THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AND THE BIG FINISH
AUDIO "URBAN MYTHS."
BIG FINISH CD#95
RELEASED IN MAY 2007.
ON A DISTANT OUTPOST
OF EARTH, A GROUP OF
THE PLANET'S MOST
FARAKOSH. ALL THAT
STANDS BETWEEN THE
COLONISTS AND A
GRISLY DEATH ARE THE
EXOTRONS - HUGE
ROBOTS EQUIPPED WITH
FIREPOWER. BUT HOW
WHERE DID THE
COLONISTS FIND THE
RESOURCES TO BUILD
THEM? THE DOCTOR
WANTS ANSWERS AND
THE COLONISTS ARE
OUTSIDE THE COMPOUND,
THE FARAKOSH ARE
I found Big Finish’s second three-part serial to be a tremendous improvement on the first. Paul Sutton’s previous contributions to the monthly series have been deep and moving emotional dramas, and whilst “Exotron” does have a warped love story at its core, it is much more accurately summed up by Alex Mallinson’s vivid cover art. A remote colony. Giant,
wolf-like monsters. Big robots. Huge robots. Colossal robots. Gargantuan robots…
But as much as the cover may fire the imagination, there is also something incredibly refreshing about hearing Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant breeze their way through a serial, pre-Erimem. Now I love Erimem as much as the next man – a wonderful character, beautifully brought to life through Caroline Morris – but there is certainly something enchanting about an adventure set in Big Finish’s proverbial ‘past’. It almost feels new.
Furthermore, Sutton writes very well for this Doctor / companion team. There are some
lovely scenes where the Doctor’s thoughts betray him – literally; those pesky telepathic circuits – including one very amusing altercation with Corporal Mozz. The fifth Doctor is so fecklessly polite that it cannot do anything other than amuse when people can hear what he is really thinking! And as for Peri, Sutton actually lets her use her brain. She gets to put her botany background to good use, playing a pivotal role in solving the mystery of the Farakosh.
It would not be a Paul Sutton play though, without a twisted romance. Paula (Isla Blair) and Taylor (John Duttine) share a remarkable and tragic tale over the course of the three episodes. However, I do have to admit that in the early stages I was not overly interested in their domestics – it was only as the story progressed, particularly towards the end of the second episode, that my attention was really grabbed. Sutton uses these two to unveil his two big plot twists; without giving too much away, he delightfully plays on both those wonderful Cyberman-type fears and also the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’… no matter how ferocious. Both work fiercely well, turning what would have been quite an average story into, on the whole, a pretty good one.
Finally, I think a word should be said on the whole Nicholas Briggs revamp of Big Finish Productions. The quality of the package that Big Finish are now putting together each month is a phenomenal improvement on what came before. I have touched upon Alex Mallinson’s beautiful artwork earlier in this review, but it is not just that. There is a stunning two-page centrefold in the CD booklet as well as a colourful, modern and informative layout. Compare “Exotron” to “The Sirens of Time” and you can see the eight years separating them! And of course, at long last we have some CD Extras…
That much said, Big Finish could really do with pulling one of their masterpieces out of their hats right now. I would have to go all the way back to January (“Circular Time”) to find a release that I would enthusiastically recommend to those who do not already subscribe. Recently the releases have ranged from passable to good, but I want fantastic!
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This audio drama’s blurb and production code both suggest that it takes place between the audio dramas
Red Dawn and Urgent Calls. We have placed it within this gap, but after the novels Superior Beings and Warmonger, which were released earlier.
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