On the planet Arteris, the Doctor becomes embroiled in a quest
to find a missing holy relic, aided by a callous local warrior,
Lord Grayvorn. But the Doctor is not the only time-traveller
in the vicinity - he finds Iris Wildthyme in a nunnery of
few years ago, Reeltime Video asked Who on Earth is Katy
Manning? Well, on Earth she may have been Jo Grant, but
on Arteris she is most definitely Iris Wildthyme, who joins
the ranks of previously prose-only characters that have been
brought to life courtesy of Big Finish. As eccentric as she
was on the aforementioned Reeltime documentary, Manning is
excellent as the wayward Time Lady.
last year's moving audio drama, The Stones of Venice,
writer Paul Magrs returns to more comedic territory, with
Iris telling more of those tall tales that are variations
on the Doctor's own adventures (although we have heard one
of these stories before, in the Doctor Who novel Verdigris).
There's also an amusing double entendre or two.
a more serious note, in a moment of character development
of a type rarely realised in the original TV show, Iris and
the Doctor (Peter Davison) discuss why the Time Lord has lost
his former devil-may-care attitude. Davison reprises a Doctor
who would continue to grow increasingly morose until his regeneration
in The Caves of Androzani.
Stewart Head is somewhat less impressive as the warlord Grayvorn.
Obviously seeking to escape typecasting as the thoroughly
nice Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Head ends up
sounding like a gruff version of Prince Charles. Although
his self-righteousness is frequently undermined by comments
from the Doctor or Iris, this does not happen often enough
for the character to truly work as either a comic straight
man or as a serious threat to our heroes. However, Head could
redeem himself if he were to begin the next instalment of
the saga by saying, "Previously on the Excelis trilogy..."!
quest for the Relic brings to mind another trilogy that is
currently in progress: the Lord of the Rings series.
The effect that the Relic has upon those who possess it is
strongly reminiscent of the wearers of the One Ring and their
habit of calling it "precious".
story structure is a little unusual, as it lacks any episodic
cliffhanger endings. The only break occurs when you have to
change over to the second CD. Since this story is set between
Frontios and Resurrection of the Daleks, with
the Doctor (and the unheard Tegan) en route to Kolkokron,
the use of "double-length episodes" coincidentally ties in
with the original broadcast format of Resurrection.
with The Fellowship of the Ring, I find this adventure
OK, but it doesn't truly distinguish itself as a drama in
its own right. Perhaps it will work better in retrospect,
as more of the tale is told. Time will tell.