The Doomsday Contract

Posted in Audio by - March 22, 2021
The Doomsday Contract

Released March 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Expanding upon a series of ideas between original outliner John Lloyd and then-script editor Douglas Adams, Nev Fountain finally gives life to ‘The Doomsday Contract’ with a tone very much in the style of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In the middle of a holiday, the Doctor, Romana, and K9 are summoned to appear in court, the Doctor’s expert testimony vital to proving that Earth is home to intelligent life and thus subject to the continuation of long-standing preservation order rather than eligible for demolition by an intergalactic corporation.

That premise notwithstanding given how easily it should be in a time of intergalactic travel to know or learn about the presence of intelligent life on any given planet, ‘The Doomsday Contract’ is a story filled with vivid characters and dialogue that sparkle in every scene. Indeed, with pitch perfect sound design and scoring, this is a story that slots perfectly within its intended televised era. Adams has a very specific yet welcoming type of humour, and Fountain easily delves into that writing style to deliver what is certainly one of the most engrossing and comedic Fourth Doctor audios yet. Fittingly, Tom Baker gives one of his most dynamic performances for Big Finish, offering a wry wink and grin throughout as the Doctor confoundingly acts oblivious to the obvious peril his favourite planet is facing and unwittingly goes deeper into the heart of bureaucracy around him, and Lalla Ward as Romana expertly lets her character’s continued exasperation be known as she must react to and clean up after the Doctor’s mistakes.

In what seems to be a very straightforward case where one affirmative is all that is needed to save the planet, a very textured adventure about justice, corruption, and truth reveals itself, and the genuine poignancy that pervades the latter half ensures that this story is not simply passed off as another farce. The Children of Pyxis prove to be a brilliant- if naïve- race with a unique relation to time and those who confront them, and although the practicality of having children in studio prevented them from coming to fruition when the script was first pitched, they are perfect for the audio medium and are certainly worthy of another appearance should Big Finish so choose. Likewise, Richard Laing gives a suitably smug and powerful performance as the villainous Skorpios who is so accustomed to getting his own way and being two steps ahead of everyone else, and that self-assuredness is a brilliant counterpoint to the questions that Romana in particular is left to ask and explore. His trophy collection proves that he has nothing to hide as he confidently covers every angle to best protect himself, and the micro-universe and the unexpected setting within that has such close ties to this figure is another incredibly novel concept that fits in perfectly with the plot that continues to develop in so many ways out of one simple notion.

‘The Doomsday Contract’ embraces its offbeat tone and uniquely zany concepts for maximum effect while even managing to successfully incorporate a Gallifreyan connection, and the fitting coda by which the judge in the case comes to accept the truth about Earth’s denizens is a perfectly isolated summation of the type of story that has unfolded before it. Telling this type of story is inherently fraught with the risks of missing the mark and alienating listeners as a result, but Fountain and everyone involved in this production in every capacity have combined to create a genuinely engaging instalment of The Lost Stories that perfectly revitalizes a bygone idea to create a classic series tale with a timeless quality that will ensure its lasting relevance and resonance.

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