A long, long time ago (in the Doctorâ€™s life and in the viewing publics), the Doctor and his friends visited a place far, far away. This month, Big Finish takes them back there for the finale of the Sixth Doctor and Jamie reunited trilogy. Armed with only an air of nostalgia and a slight mistrust of each other, the old team must make their way through famous literary characters and Cybermen alike.
And what a tale it is.
Speaking as a reviewer who has only listened to this play and no others, the overall story arc that gets explained as Legend of the Cybermen unfolds in no way detracts from the self contained story itself as the action and adventure unfolds.
Without spoiling too much, the Cybermen have ended up in The Land of Fiction and, as they would naturally want to, are trying to convert â€œfiction and lies into fact and logicâ€. These Cybermen are ruthless, with the look of The Invasion-style soldiers but with the mentality and sound of their â€œNuWhoâ€ parallel universe cousins.
Like any classic tale, the story unfolds at a neat and even pace. The Doctor and Jamie are trying to evade the famous white robots last seen in 1968â€™sÂ The Mind Robber when they run into none other than The Artful Dodger. This leads to a seriously creepy and unsettling cliff-hanger for the end of part one. As the tale goes on, we discover that famous characters from classic novels such as Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Dracula from…well, you know, have joined forces to wage an almighty war on the Cybermen and their Cyberplanner. Some of Legend of the Cybermenâ€™s most touching moments come from these characters themselves as we find out about the parts that they have played in the war and the losses they have sustained. Itâ€™s a true credit to writer Mike Maddox that he can take these iconic and well used players and add yet more depth to them then they could ever have thanks to a war that they didnâ€™t want to fight. Sound like a certain Time Lord?
And what of the Sixth Doctor and Jamieâ€™s relationship? Making the move to have Jamie return as an older version of himself rather than trying to remain the same age makes for some sizzling dialogue between Colin Baker and Frazer Hines. In a scene reminiscent between Sarah Jane Smith and the tenth Doctor in 2006â€™s School Reunion, Jamie questions the Doctor as to why he didnâ€™t return for Zoe and himself after the Time Lords split them up and why he doesnâ€™t look back. This genuinely tugs at the heart strings. And makes you realise why Big Finish decided to pair this particular Doctor with this particular companion. Jamieâ€™s blunt naivety has a certain way of tunnelling right through to the heart of old â€œsixyâ€ in a way that not many others ever have.
On paper, the synopsis for Legend of the Cybermen could read like an absolute mess of continuity (the Sixth Doctor and Jamie reunited, a return to The Land of Fiction, the return of the Cybermen, famous literary characters everywhere, the resolution of this particular story-arcÂ and even a few other familiar faces..) but when itâ€™s this well written, directed and acted and has a beautiful musical score to cause even the hardest of hearts to melt, you canâ€™t help but applaud Big Finish and all involved for their effort.
Buy this, buy it now and place it on your bookshelf next to your classic collection of books. Itâ€™s that good it deserves it.
Legend of the Cybermen is available from Big Finish on CD and download – visit www.bigfinish.com for more details!