Recorded Time and Other Stories

Posted in Audio by - October 18, 2016
Recorded Time and Other Stories

Released August 2011

150 releases is a monumental milestone for any company or franchise, and reaching that number in its Main Range is certainly reason to celebrate for Big Finish. Much as it did for its one hundredth release, the aptly-titled ‘100,’ Big Finish opts for an anthology release, this time with four unconnected one-part stories featuring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.

‘Recorded Time’ by Catherine Harris opens up the set, finding the Sixth Doctor and Peri at the court of Henry VIII where it has been written that the King will soon discard Anne Boleyn for one Perpugilliam Brown. They soon find themselves in the presence of the Scrivener, a man who can literally rewrite history and make anything he writes come true. But his power stemming from a long-extinct temporal phoenix feather comes at a cost, literally taking time off of his life every time he writes. It transpires that Henry had his brother written off as dead so that he could become king, but his ambition knows no end as he seeks to conquer time itself. The script does fail to commit to either comedy or grim drama, creating a bit of an uneven tone throughout, but Laura Molyneux as the doomed Boleyn and Paul Shearer as the boisterous and arrogant King certainly add emotional depth to a fanciful story that also makes superb use of its leads.

Richard Dinnick’s ‘Paradoxicide’ is up next as the Doctor and Peri join the Volsci to try to find a cache of legendary weaponry upon the ruined planet Sendos. With the Armoury impenetrable and Peri’s voice forming a distress call from the planet’s past, the Doctor decides to travel back to a time before the Armoury was built. In so doing, however, the Volsci that the Doctor brings back with him prove to be the ones who ultimately destroy the planet and prompt the Armoury’s creation. Facing a temporal paradox of nearly unfathomable magnitude, the truth of the Armoury is slowly revealed, a trap that only the Volsci can open to answer for their deeds in the exact same manner in which they destroyed Sendos. The plot is a bit predictable and the guest characters are a bit flat, but the central intrigue is certainly enough to hold attention from beginning to end.

Matt Fitton’s ‘A Most Excellent Match’ takes on a classic literary feel as Peri must choose either the handsome Mr Darcy or the mysterious Doctor as her suitor. Baker and Bryant exude the classic period perfectly, and the prospect of the Doctor proposing to Peri is certainly an entertaining one that will have a lasting impact. Of course, Peri’s surroundings are artificial even if she does not realise it, the technology from the Mindsmiths of Askertan somehow malfunctioning within The Austen Experience at the 231 Galaxy Fair. The dwelling Mindsmith’s increasingly devious plans to escape into the real world are very effective, and the literary-themed resolution featuring a burning Thornfield Hall is incredibly satisfying, wrapping up a unique tale that takes full advantage of Doctor Who’s flexibility in a suitably strong fashion.

Philip Lawrence’s ‘Question Marks’ rounds out the release, featuring five survivors from some unknown disaster caught in an inescapable trap, the man in the collar adorned with question marks theie only chance of survival. With no memories to rely on, the general amnesia feeds into the mystery and heightens the tension well, even as all signs of sabotage and murder seem to point toward the Doctor. This is a claustrophobic mystery that slowly reveals its clues at just the right pace, culminating in a shattering and heartbreaking twist that makes perfect sense. Amnesia has rarely been used this successfully, and ‘Question Marks’ is unequivocally a standout success.

This release firmly proves how great the chemistry is between Colin baker and Nicola Bryant, a definite triumph for Big Finish as both characters have developed wonderfully in the audio medium. The anthology setup allows the actors to flex their muscles while taking full advantage of the unique premise of Doctor Who and its genre-hopping format, and the 150th release- while not perfect- is a nice celebration of everything that Big Finish has managed to do for so long.

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