Big Finish: Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious: He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious: He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, Review

Matthew Kresal visits one of the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe.
If there's any Doctor who has been particularly well-served by Big Finish, it's Paul McGann. While others such as Colin Baker have found their second wind there, McGann has gotten the chance to deliver on the promise of his performance in the 1996 TV Movie across nearly two decades worth of audios. So it seems fitting that the bulk of the company's Time Lord Victorious output will be centric to his incarnation, including a trilogy of stories beginning with October 2020's He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not.

The script from Carrie Thompson is an intriguing mix of elements, as the cover artwork might suggest. On the one hand, it's essentially a space-based western. There's a small town on a desert planet, featuring a sheriff, a salon, and a country doctor, albeit each with an SF genre twist. There are the strangers who come into town, the Doctor included, who will soon enough be stirring up trouble. And, of course, there's the bad guy, albeit one more in keeping with the worlds of Doctor Who than the westerns of yesteryear thanks to the Ood assassin Brian. One suspects that the listener's feelings toward the western as a genre will likely factor into their overall enjoyment of the story, but if you're a fan or don't mind the tropes at play, you'll have plenty to enjoy.

There's also, of course, the ties into the larger arc. For as much of a western as this is, McGann's Doctor gets into things via the mystery of a planet that isn't how it should be. One that he only just about starts exploring via his getting involved in the affairs of the story. It's that mystery and the sense of things as they shouldn't be, which sets this audio (and its successors) firmly inside the events of the Time Lord Victorious arc. It's a lot for a writer to handle in a story that only lasts the course of a single disc, but Thompson, to her credit, does so nicely with a pacey script, and some SF twists on an old genre.

It's also a release buoyed by its cast. As mentioned at the top of this review, McGann has been playing his Doctor on audio for nearly two decades now, and he is clearly in his element. Whether it's wandering through a desert, having iced tea at the saloon, or facing down Brian, McGann is always present and engaged in the scene. As the interview extras will attest, he also enjoys a western, something clearly on display with all the enthusiasm McGann brings to his performance here. It's as energetic an Eighth Doctor performance as we've heard in some time, and it'll be a hoot for fans of this Doctor.

McGann isn't alone, of course. He's got backing from a strong supporting cast, including Silas Carson, at his most menacing as the Ood assassin Brian. With his line readings and Ood voice, Carson brings out the dark humor and double meanings of his lines at every possible turn. In fact, if there's anyone who about steals the story out from under McGann, it's Carson's Ood assassin. Others fill in some of the western tropes, from Pauline Eyre's sheriff to Jack DeVos as the salon keeper, complete with American accents just this side of parody, but which fit the tone of the story nicely. Rounding off the cast are Misha Malcolm and Melanie Stevens playing the couple who kick the story's events into gear. As the extras reveal, this was another example of Big Finish's lockdown recording (outside of a single studio day), where everyone recorded on their own. It's something you'd never know listening to it, a compliment to the cast's professionalism and the work of director Scott Handcock and his production team.

After dipping their toes into Time Lord Victorious with the two Master-centric Short Trips, Big Finish's plunge into the event proper is well-worth a listen. From a fun script to an engaged leading man and supporting cast, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not is also a solid introduction for those who might never have heard Big Finish before. For both the newcomer and the long-time listener, there's plenty to enjoy in this release, and it sets up their role in Time Lord Victorious handsomely.

Doctor Who - Time Lord Victorious: He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not is available to purchase from the Big Finish website.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.

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