THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIOS
"FROZEN TIME" AND
BIG FINISH CD#109
RELEASED IN JUNE 2008.
A virulent disease
that killed millions.
A missing scientist. An
ancient race of
collect and preserve
the dead. The
Antikon connects them
arrives on a sky
Antikon, a single
accident has already
set in motion a chain
of events that will
mean the death of
every living thing.
can stop it is to die.
The Death Collectors
Much like his first, Stewart Sheargold’s second Big Finish audio drama is a serving of high-end science fiction that does exactly what it says on the tin.
“I will not die listening to lift music!”
The Death Collectors. As one might reasonably infer from the play’s morose title, this play is about death. And it’s grim. Sheargold himself describes it as a “dirge for the seventh Doctor on his forthcoming death” and such sentiments do sum up the story almost entirely. Big Finish have even gone all out and had David Darlington record a stunning in-house rendition of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly to really hammer home the link to the (apparently near-imminent) TV Movie.
I really like how Sheargold deals with death in this play; somehow he manages to rationalise it without destroying its mystique. His Dar Traders, the titular ‘Death Collectors’, are the perfect example of his walking the line – they are creatures that live on the precipice between life and death; husks encased in machines. And they work marvellously on audio too – Derek Carlyle does a masterful job with their voices.
Most interesting of all though is how Sylvester McCoy’s moribund Doctor fits in to the play. As a Time Lord of thirteen lives, he confuses the hell out of the Dar Traders with his unusual “death signature”. There is a delightfully played scene towards the end of the story where the Doctor prepares to sacrifice his seventh life “early”, as it were, to save the lives of those on the sky station and also to finally put a merciful end to the decay virus plaguing Antikon.
Apart from McCoy, who is also on fine form, The Death Collectors features some impressive performances. Most noteworthy is Katherine Parkinson as Danika Meanwhile, a troubled young woman in the centre of a peculiar love triangle who becomes the latest in a long line of ladies to turn the increasingly broody seventh Doctor down at the end of the story! What must all these rejections be doing to his confidence? Unlike Jeavon and Genevieve, though, I get the strong feeling that Danika will have been regretting her decision soon after the TARDIS’ departure…
All told, The Death Collectors builds upon the dark and intelligent Red, Sheargold delivering another highbrow piece of science fiction that is conceptually flawless. Whilst it isn’t the sort of story that I would normally go for, it entertained me throughout and so, particularly for those who revel in the Jim Mortimore-style hardcore science fiction take on Doctor Who, this one is a must.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
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