After appearing in last year’s TV episode The Woman Who Lived, Rufus Hound took on another Doctor Who role, as Big Finish’s new incarnation of classic villain the Monk, a role he reprises in this Short Trips story. Set during the Third Doctor’s exile on Earth, The Blame Game sees the Monk offering the Doctor a lift away from Earth in his TARDIS, an offer the Doctor can’t refuse. Wanting to see the stars for herself, Liz Shaw stows away on board. Naturally, things don’t work out too well, and the three of them become stranded on a mysterious spaceship.
The highlight of this enjoyable adventure is the distrusting relationship between the Doctor and the Monk, working side by side but trying to one-up each other; in this respect, the story brings to mind recent TV adventures in which the Doctor and that other rogue Time Lord, the Master, have been portrayed more as bickering old friends than opposing forces. Though his Jon Pertwee impression is far from the man himself, Hound brings both Time Lords to life with comedic energy. And, of course, we’re constantly questioning what the Monk really wants to get out of this trip…
What elevates this story from just a fun bit of banter, though, is its placement within the Doctor’s exile and writer Ian Atkins’ exploration of what this means for the character. It’s the first time the Doctor’s been able to leave Earth for a long while (by his standards, anyway), which causes him to reflect on where his place in the universe really is and how exile has changed him. In parallel with this, we get Liz’s equally emotional reaction to her first trip into space.
All in all, this is a fun spacebound adventure with well pitched development of the Third Doctor, Liz and the Monk alike – well worth forty minutes of your time.
SHORT TRIPS – THE BLAME GAME (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: IAN ATKINS / DIRECTOR: LISA BOWERMAN / STARRING: RUFUS HOUND / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW