2.7. Doctor Who: The Final Phase
I now want David Warner as an actual Doctor for a season….
If there is anything which televised Doctor Who has taught us, is that the reason this show works and works so well isnt special effects, it isnt CGI, and it certainly isn’t by using actors who don’t understand or appreciate the material. It’s held together by performers, writers and ultimetly fans who love and respect the material.
Luckily, in Tom Baker and Mary Taam, we have a TARDIS duo who not only understand WHO, but happen to be two of the most iconic and loved starts from the TV show. In Baker’s case, a convincing argument could be made that he IS the show.
After all, the image of Tom Baker, all curls, teeth, and the scarf was the defining image of the Doctor that many grew up with, hell, even those who didn’t grow up with him identify Tom with the show very strongly.
One of the concerns I had coming into BF was that with the medium being audio, perhaps the actor’s would be ‘off’ or maybe have aged past their characters. Thankfully, this was unfounded – Baker in particular sounds as if he was still in his pomp. A bit older, sure, but what is 40 years to a Timelord? Surely that’s how long they leave the teabag in the mug, isn’t it?
Now, I have to confess, I jumped straight into this story in somewhat River Song fashion – not realising that this was a follow on from an earlier story, wibbly wobbly tiey wimey, Biggy Finishy….
The Final Phase was the seventh and final story in the second series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. Scripted by Nicholas Briggs and starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Mary Tamm as Romana I, John Leeson as K9, and the legendary David Warner.
Sadly, this would be Mary Tamm’s final audio story, before her death.
So, what’s it all about? Well, The Doctor and Romana have been separated. The Doctor is assisting the Proximan fight-back. Romana and K9 are being held captive by the Daleks. As the countdown to the opening of the Quantum Gateway begins, the Daleks reveal their real, deadly plans.
All in all typical BF Doctor Who fare.
What’s Good? Tom Baker and Mary Taam, for a start. Both deliver performances that are not only equal to what they delivered on the show but in some cases, the audio format allows them more pause, more opportunity for variety. Baker in particular goes from clowning around to a snarling beast, a benefit of the more subtle nature that BF affords.
David Warner, what more can be said, than utterly brilliant, as he has been all his career. Its standard Warner fare – you know what you are getting, but by god, when it’s this good, how can I whinge. The Man is Ras Al Guhl, Eboneezer Scrooge and even Jor-El. A real, utterly classy, legend.
As usual, BF’s attention to detail in presenting immersive SFX should not come as a surprise. Indeed, the Nick Biggs voiced Daleks are at their most ranty and menacing. The effects for the Dalek ships are suitable 60’s Who, and the general atmosphere created will throw you straight into the TV series. Indeed, there is a lot to enjoy – particularly when material this well-produced is coming through a good quality sound system. So, what didn’t I like? Well to be fair, the subtleties and increases of the plot went over me a bit, but that’s entirely my own fault as I listened out of order, however, I can say that I followed what was going on and was thoroughly entertained in the process. To be blunt, chunks of this ade far more sense than the current TV series!
Warner’s Cuthbert, is another in a long line of fools who take the Daleks at their word. WOuld it not be good to get someone who knew what they were about from the off, who isn’t the Doctor?
Some of the scenes are repetitive, but this is a recreation of classic Who – let’s be honest, they specialised in repetition and filler. To complain too harshly would be like moaning about carrier bags and sticky tape being used as SFX.
Finally, would I recommend it? 100% I am going to go back and fill in the blanks and listen to the stories in the correct order, but moreover, if you want to hear top-class Who alumni doing their thing and taking the youngsters to school – this is for you. If you just want to enjoy Mary Taam’s final performance as Romana 1, or if you want to hear Tom, well, being Tom, or even if you are an old school science fiction aficionado who wants to roll back the years with a classic slice of the 4th Doctor.