Another month and another Fourth Doctor release from Big Finish; this month sees the opening part of a two part story which will continue next month in the ominous sounding Legacy of Death. The question really is though, will The Paradox Planet make you want to invest in Death or will it be part of a forgotten Legacy?
Whilst travelling in the vortex, the TARDIS is struck by an advanced war machine – a Time Tank! Losing Romana, the Doctor and K9 pursue the Tank to Aoris, a world quite literally at war with itself.
Soldiers from the future are attacking the past of their own planet – gathering resources and stealing endangered species. But the past is not without weapons of its own – leaving deadly devices ready to trigger many years ahead after their enemies have been born.
Trapped at opposite ends of a temporal war, the Time Lords have two time zones to save. But who is in the right, and who in the wrong? And when history itself is against you, can anybody actually win?
Who would have thought that the Fourth Doctor would struggle with the fiddle? Well that’s exactly how this story starts. In The Paradox Planet, we’re reunited with the Doctor, Romana and K9 in the TARDIS whilst the Doctor is trying to get to grasp with the violin. We’re then taken into the meat of the story with what appears to be a preparation for a war.
The TARDIS gets hit by a tank in the Time Vortex, and everything seems to be very confusing and surreal. Jonathan Morris manages in the opening ten minutes to write a story that could easily have been written by Douglas Adams, with a very unique and bizarre approach to storytelling. With Romana split up from the Doctor and K9, it seems reminiscent of the other Fourth Doctor releases from this series, especially Wave of Destruction.
If there’s one thing I noticed about the first part of this story; it’s that Jonathan Morris’ way of drip feeding up information is very satisfying; as you aren’t given the whole plot and the solution in the first act; instead, the listener has to think for themselves and come up with their own conclusions, which I love being disproven later on in the story.
Having the Doctor and K9 searching for Romana really goes to show just how much the Doctor cares about her as a companion and as a friend. Some of K9’s dialogue, performed brilliantly by John Leeson is so funny because you know that K9 is just being matter of fact about everything and doesn’t understand sarcasm or any form of joke really. For any younger readers wondering what a modern example of this type of character is, think of Strax with more intelligence.
The cliffhanger to the first part of The Paradox Planet puts Romana between a rock and a very hard place; and she has a moral dilemma; meanwhile, the Doctor is left with a ticking time bomb looming over him, literally. This is what a cliffhanger should be.
If there’s one thing that slightly underwhelmed me, it was how quick and convenient Romana got out of her dilemma in the opening moments of the second part. The way that the Doctor’s predicament was solved however, was extremely touching and reminiscent of the events at the beginning of The Big Bang from Series 5; K9 really is a good dog.
Romana too, especially in the second part, gets to showcase some incredibly dry wit, something that seems to be a trait of the Time Lords. (That’s a good name for a future Big Finish story… The Trait of the Time Lords, Big Finish, I’ll happily write it!) Romana asks every question with an undertone of superiority and sarcasm, and it makes her character so much more unique compared to the Doctors other companions; both past and present.
The second part of the story is very engaging; making it extremely easy listening. Having the story being a four parter, rather than the normal two parter of a normal Fourth Doctor adventure has given the plot and the characters much more time to develop, making them more and more investable and engaging. It seems to me like the conclusion of the second part is really just putting all the characters in place for the events that are going to take place in next months Fourth Doctor Adventure; The Legacy of Death.
Tom Baker yet again absolutely captures the Fourth Doctor’s essence perfectly; people who have said in the past that he was born to play the part should definitely listen to his Big Finish outings to be reaffirmed of their beliefs. Even though he’s 82 years old, he still has a boyishness in his voice and performance that really does make you believe that he’s so much younger. This, of course, is helped largely by the amazing writers at Big Finish, who understand how to write for such a well established and loved Doctor and how to give the impression that we’re genuinely listening to the Fourth Doctor’s era on the show.
One thing that I had to keep reminding myself when listening to this was that it’s not just a story in two half hour acts like I’ve been used to in this series of Fourth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish; there is another half of the story coming next month in Legacy of Death. Personally, I feel like The Paradox Planet is like a timey-wimey version of The Doctor’s Daughter, both are based on wars that have lasted for generations with both factions seemingly believing that they are doing what’s best for everyone; there’s also a hint of A Good Man Goes To War in there for good measure too; it’s a very interesting mix that works extremely well.
Overall, I rather enjoyed this story, and with it being the first release of two in this narrative; it means that the runtime of this story will be two hours long; much like the releases in the Monthly Range. Even though I can’t recommend buying The Paradox Planet as a one off purchase, I have confidence that the concluding release in this story, next months Legacy of Death will be more than satisfactory. If you have the money to purchase The Paradox Planet and pre-order Legacy of Death, I recommend that you do.
The rating system on the GallifreyArchive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For The Paradox Planet, I will give a rating of:
Should you want to purchase The Paradox Planet, it’s currently available both physically for £10.99 and as a download for just £8.99, which you can purchase by clicking here!