The Legacy Of Time - Big Finish - 20th Anniversary SpecialBookmark and Share

Sunday, 28 July 2019 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley

“Brave heart…….ermmmm……all of me…?”

 

The Legacy of Time is an epic six-part adventure, celebrating 20 years of Doctor Who at Big Finish!

Time is collapsing. Incidents of chaos and devastation are appearing throughout the lives of one Time Lord and his many friends – all fallout from one terrible disaster. From Earth’s past and present to timeless alien worlds, from the cloisters of Gallifrey into the Vortex itself….The Doctor must save universal history – and he needs all the help he can get.

 

Lies In Ruins by James Goss

At the opening of Lies in Ruins, we join River Song (Alex Kingston) and her team excavating some ruins, only to find that one Bernice Somerfield (Lisa Bowerman) had beaten her to it. It seems that the ruins lie on a mysterious planet, a planet that until very recently didn't exist. The planet is rich with ruined temples and towers…as well as ghosts from the past. 

Not being able to resist a mystery, the pair are joined by the eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and new companion Ria (Alexandria Riley). Between the four of them, they discover the identity of the planet, while at the same time fending off a rather ruthless salvage attempt.

Lies in Ruins is a story that is jam-packed with action. It hits the ground running, and doesn't let up that rather frantic pace. I found the plot with its slow reveals quite intriguing, and was genuinely surprised with the final twist as to what the new planet actually was.

My one gripe would be Ria. She really grates, and yes, this is a part of the plot - but did they really need to make her quite so unlikeable?

 

The Split Infinitive by John Dorney

The Counter-Measures team are investigating a gangster who seems to be aging people to death. Without warning, they are visited by Ace (Sophie Aldred)  and the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), who are investigating a very strange, temporal anomaly  The twist is that Ace is visiting them in the 1960's and the Doctor in the 1970's.

Once again, things unfold at breakneck speed. I'm beginning to wonder if it is because there is simply so much to cram into these stories!

The plot device of having the narrative split across two time zones is a great idea, especially when the story relating to the earlier time zone needs to play out in order to see how the later time zone will deal with any ramifications, which is probably the dictionary definition of timey-wimey.

What really stood out for me though was Howard Carter's music. It had a proper old school jazz vibe about it, quite unique, and something that went well with the story.

 

The Sacrifice Of Jo Grant by Guy Adams

In the present Jo Grant (Katy Manning), Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) and Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) are investigating a spate of wormholes, when Jo and Kate are inadvertently sucked into one and deposited in the middle of a UNIT adventure from the 1970’s (or is it the 1980’s). This lends itself to quite a touching reunion between the much older Jo Grant and the third Doctor (here voiced by Tim Treloar). We also find that Kate Stewart’s father is contactable on the other end of a radio link – will she take this opportunity to talk to him? 

Sadly, it is with Kate’s dilemma on whether to contact her father where the story falls down. I found the writing that shows Kate ‘agonising’ over whether to contact the Brigadier to be incredibly trite – it just seemed so out of character, and I just didn’t buy it.

Despite that, I think The Sacrifice of Jo Grant is my favourite of this collection. It is after all a classic Pertwee tale of holes in time and dinosaurs.

Let’s address the title of this segment. The story starts with a voiceover declaring Jo Grant dead and a hero, so we know straight away where this story is going – does it fulfil its promise – I’ll let you find out.

 

Relative by Matt Fitton

Relative is a rather light-hearted story (and a great play on words), with the fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) thrown together with his (future) daughter Jenny (Georgia Tennant). It's also the first story in the set to truly try to bring together some of the dangling plot threads that might prove a link to the previous entries. 

It seems that a TARDIS has exploded and is creating some sort of temporal event. The TARDIS is forced to materialise on a ship full of tourists…and a stowaway, Jenny. There’s a lot of humour to be mined from the situation especially when Jenny keeps referring to the fifth Doctor her “Great, great, great, great, great Gramps”, much to his obvious annoyance.

The Sirens are introduced to the story arc here (previously seen in Sirens of Time). These are creatures that feed on temporal energy and positively feast on a paradox…..and space tourists. The kleptomaniac Time Lord the Nine (John Heffernan) is also thrown into the mix to complicate the Doctor and Jenny’s rescue attempt.

Ultimately the story is quite throw away, but at least by the end of it, the listener starts to have a good idea of what might be going on.

 

The Avenues of Possibility by Jonathan Morris

When DI Patricia Menzies (Anna Hope) is called to a case where a man has seemingly stumbled out of the eighteenth century, things appear to be getting strange. When that man then asks for the Doctor, she knows something is very wrong.  Of course, the sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)  and Charlotte Pollard (India Fisher) are at hand to help. It appears that Earth is peppered with faults in time. There are wormholes that connect to possible futures and probable pasts everywhere.

Things are then further complicated when one possible future, where Britain is a dictatorship suddenly takes an interest in invading its own past, creating a huge paradox that attracts the attention of the Sirens, meaning that time itself could be torn apart.

Jonathan Morris has created an interesting take on a paradox with The Avenues of Possibility, which is another strong entry into this celebratory box set which really delivers the goods. The writing is slick and very clever, and well delivered by a very strong cast.

 

Collision Course by Guy Adams

Now we come to the grand finale. A fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), Leela (Louise Jameson) and Romana (Lalla Ward) adventure split across two time periods, and two versions of the same planet. A planet that is steeped in Time Lord legend, and where the first-ever TARDIS had it's very first test flight with rather disastrous results. It'll take at least six Time Lords to save the day (and maybe a couple of others just for good measure). Where ever could we find them?

I found Collision Course, for the most part to be the weakest of six stories included in this set. I think mainly because of the way the action is split (again) across two time periods, everything after a while blurs together. There is also a lot of technobabble, and some very earnest monologues, describing how dire the situation is, and how there can be no resolution.

Collision Course also features the money shot that we have all been waiting for, and that is the payoff of having multiple Doctors in the same room, bickering away about their own self-importance.

So, here is the thing with The Legacy Of Time, I was looking for a proper multi-Doctor story, and yes, I got it for about 10 minutes of the 480 plus minute run time. However, I wanted more. As a sum of it's parts the overall story is very enjoyable and included some iconic characters that were solely the creation of Big Finish......but  I felt as if I was a bit short-changed by the lack of Doctor on Doctor action. I understand that this is Big Finish's huge 20 year finale - and that is truly a wondrous milestone to hit. But there could have been a lot more interaction between the Doctors.

I appreciate that there is a lot of celebration going on. With odd pairings of companions past and present and some nice, unexpected cameos from others, but - this story is nearly forty quid! That’s a lot of money. Rest assured, The Legacy of Time is no Zagreus (thank goodness), but it could have been a better celebration, maybe by pairing some Doctors together with the companions?

Overall, a very good effort, all expertly directed by Ken Bentley, and as mentioned previously, as individual stories, very enjoyable. But as a multi-Doctor epic? Not quite so much.