The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook

Posted in Audio by - February 13, 2021
The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook

Released February 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

After nearly colliding with another time machine in the vortex and landing in 1944 Normandy just days before D-Day, the Doctor and Leela find a most unexpected traveler in Andrew Smith’s ‘The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook.’ Finding an enterprising young man intent on using time travel for his own financial gain through tourism, the Doctor is horrified at the irresponsibility on display, and the worst almost comes to pass as Nook learns firsthand that sometimes history is best left as history.

Via a clear starting homage to The Time Machine, ‘The Tribulations of Thaddeus Nook’ wastes no time in introducing its optimistic and imaginative but wholly naïve entrepreneur, a man who very much comes across as a combination between the Meddling Monk and Vorg from ‘Carnival of Monsters’ were he given the opportunity to bring people into his world of potential. As with so many salesmen whose ambition gets the best of them, however, it’s also clear that Nook with his history of failed enterprises is once more out of his depth, a fact his partner is all too quick to gently point out to him. Yet Nook is anything but a conniving and ruthless sham, and even though he may not completely understand the nuances of his acquired time machine or the potential temporal consequences, Brendan Murphy always maintains a certain air of underlying morality and determination to do what is right that ensure Nook is a likable and well-intentioned rogue at all times as an unintended danger stemming from his journeys begins to mount in power.

Accordingly, this story is very much set out as one of two halves, the first to develop the haphazard business on display and the second to develop the more traditional enemy that reveals himself. It’s the beginning half that shines with more imagination to be sure, and although there isn’t much in the way of sound design to really flesh out such locales such as Normandy during World War II or Dallas during the President Kennedy assassination- and, yes, the tradition of questionable American accents continues in the latter- it nonetheless perfectly sets the scene for the type of operation Nook is running and how he comes to choose his travelers and locations. Of course, time travel brings with it certain other temptations for other individuals invited to partake, and darker secrets fuel a scheme far more ambitious than simple tourism that quickly puts Leela’s life at stake. The script does its best to maintain a semblance of its earlier absurdity and humour even as a very prototypical tyrant comes to feature, but even jaunts through the vortex and the prospect of time travel landing in the wrong hands only add a little window dressing to the type of threat the Doctor has managed so many times before.

As should be expected, Tom Baker and Louise Jameson give spectacular performances throughout that highlight the very best of the Doctor and Leela both when together and apart. Indeed, Leela is very much able to provide a steadying voice of reason throughout even as her fate remains directly threatened, and the Doctor here is at his most determined and logical as he uses all of the information before him and a little luck to devise a means of finding his companion and ensuring time remains on its established course. With a fascinating example of the Time Lords’ power included for the second consecutive story in this range, ‘The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook’ is an intriguing story that certainly employs time travel to its fullest, and although a fairly light but imaginative first half gives way to a weightier but much more traditional second half, it’s a suitable example of this particular leading duo’s strengths and why they are each so beloved.

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