Doctor Who
Short Trips
Seven Deadly Sins

Editor: David Bailey
Big Finish
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 146 7
Available 13 April 2005

Between these covers you will find seven tales of vice, exploring the dark places at the edge of the universe. The Doctor tries to take a stand against the tide, to bring even a chink of light, of hope, but what good is that when he cannot even save himself from the seven deadly sins...?

The Doctor, guilty of sin? What is the world coming to? Well, I suppose we could quite easily accuse the Sixth Doctor of gluttony, the Eighth of lust (for snogging Grace in the TV movie) and the Ninth of wrath (for killing several of his foes in anger). However, they are not the sins that these particular Doctors are associated with in this book. Indeed, Eccleston's Doctor has yet to appear in a Short Trips anthology - when is that going to happen, Big Finish?

At least the Third Doctor is associated with an appropriate sin, that of envy. He was frequently and vocally resentful of his exile to 20th-century Earth, and he envied the Master his fully operational TARDIS. He therefore empathises with Marion, a bedridden hospital patient in Angel by Tara Samms. This is, in my opinion, the strongest story in this book, as Samms once again well and truly gets into the head of her character, in this case the very bitter and twisted Marion. Angel is only slightly marred by a resemblance to the X-Files episode The Walk.

My second favourite is Suitors, Inc. by Paul Magrs. Representing the sin of lust, this tale features the Fourth Doctor, the Second Romana, K-9 and (surprise, surprise) the amorous Time Lady Iris Wildthyme. It brings some welcome comic relief to what is a predominantly sombre anthology. In addition to Iris' already well-documented "pash" for the Doctor, we also see evidence of Romana and K-9 subconsciously seeking the Time Lord's approval, despite their overt protestations about his frivolous attitude. Rather annoyingly, however, the narrative ends with a kind of spoof cliffhanger that I doubt will ever be resolved.

My third favourite story is actually the linking material, written by Jacqueline Rayner, that binds the other stories together. There are a few comical moments here, too, included within the whole gamut of emotional responses that are elicited from the reader as a showman (can you guess who? The clue's on the cover) confronts and attempts of expunge the various vices of seven sinful individuals.

Rebecca Levene's Too Rich for My Blood is also very enjoyable, interweaving three very intriguing plotlines shared between the Seventh Doctor, Bernice Summerfield and Chris Cwej. The sin represented here is gluttony, although, since the story is set in a Las Vegas casino, more than a little avarice comes into play as well. In fact, I wonder whether this entry was originally intended for the avarice slot but had to be moved when the intended gluttony tale fell through. The elected avarice story in this collection, David Bailey's Telling Tales, only really touches upon that sin in passing.

Telling Tales and the three remaining stories - Gareth Wigmore's The Duke's Folly, Mark Wright's That Which Went Away and John Binns' The 57th - failed to elicit much of a response from me while I was reading them. It's not that I can't be bothered to write any more, because that would be the deadly sin of sloth!

Bailey should therefore not feel excessively proud of this book (in any case, pride is also a sin), but it has plenty of good points, so he needn't come after me seeking revenge (wrath, you see). Seven Deadly Sins is worth a look, provided you're not too slothful or avaricious to get off your butt and buy it.

Richard McGinlay

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