Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Nimon Be Praised! - Seasons of Fear

Finally back with Eight, where Big Finish prove that there's no such thing as a bad character, just a bad writer.

As I said last week 'The Horns of Nimon' is quite possibly the worst Doctor Who I've ever seen. It was a train wreck, and I was only watching it because of this audio, 'Seasons of Fear'. It was worth it. Big Finish take the Nimon, a race of minotaur locusts and make them a decent bad guy. They even make the Minotaur reference make sense.

Of course the main way they do this is by banishing the Nimon into the background and concentrate on the fellow their tricking into doing their dirty work. In 'The Horns of Nimon' Soldeed was a complete waste of a character, who had nothing to really add to the story other than casting Romana and the sacrifices into the maze. Sebastian Grayle on the other hand is a villain worthy of the Doctor. More than that, it's another one of those fantastic villain ideas that's hard to believe hadn't been done before.

Admittedly it might have been, and in a way 'City of Death' comes close with the Count being reincarnated across time. But I've yet to see an immortal that the Doctor repeatedly runs into throughout history. In stopping the Nimon's plans the Doctor being forced time and again to foil Grayle's, and while it's a passing moment for the Doctor, these are life altering events for Grayle and with years passing between them, his anger festers and his hatred of the Doctor is played brilliantly. Add in a little timey-wimey with the Doctor meeting him with no idea who Grayle is, yet Grayle at the height of his hatred, and on the verge of victory just helps add to him. He might be one of the best standalone villains Big Finish have done so far.

They also do give a new string to the Nimon's arsenal. Since the Fourth Doctor defeated them several hundred years into the future, they now seem to have control over time, able to break the laws that keep the Doctor and the Time Lords from doing too much and even create a pocket timeline for the Doctor to get trapped in at the very start. With the laws of time broken the Doctor finally gets to travel around knowing exactly where he's going and what he's doing

It's pretty damn epic, stretching across hundreds of years of Earth's history, and my one worry listening to it what that Big Finish had raised the Nimon to the level of yet another time travelling evil race, something I am getting the impression they do a lot. But this is averted by making it serial specific, and timey-wimey. Which is fantastic.

Also, all that talk I've had of the Eighth Doctor movie being more like New Who than Hartnell, and the shift not being that big of a deal? Well the audios – this one dropping in 2002 – is really getting in the swing of things. This is now acting like a proper series. Laying groundwork for what's to come, all while building off past adventures. The standalone nature of the past is almost forgotten. There's obviously the long running problem of Charley being out of time, but that's irrelevant to this adventure (ish), but we do get references to 'The Chimes of Midnight' and 'Storm Warning'. Plus the second reappearance of The Hellfire Club, it really feels like the sort of storytelling we've come to expect with Eccleston, Tennant and Smith. Not to miss our first mention of Zagreus, a name dropped in passing here, but I know to be building up to a big crossover event in a few serials time. It's like all those Bad Wolf references all over again.

Then there's the ending, which rather than ending after dealing with the Nimon and Grayle, still has another ten minutes or so setting up the future. Questions are asked, people are killed, mysteries get deeper. Even the odd narration that McGann gave at certain points during the serial – unusual for Big Finish – is explained. I very nearly hit play on the next book straight away.
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