Doctor Who

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 183 1
Available 31 October 2007

The TARDIS breaks down in a forbidden sector of space. Ghostly voices cry out for salvation and only C’rizz, the Doctor’s Eutermesan companion, can answer their call - for only he knows the secret of the Absolver. But will he use his knowledge to rescue his friends or to save the universe? The Doctor’s sins are catching up with him and the infernal beast Borarus is hungry. Time is running out and Judgement Day is at hand. Welcome to Hell...

This is the first Charley/C’rizz audio adventure in almost a year. That’s because more recent Eighth Doctor stories have been BBC7-commissioned adventures involving his new companion, Lucie Miller, played by Sheridan Smith. However, Charley (India Fisher) and C’rizz (Conrad Westmaas) won’t be sticking around for long, because this four-episode drama sees the exit of the Eutermesan, with the Edwardian adventuress to follow shortly. Though I will miss them (Charley more than C’rizz), it’s commendable that Big Finish has decided to draw a line under its own characters’ tenures and is striving to give them decent send-offs (something they cannot do with companions created in other media, primarily television, whose departure stories have already been told).

This tale, penned by Scott Alan Woodard, has an appropriately religious theme for the departing C’rizz, though I did find it somewhat confusing, both to get into at the beginning and at the end. I remain unclear as to the precise fate of the unfortunate inhabitants of Utebbadon-Tarria.

However, the drama’s effectiveness is bolstered by strong performances from Hustle’s Robert Glenister and Emmerdale’s Christopher Villiers as the opposing figures of Aboresh and Cacothis. Their comparable ages (both of them guest-starred during the Peter Davison era of the television series, in The Caves of Androzani and The King’s Demons respectively) mean that they counterbalance each other well.

The story includes a rather surprising tiff between the Doctor and Charley, who accuses the Time Lord of coldness regarding C’rizz’s fate and of preferring things the way they were before they met the Eutermesan in the divergent universe. I have to admit, I miss those simpler days too, though the disagreement does help to justify Charley’s imminent farewell in the forthcoming The Girl Who Never Was.

During the interviews that comprise the CD extras, director Barnaby Edwards ponders the fact that he has never before worked on a Big Finish production with Conrad Westmaas, despite having known the actor well for years. I think I may see a reason why: the two sound almost identical, and I often had trouble telling them apart!

Absolution isn’t a perfect story, but it’s a good solution to a problem like C’rizz.

Richard McGinlay

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