At the heart of the latest Doctor Who monthly adventure, the first in a fresh trio of stories for the Sixth Doctor and Peri, sits an age-old conundrum: can there be a time limit on justice? Memories Of A Tyrant takes the idea further, with technology which promises to retrieve seemingly long-forgotten memories, by asking if a criminal should be tried for a crime they may no longer remember?
When the TARDIS arrives at a space station colloquially known as “The Memory Farm”, the Doctor is keen to take a scientific tour, but it is Peri who is entranced by the potential of memory retrieval: she sees that it may offer her a chance to relive memories of her late father.
During their visit the whole station is on lockdown, all its resources devoted to one question: can the elderly Gaius Moro truly be the genocidal maniac Altrius, responsible for the death of billions? Currently the evidence is circumstantial, but the memory farm might change all that – and while Moro’s fate is decided, an alien space fleet hovers nearby, ready to strike.
Although relatively new to Big Finish, Roland Moore (who has an enviable list of television writing credits to his name) has been prolific, writing for a number of ranges including Survivors and Star Cops. Here, he provides a script which definitely kept us guessing, with more than one occasion where we were wrong footed. There are also a couple of superb cliff-hangers along the way.
Peri is well employed, with the story using her botany skills as well as reviving buried childhood memories. As ever, Nicola Bryant effortlessly returns to the role and it is great to hear this young version again, with 2014’s trilogy (yes, it has really been that long) having explored stories with an older, post-Trial Peri. Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor is well served too, taken out of his comfort zone as the story develops and provided with an amusing quip or two.
We loved the concept of the memory retrieval, particularly as the system supplies its own soundtrack – literal mood music – and how it considers memory, and how the memory can cheat. Among the guest cast, Joseph Mydell is superb as the conflicted Gaius Moro, while Diane Keen entertains as the Doctor’s friend, the colourful intergalactic lawyer Varish.
Composer Andy Hardwick provides a haunting score which mixes orchestral strings with spaces noises and static. Beautiful yet ominous, it is also well worth enjoying as an isolated music track which runs to just under 11 minutes. The extras also include some interesting titbits from producer John Ainsworth which speak to the development of the story.
With a thought provoking premise and an entertaining storyline, Memories Of A Tyrant serves as a great way to reintroduce the Sixth Doctor and Peri, as well as to gear up for the inevitable fireworks of next month’s encounter with the Daleks.