“Rocks go in, flames come out. Burn, burn…”
Landing on a run-down salvage station in planetary orbit the Doctor meets Vilgreth, Captain and only crewmember. Vilgreth is being attacked by tax collectors from the planet below. But when the Doctor discovers a time bomb on the station he realises that someone isn’t telling the truth, but who, Vilgreth…or his attackers?
With the TARDIS stuck in a furnace, the Doctor must stop the station from blowing up…..and then save the planet below from destruction.
Last of the Titans was the first in a series of single-episode stories to be given away with Doctor Who Magazine; one for each of the four Big Finish Doctors.
The first thing to note is that they’ve fannied about with the theme tune.
Why? At this point in Big Finish’s history they haven’t acquired the rights to use all the authentic theme tunes and have stuck with the same older theme for all Doctors. Perhaps they were thinking of creating their own theme to use for any McCoy stories set after Survival, but if so surely they could have come up with something better. And since they never use this version of the theme again, what was the point? I’d rather they hadn’t bothered.
I remember not liking this when I first listened to it and I haven’t listened to it again until now. I don’t know why I didn’t like it because it’s not that bad. Given that it’s only one episode in length it actually goes along quite well. There are only two things about Last of the Titans that I don’t like and neither of them are to do with the actual story.
One of them is the sporadic narration throughout the story. It starts with the Doctor telling the listener what’s happening as if he’s recounting the adventure to someone. Pretty soon though, it settles into the style of a normal full-cast play for the duration with only a couple more moments of narration. It’s almost (but not quite) a pre-cursor to the Companion Chronicles, which will happen several years later, the main difference being that the companions are telling the whole story themselves; putting on voices and everything. I don’t like the narration, I suppose I could cope with the bit at the beginning but after that it becomes a normal play for ages until, all of a sudden some more, very brief, narration pops up out of nowhere. It doesn’t need to be there and it interrupts the flow of the story, making it feel disjointed. And the fact that you never find out who the Doctor’s talking to makes the whole thing seem pointless.
The other thing I don’t like, and possibly the reason I didn’t like it originally, is Vilgreth. I’ve not heard the original Audio Visual version but I understand the character was originally American. Oh, how I wish they’d stuck with that. Instead, for some reason, Nick Briggs decided to make him come from Devon in the south of England. Oo-arrr. Apologies to any readers from Devon but it is generally seen as a comedy accent and it really doesn’t manage to break away from that here. The character is actually a tragic figure, an experiment that accidentally killed his creator and now has to destroy whole planets in order to stay alive. Not evil, he’s actually quite friendly until threatened. As well as the accent they put an effect on his voice so because, unfortunately, he sounds like Justin Lee Collins wearing a bucket, it kind of undermines that whole feel and makes him sound stupid and comical. If you can get past that it’s perfectly possible to enjoy the story.
So there you go, it’s not a bad little adventure. It’s the first single episode story and it works fine. It’s the first Big Finish story to have the Seventh Doctor on his own and it works fine. Okay, it took me ten years to listen to it again but I didn’t hate it.
Unneccesary narration and subliminal combine harvester advertising aside, it’s worth a listen. 2/5
The Doctor: Sylvester McCoy
With: Nicholas Briggs (Vilgreth); Lennox Greaves (Professor Patrick Trethu); Holly King (Mrs Burden); Alistair Lock (Stelpor).
Writer: Nicholas Briggs | Director: Alistair Lock | Music: Nicholas Briggs | Release Date: January 2001 | Running Time: 31 minutes 35 seconds | Number of Episodes: 1
Set Between: Survival and the TV Movie