Big Finish: From The Worlds of Doctor Who - MASTER! NEMESIS EXPRESS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: From The Worlds of Doctor Who - MASTER! NEMESIS EXPRESS Review

Matthew Kresal spends time with a nemesis or two.
The 1996 Doctor Who TV movie has a curious legacy for fans. Having not led to an immediate revival on-screen, it nonetheless gave Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor a jumping-off point across various media. Yet while McGann found a lasting role as the Time Lord at Big Finish, his foe took a while longer to make it to audios. In doing so, Eric Roberts's incarnation has joined the ranks of Doctor Who characters and performers who've found a second wind at the company, including starring in his own box-set last spring. With its second installment, Nemesis Express, Big Finish offers three more episodes of Masterful goodness.

Like its predecessor, Nemesis Express is a three-episode serial. Moving away from a post-Dalek Invasion of Earth London, the set moves the action to a time vortex cruiser known as the Kairos. Only the Kairos isn't so much a cruise ship as it is a vortex-riding version of the train from Snowpiercer. Somewhere the gulf between the haves and the have-nots is both gaping and well-defined, with poverty existing alongside hedonism and extreme wealth. Not to mention an aural treasure trove from sound designer Howard Carter who creates landscapes for the different parts of the Kairos that are both unique but also consistent as parts of one massive craft.

Where better for old foes to face off once more?

In this case, this Master and "ethical assassin" Vienna Salvatori (Chase Masterson). The trilogy of episodes here is a return engagement for the pair, taking them down the length of the Kairos and into confrontations where who has the upper hand isn't always apparent. Robert Whitelock gets the ball rolling, seeing both characters arriving on board in their unique ways, ringing them to a young woman named Passion (Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter). Their encounters take them to a hunting party for the well-to-do in Lizbeth Myles' delightful Capture the Chronovore!, with its unexpected but welcome tie-in to the much-maligned Pertwee-era tale The Time Monster, and eventually to the heart of the ship for Robert Valentine's concluding episode, Passion. It's a solid serial from the pens of these three writers, with a clear throughline and character development for each of its main characters.

The writing is something which, in turn, suits its trio of leads well. Roberts continues to shine in the role of the Master, with these three scripts giving him plenty to work with as the journey through the Kiros social strata highlights his mix of charm, opportunism, and menace mixed with a street-wise sensibility. Masterson is no less solid playing Vienna, with this set marking a decade since her debut, showcasing for long-time listeners how far both character and performer have come in that timeframe by some of Vienna's actions here. Last but not least is Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter as Passion, making an impressive Big Finish debut here as a young woman whose running from trouble leads her into the crossfire between these old foes. Bobb-Baxter may be a newcomer to audio drama per the extras, but you'd never know that listening to her here. This reviewer can only hope she'll become a part of the company's regular ensemble of actors in the future. Surrounded by a small but solid supporting cast, the three firmly anchor this box set with their performances.

And the result? Nemesis Express is a more than worthy sequel to last year's Master!. Featuring a strong trilogy of episodes and a solid cast led by Roberts and Masterson, it's an express ticket to three-plus hours of thrills and surprises. In short: it's just what the Master ordered.

Master!: Nemesis Express is exclusively from the Big Finish website until 30 November 2022, and on general sale after this date.

Matthew Kresal is a writer, critic, and podcaster with many and varying interests. His prose includes the non-fiction The Silver Archive: Dark Skies from Obverse Books, the Cold War alternate history spy thriller Our Man on the Hill, and the Sidewise Award winning short story Moonshot in Sea Lion Press' Alternate Australias anthology. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, or follow him on Twitter @KresalWritesHe was born, raised, and lives in North Alabama where he never developed a southern accent.

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