The Time Vampire

Posted in Audio by - April 04, 2019
The Time Vampire

Released May 2010

As The Companion Chronicles approaches the end of its fourth series, Nigel Fairs once again tackles the directing, music, and sound design duties to bring the finale to his Leela trilogy, ‘The Time Vampire,’ to life. With Leela in her last moments of life and preparing to enter the land of her ancestors, she recalls an earlier adventure and the haunting connection between K9’s strange behaviour, the Z’nai, and the sea fort the TARDIS has landed in while revealing that fates can be predetermined when traveling with the Doctor.

‘The Time Vampire’ is certainly one of the more complex stories in this audio range, but the demands it places upon its listener at times jarringly contrast with the elements it refuses to fully explore and explain. When a time vampire is revealed to be the result of someone crossing his or her own timestream, it’s not unexpected that Leela will become one herself and influence events to ensure her own creation. There is a very personal and intimate element to this storyline, and taken by itself it is certainly a successful and engaging one; however, as the conclusion to this Z’nai trilogy, it doesn’t quite capitalise on the themes and plot elements previously provided, especially given the rather extreme nature of the final scene that foregoes some of the grounded intimacy that had made the elder Leela’s captive situation and impending death so captivating. Still, her death and traversing through her earlier life while feeling her younger self’s blood run through her is certainly a more thought-provoking and resonant conclusion to the character than what was afforded at the end of her televised run, though it also highlights just how much more thoroughly this framing device could have been explored.

This is a story that doesn’t always find the time to deal with the ramifications, and being denied the opportunity to truly experience the fate of the planet and the Doctor’s reactions is an oversight that misses the opportunity to deliver an immense and emotional pay-off. Although the setup doesn’t quite flow seamlessly as it instead shows a confused Leela in a series of disjointed set pieces, the immense visuals that the floating Z’nai city that can travel and destroy planets provides wonderfully complements the sharp and sudden contrast of the setting’s shifting appearance, and the addition of banned Time Lord technology stolen from the TARDIS provides yet another intriguing element to the actual story being recounted. Yet with the Doctor present on both the spaceship trying to stop the travesty about to unfold as well as on the planet below in his own future with knowledge of his ultimate failure, the story focuses on too much technical detail and superfluous and ineffective canonical connections to ‘The Mind of Evil’ and the Time Vampire itself on much less interesting topics to allow the story to fully capitalise on these fascinating core elements.

It’s hard to know if an expanded running time would have allowed the jumps to and from different times to develop more fully into a cohesive whole, but as written ‘The Time Vampire’ too often feels like an assembly of random elements thrown together that only hint at a wholly more satisfying narrative. That the Third Doctor is present within a Fourth Doctor story is an enthralling concept, but even if that element is hardly touched upon, no fault can be found with Louise Jameson’s commanding performance that carries the needed pathos as appropriate, and the startling look at a confused K9 on the precipice of malfunction is brilliantly conceived and played by John Leeson. There’s no lack of ambition throughout ‘The Time Vampire,’ but a few missteps keep it from delivering the profound conclusion to this arc that its setup suggests.

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