The Fourth Doctor is back for a fifth series of adventures with Big Finish! This months release sees him in Wave of Destruction but was the release a tidal wave of tremendousness or did it rain on our parade?
A modulated frequency wave cancellation signal isn’t something that the Doctor and Romana expect to detect in 1960s London. But then they don’t expect to find Professor Lanchester, the man who invented it, lying unconscious. Or MI5 investigating.
With the help of MI5 Agent Miller, Lanchester’s daughter Jill, and his nephew a pirate radio DJ called Mark, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 investigate. They soon discover that there is more at risk than they imagined, and an alien invasion is about to begin.
Can the Doctor identify and defeat the aliens in time? Will Romana manage to find a recombinant transducer before it’s too late? And how will K-9 cope with his new job?
I admit that I love the Fourth Doctor; however due to me be a student, sadly I haven’t been able to purchase many of the Fourth Doctor adventures from Big Finish before. However, as this is the start of the Fourth Doctor Adventure’s fourth series, I thought that Wave of Destruction would be the perfect jumping on point. This series sees the Fourth Doctor, played by the almost godlike in status Tom Baker and Romana II played by Lalla Ward (this is the first time that Romana II has been in the Fourth Doctor Adventures).
The story starts out with great comedy that really works due to the great script, written by Justin Richards, and the amazing deadpan comedy timing of both Tom Baker and Lalla Ward. The meat of the story starts when the Doctor and Romana II stumble across an MI5 agent called Barnaby Miller, holding a gun next to the dead body of Professor Fred Lanchester. Initially listening to this story, I immediately thought of the Tenth Doctor audio story, Dead Air which also revolves around a mystery on a pirate radio station.
When the Doctor and K-9 come aboard the pirate radio ship, they meet DJ Ray Dio, whose real name is Mark Lanchester, nephew to the dead professor, the mystery thickens. Especially when it appears that Mark received a special tape from his uncle that might save the world.
Overall, the first episode of this two episode tale seems to be a lot of build up, exposition and character revelations; the perfect way to set up what hopes to be a more adventurous concluding half.
The second episode sees the Doctor and K-9 chasing the Vardan threat, (The Vardan’s first appeared in the Companion Chronicles The First Wave) and they soon meet with Romana II; the second half is still filled with the very Doctor Who mix of humour, suspense and downright silliness. My favourite part of the second episode was definitely the Vardan dialogue, the patronising, sardonic tones of supposed superiority were a refreshing touch for a villain. The Vardan’s seem to be the perfect type of villain to face against the Fourth Doctor; a race that doesn’t appear to be too serious, allowing themselves to have some fun whilst attempting to take over the world.
One thing that really surprised me about the second episode comes in the latter half of the episode, when the Vardan’s make the Doctor really, really cross. It was a great touch to let the Fourth Doctor show the fury of a Time Lord, something that we’ve seen more and more since the revival in 2005 with the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth Doctor’s especially; thankfully though, Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Time Lord is one that works both with the sublimely comical and the sinister.
As a media student who studied radio, it was great to hear Romana II panic at the prospect of having to present on Radio Frantic. I’m aware that this is something that is a very niche angle for the average listener to appreciate, but I wholeheartedly am able to sympathise with her during the broadcast; it can be very daunting if you’re just thrown into that situation without any preparation time.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed Wave of Destruction, I thought that there was much more to be explored about the audio trickery side of the storyline, especially seen as the story is told exclusively through the medium of audio; however I know that in the Fourth Doctor Adventures there’s the time restraints of the releases only being an hour long. Personally, I feel that this storyline could have benefitted from another half hour episode, but it still is extremely enjoyable and has made me excited to hear next months release, The Labyrinth of Buda Castle!
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For Wave of Destruction, I will give a rating of:
Should you want to purchase Wave of Destruction, click here to be taken to the Big Finish website. Wave of Destruction is £8.99 for the download and £10.99 for the CD.