This is exciting isn’t it? A new box set from Big Finish that introduces the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors to New-Who monsters! The Fifth Doctor against the Weeping Angels, the Sixth Doctor with the Judoon, Seven meets the Sycorax and the Eighth Doctor is amidst the Time War with a new batch of Sontarans. Today, we’re reviewing the second story in this box set, Judoon In Chains.
The Sixth Doctor is no stranger to courtroom drama, but faces a very different challenge when he prepares to defend a most unusual Judoon.
After an environmental clearance mission goes wrong, Captain Kybo of the Nineteenth Judoon Interplantary Force is stranded in Victorian England, bound in chains, an exhibit in a circus show. But he has allies: Eliza Jenkins – known to audiences as ‘Thomasina Thumb’ – and the larger-than-life ‘clown’ in the colourful coat.
Uncovering a trail of injustice and corruption, the Doctor and Kybo soon find themselves on trial for their lives…
Ko, blo, sho, tho, maho, grato, shmo, fo, detho, cro, vo, quo, po, perdo, no? Dro, bethro, kero, muto!
Sorry about that, it seems that I was starting to write my review for the Judoon and forgot to put on auto-translate, my sincerest apologies!
[Translate remaining review into Earth English.]
The Sixth Doctor has a special relationship with Victorian England doesn’t he? He seems to like hanging out with Henry Gordon Jago and George Litefoot a lot, and now he’s defending Captain Kybo, a Judoon who is being trailed for desertion, in court. This isn’t going to be straightforward is it?
We’ve seen a Judoon platoon on the moon before, in Smith and Jones, but now we have a Judoon platoon on Mars. They like letting a few humans go on intergalactic field trips don’t they?
Before I really get into this review, I must commend Nick Briggs for the Judoon voices that he provides; being a gruff sounding race must really hurt his throat and vocal chords, especially when he’s trying to give different Judoon different voices. He’s a trooper is Mr. Briggs, isn’t he?
It seems as if most of the story is told in a flashback, describing the events to the jury of Judoon of Kybo’s supposed desertion. Even though, after a small while, we learn that Kybo is indeed guilty of the crime he is reported to have committed.
Of course, it’s not long before the Doctor in his technicolour coat locates Kybo’s distress signal and tries to help. Of course, with it being the Doctor who tries to help, it’s not long before things go awry. (I love that word, it’s such a good word.)
Part of the Sixth Doctor’s expanded history (outside of the TV show) that is so brilliant, is how significantly different his companions are. Sure, the Fourth Doctor had a tin dog, the Fifth Doctor briefly had a rubbish robot (sorry Kamelion), but it’s the Sixth Doctor who has had a badass shapeshifter who likes being a penguin, and now, a Judoon. The Sixth Doctor certainly has no preconceptions.
The people of Victorian England on the other hand, aren’t as tolerant to those who are different to them. As soon as Kybo arrives on Earth, the folk begin to attack him. Luckily, one man is there to help Kybo out, Mr. Jonathon Jaggers (he’s got the moves, don’t you know?) a showman who seems to want to exploit Kybo’s ‘deformity’.
Once the Sixth Doctor lands on Earth, it seems as if it’s a game of cat and mouse with the Doctor trying his best to find Kybo and get him to safety. The only problem is, the TARDIS isn’t the most reliable ship in the universe and he’s arrived a week later than he intended. Luckily for the Doctor, Jaggers doesn’t intend to keep Kybo a secret; meaning that he’s not too hard to find. Just head towards the Freak Show!
Who knew a Judoon could laugh? The Sixth Doctor didn’t believe it either. One thing I must thank Simon Barnard and Paul Morris for is adding a lot to the mythos of the Space Rhino Police. It’s nice for a Judoon to have a bit more of a personality than the average member of their society. Also, who knew how much fun it would be to hear Colin Baker say the word ‘Judoonese’?
When I first read the synopsis for Judoon In Chains, I had no idea it would be so focussed on teaching Kybo how to speak English and writing poetry. Big Finish love producing stories that take you to places you would never expect. An eloquent Judoon, who would have thought it?
It’s a shame that not all Judoon are as in touch with their emotions as Kybo is. This is not a story without loss of life. Luckily, the Doctor manages to save a few lives by telling the Judoon that they must first take a tour of the Freak Show, which they do. It’s not every day you can scare away a whole fleet of Judoon with a common fairground attraction. I’m not saying which one, but you might be able to work it out for yourself.
Kybo is quite honestly one of the most intriguing characters Doctor Who has ever produced. Thank you Big Finish for bringing him to life. Kybo is a Judoon who has truly discovered the beauty and the wonder of the universe, and he has been able to express himself on Earth, free from the jurisdiction of the Judoon. (That’s a good title, just saying.)
Once we’re back in the courtroom, we’re given the conclusion of the court case, which also uncovers the Doctor’s motives and his deceptions. The final act in the courtroom, which starts after the one hour mark, seems to be slightly excessive and unneeded. In fact, I would go as far to say that everything involving the Genesis Corporation seems somewhat unnecessary.
Overall, Judoon In Chains is a great story, which is much more of a two-hander between the Doctor and Kybo than I anticipated. If you liked the epic The Trial of a Time Lord, then I think that this might be a Sixth Doctor story that you will absolutely adore. I only hope that Captain Kybo might make an appearance in Big Finish again soon. I want to hear him recite more poetry.
Should you want to purchase Judoon In Chains, it’s currently available as part of the Classic Doctors, New Monsters box set from Big Finish which can be purchased here for £20.00 for either the CD or the download.