It’s time again to delve into the Time War with another Big Finish box set; we’ve heard the beginning of the Eighth Doctor’s efforts, the conflict of the War Doctor, and next year, we’ll get to see how the politics on Gallifrey will be upheld during this time. But now it’s time to see what the Doctor’s best frenemy, the Master got up to during this utter chaos. Today, I’ll be reviewing the second story in Only The Good, The Good Master by Janine H Jones.
The Time War rages around Arcking – a planet serving as a sanctuary for the sick and injured. But Arcking is protected by a mysterious, powerful force: a force the Master will stop at nothing to harness… even if time itself is against him.
After the events of Beneath The Viscoid, the Master has been summoned back to his old stomping ground of Gallifrey, but he’s not going to go there straight away. Why would he? You can have a bit of fun when you’re able to travel through time. The Master has seemingly found a new destination to settle down for a while. Oh, and Tyler from Torchwood is here too. I mean, Cole’s here. Now, I have no problem with Big Finish wanting to work with actors that they get on well with and can perform to perfection; but having both Cole and Tyler, both played by Jonny Green, sound exactly the same, with no discernible nuance in their voices is somewhat jarring at first; as I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not listening to Tyler.
Yet again, like in Beneath The Viscoid, we’re introduced to the Master whilst he’s in disguise; this time as a different Doctor to the one he played in the last story. It’s interesting to think that, when the Doctor isn’t around, and he’s not trying to take over the universe; that for one or two people, the Master is kind. The idea that Big Finish are willing to show the lighter side of the Master rather frequently is a bold move. A brilliant one, yes, but incredibly bold, and probably one that is going to split the fandom apart.
I love the fact that it’s not until midway through The Good Master that we get to hear Jacobi’s Master turn from benevolent doctor that he’s been portraying to the maleficent Master that we’re used to. Even though you can’t see Jacobi’s body language and mannerisms change as he seemingly drops the facade, you can pinpoint the very moment through his voice alone. This is why Jacobi is one of the best Master’s in the history of the show.
Once the Master has recruited a nice little team to work with, including
Tyler Cole, you realise that the Master having any sort of team naturally puts you on edge. When the Doctor has a band of friends, you know that the Doctor will do everything in his power to keep them safe; but when it’s the Master at the helm… let’s just say, it’s a hell of a lot more unnerving. Imagine of Moriarty in Sherlock actually got his own “live-in one”.
Luckily, Cole seems to be one hell of a pilot, and the Master seems to actually require him. Cole should be safe for now then. Plus, I know for a fact he’s on the cover of the next story, The Sky Man, so he’s probably going to live until then at least. Hopefully. (Mainly for my friend, Tom Dix’s sake.)
Around the fifty minute mark, there’s an event that takes place the could potentially shape the rest of the War Master stories from here on in. Now, I’m writing this before listening to The Sky Man, so I have no foreknowledge of what is going to happen, but I can’t help but wonder if the prophesying that goes on in The Good Master will actually be the seeds of a War Master arc being planted. That would be really freaking cool.
The final moments of The Good Master show a side of the Master, that, even though I’ve become somewhat slightly accustomed to the idea of a “good Master, I didn’t expect. Good Master I can deal with, seemingly genuine compassionate Master? That’s just odd. It’s strange; one part of me is rooting for the War Master, whereas the other part of me is just waiting to be proven wrong, and for him to come out and murder everyone and everything whilst doing a little jig. Only time will tell…
Overall, The Good Master is yet another strong story in The War Master: Only The Good. Considering that this is only Janine H. Jones’ second writing credit for Big Finish (with the other being the Torchwood story Zero Hour), I think it’s safe to say that we can expect a lot more from them in the future. Again, Jacobi excels at the part, and Cole is a really interesting addition, essentially giving the Master a companion. Big Finish really are pushing boundaries with this character, and boy does it work.
Should you want to purchase The War Master: Only The Good, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £20 for a limited time on digital download, and £23 for the CD box set.