The Ravenous are back, in this new boxset of audio adventures from Big Finish. After an intriguing first two sets, I’m incredibly interested to see where this series goes next. Read on to find out my spoiler-free thoughts!
1. “Deeptime Frontier” by Matt Fitton
The opening story of this boxset follows on directly from the end of Ravenous 2, where the Doctor, Liv and Helen found themselves trapped on a planet full of Ravenous. I have to say, the way this cliffhanger is resolved is rather clever, propelling the story in a new direction while tying up the loose ends of Seizure from the last set.
Matt Fitton opens the story by introducing us to the crew of the Deeptime Frontier, a Time Lord research station on the fringes of the vortex. While Rasmus (Damian Lynch), a Time Lord and an old friend of the Doctor, is probably the most interesting of the guest characters, Dan Starkey‘s Brallix and Tania Rodrigues‘ Visteron play important roles in pushing the story forward, while still being compelling characters in their own right.
What makes Rasmus interesting is the relationship he has with the Doctor. When we meet a new Time Lord, there’s usually some tension between them and the Doctor, but here there’s none of that. Instead, the two work together to solve the issue at hand, and clearly have some history, making this a team up I’m looking forward to hearing again in the future.
As in Seizure, George Asprey gives a fabulous performance as the Ravenous, amplifying the horror Fitton conjures up in the script. Susie Emmett joins the cast as a female version of the Ravenous, and she does a great job at showing a slightly different side to this deadly enemy. The story’s spooky elements are furthered through Benji Clifford‘s chilling sound design.
A base-under-siege tale, elevated through its use of horror and its development of the Ravenous, Deeptime Frontier is, overall, a great start to the set.
2. “Companion Piece” by John Dorney
This was my most anticipated story of the set and, as usual, John Dorney doesn’t disappoint. There was a danger that Companion Piece would fall into the trap of being a crossover story for the sake of it, but this just isn’t the case. There’s a reason why all these characters had been brought together, and it’s rather ingenious…
In a way, Companion Piece is almost like The Eighth of March part two, in that it teams up all the wonderful women in the Doctor’s life and showcases their talents. From India Fisher‘s Charlotte Pollard to Rakhee Thakrar‘s Bliss, every one of the companions in this story contributes something unique to the plot, proving their resourcefulness and ingenuity.
This story also reintroduces us to John Heffernan‘s incarnation of the Eleven, the kleptomaniac Nine, who is an absolutely fantastic iteration of the villain. Like Mark Bonnar, Heffernan is able to switch effortlessly between the character’s different voices, imbuing the Nine with some real menace, while also toning it down for some of this script’s more comedic scenes.
There are quite a few twists in this one which, of course, I won’t spoil. Suffice it to say, though, some of them you definitely won’t see coming! All in all, a great story.
3. “L.E.G.E.N.D.” by Matt Fitton
L.E.G.E.N.D. by Matt Fitton is the first proper outing for the new TARDIS team of the Doctor, Helen, Liv and the Eleven, seeing them travel to 19th century Germany to track down Professor Marathanga, an expert on mythical creatures.
Marathanga, played by Tanya Moodie, is a wonderfully wacky character: an alien seeking to blend in as a human, and failing hilariously. She’s also the creator of L.E.G.E.N.D., a sentient computer (brought to life by Amaka Okafor and Arthur Hughes) with a database full of information about the Ravenous that the Doctor and his friends desperately need.
This story also features the Brothers Grimm, played by Hughes and Leighton Pugh: characters I can’t believe haven’t been in Doctor Who before. They’re perfect candidates for a historical figures story, and their presence here leads to some great scenes with Helen, and a deeper exploration of the myths and legends theme that has pervaded the Ravenous series thus far.
The sound design on this one is particularly good, with Benji Clifford bringing alien goo, mythical creatures and the titular computer to life with flair. All of this, alongside a unique and gripping plot, and stellar writing for the main characters, makes this yet another success in a fantastic boxset.
4. “The Odds Against” by John Dorney
Ravenous 3 ends with the best story of the lot: The Odds Against, by John Dorney. This script sees the Doctor, Liv, Helen and the Eleven travel to an alien moon where, in amongst a group of mysterious monks, they seek the truth behind defeating the Ravenous.
There’s not much I can say about this story without spoiling it, but this is another great adventure for the new TARDIS team. All of them get something unique to do, but the Eleven is particularly well served, with Dorney giving Bonnar some fantastic material to work with, particularly towards the end.
John Heffernan‘s the Nine also reappears here, getting a resolution to his fate at the end of Companion Piece and going in a whole new direction that really shakes this story up.
Overall, this is a fantastic finale to the boxset, tying up many of the loose ends from the previous stories, while ending on a cracker of a cliffhanger to whet our appetite for Ravenous 4 in October.
Ravenous 3 is the best set in the series so far, combining grim horror with fun and adventure to bring us four varied stories, all of which showcase the outstanding cast Big Finish have put together for these audios. Directed fantastically as usual by Ken Bentley, this is one of the most successful releases of 2019 so far, and is thoroughly recommended.
Ravenous 3 can be purchased on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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