Kill the Doctor!

Posted in Audio by - May 28, 2018
Kill the Doctor!

Released May 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Throughout the Doctor’s many travels and life-threatening attempts to right injustices, perhaps no sentiment has followed him as frequently as gratitude as that of the title of Guy Adams’s first half of the conclusion to the current run of The Fourth Doctor Adventures, ‘Kill the Doctor!’ Arriving on the futuristic Earth colony Drummond, the Doctor and Leela find the population entranced by handheld computers and the advent of Rene.net, a datastream network that allows access to every piece of information ever wanted. While Leela chases a thief, the Doctor looks into the planet’s datastream and finds something evil looking back, something with an ominously familiar voice.

Splitting the leads is a time-honoured means of developing the setting, and it’s quite apparent from the start that Drummond is not so different from the electronically-dependent Earth of the present for better or for worse. With a 96% saturation rate and Rene.net the latest commodity of convenience that has broken through, it’s clear that the mass appeal of technology and gadgets will never wane. However, Drummond very much finds itself a fractured society, and beneath the flashy veneer is a homeless subset rarely seen or discussed. Leela is an extremely moral companion who doesn’t necessarily work in nuances, and she’s abhorred to see this devastating state of affairs when she meets Kendra, stating that a society is only as strong as its weakest member. However, she’s equally stunned when the Doctor refuses to help put right this social wrong because of his fear of simply imposing his will with disregard and treading in dictatorship, opening up an intriguing path of conflict and development that could further enhance the great dynamic between these two fascinating leads goingn forward.

Unfortunately, this subplot that will assuredly have greater payoff in the second half is the strongest part of ‘Kill the Doctor!’ The Doctor is relegated to doing little more than fleeing from the guards and later the entire population that have been instructed through Rene.net to kill him, and though there is an intriguing thought underlying this about how mass saturation of electronics or networks can be used for evil or to sway events, little is done with that frightening concept except to create danger for the Doctor. Of course, the fact that the Doctor still manages to easily survive so many sudden enemies does little to truly manifest any meaningful sense of jeopardy, but it’s nonetheless an intriguing visual to imagine and just as interesting that those affected have no memories of their instructed murderous actions.

Rather than moral discussions and implications of the improper use of technology, ‘Kill the Doctor!’ instead spends the rest of its time setting up Rania Chuma, the mastermind behind Rene.net who has heard an authoritative voice in her head since she was young. The cover and title of the concluding half make it no secret that this voice is of Sutekh who has made his triumphant return to battle the Fourth Doctor once more, and Gabriel Woolf recaptures the rich and subtle power of his trapped Osiran perfectly while hinting that his previous Big Finish outing in The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield against the Seventh Doctor has already occurred from his perspective. ‘Kill the Doctor!’ does rely on listeners’ previous knowledge of Sutekh to fully understand the extent of his power, but his use of Rene.net here and the Doctor implicitly understanding that he must stop Sutekh now before all of history is changed and all life is eradicated explicitly states his goals and potential to strong effect. This is very much a setup piece, however, and ‘Kill the Doctor!’ by itself isn’t able to fully develop the world or the threat quite enough to be wholly successful in its own right. It’s enjoyable, but there’s an awful lot of filler with only brief snippets of genius and actual plot interspersed, and this is a light affair at best that likely could have been condensed and inserted in just a few moments into the conclusion without missing a beat.

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