Big Finish Folly, Part 22

The Cradle of the Snake, by Marc Platt

When I mentioned continuity in one of the last reviews, I wasn’t kidding around. Big Finish have taken one of the Fifth Doctor’s signature enemies – the Mara – and run further on with it. Once more Tegan is the initial focus for the Mara’s malevolence, but this time the serpent is given freer rein to roam across the planet Manussa, revelling in the higher level of technology in this time period. And this time, the Mara’s primary vehicle is none other than the Doctor himself…

Apparently there would have been a third Mara story anyway, but for the budget and production difficulties that beset Doctor Who in the ’80s. This represents an ideal opportunity to put matters right. Thankfully, rather than go back to the caves and jungles of Kinda and Snakedance, Marc Platt has gone to a time before the Mara first rose to power on Manussa – the eternal serpent having decided to make itself all the stronger by extending its dominance another 100 years into the past. What follows is a high-pitched romp – of course – through parks, funfairs and TV studios as Tegan, Turlough, and a motley assortment of locals, all try to stop the Mara from seizing power.

The whole plot is wonderfully silly, of course, right down to contents of the banks of cages at the back of the TV studio (if Bernard Matthews did op-ed shows….), and naturally I lost track of exactly how the whole crystal McGuffin was supposed to work, but it also manages to evoke the best moments of the ’80s serial along with the manic media overcompensation of modern-era Who. The cast is on top form – and includes Hugh Fraser (a far cry from his turn as Hastings) and Vernon Dobtcheff, who seems to be getting everywhere lately. Definitely one to listen to again – if I ever get the time, of course…

Buy it here.


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