lovable rouge who is normally cowardly becomes brave for long enough to take down the main villain” happens with Nook, though he is saved in time by The Doctor. Nook and Jess go on to plan their next life together as The Doctor and Leela similarly depart. It’s a story that keeps you on your toes and changes locations a lot, plus has some really likeable new characters too.
A good cover, as per, though the monk in the background to the left looks awfully familiar…
Not much, really. At first I rolled my eyes a bit at Thaddeus Nook because he was such a generic stereotype you’ve seen / heard a million times, but thanks to both the well written script and Brendan Murphy’s performance it didn’t take long for me to warm to the character anyway. Likewise Grannus Drek is straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon, but by the time he actually appeared he suited the more light-hearted and fun story, so I was okay with it!
Oh and I will say that the original title for this release was “Thaddeus Nook’s Time Tours”, which sounds a thousand times better than the boring sounding title it ended up getting changed too…
This story doesn’t really connect to any other, though Thaddeus and Jess are awfully similar to Vorg and Shirna from the Third Doctor story “Carnival of Monsters”, though like I said they’re all just familiar archetypes…
“The Tribulations of Thaddeus Nook” is a surprisingly fun story despite the title. It darts around time and locations and creates several fun characters that you come to either love or find funny in their cheesy cartoon villainy. Highly recommended!