Requiem for the Rocket Men

Posted in Audio by - March 08, 2017
Requiem for the Rocket Men

Released March 2015

The Rocket Men were one of the undisputed standout successes of The Companion Chronicles range, a dangerous foe that perfectly captured the imagination and spirit of pulp comic and action adventures of old. Now finding their way into The Fourth Doctor Adventures, they find themselves the captors of the Doctor himself as the King of the Rocket Men, Shandar, prepares to meet with the Master who is in need of allies.

Regardless of the fact that the blurb on the case of ‘Requiem for the Rocket Men’ completely spoils the fact that the Master is present and that events will unfold from his point of view, the story itself is a complete breath of fresh air that makes excellent use of plot devices that seem incredibly obvious in retrospect but have surprisingly never fully been utilized before. Truly, ‘Requiem for the Rocket Men’ completely bucks tradition, not only keeping the Doctor shrouded in secrecy with only a few telltale laughs giving his presence away before his grand reveal but also highlighting the calculating and scheming side of this often bombastic and reckless incarnation as he finally has the opportunity to directly confront the Rocket Men after being unable to locate their base for so long.

Geoffrey Beevers is his usual charismatic self as he casually imbues melodramatic menace into his desire to use the Rocket Men as foot soldiers for his latest plan. These are the types of situations that obviously take place from the Master’s viewpoint between his villainous appearances, but it’s rather fascinating to experience this type of exchange first-hand even knowing that the plan will ultimately fail. As the story does unfold with the Master front and centre from the beginning, it’s also quite intriguing to note just how truly paranoid about the Doctor’s presence the Master is, always assuming that the Doctor has some hidden trap waiting to be sprung. His reaction to seemingly murdering the Doctor with a simple gunshot likewise speaks volumes about the character and the dynamic and unique relationship between the two Time Lords.

The conclusion to the story is quite abrupt, however, the plague of the two-part stories once more manifesting. ‘Requiem for the Rocket Men’ has so much detail and intriguing notions spread throughout its narrative that it’s somewhat unsatisfying to so quickly see the Doctor take control of events and the Master simply skulk away once more. While full credit must be given to writer John Dorney for managing to also showcase Leela and her fierce intelligence, the scenes where she tries to convince the Rocket Man Marshall to leave his criminal ways and life behind particularly moving, her decision to leave the Doctor to travel with Marshall still feels rather unexplained and unearned. Making a quick decision of this nature is in keeping with her characterization given her future decision to remain on Gallifrey, but the fact that this so clearly goes against known continuity means that there is still ample opportunity to display the emotions and ramifications that result.

‘Requiem for the Rocket Men’ may not be the most innovative title, but it’s incredibly engaging and entertaining from the start and absolutely does something unexpected with The Fourth Doctor Adventures after so many tradition-laden tales. Even with the abrupt ending, the potential wealth of storytelling opportunities that result from Leela’s decision is staggering and hopefully will pay tremendous dividends going forward.

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