Seizure

Posted in Audio by - October 14, 2018
Seizure

Released October 2018
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Interestingly, to this point the Ravenous series has been composed of standalone stories, a brief coda at the end of the first box set providing the only brief tease of the ancient creatures that instill such fear into the hearts of the Time Lords. Now eight stories into the sixteen-story saga, ‘Seizure’ by Guy Adams boldly introduces the Ravenous as the Doctor and his companions once more cross paths with the Eleven when they enter the labyrinth of a dying TARDIS.

Unfortunately, given the amount of buildup surrounding the Ravenous while withholding a physical presence for so very long, it was always going to take a monumental first impression to live up to the anticipation. The Time Lords feature so heavily in Big Finish productions these days, especially within the concurrently running The Time War saga, that it’s all but impossible to realistically present this new foe as the singular entity that Time Lords fear given their interactions with the Daleks and worse. While there is absolutely time for the Ravenous to further develop into something altogether more menacing and unique, as presented here it is nothing more than a generic threat attempting to break free and feed as it proclaims its hunger, a motivation that has featured countless times before. With just a touch this being can feed off of an individual’s life force, thriving off the regeneration energy of the Time Lords in particular while a human provides little more than a temporary satisfaction equivalent to a packet of crisps, but here the Ravenous never gets the chance to really flex its muscles and thus becomes more of a voice to enhance the tension rather than a threat that provides any actual peril.

Altogether more satisfying is the unique atmosphere of ‘Seizure,’ however, as the Doctor ignores his companions’ pleas and decides to answer a distress call from the Eleven knowing full well that it may be a trap. Within a dying TARDIS that continues to constrict as the dimensions fold in on each other, there is a constant threat that any of the characters could simply cease to exist at any time. With the telepathic linkage that Time Lords and TARDISes share, the Doctor states that he would have been broken had this been his own TARDIS’s tormented state, and Paul McGann is superb at playing a more disconcerted and agitated version of his character than is usually shown to sell the unique physical and emotional aspects of this dangerous environment. Although the strange ghostly figure lurking within the corridors is used rather generically, it likewise adds to the eerie ambience and sense of unease while proving vital to further developing this damaged TARDIS and the means of eventual escape.

This is a strange release because overall it’s a pure runaround glossed up with the return of the Eleven and the introduction of the Ravenous. There’s nothing wrong with this approach in its own right, but it does mean that the Eleven is simply used as a plot device to draw the Doctor and his companions in and then to strand them, offering a fleeting glimpse of the incredible nuance Mark Bonnar brings to the role but little further exploration or development of the character. Despite McGann giving his all as the Doctor tries his best to stay one step ahead of the Ravenous while communicating with the TARDIS and trying to save his companions’ lives in the process, the ultimate resolution is fairly flat as they simply leave without any real confrontation with the Ravenous that has instilled such fear in everyone. It’s hardly the most dynamic introduction of this long-gestating threat, but the immense atmosphere and strong performances make up for a straightforward plot that is more successful in setting up elements for future stories to further explore.

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