‘THE TWILIGHT KINGDOM’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Major Koth with the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz
Are the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz getting closer to finding the TARDIS in the Divergent Universe?
‘The Twilight Kingdom’ is the fourth adventure in ‘The Divergent Universe’ season of ‘Doctor Who’ audios by Big Finish, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, India Fisher as Charley and Conrad Westmaas as C’rizz. I found this audio adventure greatly enjoyable than ‘The Natural History of Fear’.
I wouldn’t say it’s a great audio adventure, but I found the plot linear and easier to follow than the previous instalment in ‘The Divergent Universe’ season, which I found a mind-melt of an audio to listen to. The audio has most ingredients of a traditional four-part ‘Doctor Who’ adventure to enjoy.
The story is by Will Shindler, who makes his first contribution as a writer to the worlds of ‘Doctor Who’ by Big Finish. He would go on to write the Eighth Doctor story ‘Scaredy Cat’. I feel he delivers a decent outing for ‘The Twilight Kingdom’ and he writes well for the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz.
In the story, the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz visit the world of Setarus. I think this is another planet they’re on, although it could be on the same planet where C’rizz’s world of Eutermes is from ‘The Creed of the Kromon’ and where Light City is from ‘The Natural History of Fear’. I’m not totally sure.
The adventurous trio find themselves in a grey jungle world where waterfalls of heavenly pure water are abundant. They get themselves involved in an oncoming war where an army of light seeks to venture into dark caves. They also enter the lair of a suspected terrorist where all isn’t as it appears.
The Doctor hopes to tackle the enemy head-on in the way he usually manages to tackle enemies head-on. But how can the Doctor outwit an enemy who seems to know so much about him? Will his friends Charley and C’rizz betray him? The Doctor is about to find out when confronting Major Koth.
There’s a certain surreal atmosphere about this story when hearing it on audio in terms of visiting the grey jungle world and venturing into the dark caves. I enjoyed that aspect of the story. Sometimes it’s a challenge to identify who the characters are, but I wasn’t disappointed by the end.
I feel what the story was good at was revealing what the monster was and how the villain Major Koth was connected to it. It turns out the caves are a living being in itself. Major Koth was physically and mentally connected to it, able to read the minds of everyone going in and out of the dark caves.
There is talk about a pandemic that happened between the people of this world fighting a war amongst themselves in the jungle and in the caves. Having gone through the Covid-19 global pandemic, it was so surreal to visualise and imagine that in the audio landscape of this certain story.
The illness involved in the pandemic is called Kestila sickness and it happens to be fatal, involving the symptoms of fever, vomiting and sores. One of the supporting characters (Commander Vayla, I believe) shares with one of our heroes how one of her relatives (her sister, I think) got that sickness.
The people fighting this war on Setarus come from the planet Ondrokkon. I’m not sure why Ondrockans came all the way from their home planet to fight on Setarus. Then again, there was a lot to take in with the backstory of places and characters and it was a struggle to absorb and appreciate.
There are rat-like creatures featured in this story called Grelligs and they were brought to Setarus by Major Koth. The soil also becomes a deadly monster when forming facsimiles of either Major Koth or the Doctor by the cave creature. Some of the concepts in this story are so mindboggling to get over.
I greatly enjoyed the camaraderie shared between the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz in this audio adventure. They seem to get on well with each other as they traverse through many different zones by the Kro’ka. I wish it was appreciated more in ‘The Natural History of Fear’ compared to this tale. 😦
Paul McGann excels as ever as the Doctor in this adventure. I like how he works things out with what’s going on in the caves and how he deduces Major Koth being somehow connected to the cave creature. He’s still on a quest to find his TARDIS which he misses greatly whilst being in this universe.
It was intriguing to hear of the hurt that the Eighth Doctor was experiencing with being lost without his TARDIS and being stuck in the Divergent Universe. I wish there were more stories of the Eighth Doctor being able to travel in the TARDIS whilst being stuck in the Divergent Universe in this season.
India Fisher is equally excellent as Charley Pollard in this story. She relishes the chance to drink the waters of the waterfalls in the grey jungle and later has a shower. It was a surprise when Charley began doubting the Doctor; became angry with him and also betrayed him at one point in the story.
It turns out that when inside the caves, the cave creature is actually manipulating Charley’s mind in order to twist her faith in the Doctor. Thankfully, Charley is able to overcome being manipulated and I like how there is a sense of forgiveness between Charley and the Doctor by the tale’s conclusion. 🙂
Conrad Westmaas is equally good as C’rizz in the adventure. I know people are divided over C’rizz as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion, but I find him decent enough. It’s good to hear scenes where he actually likes being with the Eighth Doctor and Charley, despite being baffled by some of the things they say.
C’rizz also becomes manipulated by the cave creature when inside the caves themselves. His idealism and naivety are tested. He learns how to fire guns when being in the company of soldiers and he even strangles Charley at one point when being controlled by the cave creature. Shocking! 😮
The story’s biggest guest star is Michael Keating as Major Koth. Michael Keating is well-known for playing Vila Restal in the BBC TV series ‘Blake’s 7’. He also played Goudry in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Sun Makers’ and he’s done a number of Big Finish audios. He’s also been in ‘Soldiers of Love’. 🙂
I enjoyed Michael’s performance as Major Koth. There were times when I didn’t think he appeared enough in the story and I wondered how big a threat he was to his people as well as to the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz. His confrontation scenes with Paul’s Doctor in ‘Parts Three and Four’ are brilliant!
The cast also includes Alan Rothwell as Byzar Janto, a scientist more than a soldier who becomes a helpful ally to the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz in their time spent on Setarus. There’s also Ann Carus-Wilson as Commander Vayla, who’s easily suspicious about the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz’s arrival. 😐
There’s Dale Ibbetson as Sub-Commander Qullian, Jeremy James as Sergeant Bryn and Vivien Parry as Captain Tysus. There are brief cameos of Nicholas Briggs as Lieutenant Fraxin, Stephen Fewell as Lieutenant Deral, director Gary Russell as Corporal Orvik and Alison Sterling as Tarrith, Koth’s wife. 🙂
There is a point in the story where the Doctor could have got his TARDIS back. But it turns out to be projection from somewhere else generated by the telepathic field of the cave creature, I believe. The Doctor is still TARDIS-less by the story’s end. Hopefully he and his friends are closer to finding it.
The story concludes with the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz about to leave Setarus as they’re soon to enter another zone being opened by Stephen Perring as the Kro’ka. When the Doctor is alone with the Kro’ka, it’s revealed what his quest in the Divergent Universe is about. He’s looking for Rassilon!
The CD extras are as follows. There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘Dalek Empire III’.
‘The Twilight Kingdom’ is a better story in ‘The Divergent Universe’ season compared to ‘The Natural History of Fear’. The concepts featured in this story with Major Koth being connected to the cave creature are fascinating to listen to. Mind you, you might want to hear this story more than once. 😀
I’m intrigued about where the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz will go from here as they continue their journey to visit other worlds in the Divergent Universe. Will the Doctor ever be reunited with his TARDIS again? And why is the Doctor determined to track down Rassilon in this dangerous universe?
As I recall, Rassilon turned out to be a bad guy in ‘Zagreus’, right?
‘The Twilight Kingdom’ rating – 7/10
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