Big Finish Review: Doctor Who - The Sons Of Kaldor

The Fourth Doctor Adventures reunites Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor with Louise Jameson's Leela. However, unlike the monthly releases of last year, these stories are being released as part of a collected set of four adventures throughout the year, with the first four stories available now.

The Sons of Kaldor, the first in the seventh series range, is also available to download individually exclusively on the Big Finish website here as well as part of the larger 7A Series 07 Volume 1 box set here, the latter of which is available for general release on the 28th February.

The Sons of Kaldor has been written by Andrew Smith and was directed by Nicholas Briggs. Here is the synopsis...

Finding themselves in a seemingly deserted spaceship on an alien world, the Doctor and Leela stumble into some familiar foes - the Voc robots from the planet Kaldor - and… something else. Something outside. Trying to get in.

Reviving the robot’s Kaldoran commander from hibernation, the travellers discover that they’ve found themselves in the middle of a civil war. The ship was hunting the Sons of Kaldor, an armed resistance group working with alien mercenaries to initiate regime change on their homeworld.

But now the Sons of Kaldor may have found them. The Doctor and Leela will have to pick a side. Or die.

Rather than cram the four stories into one big box set review, we'll be covering each story separately. For Sons of Kaldor I'll be joined as usual by my 11-year old son Ben, the biggest Doctor Who fan this side of Gallifrey...

The Review...

Baz Greenland (aged 36)

The Robots of Death is quintessential Hinchliffe-era Doctor Who, one of Tom Baker and Louise Jameson's finest stories as they find themselves in an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery with mysterious killer robots that have evolved beyond their original programming. The Voc robots were some of the show's most memorable creations and it is a delight to have them return here in a story that finds the Doctor and Leela some time after Robots of Death without feeling the need to be a straight sequel either.

The two-part running time is perfect, finding the Doctor and his companion on an abandoned ship housed only by the mysterious Voc robots and a human crewmember in stasis. Like the story that preceded it, there is a great mystery at play here, with a number of intriguing twists and turns over the first part; the TARDIS duo soon realising that they are caught up in a human war on a distant off-world settlement, where the arrogant, elite 'Sons of Kaldor' have led a revolution and overthrown the sitting government.

The presence of the Vocs works in the same way as the Ood's continuing presence in Nu Who; created to serve humans, they expand the universe while adding a constant presence between the two stories. The delightful thing about them is that they can be heroes or villains, something discussed in length in the interview extras. And what we learn - and Leela in particular, who is as feisty as ever - is that these robots are the victims. Persecuted and hunted down by the Sons of Kaldor, they have fled to the forests and gained sentience. In Andrew Smith's taught script, he raises that age-old question of what is life? And here we find artificial intelligence that has evolved into something quite new; the Vocs paint, they feel, they don't want to end. No longer can they be considered property and metal and that is quite a beautiful thing.

It is a well executed story and Baker and Jameson are on fine form throughout, living and breathing these old characters in way that takes you right back to that Hinchliffe era of Doctor Who. Martha Cope delivers a strong resolute performance as Commander Lind, the last survivor of the surveillance ship and Oliver Dimsdale is bold and threatening as Rebben Tace, a member of the Sons of Kaldor, who plays a menacing villain without ever becoming too hammy. But it is Toby Hadoke's V26 and John Dorney's SV9 that are the life and soul of this story, perfectly capturing the robotic performances from The Robots of Death while still acting in a manner that makes you feel for their plight.

As an opening story to the seventh series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures, The Sons of Kaldor is a real treat and if you can't afford the whole box set, this story is worth downloading alone.  

Ben Greenland (aged 11)

The return of the Voc robots was always going to happen, first in Sylvester McCoy audio Robophobia and Tom Baker novel Corpse Marker. They were great in The Robots of Death and they are great here too.

I really liked the concept of robot evolution; it was fascinating and I loved that the robots weren't the villains this time round. The mystery at the beginning intrigued me. The sons of Kaldor were a fitting villain and developed a real vengeance against the robots. SV9 was the hero of the story, the Voc to start the evolution concept among the robots. I must say it was a strong start to the year of 2018 with Tom Baker.

The Extras...

A handful of interviews that are always a delight when Tom Baker is involved; he is a character in person as he is the Doctor. There are some lovely moments as Louise Jameson recounts her days filming The Robots of Death and great insight in Andrew Smith's concept for this story and his love of Doctor Who. Every set of interviews offer a fascinating insight into the making of Doctor Who audios for Big Finish and these are no different, capping off an excellent first installment in The Fourth Doctor Adventures series seven.

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