THIS STORY TAKES
"BROTHERHOOD OF THE
BIG FINISH SPECIAL#VII
RELEASED IN DECEMBER
The dead planet
Onyakis is being
plundered by the last
survivors of the
human race, and their
Cobden, will stop at
nothing to get what
he wants. Already
there are rumours of
those who stand
when the Doctor and
themselves on the
side of those trying
to expose Cobden,
something far more
DEEP IN THE MINES OF
IS FLOWING. SOMETHING
IS FORMING IN THE
Last Christmas, Big Finish Productions took their subscribers back to the web planet of Vortis (where William Hartnell’s Doctor famously encountered the Animus and its deadly Zarbi servants), and this year they take us back almost as far, gifting us with the return of a race of crystalline monstrosities from back in Patrick Troughton’s day – the Krotons!
Now it really is hard to believe that in the forty years since the Krotons made their first appearance in Doctor Who, they have only been brought back the once. And as engaging
as the adventures of E-Kobalt the Dalek-crunching Kroton were in print, there is no substitute for actually hearing that inimitable electro-brummie twang. In fact, part of me wonders just how much weight was afforded to writer/director/actor/executive producer Nicholas Briggs’ yearning to have a stab at this unique voice when Big Finish were looking at which classic monster to bring back for this one!
“Something starting to form, is it?”
Whilst the sixty-eight minute special is very slow to get moving, it is full of ambience right through and, more importantly, does exactly what it says on the tin. Here the Krotons return in all their Christmas 1968 splendour, complete with Dynatropes (well, slightly higher-spec Dynatropes, if the truth be known); an excess of teaching machines; and, of course, that slight brummie drawl. The casting of the magnificent Philip Madoc (who played Gond Councillor Eelek in the original, as well as about fifty other notable roles within Doctor Who) as the story’s principal villain, Commander Cobden, only further elicits the sense of nostalgia.
Nevertheless, despite the reverence paid to the original story, Briggs’ script does go off in its own, unexpectedly chilling tangent, particularly towards the end. If you are the sort to take one look at the Flash Gordon-esque design of the Krotons and laugh, then the horrifying
climax to this play is really going to knock you for six. ‘Blinking eye’ is all that I am prepared to give away here!
And of course, Colin Baker and India Fisher are an absolute delight to hear together, as always. Even though Baker’s Doctor has traditionally dominated these subscriber-specials, I do not think anyone would begrudge him the extra slot this year. Indeed, 2008 has proved to be something of a renaissance for old sixy and the Edwardian Adventuress alike.
You have to admire Big Finish’s shrewd marketing of this one too. With the events of this exclusive episode bleeding straight into Eddie Robson’s “Raincloud Man”, there are not going to be many listeners prepared to wait a year or so for this one to hit the market, even
if it costs them a few quid more to subscribe than it would to get the CDs elsewhere.
At the end of the day, “Return of the Krotons” might not be the most utterly spellbinding hour of audio drama that Big Finish have served up this year, but it is a wonderful wallow in the ghosts of Christmas past all the same, and as such it should prove to be an adequate deal-breaker for most ‘maybe’ subscribers.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
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