The Dreams of Avarice

Posted in Audio by - June 23, 2022
The Dreams of Avarice

Released June 2022


As played by Mark Bonnar, The Eleven, a Time Lord who retains the consciousnesses of all of his previous personas, became an instant and standout success in Big Finish’s pantheon of original foes. However, precisely because of that success and popularity, it’s easy to forget that Big Finish has at times seen fit to introduce some of those other incarnations to work both with and against the Doctor across his many incarnations. As The Fourth Doctor Adventures returns for the second half of its eleventh series with ‘The Dreams of Avarice’ by Guy Adams, the Doctor crosses paths with the murderous and kleptomaniacal Nine just as this foe attempts his most audacious and consequential heist yet.

Of course, John Heffernan has played the Nine on multiple occasions already, and he effortlessly glides between the characters’ multiple personas with ease in something of a more understated manner than the Eleven who initially made regenerative dissonance so profoundly understandable. Each of his previous selves’ traits, thoughts, and reactions are just as clear as the Nine’s own, and while his sole motivation of wanting more nice things is quite tenuous and repetitive as his ambitions grow ever more grandiose and potentially dangerous, Heffernan imbues such energy into his performance that the Nine’s single-minded and threadbare motivation never takes away from the overall plot. Indeed, he proves himself an incredibly intelligent and competent thief, surprising even himself that his plan to steal not only a museum but also an entire planet filled with riches works so successfully. His scheme does require a tremendous amount of technobabble to make the changes in dimensions and mass work while also quickly brushing aside any concerns about changes in atmosphere, gravity, and natural light, but the visual component of his heist is monumental and seemingly one ready-made for a televised serial.

Returning from The Legacy of Time alongside the Nine is Ronni Ancona as Thana, the last of a species that can only die from old age and a thrill-seeker who shares the Nine’s passion for seeing and acquiring rare and valuable artefacts. Given that she is very much in a supportive role compared to the Nine who has the power and wherewithal to achieve the seemingly impossible, Thana remains a very dynamic character and manages to provide a conduit for the audience without ever seeming helpless or useless. Heffernan and Ancona are quite strong together and certainly provide a strong tease of what a series featuring these two could be given the quirky tone of the tale and their relationship meshed with the dangerous undertones of the Nine.

While the plot never fully commits to either true comedy or drama, ‘The Dreams of Avarice’ expertly capitalizes on the charisma and energy of Tom Baker to tread through the mundane and the extraordinary equally effectively. The Doctor freely admits that he is guessing at times as the true scope of the Nine’s plan is revealed, but he is able to piece together the disparate clues around him to ensure that this lavish world can survive and that the Nine will not run rampant in this universe and the next. Paired with the droll Detective Inspector Alan Probert played by Richard Dixon, Baker has the perfect medium through which to channel his wit and charm as the Doctor must prove his own good intentions while opening minds to a far greater potential than could ever have been imagined. It’s rare that one of the Doctor’s foes so absolutely gains control of a situation, and even though the resolution is likewise dependent on a lot of technobabble and dialogue to allow a key component of this world’s beliefs to become so integral, the plot provides a fairly thorough if somewhat arduous logic to allow the Doctor to emerge victorious and just barely escape the deadly repercussions of the Nine’s manic greed. Ultimately, this likely is not a story that will hold up to the immense heights this series has reached on so many occasions, but it’s a thoroughly entertaining heist romp that more than capably showcases the powers of the Nine who is so singularly driven.

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