The Early Ad­ven­tures: The Doc­tor’s Tale

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Videogames/ miscellaneous -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

135 min­utes | CD/ down­load Pub­lisher: Big Fin­ish

Com­pan­ion de­par­tures

come in many forms in Doc­tor Who, but there are few as head- scratch­ing as that of Peri ( Ni­cola Bryant) dur­ing 1986’ s “The Trial Of A Time Lord” sto­ry­line. Peri was ap­par­ently killed, but then later re­vealed to have ended up mar­ried off- screen to an alien war­rior king. New Big Fin­ish ad­ven­ture The Widow’s As­sas­sin tries to clear up this am­bigu­ous con­ti­nu­ity.

The story fol­lows Colin Baker’s Sixth Doc­tor as he fi­nally tracks down Peri on the eve of her wed­ding to King Yr­canos. This re­union goes badly, and fol­low­ing the un­ex­pected mur­der of Yr­canos, the Doc­tor spends five years in prison be­fore at­tempt­ing to re­deem him­self when Peri falls vic­tim to a po­ten­tially fa­tal poi­son. The script throws in plenty of clever twists, but also doesn’t know when to stop, with the lat­ter episodes drag­ging in places. The florid, campy hu­mour feels closer to the wilder ex­cesses of the Gra­ham Wil­liams era and clashes with the story’s darker themes, leav­ing this as a fun but un­even so­lu­tion to a knotty con­ti­nu­ity prob­lem.

Over in the Early Ad­ven­tures range, The Doc­tor’s Tale brings us another pure his­tor­i­cal story echo­ing the Hart­nell era’s ed­u­ca­tional ap­proach, as the TARDIS crew of the First Doc­tor, Ian, Bar­bara and Vicky, ar­rive in 15th cen­tury Eng­land, shortly after King Henry IV has usurped the throne from Richard II. The plot fol­lows a dark pat­tern, as the Doc­tor and co are drawn into dan­ger­ous in­trigues around the de­posed Queen Is­abel, while also fol­low­ing the trail of famed writer Ge­of­frey Chaucer.

Nar­rated by orig­i­nal ’ 60s stars Wil­liam Rus­sell and Mau­reen O’Brien ( along­side a full cast), it’s a mix of his­tory and melo­drama that’s of­ten pow­er­ful, but which could have used a lit­tle more en­ergy to carry it through its lengthy run­ning time. Saxon Bul­lock Also out: a read­ing of the nov­el­i­sa­tion of Per­twee story “Car­ni­val Of Monsters”, per­formed by Katy “Jo Grant” Man­ning.

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