The planet Aoris is at war with itself – people from the future going back in time to steal from the past, people from the past laying bombs to kill those from the future. Stuck in the middle of this are the Doctor, Romana, and K9, who seems to have found himself a cult following (and not in the sci-fi fandom sense). That’s where last month’s The Paradox Planet left off, and Legacy of Death, the second part of the story, develops it with style.
Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor Adventures range has mainly been comprised of single, one-hour stories, but this, from writer Jonathan Morris, is one of the few exceptions; it’s a good choice of story to tell as a two-parter, as the time travel shenanigans render the plot rather complex. Morris handles this complexity well, though, keeping the twists coming but never letting them become confusing, and successfully tying up the story with satisfying neatness. The satirical edge to the plot – with both time zones equally complicit in their planet’s ruination – is strongly developed, and the tension is ramped up effectively as both eras launch their fiercest attacks on each other.
It goes without saying that Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, and John Leeson are on fine form, with all three leads getting major roles to play in the fate of Aoris – K9 in particular gets to be much more the star of the show than he has in a long while. If there’s anything to criticise, it’s that the wit which characterises Baker’s Doctor is less present here than in The Paradox Planet, in some scenes replaced by a little too much exposition, a consequence of the script focusing on spinning its plot plates.
Nevertheless, Legacy of Death – and this two-parter as a whole – has the feel of a very strong Fourth Doctor era story, with a bit of influence from Steven Moffat’s Who. It’s a bold, high-concept sci-fi adventure with a satisfying time travel plot and a good balance of silliness and satire.
THE FOURTH DOCTOR ADVENTURES 5.4: LEGACY OF DEATH (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: JONATHAN MORRIS / DIRECTOR: KEN BENTLEY / STARRING: TOM BAKER, LALLA WARD, JOHN LEESON, SIMON ROUSE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW