‘KILLING TIME’ (WM)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The War Master meets Calantha, Jo and Nyssa
Will the Master torment the lives of Jo Jones and Nyssa of Traken in this ‘War Master’ adventure?
This is what it’s been building up to! After checking out ‘Only the Good’, ‘The Master of Callous’, ‘Rage of the Time Lords’, ‘Anti-Genesis’ and ‘Hearts of Darkness’ in ‘The War Master’ series by Big Finish in 2021, I’ve finally come to ‘The War Master’ box set I’ve been looking forward to the most. 🙂
It’s time to check out ‘Killing Time’! 🙂 This is the sixth ‘War Master’ story in the series, starring Sir Derek Jacobi as the Master, joined by Alexandria Riley as Calantha, Katy Manning as Jo Jones and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. Like the previous stories, this ‘War Master’ story is a four-part audio adventure.
When I heard the announcement that Sarah Sutton, along with Katy Manning, was going to be in a ‘War Master’ story with Derek Jacobi, I couldn’t help be excited about it. It cheered me when the world went through the 2020 pandemic. I’m sure the news cheered up other ‘Doctor Who’ fans too.
It’s lucky that Sarah Sutton and Katy Manning were able to record their episodes with Derek Jacobi in this ‘War Master’ story. ‘Killing Time’ was recorded from the 2nd to the 3rd and from the 9th to the 10th of December in 2019. 🙂 This was before the Covid-19 pandemic happened in the year 2020.
The audio box set was released in August 2021. I purchased ‘Killing Time’ along with ‘Hearts of Darkness’ as CD box sets whilst I purchased the first four ‘War Master’ stories as downloads from Big Finish. With Sarah Sutton as Nyssa in this ‘War Master’ story, it was worth purchasing in its CD form.
Sarah Sutton has shared, during the Zoom call she did for ‘Spearhead: Day of the Time Lords’ back in November 2020 and at the ‘Bedford Who Charity Con’ in October 2021, how much she enjoyed working with Derek Jacobi as the Master. I’m sure it was similar for Katy Manning working with him.
I was disappointed Sarah Sutton and Katy Manning weren’t in every episode of ‘Killing Time’ and that they didn’t get to meet up to face off Derek Jacobi’s Master in the finale. It would have been great had Jo and Nyssa teamed up to deal with the War Master and stop his villainy once and for all.
Mind you, having Nyssa and Jo not meet up in ‘Killing Time’ is probably for the best, since I’ve had them meet each other with the Fifth Doctor and Billy in ‘City of Monsters’. 😀 But will ‘Killing Time’ impress me, regardless of Nyssa and Jo not being in every episode of the story? Well, let’s find out! 🙂
The four episodes of ‘Killing Time’ include ‘The Sincerest Form of Flattery’, ‘A Quiet Night In’, ‘The Orphan’ and ‘Unfinished Business’. The story is by James Goss and Lou Morgan. James Goss wrote the first and fourth episodes whilst Lou Morgan wrote the second and third episodes of this story. 🙂
Like ‘Hearts of Darkness’, ‘Killing Time’ is released as a 4-disc CD box set as opposed to a 5-disc CD box set like with the first four ‘War Master’ stories. There are behind-the-scenes interviews and music suites contained at the end of episode for ‘Killing Time’, making the box set’s spacing easier. 🙂
By the way, it’s very fitting that ‘Killing Time’ was released in 2021. It could easily celebrate the Master’s 50th anniversary, Jo Grant/Jones’s 50th anniversary and Nyssa’s 40th anniversary. This might be a far better 50th anniversary celebration of the Master in ‘Doctor Who’ than ‘Masterful’ is.
1. ‘THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY’
The first episode of ‘Killing Time’ called ‘The Sincerest Form of Flattery’ is by James Goss. James Goss has contributed to ‘The War Master’ series before, penning episodes for the series’ first two stories.
He wrote an episode of ‘Only the Good’ and two episodes of ‘The Master of Callous’. It’s interesting how James writes the opening and closing episodes of ‘Killing Time’ involving the Stagnant Protocol.
In ‘Killing Time’s opening episode, the Master attempts to seize control of the Stagnant Protocol. It’s a place that’s forgotten by the universe and it’s an empire populated by a race that cannot advance.
The Stagnant Protocol is a bizarre name to call a place in the universe. 😀 Apparently it’s been placed in a time lock, presumably by the Time Lords of Gallifrey, connecting to their efforts in the Time War.
As the Master attempts to seize control of the Stagnant Protocol, he has a rival in Alexandria Riley as Calantha. She seems to understand how to manipulate the system more than he could hope to achieve.
Alexandria Riley is no stranger to Big Finish. She’s well-known for playing Ng, a character in the ‘Torchwood’ stories ‘Aliens Among Us’ and ‘God Among Us’ and has penned a ‘Torchwood’ episode.
Outside of ‘Torchwood’, she’s done a few ‘Doctor Who’ audios, including ‘The Legacy of Time’ where she played Ria, the Eighth Doctor’s android companion in ‘Lies in Ruins’. It’s amazing to find that out!
It’s interesting how Derek Jacobi’s Master and Alexandria Riley’s Calantha interact with each other. Calantha always seems to be one step ahead of the Master. He does seem slightly impressed by her.
As well as slightly annoyed! 😀 There are scenes between the Master and Calantha where they meet up for dinner a lot. It’s quite amusing when they met up and they have this rivalry between them. 😀
I must admit, there is a lot of politicking going on in this episode. A lot of the politics I don’t understand, especially when it concerns setting up and identifying a place like the Stagnant Protocol.
It’s amusing how, according to the CD extras, there seems to be this echo of the political atmosphere that happened n 2019. This is especially with Boris Johnson appointed Prime Minster of the UK then.
There are also the Brexit issues that happened then too. But I don’t know, there are also echoes of the 2020-21 Covid-19 pandemic going on here, especially when an outbreak of plague occurs in this.
Yeah, no joke! This story features an outbreak of plague that dissolves people into dust (I believe). It’s surreal how this story features that when it was recorded in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.
There’s an intriguing passage of time going on in this episode. Sometimes it was a challenge to keep track of where we are in the tale. Not sure how long the Master spent on the Stagnant Protocol. 😐
At first, the Master seems to be a prisoner before he climbs up the ladder of power. Even Calantha starts as a prison guard (I think) before she rises to power and is involved in the political hierarchy. 😐
The rest of the episode’s cast includes Prasanna Puwanarajah as Prince Gardam, Ian Abeysekera as Valmont and Doña Croll (who was in ‘New Earth’) as the Empress, who is Prince Gardam’s mother. 🙂
There seems to be a lot of disharmony and distrust among ‘the royal family’ in this episode. This is especially when Gardam gets sent away by his mother and the Empress gets killed with the deadly plague.
Francois Pandolfo guest stars as Officiencier and Mali Ann Rees guest stars as Dashmala. Harley Viveash plays the waiter, Timothy Blore plays Earl and Glen McCready plays the Vizier in the episode.
Raj Ghatak plays the First Official, Laura Doddington plays the Second Official, and Fanos Xenofós plays Emestry. A lot of these amazing actors have worked with the story’s director Scott Handcock. 🙂
The episode concludes with Calantha gaining control of the Stagnant Protocol instead of the Master. The Master soon leaves and decides to go and collect some ‘things’, promising that he will be back. 😐
‘The Sincerest Form of Flattery’ is a decent opening episode to ‘Killing Time’. It sets up the story nicely. It makes me intrigued as to where the Master will go next before he returns to the Stagnant Protocol.
The episode’s end credits are read by Alexandria Riley. The CD extras are as follows. At the end of ‘The Sincerest Form of Flattery’, there’s a behind-the-scenes interview conducted by script editor/producer/director Scott Handcock with Sir Derek Jacobi and Alexandria Riley. There’s also a suite of incidental music to enjoy at the end of the episode.
‘The Sincerest Form of Flattery’ rating – 7/10
2. ‘A QUIET NIGHT IN’
In the second episode of ‘Killing Time’ called ‘A Quiet Night In’ by Lou Morgan, we have the Third Doctor’s former companion, Katy Manning as Jo Jones, meeting up with Derek Jacobi’s War Master!
I found this a pretty tense and gripping episode to listen to. It’s good that the episode follows Jo’s journey from beginning to end and the interaction between Katy Manning and Derek Jacobi is great!
Lou Morgan is a writer I haven’t come across before. I look forward to hearing more of her stories on audio by Big Finish, as she delivers a pretty compelling psychological drama for Jo Jones’ character. 🙂
In the episode, Jo visits her uncle’s house as he summoned her to read a certain document. But it turns out that Jo’s uncle happens to be the Master. 😮 This was quite disturbing to listen to on audio.
The Master has hypnotised and manipulated Jo into thinking he’s her uncle. If the Master was Roger Delgado instead of Derek Jacobi, Jo would have recited nursery rhymes to prevent him controlling her. 😀
Jo’s uncle was the person who got her hired at U.N.I.T. He recently appeared in the Short Trip audio called ‘Taken For Granted’ and was called Jack Canning. Whether that was truly him, I don’t know. 😐
I say that because this episode introduces the idea that the Master manipulated Jo from the beginning and had got her into U.N.I.T. when he disguised himself as her uncle in Derek Jacobi form.
That’s quite unnerving to think about and it unsettles Jo to a great degree by the time the episode comes to an end. Katy Manning delivers one of her best performances as a broken Jo in the story. 🙂
It’s strange, since at the beginning, it seemed like Jo and her ‘uncle’ got on well with each other. Katy Manning and Derek Jacobi do easily spark off each other when hearing them interact in the episode.
But by the time we get to the second half of the story, the Master unveils his true colours and Jo is horrified. The Master torments Jo even further, which was gruelling to hear as the story progressed.
Apparently, the Master wanted Jo to steal a vial from the U.N.I.T. archives when she worked for them. The Master gets the vial and leaves in his TARDIS, which was disguised as Jo’s uncle’s house. 😐
I found it tense when Jo was jabbering away; trying to convince herself that her uncle wasn’t really the Master and everything that she knew to be true isn’t a lie. She soon insists on being locked up. 😦
Now whether this episode takes place before or after Jo reunited with the Eleventh Doctor in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ story ‘Death of the Doctor’, I don’t know. Did she end up locked up and for long?
The episode also features Sarah Douglas as Mrs. Mevel, who is the Master’s housekeeper in Jo’s uncle’s house (that is actually the Master’s TARDIS). It was great to hear Sarah Douglas in this audio episode.
Sarah Douglas is well-known for playing Ursa in the ‘Superman’ films with Christopher Reeve. She’s also done a number of Big Finish audios over the years, like ‘Prisoners of Fate’ with Peter Davison. 🙂
I’ve also met Sarah Douglas in real-life at a convention as well as Katy Manning at conventions. I enjoyed the scenes Jo had with Mevel, when she struggled to get about the house like it was a maze.
The story also features Fanos Xenofós as Professor Merc-Hodden, whom Jo suspects for being a villain. By the end, it turns out that the Professor was a victim and a pawn in the Master’s plan for Jo.
Francois Pandolfo (who was in the previous ‘Killing Time’ episode) plays a taxi driver in the episode. In the episode’s beginning, he drives Jo to her ‘uncle’s house’ late at night in the heavily pouring rain.
The episode does contain a spooky, haunted house feel to it, especially when Jo keeps getting lost and she’s unable to find where ‘the party’ is, and when she keeps hearing people talking in the ‘house’. 😐
I’m currently anxious about Jo. I hope she’ll be alright and be her happy go-lucky self again soon. The Master seems to be up to no good when he’s on his way to meet up with another old acquaintance.
‘A Quiet Night In’ is a tense and gripping episode to listen to in the ‘Killing Time’ story. I enjoyed how Jo met the War Master, and Katy Manning and Derek Jacobi deliver great performances in this story.
It was nice to hear the episode’s end credits read by Katy Manning. The CD extras are as follows. At the end of ‘A Quiet Night In’, there’s a behind-the-scenes interview conducted by script editor/producer/director Scott Handcock with Sir Derek Jacobi and Katy Manning. There’s also a suite of incidental music to enjoy at the end of the episode.
‘A Quiet Night In’ rating – 8/10
3. ‘THE ORPHAN’
This is the episode in ‘Killing Time’ I was looking forward to the most! Sarah Sutton as Nyssa meets Derek Jacobi’s Master! I found this a very good two-hander between Sarah Sutton and Derek Jacobi.
Yes, there are Mali Ann Rees as the Varnomium Computer, Francois Pandolfo as Argo and Prasanna Puwanarajah as Prince Gardam who appear in the episode, but Sarah and Derek steal the show here.
I can see why Sarah enjoyed working with Derek in the episode, as they spark off each other well, both in the scenes where they’re friendly to each other and when they become enemies at the end.
In the episode, Nyssa is aboard the spaceship Varnomium. I assume Nyssa was assigned there from Terminus to attend to the lethal plague infecting most of the population of the Stagnant Protocol. 😐
The reason why I bring this up is because there’s no mention of Lasarti and Nyssa’s children from ‘Circular Time: Winter’ and the older Nyssa audios. Perhaps they happen after this episode’s events.
There’s certainly no reference to the Traken hospital ship Nyssa used in ‘A Heart on Both Sides’. I’m not even sure if ‘The Orphan’ occurs before, during or after Nyssa’s involvement in the Time War. 😐
Maybe this story takes place in an alternative timeline, like with ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ and my story ‘Into the Death-Space’. Based upon that theory, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised by that revelation. 🙂
Nyssa struggles to come up with a cure or a vaccine for the plague infecting the people of the Stagnant Protocol. I’d like to think Nyssa would be able to find a permanent cure for the coronavirus.
Asking for extra help from Prince Gardam, Nyssa soon receives a visit from ‘Dr. Trubard’ (I think that’s how it spelt). He turns out to be the Master. At first, Nyssa and ‘Trubard’ get on well together.
I like the scenes where Nyssa and ‘Trubard’ work on how to procure a cure/vaccine against the deadly virus affecting the Stagnant Protocol. For the most part, the scenes are really nice to listen to.
It’s so sad when Nyssa doesn’t realise that the man she’s working with, who could almost be a paternal figure for her, happens to be the man who killed her father and destroyed her home world.
The moments where Nyssa gets angry and upset are spellbinding and gripping to listen to. This is especially when Nyssa finds everything working against her, including the vaccine/cure for the virus.
It turns out that the Master wanted to create a deadly strain of the virus instead of a cure/vaccine when working with Nyssa. Hearing ‘a deadly strain’ being made sounds almost too real in our world.
Like Jo in ‘A Quiet Night In’, when Nyssa realises that ‘Trubard’ is actually the Master, she’s horrified. She also becomes determined not to let the Master get away with the evil plans he’s carrying out. 😐
It’s disturbing how the Master manipulates Nyssa and plays to her gentler, compassionate side. I hoped that Nyssa would be able to overpower the Master and maybe stop him from getting away. 😦
Sadly, this is ‘The War Master’ series, as the Master manages to get away and even smashes the samples Nyssa had collected to study the disease. The Master inoculated himself with the true cure.
The vial that the Master collected from Jo Jones comes into play in this episode too. It was upsetting to hear Nyssa coughing and spluttering away when she breathed in the samples that she collected. 😦
Nyssa loses control of the Varnomium when the computer won’t respond to her commands. The ship ends up going into quarantine and an automated message from Nyssa tells ships to stay away. 😦
The Master manages to get away in his TARDIS by then. I hope Nyssa will be saved someday. Maybe by the Tenth Doctor in an upcoming audio episode! Or perhaps, Billy Walker will get to save Nyssa. 🙂
‘The Orphan’ is my favourite episode out of ‘Killing Time’ for clearly obvious reasons. It’s a great two-hander between Sarah Sutton and Derek Jacobi, who deliver great performances as their characters.
It was lovely to hear the episode’s end credits read by Sarah Sutton. The CD extras are as follows. At the end of ‘The Orphan’, there’s a behind-the-scenes interview conducted by script editor/producer/director Scott Handcock with Sir Derek Jacobi and Sarah Sutton. There’s a behind-the-scenes interview with music composer/sound designer Rob Harvey. And there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy at the end of the episode.
‘The Orphan’ rating – 9/10
4. ‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS’
So, I wasn’t really expecting much when it came to checking out ‘Unfinished Business’ by James Goss, the final episode of ‘Killing Time’. It seems I was correct on my assumption about this episode.
And look, I know people will think differently in terms of how they perceive the finale to ‘Killing Time’. It does conclude the story which began in ‘The Sincerest Form of Flattery’ on a decent note. 🙂
But after checking out ‘A Quiet Night In’ and ‘The Orphan’, which feature great encounters of the War Master meeting two of the Doctor’s former companions in Jo and Nyssa, this was a let-down. 😦
I was expecting more to be featured in ‘Unfinished Business’ with perhaps little cameos of Jo and Nyssa. Their fates at the end of those episodes could have been resolved in a satisfactory manner. 😐
But James Goss finishes off the political power game that occurred in ‘Killing Time’s first episode between the War Master and Calantha. And to be honest with you, I didn’t really care about that. 😐
For the most part in ‘Killing Time’, I enjoyed the emotional character dramas between Derek Jacobi’s Master and Jo and between him and Nyssa, more than what happened between him and Calantha. 😐
And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the interaction between Derek Jacobi and Alexandria Riley as their characters. On the contrary, it was intriguing how the Master played the power game with her.
But like with ‘Lurkers at Sunlight’s Edge’ following after ‘Project: Destiny’ and ‘A Death in the Family’, the emotional build-up in ‘Killing Time’s previous two episodes isn’t delivered in the finale. 😦
And maybe that’s the point. ‘Killing Time’ is a story about the Master gaining control of the Stagnant Protocol, managing to outwit and overthrow Calantha by the story’s end. I do appreciate that angle.
But if you were to ask me, do I care about Calantha and feel sympathy for her, the answer is ‘no’. For the most part, she’s just as bad as the Master with wanting to gain control of the Stagnant Protocol.
And maybe that’s what the finale was trying to do in making me want the Master to win instead of Calantha. But after what the Master did to Jo and Nyssa, I was expecting him to lose in the climax. 😐
‘Killing Time’s finale could have ended with the Master’s work undone by a surprise appearance of David Tennant’s Doctor with Jo and Nyssa by his side. Perhaps it’s yet to happen in this audio series.
Maybe in the next ‘War Master’ story ‘Self-Defence’, the Tenth Doctor visits the War Master on the Stagnant Protocol to bring his rule down after what he did to Jo and Nyssa. This is likely to happen. 😐
Another disappointment is the Daleks get namedropped when Laura Doddington as Lady Sutlumu happens to be an ambassador for them. I was expecting the Daleks to make a surprise appearance. 🙂
Sadly that never happened. I think ‘Killing Time’ would have benefited from having the Daleks appear in the finale to make it more exciting than it was. Maybe they’re being saved for ‘Self-Defence’. 😐
The cast of ‘Unfinished Business’ includes characters who appeared in ‘Killing Time’s first episode. They are Francois Pandolfo as Officiencier, Timothy Blore as Earl and Harley Viveash as the waiter. 🙂
Sarah Douglas also plays the Quartermistress in the episode. Derek Jacobi’s Master has a scene with her. I’m not sure what became of the Mevel robot he brought in his TARDIS from ‘A Quiet Night In’. 😐
There’s Raj Ghatak playing a Vizier and Fanos Xenofós playing a ‘new’ Vizier. Apart from the Viziers having different voices from each other, I don’t think there’s a lot to say about their characters here.
I did like it when the Master was presumed dead after being supposedly infected by Calantha’s version of the deadly virus on the Stagnant Protocol. He turns up at his funeral to expose Calantha. 🙂
I’m not sure what became of Calantha when she escaped in a shuttle provided for her by the Master. I think there was something in the wallpaper that might have been deadly, but it’s never revealed. 😦
‘Unfinished Business’ isn’t a very fulfilling finale to ‘Killing Time’ for me. After hearing the emotional gut-punching character dramas in the previous two episodes, I had expected a lot more in the finale.
The episode’s end credits are read by Alexandra Riley. Surely Sir Derek Jacobi could have read the final episode’s end credits instead to make a change. The CD extras are as follows. At the end of ‘Unfinished Business’, there’s a behind-the-scenes interview conducted by script editor/producer/director Scott Handcock with writers James Goss and Lou Morgan. It was interesting to hear Scott Handcock connect ‘Killing Time’ to the events of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 as well as hear James Goss and Lou Morgan share their thoughts on the writing experiences of their episodes for ‘Killing Time’. There’s also a suite of incidental music to enjoy at the end of the episode.
When you purchase ‘Killing Time’ as a CD or as a download from Big Finish, you’ll get the following extra. There’s an extended music suite by Rob Harvey to enjoy.
‘Killing Time’ features two great episodes where Derek Jacobi’s Master meets Katy Manning’s Jo and Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa. I enjoyed those episodes. Sadly, ‘Killing Time’ is let down by two decent, albeit underwhelming episodes on the War Master’s power game with Calantha on the Stagnant Protocol.
It’s a shame, as I’ve enjoyed ‘The War Master’ series so far. I hoped ‘Killing Time’ would be a winner for me. Maybe things will be made up in the next ‘War Master’ story ‘Self-Defence’ where Derek Jacobi’s Master meets David Tennant’s Doctor. Maybe Jo and Nyssa’s fates will be resolved by then.
‘Unfinished Business’ rating – 5/10
‘Killing Time’ (WM) box set rating – 7/10
The previous story
For the Master was
For Jo was
For Nyssa was
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For the Master is
For Jo is
For Nyssa is
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