Big Finish Folly, Part 70 – Recorded Time and Other Stories, by Catherine Harvey, Richard Dinnick, Matt Fitton, and Philip Lawrence.
Some of the most successful Big Finish releases thus far in our epic trawl have been the portmanteau/single-episode collections such as 1001 Nights. Now it’s time for Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor to get in on the act – and fittingly, to provide a final (at time of writing) chronological Main Range outing for Peri Brown. Here are four one-act tales ranging from time-travel paradox to Austen-esque romance, all with colourful twists in the tale…
The title story, Recorded Time, isn’t the strongest of the four, but it still plays on an interesting concept, balancing the ability to change time with the price that must be paid as a result. There’s still plenty to cheer in the dialogue and the period jokes, but somehow this doesn’t feel suited to old Sixey and might have been better with Five and Nyssa (for example).
Paradoxicide is a more straight-forward affair despite dealing with time travel and resultant paradoxes, and the hunt/chase mechanism drives the story a lot more quickly towards a resolution. A bit like Raiders of the Lost Ark, the ending is pretty obvious but still satisfying given the build-up of the bad guys (bad girls) during the episode.
It’s the second batch of stories that really impresses though. A Most Excellent Match takes the opportunity to whack Jasper Fforde over the head with a sonic screwdriver, forcing Peri into far too many costume dramas while Philip Bretherton as villainous versions of Darcy/Heathcliff/D’Urberville tries to bend her to his will. The accents are hilarious but extremely well done and this is a piece of imaginative scripting that really works.
Last but not least, Question Marks has its own take on identity (which all of the above stories have played with) and skews things to a more downbeat cliffhanger ending. Stripped to the very basics, the Doctor becomes irascible and superior, struggling against appearances to save the crew of a stranded survey vessel and denying to the last that he doesn’t in fact know everything.
All told, a very enjoyable package. The supporting cast are noteworthy for their versatility, Bretherton and Rosanna Miles in particular. If you’re not much of a fan of the Sixth Doctor’s TV stories, this release might well help convert you to a fan of his audio adventures.
Next stop, by the way, will be a trip back in time to cover the recent Fifth Doctor trilogy of plays. Y’see, I told you this was going to be a bit back and forth…