Doctor Who: The Acheron Pulse
Written by Rick Briggs
Doctor Who: The Shadow Heart
Written by Jonathan Morris
Published by Big Finish
Two very different audio dramas play out the latest Big Finish trilogy, which features the Igris as introduced in The Burning Prince.
The Acheron Pulse opens with the Sixth Doctor on the planet of Cawdor, where the Drashani are mining Galdrium. When a strange ship approaches the planet with a devastating weapon, the Doctor must lead a rescue mission aboard the planet’s encircling space station.
The frenetic pace of the opening story slows considerably here, allowing several new characters to develop fully in the listener’s mind. Chief among them are Duhkin and Teesha, whose relationship develops from initial suspicion to a satisfying conclusion. The mysterious Tenebris (played by James Wilby) is somewhat less engaging, and his true identity is unlikely to surprise any regular Big Finish subscribers.
What does fascinate in this story are the Igris. Reintroduced initially as the unstoppable killers we loved in The Burning Prince, the backstory that emerges here gives fresh insights to the race. The concept of an Undervoid, where the Igris’ better nature is banished, is intriguing if underdeveloped.
By comparison, The Shadow Heart changes story gear back into First, with the Seventh Doctor pursued by Vienna Salvatori, a bounty hunter tasked by the Igris to capture the Time Lord and discover the secret location of Tenebris.
Presumably recorded after his Hobbit duties, this lively story gives Sylvester McCoy more to do than other recent releases, as he enlists the help of several rather comedic characters to evade Salvatori (played by Chase Masterson) and reach Tenebris before the Igris. The latter have morphed into a Judoon-like race in this tale, albeit with rather more murderous tendencies.
Taken as a trilogy, this sequence of stories is less satisfying than the previous Fenric arc, though The Burning Prince remains a standout release. The Igris have proven they have legs, and teeth, which may yet bring them back to the Big Finish universe, and Masterson’s Salvatori already has her own spin-off series in the wings.
Here’s hoping that after the inevitable Christmas confection, the Doctor gets another meaty multi-generation story arc to celebrate his notable birthday in 2013.