With the Time Lord Victorious event well underway across many ranges from books, comics, figurines and exclusive online stories, its now Big Finish’s turn to begin their output into the range. We’ve got some Tenth Doctor and Fourth Doctor adventures to come that tie into the range but for now, we kick things off with a three-part Eighth Doctor series, in which the Doctor finds himself in a frontier town on an alien world up against an assassin who happens to be an Ood named Brian.
I’ll admit I didn’t have many expectations going into Time Lord Victorious. However, I did really enjoy the first of the Titan Comics, Defender of the Daleks, so I thought I’d give it a proper go. And as I told myself, it was inevitable I listened to the Big Finish stories as I listen to most of their output anyway. But I was pleasantly surprised.
Author, Carrie Thompson, who has previously contributed a Fifth Doctor Short Trip adventure takes the Eighth Doctor, presumably sometime after the events of the Time War boxset as he’s travelling solo and plonks him right down into the middle of the action. We’ve already been introduced to two characters being hunted by Brian and now the Doctor has to figure out who to trust. That’s not to say that this audio doesn’t come with its short-fallings, they are clear to see or hear when you give this a go but its fun to find out how Thompson wraps the story up, something that is supposed to pick up with the second issue of the Titan Comics series.
If you didn’t want to experience any of the other stories from this event, then He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, works as a beginning to a little Eighth Doctor series. Thompson gets the character of the Eighth Doctor right off the bat, as he struggles to help two fleeing fugitives and stop a little town from being murdered by Brian. Brian the Ood is certainly one to watch, of course trusting this assassin is something that you should never do but Thompson doesn’t make him out and out evil or nasty. He’s just there to do a job but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be polite to all the others around him, so long as they don’t get in his way. And actor Silas Carlson does a brilliant job of voicing him. I’m hoping he turns up again in some other audios in the future, and I was pleased to find the character has just turned up in the first of the books, The Knight, The Fool and the Dead.
For me, the biggest problem comes from the ropey accents. Why Big Finish doesn’t just hire American actors to do the voices I don’t know, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story, I love The Gunfighters and that’s got some shoddy accents in it too! But Thompson makes the side characters enjoyable enough that these accents shouldn’t bother you too much. The character of Doctor Craddock is probably the best one, as he gets a nice arc through the hour run time. He suffers from overwhelming guilt at letting a patient die to save another one. He sacrifices himself and while it might seem like a bit of a shallow story arc, the performance and the writing really sells it to us. The other two characters I really liked where Felicity and Sophie, two lovers who just want a life together but Brian has been hired to hunt and kill.
Another thing that might bother listeners is that the story begins with the Doctor looking for a missing monument on the planet he arrives on but that is pretty quickly forgotten in favour of the Brian storyline, however, I expect this will be picked up in one of the other series or this audio range soon.
If you’ve been undecided on this Time Lord Victorious event, then I can say definitely give this audio a go. It works brilliantly as a stand-alone series, especially as even I have trouble seeing how it ties into the wider arc, apart from the character of Brian. Paul McGann is, as usual, excellent, and Carrie Thompson’s script is another good one, even if there were one or two things that will stand out as unusual. But He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, is certainly worth a go.