REVIEW: Ravenous 4

The Ravenous saga concludes with this four-part boxset, which features the epic combination of one Doctor, two companions, four Masters and the Eleven. Beware: this review will contain spoilers for all of the stories, so be sure to have listened to the set before you scroll any further. Seriously, you do not want this spoiled for you!


1. “Whisper” by Matt Fitton

The set opens with Whisper, by Matt Fitton, which sees the TARDIS crew arrive at the Still Institute, where the Doctor plans to help the Eleven recover from the voices in his head. They soon discover the Institute to be under siege from creatures that attack using sound, however, and must try to stay quiet long enough to escape.

The overall premise of the tale is great, harnessing the audio medium perfectly. On television, an hour of actors creeping about and whispering would likely get old quickly, but this is certainly not the case here, with Fitton crafting a tense and unique story full of great character moments.

Nicola Walker is the star of this story, with Fitton pushing the character of Liv in an unexpected, but incredibly dramatically interesting direction. There’s lots of fantastic moments between her and the Eleven, my favourite being when she threatens him with Marathanga’s gun.

Benji Clifford‘s sound design is on top form here. He brings the sound-creature to life perfectly, as well as providing other sound effects (such as footsteps and rustling trees) that really help to build tension throughout the story.

Overall, this is a low-key, but strong introduction to the set.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

2. “Planet of Dust” by Matt Fitton

The Eleven is leaving the TARDIS, and wants to be dropped off on the parched world of Parrak. Little does the Doctor know, not only is there an ancient power on Parrak that the Eleven seeks to harness, but his oldest enemy, the Master, is also there with plans of his own…

Written by Matt Fitton, Planet of Dust is possibly the weakest story in the set, but it’s by no means bad. For me, the plot was a little dull and the guest characters forgettable, though some fantastic character moments for the main cast make up for this somewhat.

The highlight of the story are the catty interactions between the Eleven and the Master (played here by Geoffrey Beevers), which seem to hint at a history between the two characters that I hope we hear more of in the future. I also enjoyed how Fitton gives this incarnation of the Master a definitive ending here, tying up the character’s loose ends.

Nicola Walker again shines as Liv, facing off not only against against the Eleven, who reveals his true colours here, but also against the Doctor, who she derides for ever trusting him.

All in all, this is a good, if slightly forgettable, story.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3/4. “Day of the Master” by John Dorney

The boxset closes with this two-part story by John Dorney: Day of the Master. Before I go on, just a reminder that this review isn’t spoiler-free, so if you’ve not yet heard this story, turn away now as I’ll be discussing some of the major twists below.

The first part of Day of the Master sees the TARDIS team split up, each becoming involved with a different Master in their attempt to stop the Eleven and the Ravenous. This gives the story a nice sense of variety, recalling space-and-time-hopping Moffat-era finales such as The Pandorica Opens or The Wedding of River Song.

As hinted at the end of the previous story, Hattie Morahan‘s Helen is paired with Missy (Michelle Gomez), and what a pair they make! Helen’s no-nonsense attitude combined with Missy’s theatricality is just fantastic, and Dorney gives the latter a wealth of hilarious lines that had me laughing out loud throughout.

Paul McGann reunites with Eric Roberts‘ Master here, and it’s fantastic to hear them back together. This incarnation of the Master still feels a little like an unknown quantity, with nothing really defining him like his other selves, but it’s nonetheless great to add a little more to his story.

Liv joins up with Derek Jacobi‘s War Master: another fitting pairing. The two actors have some excellent chemistry (you should check out the fantastic Last Tango In Halifax, where Walker plays Jacobi’s daughter), and the tension in the scene where the Master shoots Liv had me on the edge of my seat.

And what a cliffhanger!

This half of the story sees the four Masters come together, and, as expected, their union is absolutely fantastic. Missy’s horrific imitation of the Roberts Master’s accent is hilarious, and the War Master’s frustration with their antics is great.

Liv’s character arc in this set comes full circle here too. Her interactions with Jacobi’s Master sizzle, and the scene where she shoots him was a punch-the-air moment for me. People have speculated that this would be Liv’s final story, and after this I’m so happy this isn’t the case; she’s one of my favourite companions, and I can’t wait to see where she goes next.

One of the strongest instalments in the Ravenous series has undeniably been Dorney’s Christmas-themed two-parter Better Watch Out/Fairytale of Salzburg, and we revisit this story through the character of Artron, who is revealed as the Wish Giver who created the Krampus and restored Helen’s youth. Not only is this a fantastic twist, but it adds an extra dimension to the Salzburg story and thus the Ravenous arc as a whole.

Robert Whitelock reprises his role from Ravenous 2, and shows incredible range, playing Artron at different stages in his life and making them all sound completely and convicingly different. He also plays the minor part of Cadrin, but had I not read the cast list, I’d have had no idea; the two performances are so magnificently different that it’s completely undetectable.

Mark Bonnar‘s Eleven makes his final appearance here; after being killed by the Masters, he regenerates into the Twelve. As much as I’ve enjoyed the character over since his debut back in 2015, Day of the Master is the perfect ending for this incarnation: returning to his roots and proving himself as one of the most fearsome villains in the Doctor Who universe.

My only gripe with this story is how the Ravenous threat was resolved, with things being tied up a little too neatly for me. Given the fearsome nature of the Ravenous as the Time Lords’ natural predators, I had hoped for more consequences for the main cast, particularly the Doctor.

With a story this fun, though, I can’t complain; this is definitely one of the most enjoyable tales I’ve heard from Big Finish in a while! Overall, Day of the Master is an exciting, gripping and dynamic finale to the Ravenous series

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall

This is a fantastic conclusion to the Ravenous series, wrapping up its various plots in surprising ways, and full of great twists, turns and cliffhangers to keep the listener interested. Director Ken Bentley has done a marvellous job, delivering a tight production, and Fitton and Dorney continue to prove themselves as some of the best writers in the Big Finish stable. Thoroughly recommended!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ravenous 4 is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com

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