Released December 2008
‘The Raincloud Man’ serves as a pseudo-sequel to ‘The Condemned,’ the Sixth Doctor and Charley once more cross paths with DI Menzies who is now an investigator of alien affairs in London. Freed of the necessary burden of introducing and buildings this character up from scratch, ‘The Raincloud Man’ quickly sends its plot in several different directions involving a unique battle between the virus-like Cylox and the warlike Tabbalac, an interplanetary casino, Charley’s continued insistence on hiding her true identity from the Doctor, and a peculiar coin from the future.
After defeating the Krotons in an unpublished adventure, the Doctor and Charley head for breakfast, unwittingly discovering a mystery that takes them into the depths of the Manchester criminal scene. Wisely, the script separates the two leads, allowing each to uncover pieces of information before rejoining to move the plot forward in an attempt to end a centuries-long war. Charley is never far from the Doctor’s mind, however; despite the rather inconsistent information he has gained about Charley, especially regarding her apparent knowledge about the web of time, he refuses to believe she is capable of such heinous acts as murder as Menzies suggests at one point. Even as his respect for her continues to grow, her callous suggestion of using the time machine to go back to prevent any of these events from happening is an out-of-character moment that spurs the Doctor’s adamant desire for facts.
Despite Charley’s apparent willingness to contravene the First Law of Time, the character is still enjoying her new lease on life after being separated from the Eighth Doctor. There’s a certain darker edge to her in this story, and at points it almost seems like she may commit truly horrible acts to protect her secret here, especially once a time-sensitive character realizes the truth as well. After DI Menzies arrests Charley for murder before falling unconscious in a car crash, Charley intriguingly chooses to run away rather than to help her and surrender herself. Her personal stakes are further raised, though, as her escape leads her to having to play for her own memories with the Doctor in order to recover the Doctor’s own knowledge of the TARDIS and time travel, something she already knows he should never lose. Considering how much her travels mean to her, this is the ultimate predicament for the character and a fascinating storyline to follow.
Anna Hope once again reprises her role as DI Menzies, and she adds an air of gruffness to her character that was not present in her first story, suggesting all too well the types of things she has seen in the interim. There is clearly a sort of begrudging respect she holds for the Doctor from the outset even as she nearly runs away in fear when first seeing him in Manchester again, but her quiet plea to join the Doctor by the end feels completely earned even if it is the wrong time for both to join forces.
Jeremy James, Simon Sherlock, Michael Fenton Stevens, and Aidan J David are the primary guest actors in this release, and each delivers an enjoyable performance even if sometimes some veer into a slightly more comedic territory than the story’s events would seem to demand. Still, the brisk pacing moves events along confidently and easily, and the sound design and direction are both very strong as usual. While ‘The Raincloud Man’ may not offer all of the answers teased and hoped for, the Sixth Doctor still truly in the dark about Charley’s past, this is undeniably a good way to end Big Finish’s 2008 main range schedule, setting a clear trajectory going forward.