He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not

Posted in Audio by - October 16, 2020
He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not

Released October 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Marking the start of the Eighth Doctor’s journey within the ambitious and expansive multimedia Time Lord Victorious project, Carrie Thompson’s ‘He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not’ also brings to vocal life the mysterious Ood, Brian, who will come to recur in future tales. Looking to visit one of the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe that he finds has gone missing when arriving on the desert world of Atharna, the Doctor’s life is about to be changed forever as he soon finds himself enmeshed in a web of deceit.

The Western genre is unquestionably one of the most evocative and atmospheric, and the stories of solitude and of fortitude that often feature within the vast expanses are often some of the most introspective and gritty available. Yet while that storytelling style is by no means exclusive to America, stories both from America and elsewhere that lean into the vocal stereotypes of traditional Westerns without actors from that particular region or firmly rooted in that culture often come off more as pastiches than homages. Indeed, it seems to be accepted than any desolate and barren locale must be populated with locals sporting variations of a Western accent, and although the ones on display here both by those with British and American roots are hardly the most offensive or egregious that Big Finish has offered when bringing Americana to life, they unfortunately do overpower the narrative and give ‘He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not’ more of a tongue in cheek tone than was probably intended.

This is a script that by necessity can’t delve too much into the overall plot of Time Lord Victorious, but it does manage to offer a few enticing hints about disappearing civilizations and changing time while presenting its much smaller tale about a misunderstanding resulting from a same-sex marriage and the wrath of a vengeful father. Sadly, despite energetic performances from Jack DeVos, Pauline Eyre, Misha Malcolm, Martin McDougall, and Melanie Stevens, this storyline never really manages to flourish and captivate despite the inherent danger that continues to present itself. Big Finish has already proven both during the global lockdown and before that remote recording outside of a traditional studio is an obstacle that can be overcome with resounding success, but the overall whole here isn’t quite as cohesive as what is typically presented. Thankfully, Paul McGann is utterly superb as a Doctor traveling alone after a few clunky lines of exposition to set the scene, and Silas Carson makes an immediate impact as Brian the Ood assassin even if this particular Ood is anything but what the Ood have been portrayed as to this point. Equally charming and nefarious as needed, Brian is certainly a character with plenty of untapped potential, and it will certainly be interesting to see where this saga takes both Brian and the Doctor given the bombastic cliffhanger that ends this serial.

‘He Kills Me He Kills Me Not’ is a more subdued and slowly-paced start to the audio adventures in this sprawling saga; while this serves to increase the tension and unease, it also draws into focus all the more the somewhat uneven execution and the somewhat derivative storyline that serves as a front to the more intriguing elements lurking behind the surface that future stories will be able to explore in more detail. In fact, this appears to be a wholly throwaway story with elements that could have easily been worked into another story as needed. The end result is passable even with the chosen accents at times dominating proceedings, but an introductory story to an event with such buildup should do something much more profound.

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