Reviews May Contain Minor Spoilers

If you're reading a review you should expect to hear some spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum though.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Eldrad Must Die!

Moving on to the next story in the Big Finish Doctor Who Main Range, it's back to the Fifth Doctor and company. They face a villain from the Fourth Doctor's era from the final episode of perennial favorite companion Sarah Jane Smith. The villain, of course, is Eldrad and you'll soon get sick of hearing about him/her.
Eldrad Must Die (2013) By: Marc Platt

The Tardis materializes on a beach, so the Tardis crew decide to have some fun: Teagan and the Doctor head to the water while Turlough and Nyssa go to the tide pools. After Teagan injures her foot on some sharp rocks, they are approached by a marine biologist who berates them about being on the closed beach and scans them for radioactivity. The Doctor soon sees animals with crystals growing from the bodies of animals.

Unlike The Butcher of Brisbane, this story brings back an old villain, but Eldrad has no new plan. They try to make it fresh by mixing it with some of Turlough's backstory. Eldrad's plan relies on all of his enemies being incredibly stupid, and it almost works due to the Fifth Doctor's selective memory loss. The mass of extra characters tries to ground the story on earth, but feels like padding as the first act slogs its way to the Eldrad reveal that was spoiled by the cover.

Our Heroes
The Fifth Doctor has plot amnesia! He blunders around, being really curious about a bunch of things that he's seen before. The Fifth Doctor wanders, tossed by the waves of the plot, before coming up with a plan that's too little too late.

Turlough goes back to square one when an old schoolmate, who also happens to be from Turlough's planet, makes him subject to a new alien being: Mulkris. Thus, Turlough spends most of this audio being a puppet for other forces just like he was during the Black Guardian Trilogy in Classic Who. This story tries to make it out as some sort of turning point, but Turlough learns nothing new. His lack of agency makes his charater incredibly uninteresting. Out of character sections don't build character!

Teagan steals cars and tries to play babysitter to a crazed Turlough. She is far less annoying than usual since she's given things to do. They're mostly illegal, but she makes an effective criminal at least.

Nyssa can talk to animals! I almost forgot about that. She also gets to deal with the B-plot, which is more than she usually gets to do. She is quite at home commanding a military and it'd be great to see it in a more interesting tale.

Useless Observers
Charlie Gibbs is an old schoolmate of Turlough's. He acts as a foil to Turlough and host for Eldrad during the end. It's a shame he has all the gravitas of a bar drunkard.

Kate is a bossy marine biologist who's studying the crystalline growths and radiation. She's taken Teagan's role of being a bossy bitch, which could have easily been cut from the story and made it far better.

Mulkris is Eldrad's executioner who has pursued him with such zeal that she didn't even notice her planet going silent. Mulkris is actually one of the best parts of this adventure, but gets mired with some seriously stupid actions once again due to mind control.

Crystaline Foe
Eldrad has spread himself across the galaxy and awaits his return. Eldrad can influence others except when he's got something better to do. His plan seems doomed to fail from the start, making it unsurprising when his plan fails. Another villain who relies on everyone being stupid. Ugh.

Seaside Atmosphere
The setting is the best part about this story. They really should have just stayed at the beach and had some fun; it would have been far less boring. The animals are surprisingly well represented in this story despite being used only for audience empathy.

In the End
The Doctor does almost nothing while things sort themselves out. Okay, he does something, but he's so behind the plot of the clearly dumb villain that he may as well have done nothing. Eldrad's defeat drags on far longer than it should have.

So much padding, so little time. The Doctor forgetting things he's learned before does not make a great story, nor does the rehash of a few old episodes. Mind control leaves much of the cast as zoned out minions. There is little humor and almost no action in this tale. All that's left is a dull plot. Check out the Classic Doctor Who episodes The Hand of Fear and Mawdryn Undead for the better halves of this tale.

Buy it from Big Finish.

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