Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor - The Syndicate Master Plan Volume 2Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 16 March 2019 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Syndicate Masterplan: Volume 2 (Credit: Big Finish)
Writer: John Dorney
Director: Nicholas Briggs
 

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom):

First Released: February 2019

Running Time: 4 hours

Time's Assassin – GUY  ADAMS

 

"Please! Don't explain you're nefarious plot - I don't think I can bear it!"

The true identity of the Director has been revealed and he wants vengeance upon the Doctor for past crimes….

But the Director is not the only danger to the crew of the TARDIS. Deadly experiments are coming to a head, and everyone’s life is at risk.

However, the greatest threat is yet to come. The Syndicate’s plans are in motion….and no one is safe from them.

When we left the Doctor and Ann at the end of the last episode (and volume) they were still stranded and in peril. Jon Culshaw was chewing scenery, and monsters were about to be unleashed. Part two is much the same, and provides some major hints and themes of the coming episodes, further developing this series story arc as all really is not what it seems.

Writer Guy Adams ensures that events in this second part of the story proceed at breakneck speed. He has a real feel for the characters.

The story is a lot of fun, with major call-backs to this classic era of the show. There are lots of growling monsters, moustache twirling villainy. There is also a rather dashing rescue from a very special ‘Old Girl’ that made this listener grin like a ten-year-old.

 

Fever Island  – BY JONATHAN BARNES

 

"Not at all, Mr Vain....what I expect of both of you, is to die....horribly!"

Jason Vane is England’s suavest secret agent, and today he is on his deadliest mission yet. Tracking down the evil Okulov….before he destroys the world.

The Doctor, Ann and K9 are, in contrast finding their own mission a little hard to complete. A strange storm in the vortex has swept them back in time, back to Earth in 1978, and to a strange place called ‘Fever Island’.

A place where their worst nightmares are about to come true….

From the above, you can deduce that Fever Island is a James Bond spoof….of sorts anyway. But it is actually quite a bit more than that, and a great deal of fun. The story twists reality in such a way that Tom Baker and John Leeson get to play an evil megalomaniac and his fierce sidekick, Severous. I thought the writing by Jonathan Barnes was excellent, a great balance pastiche, tension and humour.

The cast is perfect – with the stand out being Gethin Anthony as Jason Vane, who plays the role with oodles of very ironic smarm.

 I wasn’t really looking forward to Fever Island from its story summary, but it turned out to be a real gem.

 

The Perfect Prisoners Part 1  – JOHN DORNEY

 

You know what they say K9? If it aint broke, don’t adjust the polarity.”

The Doctor, Ann and K9 are hot on the trail of The Syndicate, and straight into trouble.

After contending with killer robots and dangerous aliens, the clues lead straight to a machine that can literally make you dreams come true. A device that in the wrong hands could lead to misery for millions.

But who’s the real villain here? And what exactly is their masterplan?

The Perfect Prisoners stats at a breakneck pace, with the Doctor and Ann already well into an adventure, in fact we catch up with them as danger draws in and hope seems lost. The Perfect Prisoner could almost be a direct sequel to The Daleks' Master Plan. If you thought that The Syndicate Masterplan was cannon heavy, wait a while.

I’m probably going to disappoint you now Reader, I was never a plan of The Daleks' Masterplan. To me, it felt that the Daleks had already been heavily overused, and I found the plot just….dull. So it was with some trepidation that I started listening to this story, especially when I realised it was four episodes. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  All four parts positively romp along. The characters are all integrated perfectly, and there isn’t a lot of presumption that you know The Daleks Masterplan inside out. The twists come thick and fast, as do the clever sleight of hand that seems around every corner.

 

The Perfect Prisoners Part 2 – JOHN DORNEY

 

“Geronimoooooooo!!!”

Secrets have been revealed, and the Doctor and his friends at least know who they’re fighting.

An epic journey across space leads them to the true mastermind of The Syndicate conspiracy.

Alliances will shift. Friends will die. Can even the Doctor come out of this alive?

As we emerge surprisingly quickly from the last cliff-hanger and catch our breath from a very dramatic rescue, courtesy of K9, we barely get time to take stock of events before we are being whisked off to a climax that looks hopeless for the Doctor.

Throughout these two volumes, there have been double-crosses and twists galore, and this final episode delivers even more, alongside a rather splendid dose of sleight of hand, which I do not want to spoil.

John Dorney ties these volumes up perfectly, picking up all the loose threads, and tying them neatly together. I’ve really enjoyed the character of Ann, and I love the way that Big Finish, Jane Slavin, and the writers involved have treated her, and let the character evolve over these two volumes, all coming pretty much full circle here, and leaving the Doctor (literally) a very different character than when she joined him. Well done Big Finish.