After many years, the Sixth Doctor finally gets a full rematch with Sil, a nasty little slug-like creature whose only drive in life is greed, self-fulfilment and profit. And boy was it worth the wait.
Antidote to Oblivion finds the Doctor and his friend Flip answering a Time Lord distress call which brings them to future London, one where Sill has established some dastardly business dealings to extort money from the local populace. But this time around, Sil has bigger plans that have moved far beyond merely grasping at small amounts of currency, this time he’s got a bigger business transaction in motion and it may just result in the general genocide of the population of the planet.
Writer Philip Martin returns to the Doctor Who fold to start Big Finish off in 2014 and manages to successfully offer a fresh and yet still familiar story for Sil the Mentor to act at his most ruthless. Serving as a sequel to not only the televised Sixth Doctor stories Vengeance on Varos and The Trial of a Time Lord: Mindwarp, Martin also uses this opportunity to tie up a loose end from his story Mission to Magnus, which was unmade for television but produced by Big Finish some years ago under their Lost Stories range.
Martin’s explorations of body horror are used again here but rather than focussing on physical transformations as he did in his 1980’s Doctor Who episodes, the writer updates his scripts to give them a more 21st Century feel and mixes human experimentation with germ and chemical warfare, not only utilising his strengths as a storyteller but also proving the fact that he’s moved forwards with the times to establish what scares a modern-day audience. Episode 3 of this 4 parter makes for some very dramatic listening indeed as the Doctor and Flip are isolated together as they fight off manifestations of germs that mean to break out into the rest of the world. With only the Doctor and his friend using their will to keep the various diseases at bay, there truly are some great moments of tension for the listener.
Antidote to Oblivion also ties up some of the looser storylines from The Trial of a Time Lord, not all but just a few of the puzzling questions from Martin’s original segments that may have left viewers scratching their heads. Maybe answers is a strong word but certainly a few helpful hints to help to ease the pain of a mystery that has lasted for nearly 30 years.
Where this story really works is with the ever engaging performance from Nabil Shaban as the slimy Sil. Shaban still shines as the character and his relish and humour help to keep this story moving forward at all times. Shaban is wonderfully evil and tantalisingly sadistic in his scenes as Sil; his rapport with the character is second to none and is surely one of the most memorable performances in Doctor Who both on and off-screen.
This is not only a fun and riveting start to the 2014 Big Finish Doctor Who range but also a much-anticipated return from not only Nabil Shaban but also writer Philip Martin.
Antidote to Oblivion is available from www.bigfinish.com now on CD or via download.