Big Finish: Doctor Who Short Trips - I AM THE MASTER Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who Short Trips - I AM THE MASTER Review

Matthew Kresal settles down to listen.
There's something of a cliche about 'villains we love to hate.' If ever there was someone for whom that saying was true, it's the Master. And who better to understand that than the multi-talented Geoffrey Beevers? Serving as both writer and performer back in 2018, Beevers took listeners inside the Master's head in the Short Trips release I Am The Master, given its CD debut as part of the limited edition release of Big Finish's Masterful.

It has to be said up front that it's thanks to Big Finish that Beevers has become the Master he has. Having played the role on-screen in a single serial in 1981, Beevers showed great promise that he was never quite able to deliver upon until Big Finish came calling in the wilderness years. So it seems appropriate that his incarnation, and the man himself in many ways, gets to take center stage for this Short Trips release. And by the time it's over with, you'll be glad he did, too.

Like many Short Trips release before and since its original release, this is a character piece. But, as you might expect from it being written and performed by the same person, a most unusual one. I Am The Master is a monologue delivered by the Master directly to the listener. One that asks you to have sympathy for the devil, to see the world from his perspective for just a little while. After all, what harm can there be in just listening, surely? It's that price that Beevers brings to the fore, exploring not what makes the Master tick as a character but what it is that has drawn generations of fans and makers of Doctor Who to this villain. Along the way, it affords Beevers the chance to offer some pointed commentary about the nature of power and media, plus some wonderfully meta-references to Big Finish itself for knowing listeners.

By the end, of course, you might start to wonder just why the Master wants to tell you any of what you've heard. And it's here that Beevers pulls out one final twist, one which circles back to the question of what fascinates us about villains and the price to be paid for lending a sympathetic ear. It's a stark but brilliant moment that makes this Short Trips release worth listening to all on its own.

It also helps that Beevers is as skilled a reader as he is a writer. There's a silky quality to his voice that, despite the scarred physical appearance of his incarnation, always seems to get him where he's going. And this story is no exception as Beevers Master draws you in like you're an old friend around a fire, a skill which William Russell and Nicholas Courtney also showed in their Companion Chronicles readings. Beevers has it and employs it, albeit quite differently, with devastating effect.

Whether you pick it up on its own or as part of the limited edition of Masterful, I Am The Master is a Short Trips tale worth seeking out. Nay, it is one of the must-hear releases from that range. It's a story that offers a unique insight into one of Doctor Who's great villains, just who they are and what the price you pay for being within earshot of them. That it's not only told from the Master's perspective but is written by one of those who have brought them to life adds to how well-done it is and how much it's a piece of essential listening for fans.

Doctor Who - Short Trips: I Am The Master is available tp purchase from the Big Finish website individually, or as part of a limited edition version of Masterful.

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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