Big Finish Review: Doctor Who - The Lure of the Nomad
It's the turn of Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor to headline the Doctor Who main range release from Big Finish this month, and he's got a brand new companion in tow; George Sear's Matthew Sharpe.
The Lure of the Nomad has been written by Matthew J Elliott and directed by John Ainsworth. It is available to download exclusively at the Big Finish site here and goes on general release on the 30th June 2018.
Here's the synopsis...
For thousands of years, it has drifted through space, unimpeded, forgotten, seemingly lifeless. Now, finally, it has been discovered.
Responding to a distress call from the mysterious hulk, the Doctor and his companion, space pilot Mathew Sharpe, walk into a desperate situation. The multi-tentacled semibionic Makara were tasked with renovating the abandoned craft, but now they’ve begun murdering their employers.
The Doctor soon realises that the Makara have been programmed to kill, but by whom, and for what reason? Finding out the truth will mean uncovering a secret that threatens the entire Universe.
I'll be joined as usual by my son Ben, one of the biggest Doctor Who fans in the universe. Warning, this review does contain spoilers...
Baz Greenland (aged 36)
The Lure of the Nomas was billed as featuring a new Big Finish companion for Colin Baker's Doctor. It is certainly presented that way as the Doctor and his 28th century companion begin the story discussing Monty Python's 'dead parrot sketch' (my respect for the Sixth Doctor's live of Monty Python and The Goonies goes up even more) before they are thrown into the mystery of a derlicit spaceship on the edge of space.
Writer Matthew J Elliot weaves a number of different mysteries and post modern references I to this tale. While the opening teases the horrors that befell the ship's crew centuries earlier, the rest of part one plays as a quasi-futuristic Changing Rooms in space (nice modern 90s cultural reference for you there) as smug narcissist Eric Drazen (Matthew Holness) talks of his dream of turning the empty Nomad into a luxury hotel, complete with the talents of a gaseous entity, Ruth Sillers' Willoway (made corporeal by a space suit) and journalist Esther Brak (Susie Riddell) who is trying to build her career by getting the scoop on the luxury tycoon.
It's a fun set up with a menacing edge, that gradually darkens with the discovery of a dead body belonging to Drazen's formal rival and the peaceful, robotic Makara suddenly turning into to deadly killing machines. There are shades of The Robots Of Death to be drawn from here but the murder mystery hook is another tease for something much bigger to come.
In fact The Lure of the Nomad really plays the killer robot pursuit angle all the way to part three where the Doctor, Matthew, and are forced to using temporal technology to hide on a time bubble, where they encounter Anna Barry's Juniper Hartigan, not glimpsed since the opening flashback. The jump 72 years into the future suggests that the tale will play out with the Doctor trying to get the others home, only to throw it's biggest curveball yet...and it's a woozy of a cliff-hanger...as Matthew's true identity is revealed.
Suddenly we're out of a time travelling murder mystery and into full end of the universe territory as Matthew reveals himself to be a member of a deadly hive-mind alien race known as the Myriad, that has been travelling with the Doctor for ages just to get him to unlock the device to bring forth his race. The shock might have been even bigger if we had had a couple more Doctor Who adventures with the Doctor and Matthew first, but the idea of the evil companion outfitting the Doctor is still well played.
This is one of those stories where none of the story's guest characters get out alive. The despicable Drazen gets to play the hero, going out in a blaze of glory to destroy the alien armada and there is something rather bittersweet as Matthew dies with the rest of his alien race, pleading with the Doctor to save him.
The Lure of the Nomad is a unique story that presents itself as a robotic murder mystery and then turns everything on its head. It's got death and destruction, mystery and tension and a doozy of a twist that turns elevates the story into something quite special. Colin Baker is on fine form in the best main range Doctor Who release so far this year.
Ben Greenland (aged 12)
I really enjoyed The Lure of the Nomad. It had an intriguing mystery and keeps throwing surprises at you, the most notable, being part three's shocking cliff-hanger. It had plenty of timey-wimeyness and a mystery deep at its heart.
The new companion, Matthew Sharpe(One T, sharp with an E), was a nice character that really fit with Colin Bakers Doctor perfectly, and gave the story some depth. I like how when the Myriad say "You've made an enemy today Doctor!", he responds by saying "Oh I have many. Even alphabetically you're no-where near the top". I also quite like the idea of the Makara being forced to kill, even though they don't want to.
It's sad that Matthew doesn't end up being a permanent companion, but he was good while he lasted. Overall, a wonderful adventure which is brought to life, as always, with Colin's great performance of the Sixth Doctor.
Between parts two and three are two music suites, packed with atmosphere, heavy eighties chords and dramatic, heavy beats that really add a sense of menace to the story.
There is also a terrific trailer for the next Doctor Who main range release from Big Finish, Iron Bright, featuring the Sixth Doctor in a 'haunted mine' beneath the Thames in the early nineteenth century.
There are plenty of interviews with the cast and crew, with some interesting insight into the characters, particularly the idea to start as a standalone Sixth Doctor tale presented as having a new 'regular companion' Matthew Sharpe - turned villain. There's also some nice insights from actress Anna Barry talking about her time in Jon Pertwee story Day of the Daleks and Jonathan Christie attempting multiple different roles within the audio. Colin Baker remains as infectious as ever, making these interviews as much a delight to listen to as the story itself.