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Audio Drama Review
The Point of Stillness – a place the Time Lords are forbidden to go. It cannot be drawn, it cannot be whispered, it cannot be thought. And yet somebody is very keen to reach it. Deep within the TARDIS, something unusual is happening. One of the ship’s oldest secrets is about to be revealed, and once it is, nothing will ever be the same again. As danger materialises deep within the ship, spectral strangers lurk in the corridors and bizarre events flood the rooms, someone long forgotten is ready to reappear. The Doctor and Leela are soon to discover that their home isn’t quite the safe stronghold they thought it was...
Well, this is different – for a Fourth Doctor adventure anyway.
The Abandoned is off-beat, as one might expect when it’s been co-written by Nigel Fairs, the author of several weird and wonderful Sapphire & Steel audio adventures and numerous Leela-themed Companion Chronicles. There are lots of strange speeches from strange characters, chief amongst them being Stephanie Cole (Tenko, Cabin Pressure) as Lady Marianna, and the regular protagonists soon begin to question their grip on reality and indeed sanity. This story is oddball in a way that Tom Baker’s television era never was – at least not until Warriors’ Gate came along. Actually, it’s more like the dreamscapes in Kinda. This is the kind of strangeness that, in the late 1970s, was only available to Who fans in those trippy Doctor Who Annual stories.
Here paintings have the ability to act as conduits, which ties in rather well with the Time Lord art depicted in The Day of the Doctor. This is an entirely coincidental occurrence, though, as The Abandoned was recorded several months before the anniversary episode was transmitted.
Fairs’s co-author is Leela herself, Louise Jameson. Together, they pick up on a few recurring themes from previous releases, such as the savage warrior’s tendency to interpret stories literally and her regrets over the death of her father. The writers also explore a mystery from Gallifrey’s past that I was staggered to realise had never been resolved – or even raised – in the series before.
Following a wonderful build-up, the second half of this audio drama struggles a bit, not really having anywhere else to go. There’s a lot of insane laughter, people disappearing and reappearing with a comical pop, but not so much in the way of plot. Nevertheless, this story dares to be different in a season that is somewhat short on surprises, and thus it should be applauded, rather than abandoned.
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