Ravenous 3 is the latest eighth Doctor four story boxset in the Ravenous series. It’s worth recapping the more recent eighth Doctor series as there are several currently running. The Ravenous series will be four boxsets of stories for Paul McGann’s Doctor in the company of Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) and Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan). The idea is the Ravenous is (another) mythical monster from deep in Time Lord history and the key thing to know is they eat Time Lords. Not nice. This set follows on from the Doom Coalition set of stories with the same TARDIS team and an enemy in the form of the Eleven (Mark Bonnar) an evil immoral Time Lord who on regeneration keeps all past personalities in his mind and they argue amongst themselves and fight for control of the one body.
Back to Ravenous 3. In the first story, Deeptime Frontier, writer Matt Fitton starts to bring some depth to the Ravenous as a foe, in a story set on board a Time Lord vortex exploring vessel. It does a good job of bridging this set to the last though the Ravenous are mostly judged by their impact on Time Lords, and even the Doctor loses almost all his confidence when faced with these mythological nightmares.
Next up, a pair of stories that park the idea of the Ravenous and are (as in the previous volume) the most accessible and entertaining in the set. John Dorney’s Companion Piece is destined to become a fan favourite as it puts the Doctor offstage and instead wheels in the Nine (think Eleven minus two) played with much menace by John Heffernan. The Nine has a hobby, and it’s not good, not if you’ve ever travelled with the Doctor. In this splendidly entertaining tale, River Song (Alex Kingston) joins Liv and Helen alongside the eighth Doctor’s first ever Big Finish companion Charley Pollard (India Fisher) and his next companion (it’s a time travel universe after all) Bliss (Rakhee Thakrar). It’s a great story about mania, deception and team work as the five companions take on the Nine and almost impossible odds. It’s a classic story, very well told and packed to the rafters with Easter Eggs. There’s even one hidden in plain sight (if you know where to look) but most listeners will be surprised when they hear it, and moved to mutter ‘John Dorney, you clever, clever bl*ke’. And they’d be correct.
Matt Fitton takes the core team of the Doctor, Liv and Helen on a trip to Earth in L.E.G.E.N.D. and a meeting with the Brothers Grimm in the company of a new, and most unwelcome ally the Eleven. It’s a chance for Helen to fangirl over meeting the Grimms and a chance for Liv to make clear just how much she dislikes the Eleven. It’s a good take on history and fairy tales and really is rather grim in places.
The final story, The Odds Against, brings the Doctor and team back into the path of the Ravenous and we get a reasonable amount of exposition, presumably to set up the final boxset (due in October). There’s more deception, secrets and things take a turn for the cunning. It’s all set up nicely for the final release in this series.
As a whole, the Ravenous idea suffers a little from the dilemma of introducing a new villain as a chance to avoid yet another classic monster story, but not really establishing a good presence for them. It doesn’t help that the Eleven is such a strong, well portrayed villain he dominates the set given a chance. Liv is at times reduced to continually being angry, and Helen too fades when the Eleven (and Nine) take centre stage. Some of this may be a matter of taste, while John Dorney’s multi-companion story is the one fans are likely to remember for longest and is almost worth the price of the set on its own.