Review: Doctor Who – 132 – The Architects of History

Architects-of-History-The-cover.pngTime to wrap up the Klein trilogy.

When last we left blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Seventh Doctor blah blah Nazi scientist for companion blah blah.

Anyway, things went a bit pear-shaped – who saw that coming? – and now the Doctor has to fix it. Now, given Big Finish trilogies can vary between awful (the Charley Pollard/Sixth Doctor concluding trilogy, the Key2Time) and gradually improving (the Stockbridge trilogy), it was a bit of a gamble as to whether the final part of this "seven years in the making" story was going to end well.

So let’s take some bets.

Hands up everyone who thinks this is going to be a classic.

And hands up everyone who thinks it’s going to be a steaming lump of you know what.

If I just add that this also features Lenora Crichlow as a companion for the Doctor, who’s going to change their minds?

Final fact: it also includes a race of intergalactic sharks who wander around in water-filled armour.

Last chance. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

Well, it just so happens that it’s…

Plot
The year is 2044. Earth is enjoying a Golden Age of peace, prosperity and technological advancement… but somebody is plotting to destroy all that. The Selachians, shark-like alien monsters, launch a crippling attack on Earth’s Moonbase, using deadly weapons from the future.

Help is at hand. A police telephone box appears in a Moonbase hangar. A time-travelling hero has returned in the hour of Earth’s greatest need. Now, Elizabeth Klein must fight to save not only the Galactic Reich but Time itself from the mysterious prisoner who has orchestrated these fateful events… the Doctor

Is it any good?
… 50% not bad and 50% horrifically awful. Who didn’t see that one coming?

There is, at the heart of all this, a decent Man in the High Castle style story struggling to escape, albeit one that’s been a little too influenced by the Doctor Who Unbound story He Jests at Scars. Unfortunately, much of what surrounds it is dross.

Klein has changed the future and the past through countless uses of the TARDIS she’s nicked off the Doctor. The result is a glorious new Third Reich, although not the same as the one Klein came from.

In this alternative reality, the seventh Doctor is a prisoner but has been doing his best to subvert the Klein Reich, aided by companion Rachel Cooper (Lenora Crichlow). Now, stuck on the moonbase with Klein, he finds the Earth under attack by an alien race from the future. Can Klein trust the Doctor to help her defeat the sharks?

Now, there are some very nice ideas in the first episode or so, and the overall story, which is full on Seventh Doctor manipulation porn, is clever enough, even if the absolute end makes you feel like you’ve missed a trick – it’s more or less a magic "get out of this moral dilemma now" button with no real observable effect except suddenly you’re out of your moral dilemma and you’re not quite sure how.

But the shark aliens are dreadful. Lenora Crichlow gives a reasonable enough TV performance as Rachel "the companion who never was" Cooper, but a diabolical audio performance. Her possible love affair with someone else on the moonbase makes you wince more than dad-dancing at a wedding at every level. And the final two parts could easily be condensed down to one part thanks to their massive amounts of padding from running around and future Germans being heroic in the face of those dastardly yet strangely talkative and obliging shark men.

So, with the conclusion you always knew would come to the trilogy tacked onto a story that’s ineptly produced, directed and script-edited, it’s hard to recommend this. Sylvester McCoy might be on good behaviour for once, Tracey Childs may be an excellent Klein, but this is once again a fall at the last hurdle for another Big Finish trilogy.

Let us then finish with a poem

As warning to you all,
in case you haven’t learnt 
don’t listen to a trilogy
because you’ll only get burnt.

Rubbish huh? Sorry. It’s beetter than Lenora Crichlow and the shark people of The Architects of History though, and it didn’t cost you a penny.

Price
Amazon CD: £10.74
Big Finish download: £12.99
Big Finish CD: £14.99

Cast
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor)
Tracey Childs (Elizabeth Klein)
Lenora Crichlow (Rachel Cooper)
Ian Hayles (Sam Kirke)
Jamie Parker (Major Richter)
Lloyd McGuire (Generalleutnant Tendexter)
Chris Porter (Selachian Leader)
Rachel Laurence (Feldwebel/Computer Voice)
David Dobson (Pilot/Selachian)

Writer: Steve Lyons
Director: John Ainsworth




  • Electric Dragon

    it also includes a race of intergalactic sharks who wander around in water-filled armour.
    Does the Doctor jump over them on waterskis at any point?

  • Robert

    I just listened to this. I liked it much more than you, apparently. I would’t recommend it unreservedly as a stand-alone story, but as the finale of what we can call a 4-part Klein series (the first being Colditz, of course) then yeah, I’d recommend it as a whole.
    I wonder if Big Finish will push a 4-in-1 composite.
    The only thing I couldn’t understand was how the Doctor made it from the end of the previous story to this one. Did that make sense to you? It made no sense to me.

  • Applause.

  • “The only thing I couldn’t understand was how the Doctor made it from the end of the previous story to this one. Did that make sense to you? It made no sense to me.”
    From what I understand, the alternative timeline Doctor’s consciousness is sufficiently experienced/Time Lordy that the true timeline (our Doctor)’s consciousness replaces it. But no, that doesn’t make sense.
    “I would’t recommend it unreservedly as a stand-alone story, but as the finale of what we can call a 4-part Klein series (the first being Colditz, of course) then yeah, I’d recommend it as a whole”
    I think I’d go along with that with the proviso that the ending is disappointing.

  • To be honest, I couldn’t get past the utterly dickish things the Doc did in this play. Arrange for fish-aliens to massacre the entire population of Earth? Sure, why not! Execute Klein? Yep, absolutely! The story passes that off as simply being ‘another version of the Doctor’, but that’s rot and I don’t buy that kind of total lack of characterisation for a moment.
    And what was the moral to that whole Klein arc? That nazis are utterly evil and irredeemable? That not even with the Doc to show them a better way or whatever, they’re still going to be evil villains just by default? I mean, wasn’t the entire POINT of him taking Klein along in the first place to prove that kind of thing was wrong, and that she could learn and be redeemed? This play isn’t just bad storytelling; it’s bad storytelling that can’t even stay consistent with the other parts of this stupid trilogy!
    And you know what bugged me the most? The way the Doc kept blaming Klein for everything that happened, when ultimately it was HIM who was stupid enough to take her along with him. Yeah, keep blaming her for just doing what she does; if she wasn’t redeemable at all and wasn’t ever intended to be, then the lives of all the people who died during this stupid escapade are on the Doc’s hands. And they just shrug that off by saying “No, that was a different version of the Doctor”, as if that will repair the fact that THIS PLAY SUCKED.
    *goes for a beer*

  • Mark Fradl

    Have to say I disagree – thought this episode was fantastic. There were some odd points (can’t say I totally followed the Doctor/personality/timeline switch either) but overall it was very well done – effectively epic in scope (nice references to dalek wars and such) but without sacrificing the smaller moments (like all the great exchanges between the Doctor and Klein)
    Even the most done-to-death Doctor Who plot device (the noble sacrifice of minor characters) was done better here than I’ve seen in a long time, and managed to actually be surprising.

Review: Doctor Who – 132 – The Architects of History

Architects-of-History-The-cover.pngTime to wrap up the Klein trilogy.

When last we left blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah Seventh Doctor blah blah Nazi scientist for companion blah blah.

Anyway, things went a bit pear-shaped – who saw that coming? – and now the Doctor has to fix it. Now, given Big Finish trilogies can vary between awful (the Charley Pollard/Sixth Doctor concluding trilogy, the Key2Time) and gradually improving (the Stockbridge trilogy), it was a bit of a gamble as to whether the final part of this "seven years in the making" story was going to end well.

So let’s take some bets.

Hands up everyone who thinks this is going to be a classic.

And hands up everyone who thinks it’s going to be a steaming lump of you know what.

If I just add that this also features Lenora Crichlow as a companion for the Doctor, who’s going to change their minds?

Final fact: it also includes a race of intergalactic sharks who wander around in water-filled armour.

Last chance. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

Well, it just so happens that it’s…

(more…)