‘THE BURNING PRINCE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
“Empire Be Praised!”
‘The Burning Prince’ is the first of a trilogy of ‘Doctor Who’ stories by Big Finish.
It is part of a multi-Doctor trilogy from Five to Six to Seven. The trilogy is called ‘The Drashani Empire Trilogy’. The first story is with Peter Davison’s Doctor and it is set in outer space within the alien Drashani Empire. It is a four-part story by John Dorney, who is now one of Big Finish’s prolific writers.
John Dorney sets up ‘The Drashani Empire Trilogy’ very well with an action packed adventure that has a ‘war movie’ feel to it. I had the pleasure of meeting John Dorney at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. He delivers a ‘classic’ feel to the ‘Doctor Who’ stories he writes and including new elements in them.
There are twists and turns throughout this story that you do not expect and I certainly didn’t expect them. The death of one of the major characters in the first episode was unexpected for me and it was the way John Dorney intended it to be when he wrote this. That’s clever writing in my opinion.
Peter Davison for me is one of my favourite Doctors in ‘Doctor Who’. Having enjoyed his adventures on TV and especially his adventures on audio for Big Finish (particularly with Sarah Sutton as Nyssa); Peter Davison’s Doctor always sparks something really special, meaning and energetic in his stories.
Of course, Peter’s Doctor is on his own here in the story. This story is set after ‘Arc of Infinity’, ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’ and ‘Omega’. At the beginning, the Doctor goes back to pick up Nyssa and Tegan from Amsterdam whilst he’s been away. But the TARDIS ends up in the wrong place and time.
The story of ‘The Burning Prince’ itself is about a group of characters on a starship in Drashani space. They’re on a mission to rescue a princess named Aliona who betrothed to be wed to Prince Kylo. The Doctor turns up in his TARDIS and helps the starship crew as it crash-lands onto a dangerous planet called Sharnax.
There are a lot of politics and family feuds going on in this audio adventure. This provides a lot of back story about this outer-space civil war that’s been going on between families. There is also lots of action, mystery and suspense in this adventure and some of it did take me completely by surprise.
The supporting cast is excellent and very invigorating to listen to in this ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure. Peter Davison of course leads the show and is at the top of his game as the Doctor in this tale. Although he’s without any companions in this, his youthful energy makes up for it in the story.
The Doctor’s involvement with events during this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure really makes it pacey and exciting to listen. Peter’s Doctor tries to help people, even when they’re dying off one by one. He unravels some shocking discoveries and is not too pleased when one characters turns out to be bad.
The guest cast includes Clive Mantle as Ambassador Tuvold, who was a joy to listen to. I’ve seen him in the BBC comedy series ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ where he managed to seduce Dawn French’s Geraldine Granger. Here Clive plays an ambassador who seems nervous and jumpy at times during this drama.
But as the Doctor (and we as the audience) gets to know Tuvold, he becomes a really interesting character. Tuvold has been forced in a very difficult situation when on the mission. He has to make some hard choices. I did find the moments funny when he was annoyed at having to keep running.
George Rainsford guest stars Prince Kylo in this ‘Doctor Who’ story and he’s very good as the ‘burning prince’. George appears in the ‘Call the Midwife’ series. I hadn’t seen that series when hearing this audio drama. But hearing him as Prince Kylo was enjoyable. His conflicting good and bad sides during this mission were exciting to hear.
Kylo is unable to control his anger and rage when he’s on the search for the princess who he loves. He gets impatient and it causes him to burst into flames. He seems to be a typical adolescent, but he has this history and backstory that comes across very well and you can almost sympathise with him.
Kirsty Besterman guest stars as Princess Aliona. She has a pivotal role in this audio adventure as well as for the entire ‘Drashani Empire Trilogy’. She appears in ‘Parts Three and Four’ and seems quite plain at first. But there’s something more to her later on, which I won’t reveal this in case of spoilers.
There’s also Caroline Langrishe as Captain Shira, on the starship sent to rescue Princess Aliona. Shira is tough commander and shows no-nonsense in this story. She’s there when interrogating the Doctor. She doesn’t trust the Doctor, but willing to hear him speak. A surprise twists happens to her.
The guest cast also includes Dominic Rowan as Sub-Commander Corwyn, Shira’s second-in-command aboard the starship. There’s also Derek Hutchinson as Altus, Caroline Keiff as Riga and Tim Treloar as Tyron. Tim Treloar would later voice the Third Doctor in ‘The Third Doctor Adventures’ by Big Finish.
The story ends with a post-credits sequence or epilogue which becomes very important for ‘The Drashani Empire Trilogy’. It leads into the next story of the trilogy as the epilogue leaves you wondering what will happen next. It certainly made me want to hear more of this trilogy of stories.
‘The Burning Prince’ is an exciting start to ‘The Drashani Empire Trilogy’. Peter Davison’s Doctor is a joy to listen to and he manages to cope well without his companions in this one. With two more stories in-waiting for the rest of ‘The Drashani Empire Trilogy’, it seems to get better and so exciting.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music that I found very thrilling. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Peter Davison; Clive Mantle; George Rainsford; Kirsty Besterman; director Ken Bentley; etc. There’s also a trailer for the second story in ‘The Drashani Empire Trilogy’ called ‘The Acheron Pulse’ with Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Burning Prince’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘The Burning Prince’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘A Room with No View’ with the Fifth Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
‘The Burning Prince’ rating – 9/10
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