Dethras reviewed

DethrasAdrian Poynton‘s Big Finish debut is the April 2017 Fourth Doctor Adventures: DethrasOn the strength of the first listen I hope this isn’t the only time we hear his work. It’s innovative, fun and is enhanced by some wonderful performances, including a classic John Banks character. You want more? Here goes…

The story

Here’s the Big Finish synopsis from the Dethras product page:

In the control room of a World War 2 submarine something strange has started to happen. As the ship runs out of control, its crew begin to fall unconscious…

Finding the submarine in the last place they’d have expected, the Doctor and Romana are confronted by a mystery. Once fully populated, there are now only three men on board. And there’s now also a chimpanzee. 

What has happened to the rest of the crew? What are the strange noises they can hear outside the hull? 

And most importantly, who, or what, is Dethras?

So it’s a mystery and a curious one at that; the setting of the submarine is a mere taster for the larger puzzle and before the tale is told it covers ambition, war, science and secrets. I won’t reveal exactly who is who or what is what, but the set of characters cover all the bases you might hope.

Of course the action doesn’t stay only on the submarine, but moves into a more science fiction setting, during which the Doctor and Romana get separated (of course). There’s no K9, unlike other titles in this season of Fourth Doctor Adventures, instead we have friends, foes and neutrals in the mix, and this gives a nice texture to the tale. On some levels it’s a pretty standard Doctor Who, but that’s only one facet of an intricate adventure told at great pace.

The storytelling

John Banks is superb as Franklin, but that is not to say any of the rest of the cast are lacking in any way. Lalla Ward’s Romana is well-crafted and whole piece feels of the era. Tom Baker’s Doctor is as delightful as ever, and Nick Briggs’s direction with the sound work of Jamie Robertson (including great music) all make this story shine.

Adrian Poyton takes some common ideas, puts them in a novel situation and populates with some intriguing characters. I can’t ask for anything more!

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