The Thief Who Stole Time

Posted in Audio by - September 15, 2017
The Thief Who Stole Time

Released September 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Following a strong introduction to the mysterious ocean world of Funderell and its native population in ‘The Skin of the Sleek,’ ‘The Thief Who Stole Time’ is tasked with further exploring and finally revealing the hidden connection to the Time Lords that has long since been lost to time. With a god dead, a crime committed, and an unknown threat lying beneath the surface, the entire universe unknowingly finds itself threatened as Romana is abandoned and left to die and the Doctor tries to understand the history and religion of this forgotten world.

Writer Marc Platt is certainly no stranger to tackling enormous concepts and creating dynamic stories around them, and ‘The Thief of Time’ continues with that tradition, though in so doing the unique physical nature of the Funderell setting becomes somewhat less prevalent aside following Sartia’s discovery that the ocean mysteriously has no floor. Nonetheless, the unexpected discovery that this planet is a nexus point of sorts for divergent timelines, gifting a person the power to literally pick and choose the reality that exists, is thrilling and casts Sartia’s prior furtiveness in a much more sinister light. Thankfully, the superbly off-kilter relationship that exists between Sartia and Romana continues to anchor events, and Romana’s attempts to regain her confidence after being picked apart by her one-time friend as she tries to stop Sartia from achieving godlike status and changing the known universe are both engaging and enthralling.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Platt saves the most poignant moment for the denouement, and Joannah Tincey’s subtle but haughty Sartia thankfully remains a captivating character throughout and one who would make a great recurring foe against this particular TARDIS duo in future releases. While it would have been nice to see the past of Funderell more squarely discussed in even more depth given its importance as Bluejaw and the Sleek finally find their purpose, it’s also unsurprising- even in a story with Romana as the greater focal point and Lalla Ward giving a magnificent performance- that Tom Baker still manages to give a truly dominating presence as the Doctor examines the Great Book of Funderell and attempts to uncover its relationship to the Time Lords, injecting a slight sense of levity to the growing seriousness before him as he progresses. The multiple threads of ‘The Thief Who Stole Time’ dovetail incredibly well, creating a cohesive whole that delivers on nearly every front as the true scope of Funderell and its potential ramifications are brought into focus alongside the true characterization of everyone involved, honourable or not.

With betrayal and friendship battling for supremacy as Romana’s past squarely confronts her once more, the strong performances from everyone in the cast truly highlight this intensifying science fantasy. Though ‘The Thief Who Stole Time’ takes a wildly different path from its introductory half, it nonetheless provides fitting closure for the surprisingly weighty developments even if some of the more novel elements from earlier are only briefly touched upon here. Buoyed by Ken Bentley’s typically strong direction as well as intense and evocaive sound design, this story manages to evoke a stronger season eighteen feel than most of the tales in this sixth set of The Fourth Doctor Adventures. Engaging and full of bright ideas, ‘The Thief Who Stole Time’ is a fine conclusion both to the saga of Funderell and to the latest grouping of adventures with the Fourth Doctor and Romana, limited in its scope only by the constraints of running time but boding incredibly well for the future of the range.

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