The Third Doctor is back!
Volume 4 of The Third Doctor Adventures sees the Doctor and Jo facing off against the Meddling Monk and his breed of Nu-Humans and the Cybermen on a distant planet. I came to this series a little hesitantly, not really sure if I was ready for anyone other than Jon Pertwee to play the Third Doctor. I had listened to Tim Trelor in the role before having heard some of the previous sets and some Short Trips. Now, I’m not against recasting members of the Who family. It is a sad fact that we loose beloved cast members with increasing frequency as they pass on to the big TARDIS in the sky. It worked brilliantly with Ben Jackson in The Early Adventures, with Elliot Chapman. But something has always stopped me from enjoying Trelor’s performance, it isn’t bad by any means but for me, it wasn’t Pertwee. So, you can imagine my surprise at how blown away by this set I actually was when I heard it!
The Rise of the New Humans
In terms of continuity, both of these stories take place not long after the events of The Three Doctors and The Rise of the New-Humans wastes no time to get going, quickly establishing the Doctor and Jo are investigating some strange deaths sweeping the country. Their investigations quickly lead the pair to a strange hospital which seems to be decades ahead of the technology in the 1970s. They also discover the presence of an old foe in the form of the Meddling Monk, now disguised as the head of the hospital.
Guy Adams crafts the first half of this tale to lead you to believe that it is actually the Master who is behind this plot, as he often was back then and he gives the plot time to breathe and characters the room to grow as events unfold around them. As you can probably guess, there is a strong element of body-horror involved, with people trying to sprout wings and gills to survive different ordeals. But there is also a rather intelligent moral and ethical dilemma thrown in for good measure – would you, in good conscience, no matter what time you come from, allow someone to die when you could cure them? This is a question that has been posed before but never to this extent, the Monk even asks Jo if she could let someone with terminal cancer die when she could cure them.
Adams seems to have taken a bit of inspiration from Evolution of the Daleks but has done this kind of story properly and has thrown in plenty of twists and turns to keep the listener guessing and he doesn’t reveal the real abilities of the New-Humans until the very end.
The performances are also very good. Rufus Hound is, of course, brilliant as the Monk, devilishly lapping up the script with gusto. The Monk is such a far-cry from the devious Master and it is fascinating to see the Third Doctor interacting with a different Time Lord.
Katy Manning is wonderful as Jo, effortlessly varying her performance from depressed mumblings back to her normal hyper-happy self. It was also interesting to see her interacting with another member of the Doctor species, especially given how much experience she has with rogue Time Lords!
But it was Tim Trelor that surprised me the most. As I stated above, it was never his performance that I never liked, just the fact that the Third Doctor could never be played by anyone other than Jon Pertwee. But there were times when I could have sworn it was Pertwee saying the lines. Trelor has come a long way from Volume One, when he did a passable impersonation of the Third Doctor. He keeps it no secret that he has clips and episodes on his phone which he studies endlessly to get the manner of the Doctor and his studies have obviously paid off. In fact, I loved Trelor as the Doctor, he should be very proud. No doubt Pertwee would be.
The Rise of the New-Humans is a cracking story, brilliantly written and acted, anyone listening will come out of this impressed.
The Tyrants of Logic
If I’m being honest, it was the idea of the Third Doctor and Jo meeting the Cybermen that swung this release for me. I can’t be alone in thinking that although he met them in the Big Finish audio, The Blue Tooth, the Third Doctor never got a decent chance to meet the Cybermen. But that is a fact no longer.
Settling the action on a distant human outpost, Marc Platt, the man who gave us the fantastic story, Spare Parts, the Doctor and Jo find themselves in the outpost called Burnt Salt, the remaining humans all have secrets that surface as the surviving Cybermen, from the Cyber-Wars, make their presence known to retrieve their mysterious weapon, the Cyber-Leveller.
Of course, it would be impossible to outdo Spare Parts but The Tyrants of Logic certainly tries too. There are just a few things that let it down. It feels so familiar, its nothing we haven’t seen or heard in Doctor Who before, characters appear to be willing to sacrifice their humanity to the Cybermen who have survived extinction yet again. The Doctor takes five to alleviate Jo’s feelings about the robots near-human nature and then there is the obvious ending to Episode Four. It just comes across as a run-of-the-mill nostalgia tour of Doctor Who’s greatest hits.
If The Tyrants of Logic does anything, it explores what it means to be human. It does this by exploring our very DNA being evolved to a higher state and bringing us to the brink of having our personalities stripped away. It is still possible to define someone as a human being if our identity, personality, what makes us, us, has been taken away? This question is asked and answered brilliantly with Carolyn Pickles’ performance as Marian Schaeffer’s cold and calculating exterior is peeled away to reveal a heart-breaking secret.
But if this story doesn’t exactly break new ground, it isn’t because the cast and crew aren’t trying. The script is a damn good one and Nicholas Briggs’ directorial guidance helps to provide an entertaining couple of hours worth of entertainment. The performance and chemistry between Trelor and Manning is just perfection. And the sound of the Cybermen’s head-guns from Revenge of the Cybermen was a welcome addition too!
This was my first real trip into the land of the Third Doctor at Big Finish. While it was far from my first Katy Manning audio, it was my first proper, proper, experience with Trelor’s Doctor. And it was brilliant. The Rise of the New-Humans will no doubt stand as one of the best Third Doctor adventures in the audio format. And while The Tyrants of Logic, broke no new ground concerning the Cybermen, it is a worthy listen because it is the first proper meeting between Three and the metal beasties.
Personally, I can’t wait for Volume 5…
4.1 The Rise of the New Humans by Guy Adams
When a man dies after falling from the top floor of a multi-storey car park, the Doctor and Jo wonder why it should be of interest to UNIT. Then they see the protuberances on the man’s back… As he fell, he tried to grow wings.
Looking into the man’s past leads the Doctor and Jo to a remote private hospital where the staff aren’t as helpful as they could be, and the Chief Administrator is unavailable to meet with them.
Breaking into some restricted wards, the Doctor notes the presence of alien and futuristic technology. The whole thing bears the unmistakable hallmarks of one of his own people’s interference, one of his old foes. Except not perhaps the one he might have imagined.
The Monk is back. And this time his meddling may have gone too far.
4.2 The Tyrants of Logic by Marc Platt
The Doctor and Jo land on Port Anvil – a bleak, abandoned mining colony on the remote planet Burnt Salt. A huge armoured crate has recently arrived in the almost derelict Spacehub. No-one knows who it’s for. No-one knows what it contains.
Strange creatures lurk around the outskirts, and a rag-tag population of misfits inhabit what is left of the town: a saloon bar owner, a literal one-man band and a hunter of very unusual prey. If they want to survive the night, they’re going to have to work together.
Because the Cybermen want the contents of the crate. And they will stop at nothing to get hold of it.
Tim Treloar (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Rufus Hound (The Monk), Mina Anwar (Dr Kurdi), Joe Sims (Chief Orderly / Wilde / Jumper), Clare Corbett (Harriet / Woman / Radio Technician), Silas Hawkins (Francis / Morgue Attendant / Patient / Orderly), Linda Marlowe (Gusta Pardo), Carolyn Pickles (Professor Marian Schaeffer), Ronan Summers (Hollisen Grier), Jeff Rawle (Chad Caramel), Deli Segal (Skippa) and Nicholas Briggs (The Cybermen). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Written By: Guy Adams & Marc Platt
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Producer: David Richardson
Script Editor: John Dorney
Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs & Jason Haigh-Ellery