THE EIGHTH DOCTOR REVISITED | Grand Theft Cosmos

Kieran Brennan reviews the next adventure for the Eighth Doctor: Grand Theft Cosmos!


In the mid-1800s, the Doctor and Lucie find themselves needing to pull off a jewel heist on a moving train! The only problem is the returning duo of the Headhunter and Karen are simultaneously trying to pull off their own heist. It’s a race against the clock, and only one team can come out victorious.

Grand Theft Cosmos is the exact sort of kick the second series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures needed. If you’ll remember, in my Skull of Sobek review (available here), I expressed frustration at the lack of a sense of forward momentum in the series. Though the stories were enjoyable, they ultimately felt inconsequential. Here, the return of the Headhunter and Karen adds a much needed sense of growth and continuation to the series. Rather than just a set of random episodes, it makes the whole series feel like what it’s supposed to be: a continuation of the first series. Their presence adds stakes for the characters and the audience instantly, especially with a duo that were standouts in the first series.

It helps, of course, that writer Eddie Robson has crafted a supremely interesting and engaging story to go along with the characters. The idea of two groups of people each trying to race to pull off a heist is interesting on its own, but the level of audience engagement is only achieved by the return of the Headhunter and Karen. We skip past the setup of the characters and dive straight into the meat of the story. The set up works especially well as, rather than the Doctor trying to stop a heist, he’s actively taking part in his own.

Without spoiling, this forces Robson to give the Doctor a reason to want to commit what is effectively a crime, a reason that works really well and adds a fun layer to the story. Another fun layer is the historical setting. Set in the 1800s, the limited technology and setting of a moving steam train is the exact sort of place a heist story should be set. Take a brief moment, for example, where the Headhunter is forced to ride a horse to catch up to the train. It’s smaller details like that which sell the story and the world. 

Beyond the heist, it’s the character dynamics that sell the story. We know the Doctor and Lucie have great chemistry, but what’s surprising is how well the Headhunter and Karen work together, especially as this sort of distorted take on the dynamic the Doctor shares with his companions. It’s the distinction between the two teams that keeps the story interesting. Saying that, I must of course give credit to not only Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith but also Katarina Olsson and Louise Fullerton, who are equally important to the success of the story. Their comedic timing totally sells the fun, rompy tone being set in the story and their inclusion elevates it significantly.


Final Thoughts

Grand Theft Cosmos puts the Eighth Doctor Adventures back on track, reinvigorating the series by adding a much needed sense of narrative thrust. Not only that, but its performances, concepts and script make it easily the best story from Series 2 so far.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Grand Theft Cosmos is available from http://www.bigfinish.com

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