Doctor Who: The Hollows of Time Review

The Hollows of Time was written by TV story fan favourite Christopher H Bidmead, but sadly much like his other Audio effort “Renaissance of the Daleks” this leaves a lot to be desired. Full of long exposition and very few thrills… ever, Hollows of Time lives up to the hollow part if nothing else. Throw in the unfortunate fact that Big Finish at the time couldn’t get rights to The Master, leaving “Professor Stream” as figure of mystery that clearly is supposed to be Ainley’s Master in disguise but is never revealed as such, and it’s a pretty poor way to spend two hours…

Synopsis:

The Doctor and Peri have been on holiday, visiting old friend Reverend Foxwell in the sleepy English village of Hollowdean. But why are their memories so hazy?

Piecing together events they recall a mysterious chauffeur, who is not what he seems, and Foxwell’s experiments that could alter the nature of reality. Huge sand creatures have been sighted on the dunes, and many of the locals are devoted to a leader known as “Professor Stream”.

But who is Stream? And what lies within the Hollows of Time?

The Doctor will discover that not every question has a definitive answer…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Erm… The cliffhanger to the first part, which sees The Doctor hanging out of a car door in the middle of a black void in space-time was a fun visual in my head…

I, um… That’s about it, really…

The Bad:

Even the cover’s murky brown colour scheme shows even the artist somehow knew it would be bad…

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this story is literally all talk. It’s framed as The Doctor and Peri looking back at the adventure with a hazy memory (to explain not figuring out that Stream is an anagram of Master, I guess…) and then the story is mostly The Doctor, Peri, the local reverend/tech genius Foxwell (Trevor Littledale) and annoying child Simon (Susan Sheridan) talking, exploring sandy caves while talking, or standing in a circle of Tractator tubes and talking. Then Stream’s (David Garfield) plan comes undone because The Doctor reasons with the Tractator’s leader the Gravis and that’s it. Oh, there’s a robot chauffeur called “Steel Specs” (Hywel John) that acts as the red herring villain for some of it, but yeah. All talk, very little action or intrigue and goes on for two whole hours! It’s one thing being bad, but it’s often worse if it’s flat out boring…

The Stream non-reveal is annoying, especially the idea that The Doctor never managed to figure it out, but at least I can give Big Finish a pass due to things being out of their hands…

Just to focus on two of the other things: why when there were no child actors / roles in Doctor Who pretty much ever at the time this script was written has there been two in the purposed but never realised Season 23? Admittedly the one in “Mission to Magnus” was actually a child actor and therefore terrible, where at least Simon here was voiced by an older female, even if he then just ended up sounding like Dennis The Menace, but it’s still annoying and obnoxious.

The other thing: Tractators from the Fifth Doctor story “Frontios” … why? Not only are they silent bar their leader the Gravis, but in this script the Gravis doesn’t even talk telepathically or anything. They’re silent creatures that aren’t even really described by the characters in the story beyond “sand monsters”. If you didn’t already know them from the prior TV story, you’d have no hope listening to this, making it even more of a chore to listen to… Not that knowing what they looked like helped the story much either mind…

The Continuity:

Far too much effort was spent on making this image…

As mentioned the Tractators and their leader the Gravis appeared in Fifth Doctor TV story “Frontios”, the plot of which is heavily referenced here.

That’s about it. I mean, the Ainley Master did have a thing for disguises and anagrams, but I won’t list them here because, was this really The Master? … Yes, but I can’t be bothered to list every Fifth and Sixth Doctor TV story with the Ainley Master in, so…

Overall Thoughts:

The Hollows of Time is BORING. It’s 90% talking between four people and one of those four is obnoxious to listen to. Some of the dialogue in the framing scenes of the Doctor and Peri looking back in a daze is awful too (If I hear Colin Baker say “Up and Down, Up and Down…” again I’m going to scream!) so it’s just a really poor package that you can’t even point and laugh at like Mission to Magnus. It’s just… dull. No wonder I didn’t remember anything about it going into this relisten! I’d avoid it unless you MUST have all the Lost Stories.

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