The latest Eighth Doctor / Liv Chenka / Helen Sinclair sixteen-disc epic comes to a conclusion in Ravenous 4. I’ve had mixed views on this series; in my mind it’s really a second set with the Eleven and the Ravenous have taken a while to come to life. This set also has more Masters than you can shake a stick at – this leads me to wonder if there is room for some decent storytelling. Let’s take a look at the stories…
Ravenous 4 – the stories
Matt Fitton gives us Whisper as the opener. Here’s the summary from the product page:
Seeking respite after their battle with the Ravenous and hoping to find a quiet place where the Eleven can recuperate, the TARDIS crew visit the Still Foundation. But all they find is a small band of survivors under siege from a terrifying predator. A predator that hunts by sound.
The idea of the Eleven not having all his past lives doesn’t survive long, and the first part of this shorter than normal story is dominated by how much Liv doesn’t trust him. There are interesting developments for Liv but the result is Helen becomes something of a bystander. This is a criticism I could also level at the Doctor for the first 20 minutes or so, but in the end there are some decent twists and a slightly grim story.
Planet of Dust
Next a second Matt Fitton story and the first of the Master’s incarnations, Planet of Dust. Here’s the summary:
On the parched world of Parrak, the Master holds sway. But he is exhausted and desperate, and his final hope for survival lies somewhere beneath the desert. When the TARDIS arrives, alliances will be made and trust will be broken – and feuding Time Lords will discover the Ravenous never, ever give up.
This is more like a standard story. Arrive in TARDIS, people exploited by authority and it’s the Geoffrey Beevers Master! Again a lot of the story is taken up by the Eleven and Liv but also the Eleven and the Master. Inevitably the Doctor is put to one side for part of the action and Helen while she has more to do isn’t as well used as I’d have liked.
There’s a deeper story of hidden tombs and betrayal, all ending in a grandstand, doom-laden showdown with the Ravenous to the fore. At which point Matt hands over to John Dorney…
Day of the Master
John gives us a two-part tale, Day of the Master. Three Masters, the Doctor, the Eleven, the Raveonous as well as Liv and Helen. If that weren’t enough he also brings another party into the mix. A god! With all these ingredients I was concerned it might drift too far into fan-fiction. Let’s explore…
Without too many spoilers, there’s a useful mix of Helen / Liv / Doctor and three Masters, as well as the Eleven and the god added to the mix. One thing I’ve struggled with in these Ravenous stories is how they are really dominated by the Eleven and the Ravenous become a bolt-on. John fixes that in this tale of origins and endings.
He pairs Helen and Missy on a quest for a god, while Liv gets to uncover the Eleven’s plans with the aid of the War Master. The Doctor gets the Eric Roberts Master, while the god appears here and there. The write-up suggests death and forum speculation has been leaning towards Helen. I will say this is by far Helen’s best outing for some time and yes there is death, though maybe not the death you were expecting.
John weaves a big plot, brings in an earlier story (to my surprise and it tied up some loose ends for me) but in the end I felt the Master’s were just too much of a stunt. I wanted more of the War Master interacting with people, none of the Masters seemed to have any view of what they’d done in the past and Missy’s reaction to the Roberts Master was amusing the first time, and the second but less so the eighth. Just me perhaps.
In the end it’s a clever story with a deus ex machina ending and perhaps a little unsatisfying. I get bored with the whole of existence threatened by this week’s super-villain but there is a lot of character. The Eleven is easily the most intriguing creation Big Finish has produced for a long time but for me the Ravenous themselves didn’t thrill.