Released August 2013
‘Starlight Robbery’ continues the adventures of an older Seventh Doctor alongside Elizabeth Klein and Will Arrowsmith as they search for the key to an ominous alien technology, stumbling upon an intergalactic arms fair filled with incredibly dangerous individuals and run by the Urodelian criminal Garundel last seen in ‘Black and White.’
With Stuart Milligan’s Garunel taking centre stage, it follows that the story initially takes on a more humourous and light-hearted tone despite the setting threatening creatures surrounding him. The character seems to revel in his campiness, and the self-centeredness and self-confidence he resolutely displays is incredibly effective in making him a likably unlikable presence. This is all the more effective when the story takes a much darker turn leading into its final episode and, accordingly, into the final story of this trilogy, and Milligan is able to adjust his performance wonderfully.
Although the Doctor is still at his manipulative best, unafraid to move his companions around to suit his needs even if that means putting them into extremely precarious situations, Klein still suffers from being written as a stereotypical companion rather than as the more nuanced and stringent character she has become over previous story arcs. Will Arrowsmith remains a bit of an enigma as well in the sense that he’s not had a moment that truly emphasizes what he brings to the TARDIS team. He does at least have more noteworthy work than in ‘Persuasion,’ but hopefully the concluding ‘Daleks Among Us’ has something more important for him to do to build on the hint of a relationship he experienced here and further round him out as a believable character.
At the very least, though, the Sontarans are written and acted superbly, Dan Starkey once more proving his dominance of the clone race even in the audio medium after so successfully doing so in the modern television series. The Sontarans fall perfectly in line with the somewhat tongue-in-cheek nature of the majority of this story, taking themselves incredibly seriously even if nobody else does to the same extent and proving to be quite adept at military strategizing. This race of clones always verges on the precipice of ridiculousness, but that line is walked to perfection here as the Sontarans seek to find and use the Persuasion device to completely alter the balance of their unending war.
Despite its lighter tone, ‘Starlight Robbery’ still packs plenty of emotional punch and delivers the occasional genuine shock. Garundel, in particular, proves to be immensely deceptive and dangerous, setting up the entire auction as a means of stealing weaponry for himself and showing no remorse as he cavalierly murders an associate. And although the plot may not focus incredibly deeply on the story arc started in ‘Persuasion,’ the information garnered about the Persuasion device is certainly enough to merit the positioning of ‘Starlight Robbery’ as the second instalment even if the story could have worked just as effectively as an isolated tale. The plot may ultimately be rather forgettable with nothing truly brave or daring being done, but Matt Fitton has created a fast-paced story filled with marvelous dialogue and a wonderful appearance from the Sontarans that makes the entire story an easy listen from beginning to end. Klein and Arrowsmith still haven’t reached their full potential as companions in this trilogy yet, but the menace of the Daleks to conclude this arc will assuredly give them ample opportunity to prove themselves.