When penning a sequel to Doctor Who story, one must imagine that a writer has a number of ‘points’ that must be ticked off their checklist. They need to take the premise of the original and embellish on it, they must make any returning villains bigger and better and they must not make the mistake of simply remaking the original. That’s not to say that that hasn’t been done in Doctor Who before (Terry Nation, we’re looking at you) but with a sequel. You have to be careful that your audience is going to find something new and exciting to draw them in.
Thankfully Marc Platt, genius writer that he is, manages to get the balance in Eldrad must Die! absolutely correct.
Forming a sequel to the 1976 story The Hand of Fear was never going to be an easy task to do, Platt had to bring back the eponymous Eldrad, a character that not only died but never seemed to bother the Doctor’s thoughts ever again. Doctor Who Magazine polls have not been known for their ‘bring back Eldrad’ results and yet now that the dastardly megalomaniac is back, it’s difficult to understand why he/she hasn’t been used more over the years.
Platt uses what we like to call ‘the Parkin opener’ with Eldrad must Die!, he has the character giving a short pre title tirade regarding his death and subsequent and imminent return setting up the feel of the story before the Doctor Who theme has even started, Parkin opened with a similar style for his Big Finish story Davros. But where Davros almost made sense in his musings, Eldrad is clearly insane, loopy and 3 sandwiches short of a picnic. By the time her appears in later on in the story, the listener (especially if they’re a new listener who’s unaware of Eldrad) is more than aware that this being should not be given the power that it seeks.
Platt starts the story in the coastal town of Ambermouth where the locals are acting oddly, strange crystals are plaguing the local wildlife and giving them some serious skin complaints and Turlough meets an old school friend who’s up to no good. It’s all very engaging and very quaint but this by no means lets the story rest on its laurels. The energy and pacing in Platt’s storytelling is always a treat and with Eldrad must Die! he bombards the listener with twists and turns, marvellous imagery and epic travels. From Earth to Kastria, no stone (or crystal) is left unturned, events culminate in a somewhat epic style and the story finishes as pleasingly as it started.
Overall, Eldrad must Die! Is a worthy and successful sequel with an extremely clever use of the title as the central plot and ideas developed by Marc Platt that may not have been successfully carried out by anyone else, extra points must be awarded to Mark Strickson as well, who delivers a more snivelling version of Turlough in this story to begin with and then builds him to a strong finale that cements his place in the TARDIS hall of fame.
It seems a shame that Eldrad must die, because from the world that Marc Platt has created, there’s plenty of life in the old silicon dog yet.
Eldrad must Die! is available from www.bigfinish.com on CD or via download now.