Big Finish Folly, Part 109 – Night’s Black Agents, by Marty Ross
Having escaped from Grangemouth, and in search of the Tardis, which has disappeared, the Doctor and Jamie encounter the sinister Reverend Merodach of Lammermoor. Merodach has the Tardis, and he wants the secrets held within it. He will torture the Doctor to gain these secrets, and he will bring all the pain of hell below to bear to get his own way. For Merodach is night’s own black agent…
Now I’m breaking my own rules again: I reckoned I could do this thing with just the Main Range stories, but over time I’ve included extras like the Lost Stories and the Excelis trilogy (well, two of them thus far, underwhelming though they’ve been), as well as Peri and the Piscon Paradox, which was a Companion Chronicle. Night’s Black Agents is actually another Companion Chronicle – a story narrated by the companion concerned, in this case Jamie McCrimmon. I could have ignored it, as it isn’t necessary to listen to it to understand what happens in either The Wreck of the Titan or The Legend of the Cybermen, but it actually makes sense to include this play here, as it forms part of the overall arc for this “trilogy” and does in fact get referenced in one of the later plays.
Companion Chronicles usually only have two voice actors, creating close, sometimes claustrophobic stories. With the right actors and the right director, you can get really dark. And Night’s Black Agents achieves that easily. It helps that Frazer’s foil in this play is Hugh Ross, perhaps better known to Big Finish audiences as Sir Toby Kinsella – he gets the gothic depth of this less-than-godly cleric, and Merodach’s intelligence and cunning comes across clearly. Jamie’s confrontations with the man are true epics as a result.
Frazer Hines is perhaps less successful in recreating Colin Baker’s voice, but this is one of the caveats that hovers over many of the Companion Chronicles, especially for anybody who has spent the best part of the last eighteen months ploughing through the Main Range Sixth Doctor stories. It’s more interesting to hear the Doctor described by Frazer’s Jamie, especially in this incarnation where he still has no memory of his prior travels in the Tardis. The dark heart of the play – Merodach’s desire to leave and control the Tardis, coupled with his control of his young wife – also allows the play to explore Jamie’s own heart and bring him bang up to date as a realistically older version of the TV character.
Like I said above, this is a sort of bonus addition to the Main Range trilogy – you don’t need to listen to it to enjoy the rest of Jamie & the Sixth Doctor’s adventures, but you’d actually be daft not to take the opportunity to hear part of this story from Jamie’s point of view. Lovely stuff.