Saturday, June 4, 2011


Cobwebs is the first part of a trilogy reuniting Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough and the Doctor, as offered by Big Finish audio, who are infinitely clever at inserting adventures big and small into the accepted Doctor Who (TV) canon. Cobwebs in four parts includes the hallmark of Jonathan Morris’ writing, namely an interest in timey-wimey, but achieves this in a much stronger plot than in his prose, I find. Cobwebs revolves around an interesting proposition, which is very fannish yet very appealing: the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough have just parted with Nyssa, who has stayed on Terminus to help iin the continuing quest to end Lazar’s Disease; however, they meet up with her (what is to them) shortly afterwards, but is to her some fifty years since she saw them! Nyssa hasn’t aged much, but that’s because, as she explains, Trakens don’t age at the same rate as humans, and this accounts of Sarah Sutton’s rather youthful performance. However, audio can more easily disguise the years that have passed since Sylvester McCoy, Tom Baker, and Colin Baker played the role; Peter Davison audios always need more of a suspension of disbelief.

The other unusual thing about these plays is Janet Fielding, who doesn’t very often do Big Finish. Her voice, too, has changed even when she tries for Tegan’s brash accent. Nevertheless, these physical limitations quickly disappear in light of the strong writing for the companions, who perform many of the same roles they did on TV, but in general with less venom and snappishness and more amusing one-liners. Though three companions were often too many on TV, on audio this is almost a blessing and gives everyone something to do. The rest of the cast is very small by TV standards but rather large by audio standards: Nyssa’s robot Lokey , the possessed computer EDGAR, and three researchers on the planet Hellhime, studying Rictus Disease.

For, so much time has passed that Nyssa has eradicated Lazar’s Disease (which she explains in typically low-key fashion) and she has moved on to other projects. Aside from the timey-wimey peculiar circumstances, this is a fairly traditional Doctor Who story of exploring spooky, abandoned places (there are so many ways to die on Hellhime!), and there are some wonderfully chilling touches. To explain them would really deprive listeners of enjoyment, but I will say there’s a fantastic first cliffhanger (J linked it to “The Space Museum”). Whether the subsequent cliffhangers, which hinge dramatically on the first, are as effective or just derivative 1. . . I’m in two minds about it myself. The story also continues on the Norse mythology that influenced “Terminus.”

The upshot, of course, is that instead of being able to drop either Nyssa or Turlough back home, the quartet are thrown into another adventure. This is the best Jonathan Morris piece I can remember, and all the cast do very well at building up an audio world. I would definitely recommend it.

1)Interestingly, J and I pictured Lokey completely differently. I saw something like Wall-E while he saw a C-3P0 rip-off.

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