Last of the Zetacene

Posted in Audio by - August 21, 2022
Last of the Zetacene

Released August 2022


The Doctor arrives on Stage Three spaceport where the rich and the criminal alike look to their expand their fortunes in James Kettle’s ‘Last of the Zetacene.’ In a world in which even the natural destruction of planets can be a speculatively profitable enterprise, the last of the Time Lords finds a noble cause in trying to save the last of another species.

‘Last of the Zetacene’ is nothing if not ambitious, and its alien setting and vast array of characters are quickly introduced to bring a tremendous sense of scope to this story. Unfortunately, it’s a matter of quantity over quality as the criminals in focus are more defined by a told characteristic rather than by any particular bit of characterization. These are individuals who are far too wealthy for their own good and have no qualms in doing anything to potentially acquire more wealth, but even as the Doctor and his new friend Nel entwine themselves in a card game with increasingly high stakes, there’s never any true sense of danger or consequences since the script does little to hide the expected outcome with any sort of tension during the game. Indeed, aside from a few bland jokes about the big game hunter Succeeding’s name, little is done to distinguish him from Rotter who has a heightened olfactory sense and Luton who has a vast collection, each of whom want the creature for his or her own purposes. The Rotter perhaps ends up with the most development because of his self-centred nature and spinelessness that come to light when the Zetacene escapes its confines, and Martyn Ellis does quite well with the material provided here, but this is hardly the most convincing or engaging group of antagonists the Doctor has come across in his many journeys. At the very least, even with Selo a fairly one-dimensional character that the plot so obviously centres around despite some flat attempts to add some mystery to the affair, Maureen O’Brien is wonderful in this villainous role that is so wholly distinct from her famed role as First Doctor companion Vicki, and the lack of any sort of redemption is fitting for a character whose fortunes were built upon luck rather than any sort of ethic or scruples.

This is an incredibly straightforward and traditional story that never truly tries to inject any sort of depth or emotional resonance, and while there are expected references to animal cruelty and an emotional quasi-bond as the Doctor likewise believes himself to be the last of his own species just like the carnal creature before him, little is done with either beyond brief mentions. This means that Christopher Eccleston isn’t given much weighty material to explore or with which to develop his character despite an opportunity to dip into an angrier element at times here , but his natural energy, determination, and charisma easily carry the story through to its completion alongside Alice Feetham as the wide-eyed but optimistic Nel. The two share an innate chemistry that certainly creates the feeling of a traditional duo as the Ninth Doctor continues to travel alone, and the two characters complement each other nicely as the danger continues to escalate and even as Nel proves more than willing to go against the Doctor’s recommendations at times. Comedy is subjective and this may appeal to some more than others as a result; however, despite an intriguing setting that is brought to life quite well, ‘Last of the Zetacene’ as a whole is one of the weaker offerings of The Ninth Doctor Adventures, relying on its performances to elevate fairly generic characterizations and plot beats in an altogether more superficial and less nuanced affair than what this range typically offers.

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