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Audio Drama Review
The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Nyssa to a vast pyramid, floating in space. A tomb ship – the last resting place of the God-King of the Arrit, an incredibly advanced and incredibly ancient civilisation, long since extinct. They’re not alone, however. Another old dynasty walks its twisted, trap-ridden passages – a family of tomb raiders led by a fanatical matriarch, whose many sons and daughters have been tutored in tales of the God-King’s lost treasure. But those who seek the God-King will find death in their shadow – death from below, death from above, death moving them back and forward, turning their own hearts against them. Because only the dead will survive...
The classic television series often found itself resorting to repetitive story padding along the lines of: get captured, escape, get captured, escape. There is an element of that in this new audio adventure, though it is more a case of: get ensnared in death trap, escape, get ensnared in death trap, escape. The middle two episodes of this four-part story could perhaps have been compacted into one, since – barring the notable exception of one particularly thrilling revelation during Part Three – they are relatively low on forward movement in the plotting department.
However, the production is carried off with such style that I am prepared to overlook such shortcomings. Doctor Who has done tomb raiding and mummy’s curses before, in The Tomb of the Cybermen, for example, or Pyramids of Mars or The Rings of Akhaten. Yet the stone-walled tomb, the deadly traps and the scuttling killer bugs encountered in Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby’s script somehow feel closer to the source material (or at least to the 1999 movie version of The Mummy), despite being set in space. This made it very easy for me to visualise what was going on.
Also helping to keep things real is Peter Davison, who plays the beleaguered Doctor with great conviction – even more so than his usual sterling standards.
For the most part, Tomb Ship is good, straightforward fun. Some of the explanations arrived at during the fourth episode seemed like rather a leap to me, but even so there’s plenty of life in the old dynasty yet.
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