Time Reaver is the second story of the first season of Big Finish’s Tenth Doctor adventures, their initial batch of episodes inspired primarily by the revival of the series. David Tennant co-stars again with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. The cast also includes Terry Molloy (Davros in a couple of the old TV episodes) and Dan Starkey (Strax the Sontaran in a whole bunch of the modern series).
After a very strong start with Technophobia, I have to say that Time Reaver feels like a bit of a disappointment. The concept behind the plot is game enough–the Doctor is outraged that a forbidden technology which weaponizes time has emerged again at a galactic transit hub. This device slows down its victims experiences, so he or she lives for days or months or even years in the blink of an eye, allowing for prolonged torture and that sort of thing.
But the plot itself is kind of annoying. The reason why this technology is around is because a teenaged (pre-teen?…it’s hard to tell) girl stole it from her dad in a fit of rebellion. She started distributing them to the trade hub’s rabble because she thought people would want to use them only for niceness and goodness, and not for crime and torture. Her repeated befuddled cries about this are unsatisfying dramatically and become rather tedious, especially when the location, a place called Calibris, is so obviously meant to be a hive of scum and villainy.
The comparison of Calibris with Mos Eisley is pretty apt, as the locale from the original Star Wars film is the obvious fictional forebear of our setting this time around. Calibris just feels like it’s supposed to be a lot bigger. The problem is that the visual effect from George Lucas’ classic of seeing all these alien races kind of casually mingling around together is a bit tricky to pull of on audio. We are forced to rely on icky vocal effects, like on the octopoid gangster Gully (a bit of a Jabba the Hut stand-in), or in other cases on awkward dialogue. Indeed, more than once there are bits where characters comment awkwardly on how many arms they have.
The adventure is still fun thanks to the ever-lively performances of David Tennant and Catherine Tate. But it’s not the strongest audio drama, as the secondary characters are bland and hard to care about, and the environment difficult to visualize.