He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not is the first of a trio of Eighth Doctor full-cast audio dramas from Big Finish, part of their contribution to the Doctor Who’s multi-platform event Time Lord Victorious.
Featuring one of the TLV’s main players, Brian the Ood assassin, the tale begins on Atharna. Seeking one of the Universe’s seven hundred wonders on this watery world, the Doctor instead arrives in a desert. Meeting spaceship crash survivors, he offers aid and takes the opportunity to pursues the mystery of the planet.
Life of Brian
Tasked with introducing Brian on audio – although he has already appeared in prose – writer Carrie Thomson’s storyline is fairly straightforward. The Doctor must bring the townsfolk onside, in order to outwit the devious Ood. There is some history between the three locals, the Sheriff, the town Doctor and the barkeep, but it feels undercooked and leads to a rather perfunctory sacrifice. More engaging is the paring of Sophie and Felicity, lovers on the run from a disgruntled parent.
More interesting still is Artharna itself, which the Doctor expected to be an ocean world. With no fulsome answers presented here, we assume they will be forthcoming as the TLV storyline develops.
An Ood Less Ordinary
Paul McGann is on great form, as ever, but it is Silas Carson who really shines as Brian; this homicidal Odd, quite unlike any other of his species, retains that subservient, matter-of-fact tone but adds a layer of malice. He also has a dysfunctional relationship with his translation device, “Mr Ball”. In the wider cast, Misha Malcolm and Melanie Stevens are engaging as the star-crossed lovers. Pauline Eyre is heaps of fun too as the suspicious Sheriff Katherine.
It should be pointed out that this story is very much a Western pastiche; a fun take on the genre, more in the vein of The Gunfighters than A Town Called Mercy, and with the accents to match. But on that point that we are compelled to ask – why is this story so stuffed full of Western tropes, yet set on an alien planet in the future?
So, a great audio introduction for Brian the Ood, but lots of questions raised. Oh, and a tasty cliffhanger for the next TLV instalment, The Enemy of My Enemy. Roll on November…
Doctor Who – Time Lord Victorious: He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not is available on CD and download from Big Finish.