The Eighth Doctor is back with Liv Chenka and Helen Sinclair, after the events of the Doom Coalition saga. Now, the TARDIS team are facing the Kandyman in Ravenous 1. Today, I’ll be reviewing the penultimate episode, World of Damnation by Matt Fitton.
Rykerzon is a maximum-security planetoid designed to hold the most dangerous criminals in the star system. The Governor plans to reform its inmates, with the help of the Kandyman. But two prisoners prove particularly troublesome: the alien fugitives known as the Eleven, and Miss Helen Sinclair.
The Doctor and Liv have finally tracked down their friend – but are they too late?
We’ve had two seemingly standalone stories in the forms of Their Finest Hour and How To Make A Killing In Time Travel, both penned by the brilliant John Dorney. Now, it appears that we’re going to be getting to the beginning of what Ravenous is really about in this story. I have a feeling things are going to get darker, with Helen and the Eleven being at the fore.
Let’s find out together, shall we?
Starting with the brilliant Mark Bonnar as the Eleven is a stellar way to begin this story, especially as it could well be an introduction to the concept and character of the Eleven to listeners who may have joined the Eighth Doctor’s adventures with Ravenous 1. Bonnar shows no signs of slowing down or growing bored with the character, which I love. We’re also soon reunited with Helen, who’s relationship with the Eleven seems to have changed slightly. I have to admit, it reminded me of the relationship between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This dynamic though, between the Eleven and Helen is so much more complex though. Imagine if Big Finish had the rights to Marvel? It’d be awesome.
The introduction to the Kandyman is really interesting too, it seems well and truly that the Kandyman can. (Enjoy having that song in your head for the rest of this review.) The Kandyman is providing inmates of Rykerzon with the best confectionary that can be provided.
The Doctor and Liv appear have managed to navigate the TARDIS to the right place. They’re surrounded by cells and on a planetoid on the outskirts of a galaxy. Certainly sounds like Rykerzon…
Things aren’t all as they seem though, it seems as if Kandyman has a pet that has other inhabitants of Rykerzon talking. There’s more to the Kandyman than meets the eye. (I know, it’s unsurprising.) Being so deathly sweet, both in his creations and his mannerisms makes him an incredibly unnerving villain to listen to.
I know I’ve talked about Big Finish working with Marvel earlier in this review, but I’m going to say that the asylum of Rykerzon reminds me a lot of Arkham Asylum from the world of Batman. A place, just outside of Gotham where all these super villains spend their days. Put the Kandyman in there, and he’d fit in really well.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Liv are being interrogated by a computer that is designed to determine if a person is criminal. Hearing the Doctor and Liv answer these questions that are designed to psychoanalyse them is really interesting; the Doctor especially. There’s something about knowing what the Eighth Doctor is destined to soon become that really adds another layer to everything he’s saying. The Doctor is the Doctor, and always will be, regardless of incarnation.
Getting the chance to hear Liv do what she arguably does best, and be a Med-Tech is great too. It reminds the listener that she’s not just here to be the Doctor’s companion, but she has a backstory and a career. She’s like Martha Jones in the stars. She’s in this universe to help whenever she can.
Let’s go back to the Arkham Asylum analogy for a moment (I apologise to anyone who’s never watched, read or played anything to do with Batman.) but another great comparison to the relationship between the Eleven and Helen is that of the Joker and Harley Quinn. You’re never sure who’s using who. Hearing how Helen has developed as a character, especially after the events with the Sonomancer, is thoroughly enthralling.
Again, I have to applaud the sound design, there’s a moment with Helen that’s quiet and reflective, and underpinned with a piece of classical music. Jamie Robertson’s twist at the end is one of the best audio treats I’ve heard in a long time. And it only lasts about 1.5 seconds.
The final act of World of Damnation is really intense. It’s also, in some way, a little disheartening. You think you know a person, and then they go and do something like that…
We get our very first tease as to what the Ravenous actually is, and when I say “tease”, I mean tease. I’m normally good at working things out from a little clue, but I am none the wiser. I love being in the dark.
Right at the end we get a really cute little scene between Liv and Helen, and hearing Liv sound finally content, after two stories of her pining for her friend, they’re reunited. Even if the Doctor doesn’t seem to enamoured by the revelation. I get the sense that everything that is being built up at the end of World of Damnation, won’t necessarily be fully paid off in Sweet Salvation. It seems that this is well and truly the beginning of whatever the main Ravenous storyline is.
Overall, World of Damnation is another incredibly strong story, and it had a lot of foundations to set for what’s to come. Matt Fitton has created some great new characters, as well as reintroducing not only Helen and the Eleven, but the Kandyman as well. Let me tell you, when I first heard that the Kandyman was making a return, I was sure that it would be played for laughs. He’s not. At all. I can’t wait to hear more of him.
Should you want to purchase Ravenous 1, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £23 on CD or £20 for a digital download for a limited time.