The Empathy Games written and directed by Nigel Fairs is a Fourth Doctor Companion Chronicle for Leela which gives us Louis Jameson and also David Warner (as Co-ordinator Angell). Listening to these in a rather ad hoc order (having just indulged in the Companion Chronicles third series sale) means I have already thoroughly enjoyed The Child so have set a very high standard against which to judge this. How does it stack up? Read on…
This synopsis from the Big Finish product page:
The present: Leela is doomed, trapped inside a prison cell of a dead race.
The past: After a disaster aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor and Leela arrive at the capital city of Synchronis, a world renowned for peace and civility. But an attack by a vicious creature leaves the Doctor in a coma, and Leela is persuaded to fight in the forthcoming Empathy Games, where she discovers that nothing on this world is as it seems.
The frame for this story (older Leela dying on a bed) was not explained though I may need to re-listen to The Catalyst to make sure. The story told is off a fire that gets rid of a TARDIS console room and causes the Fourth Doctor and Leela to land in Synchronis a society without negativity. The Doctor is attacked an hospitalised and Leela is left to join the so-called Empathy Games in which hunters fight strange rodent-like creatures in an under-city.
As the tale progresses Leela (chosen as the champion of Co-ordinator Angell, wonderfully played by David Warner) discovers that rodents can talk, take on faces and eventually that the way the society works is that negative emotions are transferred to the rodent creatures who are then killed to remove negativity.
Needless to say that Leela rebels and the day is saved by a deus ex machina re-appearance by The Doctor.
Louise Jameson is as wonderful as ever – Nigel Fairs really knows how to write for and direct her well. Louise has a wonderful range of voices and as a piece of audio drama this works very well.
Sadly I was disappointed in that the plot seemed not to work, memories of The Child spoiled my appreciation of the framing story (what little there is here compared to The Child) and I felt the Fourth Doctor was taken off stage in a clumsy way – again The Child is much better for me in this regard.
Over on Doc Oho Joe Ford has a similar review which is, as usual, far more detailed.
What did you think? Is The Empathy Games worth a play or have there been better?
Let me know
Tony, February 2013