Big Finish Folly, Part 110 – The Wreck of the Titan, by Barnaby Edwards
After our brief diversion into other ranges, the Doctor and Jamie return to the Main Range, Tardis in tow. Enthusiastic to show Jamie the wealth of the universe again, the Doctor arrives instead on an ocean liner in the middle of the night. The liner’s crew and passengers seem to be elusive ghosts, aside from the First Officer and his girlfriend, and the books in the ship’s library are all variations on a single nautical theme. Nothing is quite real – except, possibly, the massive iceberg sat square in the path of the RMS Titanic….
This second part of the Main Range “Jamie” trilogy is an entirely different beast to the first. The foreshadowing in that first play was a bit more subtle, the references to things like black water understated. It doesn’t help that the supporting characters are somehow less distinct than before: where City of Spires had the benefit of Georgia Moffett leading Jamie McCrimmon around by the nose, here each of the two foils (Miranda Raison & Matt Addis) plays two characters that are too similar to each other to be able to see any difference. That’s actually part of the point, of course – as the play goes on, the similarities between the Titanic and the fictitious Titan become more and more important – but what it does mean is that once Alexander Siddig’s Captain Nemo turns up, everybody else just sort of fades into the background.
Yes, you read that right: Captain Nemo, Jules Verne’s anti-hero from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, swanning about the North Atlantic like he owns the place (he probably does, at this point, though there’s a giant squid with other ideas…). Fiction and reality are colliding. The listener should be able to work out by now where this trilogy is headed – Jamie, Rob Roy, Captain Nemo, vast vats of ink; yes, we’re on the verge of a return to a famous Troughton-era setting.
There’s a lot of hemming and hawing and setting up to do here, however, and that means there’s really no story to tell. In common with all too many epic fantasy trilogies, this middle section is a sort of entre-acte to get the Doctor and Jamie from one set-piece to the next, pushing them all the while by means of constant peril. Entertaining, but not as satisfying as it could have been. It does manage to get there in the end, but in my opinion the rug could have been pulled from under the Doctor’s feet in a far more dramatic manner.