The Acheron Pulse continues events for the Doctor thirty years after The Burning Prince. Arriving in the Drashani Empire once again, albeit this time in his Sixth incarnation, the Doctor has popped in to see how things are coming along since his last visit.
But things are not going well at all, the Empire was flourishing and suddenly war came. The Wrath are a vicious bunch of uniform soldiers led by the evil Warlord Tenebris who’s hell bent on ruling over everyone and seeking revenge for his bitter past. As the Doctor gets wound up in an intergalactic war, he starts to wish that he had turned up sooner.
As mentioned in our review of The Burning Prince, Doctor Who can have problems when it deals with space operas. Names and places can alienate audiences, leaving them feeling that they’re listening to an episode of Star Trek or Star Wars. Let’s face it: when sci-fi does long names and distant planets it can sometimes fail to grab an audience. But Doctor Who always manages to insert its quintessentially English stamp on things that will always make the best of a space opera situation. The Acheron Pulse is no different and writer Rick Briggs not only manages to create an interesting story but also delivers a strong middle act for the Drashani trilogy in this ambitious tale.
There are echoes of The Time Warrior, with primitive tribes dealing with spaceships and space wars, there’s the Sixth Doctor at his best standing up for the little people and causing disturbances wherever he goes and then there’s the cliff hangers. Rick Briggs takes parts two and three of this story, which normally serve as padding for any Doctor Who story, and masterfully builds the tension of each one until the listener is begging for the screeching end-of-episode-sting to come in. It’s by no means a negative comment, Briggs serves up well layered storylines and then portions out the tension bit by bit until you can take no more and in a wonderful twist, it’s not the action that’s building up but the revelation about the characters of the story and what their plans are, specifically Warlord Tenebris and who exactly he is.
To reiterate again from The Burning Prince review, this story fits nicely into the Big Finish Drashani Empire trilogy that they’ve created. Does it work fantastically on its own? Hmm, well, not really – but if you take this as the second slice of a well made, three piece pie then you’re in for a treat.
The Acheron Pulse is available now from www.bigfinish.com on CD for £14.99 or via download for £12.99.