The Fourth Doctor - Series 5.3/4: The Paradox Planet / Legacy of Death (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 11 June 2016 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Paradox Planet (Credit: Big Finish)

Legacy Of Death (Credit: Big Finish)
Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana),
John Leeson (K9) Simon Rouse (Drang),
Tom Chadbon (Embery), Paul Panting (Fyrax),
Emma Campbell-Jones (Shola), Laura Rees (Tyrus),
Bryan Pilkington (Lostar), Jane Slavin (Medea).
Other parts portrayed by the cast.

Released by Big Finish Apr/May 2016
Buy from Amazon UK (The Paradox Planet/Legacy Of Death)

The Paradox Planet opens with a lovely scene, in the TARDIS with the Doctor, Romana and K9. The Doctor has decided that it is time that he learns to play the violin (very badly) - his two companions are both trying desperately to convince him that he will never master it. It is the style of story opening that I remember this original era for. The comic timing of the three leads are truly excellent. I found myself chuckling during my listen on the walk to to work.

As the story quickly moves on, due to a collision in the time vortex, the Doctor and Romana are separated in time by one thousand years, and find themselves at either end of a battle that is being raged by the same race, on the same planet - but in two very different time zones. The Paradox Planet of the title is Aoris. With foreknowledge of extinction, the future faction are taking endangered species from the past, back with them to the future. The faction in the past are desperate to stop this, even if it might mean wiping out their own race in the future.

The story continues in LegacyOfDeath, which finds both factions able to time travel. The Doctor volunteers to travel back to the past as a peace envoy, in the hope of saving the people of Aoris from wiping each other out, but finds himself caught up in the paradox himself.

The two episodes are, as usual in this series of audios, both split into two parts - meaning that we have four twenty-five minute(ish) episodes, which is a treat in itself. Each cliffhanger is expertly written, if sometimes craftily resolved - but this doesn't detract from a very action packed and well written story that is pure science fiction. The paradoxes are all very well planned, and all pay off. John Leeson gets a lot of K9 time in both stories, in fact at times there are two K9s, along with two versions of the TARDIS. One of my favourite of the 'classic' stories is Logopolis, and there are some similarities here. I also noticed that other episodes had some great nods. The biggest being one of the resolutions to a cliffhanger, which is very reminiscent of The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. Another episode that I felt heavily reminded of is The Face Of Evil.

The most fun to be had here are with the Doctor, Romana and K9 in the future Aoris, where they are essentially heralded as brave heroes, which when you find out as to why is very amusing indeed. 

The character of Machina is also a great reveal, which I didn't notice until I read them, but the credits to the story published by Big Finish give the identity of the character away (I have removed the offending credit here). If you can avoid reading the credits before listening, please try. Machina is essentially what seems to be a giant, old fashioned computer who is revered in the future. Romana's line upon stepping inside the giant computer is genius as she is disappointed that it is just a metal box with flashing lights on the outside for show.

Ultimately, both stories are tales of how a race can abuse a planet and it's resources without a thought for future generations. Yes it all gets a bit mind boggling, but at no point was I lost to any plot contrivances.

The cast are all excellent. Notables are Tom Chadbon as Emberry (Tom played Duggan from the classic City Of Death, he also featured in the 'not so classic' The Mysterious Planet). There is also Simon Rouse, who was originally in Kinda, here playing Drang.

Ultimately TheParadoxPlanet and Legacy of Death are both fun filled, intelligently written stories, which showcases Tom Baker in his absolute element. It is quite obvious that Lalla Ward and John Leeson also had great fun. These are a must for any fan of that classic era.