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Audio Drama Review
Two thousand years ago, all civilisation on the planet Teymah was wiped out in an AELE – an Anomalous Extinction Level Event. Now, the galactic entrepreneur Lyam Yce hopes, at last, to learn the reason why the ancient Teymahrians went extinct – by funding a huge archaeological dig. While the Doctor probes a strange sphere found by Yce’s diggers, his companion, former Bletchley Park cryptographer Constance Clarke, agrees to help translate symbols written in the lost ancient language of the Teymahrians. And soon, they’ll learn that ancient Teymah’s secrets were best left buried deep beneath its shifting sands…
The middle release of this year’s Sixth Doctor trilogy starts off fairly innocuously, revolving around an archaeological dig on a dead planet. We seem to be heading into the familiar territory of cursed tombs and reawakened ancient evil…
However, as Absolute Power unfolds, it begins to defy expectations. In most adventure stories, there are one or two protagonists who are up to no good, while the majority of characters tend to be decent, honest types. However, with the exception of the TARDIS crew, there is only person in Jamie Anderson’s plot (the director now also turning his hand, very successfully, to writing) who is what he initially appears to be. To begin with, it seems as though the unscrupulous businessman Lyam Yce (Paul Reynolds with an American accent) is the baddie, but then it becomes clear that his chief scientist Aryan Wyke (Neil Edmond) is a pretty shady customer, too. Before long, we also learn that Yce’s fiancée, Florrie (Jenny Bede), might not simply be a gold-digging bimbo after all – in a turn that reminded me of Pamela Stephenson in Superman III.
Along the way, the threat level escalates, with the arrival of further antagonists including the alien Kohrbal (a great voice by Gary Martin). The cliffhanger ending of each successive episode is exponentially more dangerous than the last.
Miranda Raison benefits from some good material here, too, as Constance Clarke actually gets to do some code-breaking for a change, puts the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) in his place as previously only Evelyn Smythe was able to do, and finds herself embroiled in a forbidden romance – her very own version of the stiff upper-lipped Brief Encounter.
The production feels fresh, thanks to a cast of voices that are mostly new to Big Finish, and thrilling sound design and music by Joe Kraemer. Only really let down by an extremely convenient device of the Doctor’s creation, Absolute Power is an absolute corker.
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