March’s Tom Baker-starring Doctor Who offering from Big Finish War Against the Laan does exactly what the title says on the tin.
Following on from the fantastic build up that The Sands of Life gave us, the story goes more action orientated here in its final 2 parts as political tensions on Earth between newly elected President Sheridan Moorkurk and ruthless business tycoon Cuthbert reach boiling point as the Laan decide that they will give birth in the deserts of the planet.
But the species has got it all wrong, because they’ve interfered with Cuthbert’s earlier experiment in space, by mistake, they’ve become disoriented and mistaken Earth for their usual breeding planet. This wouldn’t be such a problem if said reproduction didn’t threaten to wipe out mankind. But never fear because the Doctor and Romana are at hand to save the day. Even if Cuthbert only has revenge on his mind.
To say that War Against the Laan is one of Nick Briggs’ finest scripts at Big Finish to date is no understatement. It’s bold, witty, exciting and satisfying as well. President Moorkurk, who started this adventure with a weaker will than most really stands out as she sticks two fingers up at Cuthbert in defiance when his petty plan of vengeance almost destroys the Earth. She’s quite the character and it would be wonderful to see her return in a future Big Finish Doctor Who, whether it’s alongside the Fourth Doctor or a future incarnation.
Of course, the main player in this story is the as-ever-brilliant David Warner who manages to really sell the snide and vindictive Cuthbert to the listener. He’s clever, nasty and pantomime boo-able but that’s exactly the kind of villain that Doctor Who needs now and then, especially when coming up against the madness of the Fourth Doctor. Cuthbert’s comeuppance does come but it’s not a standard one as the character has to return later on in this series, it’s also a refreshing end for his character (for now) because it shows just how rooted into Earth society, and indeed its biggest players, that he really is. Those who recently saw Warner as the lovable Professor Grisenko in Cold War can enjoy his acting range here as he goes from nice to nasty; it’s a testament to his talent.
Tom Baker and Mary Tamm continue their unchanged chemistry and swoon through this play with effortless ease. As mentioned in a previous review, their respect of each other really helps to give these stories some weight and also helps to up the ante when Romana is in trouble.
Should you buy War Against the Laan? Of course you should! It’s got everything that you could want in a Big Finish play and sets up the series arc for its finale in a few stories time.
Trust us;: you haven’t heard the last of Cuthbert.
War Against the Laan is available from www.bigfinish.com now.