Part of Doctor Who’s enduring appeal throughout the last 50 years is the Doctor’s never-ending thirst for adventure. Or, to put it in a better way, the viewer’s never-ending thirst for adventure. Be it the high seas, the centre of the TARDIS, ancient Gallifrey or modern-day Earth, every Doctor Who fan loves a whirlwind story that rushes breathlessly through set pieces and plot.
Tomb Ship is one such story that encapsulates the adventure that Doctor Who is all about. From dark catacombs to expansive environments, the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa brave the trials and tribulations of a vast pyramid in space and discover the ancient secrets in the final resting place of a God-King from a terribly old and terribly extinct race.
An enjoyable story that starts slowly, raises the stakes in the middle and then hurtles, full pelt, towards the end as if directed by Graeme Harper himself.
But no Doctor Who story would be simply good enough with just a few traps for a Time Lord and his best friend to overcome, therefore Tomb Ship throws in a family of tomb raiders led by a vicious and greedy mother who will stop at nothing, even sacrificing her own family, in order to obtain long-lost treasure from the previously mentioned ancient civilisation.
Of course, the show is sometimes at its best when it borrows and Tomb Ship borrows heavily. There are the obvious Indiana Jones parallels to watch out for but more interestingly, the narrative is similar to that of Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus. The ancient and angry race that may not be as extinct as the visitors believe, the threat that its minions pose, the ruthless parent willing to sacrifice everything to obtain a long sought after treasure and the fenced off setting with survivors learning to work together: it’s all here. And yet, despite all of these similarities, the story adapts well to the Doctor Who Universe, nestling nicely in the middle story for the 2014 Fifth Doctor trilogy. How ironic that Prometheus name checks several classic Doctor Who companions only for things to be flipped entirely around with Tomb Ship.
The story is an enjoyable one that starts slowly, raises the stakes in the middle and then hurtles, full pelt, towards the end as if directed by Graeme Harper himself. The satisfying ending leaves the listener fulfilled and full of buzz, ready for the next high-octane adventure to begin.
Let’s just hope that the TARDIS team have managed to get their breath back by that time.
Tomb Ship is available on CD or via download from Big Finish now.