DOCTOR WHO: VAMPIRE OF THE MIND

PrintE-mail Written by Ryan Pollard

The second chapter in Big Finish’s Two Masters trilogy, this sees the Sixth Doctor and Alex Macqueen’s Master coming face-to-face in a story of missing scientists, Zombie-like minions, a supposedly haunted castle, and a creature wielding the power to drain a person’s mind from their body. When Big Finish brought the Master into their audio adventures, Geoffrey Beavers brought the same satanic glee and creeping menace that made him such an effective Master in his one-time TV appearance in 1981’s The Keeper of Traken. However, since 2012, we had a new Master to contend with, as played with relish by Alex Macqueen, an incarnation that was set in-between Eric Roberts and Derek Jacobi. We knew nothing about this Master’s supposed origins or how he started, but this story offers to shed some light on that when we actually see the renegade Time Lord going through post-regenerative trauma, just like how all the Doctors have experienced theirs during their first stories.

However, we still get the familiar tropes that have been associated with the Master, including hypnosis, adopting aliases and coming up with outrageous master plans, and once again, Macqueen gives a superb performance, exuding bone-chilling menace in the lightest of whispers. For this reviewer, Roger Delgado will always be the Master (Michelle Gomez coming a close second), but Macqueen rightfully deserves to be up there with the rest of them, despite only appearing in the Big Finish range. Once again, though, Colin Baker is on top form as the Sixth Doctor, but Kate Kennedy knocks it out of the park as Heather Threadstone. Heather and Colin have terrific chemistry, perfectly bouncing off one another, and even though she’s the companion for just this story, it would be amazing if there were more stories of them together again.

The idea of zombie-like monsters is clichéd at the best of times, but here, they are surprisingly effective enemies. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that this story doesn’t go the safe route of having the Master hypnotise of bunch of people to do his bidding as he did in the past, and when you find out exactly the true origins of these creatures and what happened to them, it just adds another layer to the Master’s ruthless nature. Plus, seeing the Master controlling Gobernar by being charming and manipulative instead of going for the old hypnosis trick harks back to Roger Delgado’s Master using his persuasive charisma to get his way in both Terror of the Autons and The Sea Devils (there’s even a nod to that episode in this story).

Overall, Vampire of the Mind was a solid, tight, straightforward story, focusing on a small group of characters and mainly taking place on a small island and the castle. This is something fresh as, with a lot of Big Finish’s other audio stories, their stories tend to take place in a variety of locations, but this does come at the cost of the story becoming somewhat repetitive in a few places. Whilst this does succeed as a standalone story, there are some key plot points that are introduced here but don’t get fully resolved until probably the upcoming Seventh Doctor story The Two Masters. Only time will tell if that story can do justice to two great Masters.

DOCTOR WHO: VAMPIRE OF THE MIND / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / DIRECTOR: JAMIE ANDERSON / WRITER: JUSTIN RICHARDS / STARRING: COLIN BAKER, ALEX MACQUEEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW


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