Fascinating. The Fifth Doctor finds himself facing off with a terrifying 21st century Who adversary in 16th century Rome.
This is a very cleverly written story that bridges old Who and new. The Fifth Doctor is himself through and through in every scene, in the way he tackles problems with a “kettle and a ball of string” approach, using his wits, compassion, available resources, and ability to run. But the situation he’s facing is something that Matt Smith might’ve encountered.
Doctor: Oh dear. I suppose I’d better… Hat. Door. Rescue!
For one thing, he’s got a young couple on their honeymoon to look after. His initial reaction to them, in light of his future self, made me chortle. Gaby and Joel don’t have much time to establish their characters in a one-hour format, but they’re sensible temporary companions whose frank commentary about the madman they’ve encountered adds humour to what otherwise might be a very bleak and nightmarish story.
And yes, the angels are properly nightmarish. I confess I haven’t seen a single Weeping Angel episode on TV yet, but this audio made absolutely clear why fandom has found them one of the more terrifying monsters to come out of new Who. Big Finish is an old hand at conveying what’s going on solely through the audio medium, so it was no problem to get across what was happening through sound alone.
Because they’re ten times scarier when you can’t see where they are. Mwah.
It’s a good story. It’s fast-paced, lively, and a little more superficial than the Main Range 4-parters which have two full hours to flesh out side characters, multiple plotlines and themes. This condensed style of storytelling is more like new Who. Dare I call it a hybrid of the two?
It’s a fun introduction to the Fifth Doctor for new fans who may never have encountered him outside Time Crash, and a spooky introduction to the Weeping Angels for those of us who haven’t caught up on the new show. I’m looking forward to the rest of this collection.
(Although I still don’t understand why the Sontarans are included in a “new monsters” collection.)
In some ways, having less familiarity with the Weeping Angels than most listeners added a bit more angst to this story for me. When the Doctor said he was “so, so sorry” to that young couple in the future, I was afraid he was having to send them to their deaths to avoid a temporal paradox. I kept expecting one or both of them to sacrifice themselves. They lost their future, but at least they didn’t lose their lives. Joel got the better of the deal, really; as a history professor, he was literally in his element, whereas Gaby’s no longer going to be able to do much of her chosen profession (especially with the limited opportunities available in the past). I hope Michelangelo puts in a good word for them.
The idea of having Michelangelo carving a weeping angel that’s trying to eat his future is, of course, a brilliant idea.
I’m glad the Fifth Doctor didn’t have to say that… phrase. Poof and ping notwithstanding, he has his dignity to consider.
TL;DR version of this audio:
AND FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE STOP SNOGGING.
No canoodling on classic Who, rememember?
In this audio, the Fifth Doctor is traveling alone, and there’s no clues to suggest when in his timeline this is. Big Finish has established several moments when he’s off on his own. I’m most inclined to put it after Arc of Infinity while Nyssa and Tegan are in Amsterdam, although it could just as easily be during his bug disposal run at the end of Frontios. But he’s dashing about in good spirits here, which (thanks to Big Finish tragedies and the darker tone of Season 21) would suggest earlier rather than later in his career.