THIS STORY TAKES
BIG FINISH AUDIO BOOK
"NIGHT'S BLACK AGENTS"
AND THE BIG FINISH
AUDIO DRAMA "LEGEND
OF THE CYBERMEN."
BIG FINISH CD#134
RELEASED IN MAY 2010.
The North Atlantic is
a treacherous place
at the best of times.
14TH April 1912 is the
very worst of times.
The Doctor and Jamie
find themselves ON
BOARD the Titanic,
a conclusive DATE
But the iceberg isn't
their only problem.
Down in the inky
depths, something is
huge, hostile and
hungry. This should
certainly be A Night
of the Titan
Barnaby Edwards’ Wreck of the Titan is quite easily my favourite release of 2010 thus far. A sweeping, filmic affair abounding with polar bears and sea monsters, this thrilling progression of City of Spires and Night’s Black Agents has a little something for everyone.
At a first glance, The Wreck of the Titan appears to be Edwards’ Whoniverse rendition
of the sinking of the Titanic. Indeed, a cursory perusal of the CD’s front cover and blurb suggests a pseudo-historical adventure featuring the ill-fated ship trapped between that fateful iceberg and “something huge, hostile and hungry” - effectively James Cameron’s Titanic meets The Power of Kroll; hardly a tantalising proposition, if truth be told. In reality though, the sinking of the Titanic at the end of Part 1 is only the start of a labyrinthine tale
that sees the Doctor and Jamie stagger blindly through the pages of Tess of the Titanic, The Wreck of the Titan, and even Jules Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to you and me).
Although it ultimately proves
to be a sequel to an even
earlier story, The Wreck
of the Titan has a feel of
Carnival of Monsters about
it; so much so, in fact, that
at one point Edwards’ even
cheekily suggests that the
Doctor and Jamie might
be trapped within a scope
similar to that seen in Robert
Holmes’ 1973 four-parter. The Wreck of the Titan is ultimately a far cleverer and more
polished tale, however, and it also has the distinct advantage of being realised through
Howard Carter’s spectacular soundscape. Free from the financial restrictions of television, the four episodes of this story feel cinematic and luxuriant – and very different from each other too. Carter’s diverse aural vista feels like several old-school blockbusters rolled into one, painting pictures every bit as explicit as the stunning images that the television series conjures. If “who is Howard Carter?” ever comes up in a pub quiz in the future, the answer that leaps to my mind won’t be “the celebrated Egyptologist”, that’s for sure.
The plot itself is transfixing throughout. With a story like this one, the game could have been up within the first episode, but Edwards skillfully deflects the listener’s suspicions until right
at the death by having the Doctor brashly leap to a number of convincing conclusions before the truth finally hits him. The ultimate reveal is both wistful and delicious, and must have been as much fun for Colin Baker and Frazer Hines to play as it was for Edwards to write. As the final episode torpedoes towards its explosive climax, the Doctor and Jamie suddenly find themselves in a white void, where a number of metal monsters are bearing down on them. But they aren’t the metal monsters that you might be expecting…
“That’s the trouble with Titans. They make titanic mistakes.”
Turning to the cast, Baker and Hines are inevitably enthralling once again. After some initial blindfold shenanigans, Edwards’ paints the pair as being a well-oiled machine, the events of both City of Spires and Night’s Black Agents having convinced Jamie of the Doctor’s worth even in the absence of his memories of their travels. Hines is gifted with some thoroughly
apposite dialogue, replete with obligatory “Jamieisms”, and Old Sixy is even better served, Edwards’ loquacious style the perfect fuel for Baker and his famed love of language. The script also affords Baker one particularly poignant moment, which he plays so wonderfully, when the Doctor believes that Jamie has gone down with the Titan. It’s incredibly affecting
to hear the Doctor wax eloquent about how he wanted his new adventures with Jamie “to be like the good old days”, because we did too. Even though Jamie ultimately survives to fight another day, the sentiment that it can’t ever really be like the “good old days” really cuts quite deep.
Baker and Hines are supported by a suitably star-studded cast, comprised of such talents as Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: Deep Space 9, 24, Merlin) and Miranda Raison (Married Single Other, Plus One, The Davros Mission). Our man Bashir is promoted as being the main guest star, even adorning Simon Holub’s stunning cover illustration wearing a beard that makes his real life tash look innocuous, yet his role is restricted to the latter half of the story. When he does appear though, Siddig definitely lives up to his lofty billing, perching his renowned character right on the precipice between hero and villain. It certainly makes for a refreshing change – whenever I see Siddig on television these days, he always seems to
be playing a terrorist or a warlord. Ultimately though, The Wreck of the Titan is stolen by
the talents of the stunning Ms Raison, whose presence is felt throughout as both the ditsy Chelsea socialite, Tess, and the hard-nosed American glamour puss, Myra. Granted, Myra sounds extraordinarily like Raison’s Talullah in 2007’s Evolution of the Daleks two-parter, but Myra has a rough edge to her that really sets the two characters apart.
In the end then, The Wreck of the Titan is sure to be a runaway success, and will no doubt inhabit many a listener’s ‘Top Five Audios’ list should Big Finish ever resurrect that podcast feature. When I heard that Jamie was coming back for a season of full-cast audio dramas alongside the sixth Doctor, this is exactly the sort of thing that I’d hoped for; if anything, it’s even better. And with so many tormenting questions lingering and a peerless cliffhanger to pick up from, Legend of the Cybermen has the potential go one better still.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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