(ISBN 1-84435-322-4)





 A curse on this

 damned reef - and

 curse the Doctor who

 brought us here!


 Drawn by the siren

 call of a distress

 beacon, the TARDIS

 crash-lands on an

 uncharted time reef.

 However, the Doctor,

 Nyssa and Brewster

 are not the only

 mariners marooned

 on this barren rock.

 Commander Gammades

 and his crew of

 returning war heroes

 have been similarly

 shipwrecked, as has

 the beautiful but

 mysterious Lady



 But there's something

 else here, too. A thing

 of darkness which

 crawls blindly

 across the surface of

 the reef hunting for

 prey: the Ruhk.


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Time Reef








Time Reef is a peculiar one, but, coming as it does from the pen of Marc Platt, I would’ve been disappointed had it been otherwise. Aided and abetted by Grant Kempster’s dramatic cover illustration and booklet centrefold, this play resurrected vivid images in my mind from old Who stories as diverse as Enlightenment and Platt’s own Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible, as well as singing some horrifying new ones into existence from out of the blinding dark.


The ‘sailing ships in space’ of Enlightenment work particularly well here, more so than ever given that they’ve run aground on what is essentially a great big reef outside space and time. Furthermore, just as it was in Time’s Crucible, the old chestnut of the TARDIS apparently being destroyed is utilised by Platt to interesting effect. As this story begins, the Doctor is abnormally grouchy – after all, he’s just been marooned on Earth for five months – but at least he’s got his TARDIS back. And then he realises that Brewster was off gallivanting in his TARDIS for more than just the “blink of the old peepers” that he claims. And then he realises that everything is not where it should be, critical components included. And then the TARDIS’s interior dimensions implode. And then things get nasty.


As a result Peter Davison plays his Doctor rather off-kilter in this one - for once, the actor sounds his age, especially during his incensed Hartnellish rants, Brewster’s mischief bringing out the grumpy old man in even the most affable of incarnations. Had they been minded to, Big Finish could have eked out a whole season’s worth of stories based on the premise of the fuming Doctor and assuaging Nyssa going back and fixing all of Brewster’s blunders, but had they done so, I doubt that they could have had any more fun with the notion than Platt does here in “Back journey number one”. Before I listened to this play, I’d noted from the cover illustration that Brewster seemed to be wearing the Doctor’s clothes, but I didn’t for a moment imagine that he’d been masquerading as him, selling off his wares and generally besmirching his reputation. Accordingly when the TARDIS returns Brewster to the time reef, the Doctor is reluctantly forced to play the part of ‘Blondie’, companion to ‘Doctor Brewster’, lest he face the wrath of the shipwrecked mariners. The results are hilarious.


However, Time Reef is as murky in some places as it is humorous in others. The prevailing theme of the story is desolation, and characters such as Beth Chalmers’ Vuyoki – the ancient murderess in a jar – and Sean Biggerstaff’s Ruhk - “a cross between a broken umbrella and a bird” – imbue this play with a deliciously horrid flavour. Unfortunately though, the pacing of three episodes leaves much to be desired – the first is absorbing, the second slow, and the third epic (and I do mean epic in the classical sense of the word – the tale’s Greek inspiration is even more prevalent than the Egyptian influences behind The Skull of Sobek).


Overall Time Reef isn’t my favourite Marc Platt tale, but it is perhaps his most vibrant. It’s also buoyed by it’s pairing with Jonathan Morris’s A Perfect World, which makes you feel like you’re getting more for your money - especially when you consider just how disparate Time Reef and A Perfect World are.





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