‘THE MASTER OF CALLOUS’ (WM)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
On Callous with the War Master and the Ood
What trouble will the War Master cause on the planet Callous?
After enjoying ‘Only the Good’, the first ‘War Master’ box set by Big Finish, starring Sir Derek Jacobi as the Master, I was looking forward to checking out the second ‘War Master’ box set. This was of course ‘The Master of Callous’, starring Sir Derek Jacobi as the Master and Silas Carson as the Ood. 🙂
It’s interesting to hear this ‘War Master’ series of audios from the worlds of ‘Doctor Who’. Unlike most ‘Doctor Who’ spin-offs where the stories are in chronological order, ‘The War Master’ audios are rather random in terms or release order. ‘Only the Good’ built up towards the start of ‘Utopia’. 😐
Here in ‘The Master of Callous’, we go back many years to before the events of ‘Only the Good’ happened. We find out what the Master did during the Time War and how his master villainy spread. Usually it does take a while for a prelude to a certain ‘Doctor Who’ episode/story to actually happen.
But with ‘Only the Good’, Big Finish just got on with the Master ending up trillions of years in the future to become Professor Yana in ‘Utopia’. In the second ‘War Master’ box set, we go back to earlier on in Derek Jacobi’s Master’s lifetime. I’m not entirely sure how the War Master had started.
I assume there are other stories featuring Sir Derek Jacobi’s War Master taking place before ‘The Master of Callous’ and everything. I’m also not entirely sure how the Time Lords ‘resurrected’ the Master in the Time War. Maybe it’s something to be explored in this box set or in a future box set. 😐
Either way, I’m hoping to enjoy these ‘War Master’ audios before I get onto ‘Killing Time’ featuring Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa and Katy Manning’s Jo where they meet Derek Jacobi’s Master. At this point in time, I’m looking forward to hear the sixth ‘War Master’ box set to find out about those meetings. 🙂
‘The Master of Callous’ was released in December 2018, a year after ‘Only the Good’ was released in December 2017. I did wonder if these ‘War Master’ audio box sets would be released yearly before Christmas time. But as of late, they’ve been released quite infrequently, which isn’t all that unusual.
Once again, I purchased ‘The Master of Callous’ as a download from Big Finish. I purchased the first four ‘War Master’ box sets as downloads whilst I purchased the fifth and sixth box sets as CD releases. Downloading a Big Finish download onto my tablet can often be very tricky at times for me.
Like I said, ‘The Master of Callous’ stars Derek Jacobi as the War Master and Silas Carson as the Ood. It was intriguing to hear the Ood in this certain box set. The four episodes of ‘The Master of Callous’ include ‘Call for the Dead’, ‘The Glittering Prize’, ‘The Persistence of Dreams’ and ‘Sins of the Father’.
When released on CD, ‘The Master of Callous’ was presented as a 5-disc CD set. The four episodes of the story were on the first four discs whilst Disc 5 contained behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew about the making of the four episodes. Let’s venture into this four-parter, shall we? 😀
1. ‘CALL FOR THE DEAD’
In the first episode of ‘The Master of Callous’ called ‘Call for the Dead’ by James Goss, we have our introduction to the mining colony world of Callous. The IMC from ‘Colony In Space’ are involved too.
A man who is in charge of mining swenyo – a rare ore found on few planets – struggles to meet the demands of Callous’ governor. He eventually commits suicide once the odds are stacked against him.
His daughter tries to take control of the business on Callous, but the results are more or less the same. What are the Ood doing with an antiquated phone and how is the Master involved in all this?
James Goss previously wrote for Derek Jacobi’s Master in the episode ‘The Sky Man’ for ‘Only the Good’. Like what he did for ‘The Sky Man’, James Goss keeps Derek Jacobi’s Master very low-key. 😐
The episode’s major characters include Simon Ludders as Elliot King who struggles to maintain business. The episode then has a focus on Maeve Bluebell Wells as Cassandra, Elliot King’s daughter.
Cassandra is also married to Samantha Béart as Martine King. Yeah, James Goss is doing the lesbian relationship thing again in a ‘Doctor Who’ audio production like he did with ‘Harvest of the Sycorax’.
It’s interesting how the Master doesn’t take centre stage in most of the episode. Derek Jacobi’s scenes mostly involve telephone conversations with people like Elliot King, Jaques and Cassandra. 😐
It was exciting to hear the Ood in this ‘War Master’ story, as voiced by Silas Carson. It’s eerie when the Ood keep telling a certain person ‘a call is waiting’ for them and they hold an antiquated phone.
I’m certain that the Master is controlling the Ood, especially when they struggle to say “I am the Master…” and they only get far as saying “I am the…” and “…you will obey me!” It’s quite unnerving.
Apparently there are wild Ood stalking the forests of Callous and on occasion, Teremon will have them shot. I sometimes did wonder if the Master was speaking through the Ood at certain points. 😐
What could Derek Jacobi’s Master be up to? At this point, I wonder if the Master’s going to be ‘king’ of Callous at some point. Or else why would he be so interested in the planet Callous and its people?
Another villain in ‘The Master of Callous’ is Pippa Haywood as Teremon, the governor of the planet Callous. It was nice to hear Pippa Haywood as she played Helen Brittas in ‘The Brittas Empire’ series.
Teremon does sound like a nasty person, as its all business to her and she’s determined to ruin people like Elliot King and her daughter Cassandra. I wonder how Teremon’s character will progress.
Also appearing in this episode is Barnaby Edwards as Jaques, Elliot’s business partner and friend. I’ve met Barnaby Edwards in real-life at conventions and he is so well-known for being a Dalek operator.
It was intriguing to hear how Jaques’ relationship with Elliot worked compared to his working relationship with Cassandra later on. Jaques doesn’t forgive Cassandra when she’s apologetic to him.
The episode also features David Menkin as Herschel, one of the mine workers on Callous. There’s also Kai Owen, who regularly plays Rhys Williams in ‘Torchwood’, as Porrit, another mine worker. 😀
It was sad to hear how it turned out for Elliot in the episode. He couldn’t get away from Callous to be with his family, having increasing pressure from Teremon. Very soon, Elliot’s wife dies from illness. 😦
It does get dark when Elliot answered the phone call given to him by the Ood from the Master and he soon ends up committing suicide. It happens the same way to Jaques when he has a phone call. 😐
I’m curious as to how the Master is able to gain control of the Ood and how he gained control of them in the first place. Hopefully it’ll be explored soon in future episodes of ‘The Master of Callous’.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger with Cassandra answering the phone call to her by the Ood from the Master. I wonder what the Master can do to offer Cassandra help in restoring the planet Callous.
‘Call for the Dead’ is a solid opening audio episode in ‘The Master of Callous’. I’m intrigued about what’s to come next and how the Master will play his central role in all that is happening on Callous.
‘Call for the Dead’ rating – 8/10
2. ‘THE GLITTERING PRIZE’
The second episode of ‘The Master of Callous’ is ‘The Glittering Prize’ by James Goss. This is James Goss’ second episode in ‘The Master of Callous’. Amazing that he wrote two episodes for this set! 😀
A thing I noticed is that ‘The Glittering Prize’ is a shorter episode compared to ‘Call for the Dead’. It’s still about an hour’s length, but there is more time devoted for this four-parter’s first audio episode.
The episode takes place a year after the events of ‘Call for the Dead’. Things seem to be going well for Cassandra and Martine King’s business as the Master under the alias ‘Mr. Orman’ has helped out.
It was unusual to hear Derek Jacobi’s Master be so benign as he has been helping Cassandra and Martine in terms of making money for their business. There has to be a motivation behind all of this.
The Master simply can’t be helping Cassandra and Martina out of the goodness of his heart. There must be something on the planet Callous that he wants. And he has the Ood to help him out as well.
The Ood, voiced by Silas Carson, continue to be subservient to the humans on Callous when they conduct their mining business operations. I find it a challenge to distinguish who each Ood is here. 😀
They are given names like Henry and Lucy or something (unless I made those up), but they all more or less sound the same. It’s great to hear Silas Carson voice the Ood, sounding as they do on the TV.
The Ood are still struggling to say “I am the (Master) and you will be obey me!” I’m pretty sure the Master is controlling them in some way. What that control will entail in the final result, I don’t know.
There is an indication of Maeve Bluebell Wells as Cassandra being distant from Samantha Béart as Martine in their relationship. Cassandra is more concerned about making profits than anything else.
Things get heated up when Martine expresses her frustration at Cassandra in this regard. It’s interesting how their relationship gets explored as the story in ‘The Master of Callous’ progresses. 😐
Pippa Haywood as Teremon continues to cause trouble, especially when she seems to want the swenyo ore for herself. It’s tense once Teremon and her assistant Calia come to the mining colony. 😐
Joe Shire stars as Calia in ‘The Master of Callous’. Both Teremon and Calia pursue the Master, Martine and a stowaway Herschel in a spaceship that carries the amount of swenyo ore on board. 😐
David Menkins as Herschel seems to be more prominent in this episode of ‘The Master of Callous’. He made out to be a coward here. At one point, the Master gags Herschel on board the spaceship. 😀
The Master can be quite charming when he’s interacting with Cassandra and Martine in the episode. Martine often praises the heck out of the Master as ‘Mr. Orman’, not realising how evil he truly is. 😐
There are times when the Master often loses his temper and he often calls Martine ‘a stupid woman’. Thankfully Martine doesn’t hear him and the Master is able to regain his own composure. 🙂
It was tense to hear the Master, Martina and Herschel in their ship being pursued by Teremon and Calia in their ship whilst dodging asteroids in an asteroid field. I could almost visualise it really well. 🙂
The episode also features Kai Owen back as Porrit as well as Richard Earl as Sassanby, another miner. Richard Earl is well-known for playing Dr. Watson in the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Big Finish audio dramas. 🙂
‘The Glittering Prize’ does end on a note that’s abrupt and open-ended. The Master says goodbye to Martine when he leaves her and Herschel (I think) someplace where they dropped off the swenyo. 😐
Eventually, Teremon and Calia find the Master in a ‘cupboard’ somewhere. Teremon demands the whereabouts of the swenyo ore, almost threatening the Master’s life if he refuses to say anything. 😐
I was expecting the Master to hypnotise Teremon at some point in order to take control of her mind. Maybe he does do that to her in the third or fourth episodes. We will just have to find out and see. 🙂
‘The Glittering Prize’ is an enjoyable second episode in ‘The Master of Callous’. I’m intrigued about what the Master’s plan is with Callous and its people. Incidentally, a Time War reference gets made.
‘The Glittering Prize’ rating – 8/10
3. ‘THE PERSISTENCE OF DREAMS’
‘The Persistence of Dreams’, the third episode of ‘The Master of Callous’, is a very unusual instalment in ‘The War Master’ series of Big Finish audios. This particular episode is by Guy Adams. 🙂
Guy Adams previously wrote for Derek Jacobi’s Master in ‘Only the Good’, writing the episode ‘The Heavenly Paradigm’. James Goss and Guy Adams were the only writers to come back for this box set.
It’s interesting James Goss and Guy Adams were the only writers from ‘Only the Good’ to return for ‘The Master of Callous’. It’s also intriguing how this ‘War Master’ box set takes a serialised approach.
Guy Adams’ first episode for ‘The Master of Callous’ focuses on Samantha Béart as Martine King, who was left behind on an asteroid by the War Master. In this episode, she’s completely abandoned.
Surprisingly, ‘The Persistence of Dreams’ doesn’t open and close with the catchy ‘War Master’ theme music. It opens and closes on grim notes where Martine King is abandoned and totally alone.
I’ll give ‘Sleep No More’, ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ and ‘Resolution’ credit. They ended with the familiar ‘Doctor Who’ theme music. Why couldn’t this ‘War Master’ episode end on its theme music? 😐
Just to talk about ‘The War Master’ theme music composed by Ioan Morris. I really like it! It’s very catchy, has some familiar ‘Doctor Who’ elements to it and it has the chance of it being quite sinister.
But yeah, like I said. Martine King is left abandoned on the asteroid where she’s meant to protect the swenyo ore. However, it transpires the swenyo ore is doing things to her mind on the asteroid. 😐
She wonders whether she’s going crazy and it seems like she does towards the end. It’s tragic how Martine ends up and she doesn’t even get to reunite with her wife Cassandra whom she once loved.
I wasn’t sure where the episode was going as it did seem to be all over the place. This is especially with Martine seeing hallucinations of jungles in corridors as well as seeing various people she meets.
The only person of comfort for Martine is an Ood voiced by Silas Carson whom she names ‘Dood’, I think. 😀 I don’t recall an Ood staying behind with Martine on the asteroid the last time we met her.
I believe Herschel got killed in the previous episode, hence why he’s not with Martine on the asteroid. It would be so interesting if this episode was a two-hander between Martine and Herschel.
Actually, in many ways, the episode is a two-hander between Martine and the Ood called ‘Dood’ who’s meant to be looking after Martine. ‘Dood’ seemed really concerned over Martine’s well-being.
Unfortunately, as it’s revealed by the Master, ‘Dood’ the Ood might not have been real and was only in Martine’s head. Thus why Martine ventured out into space all alone in her very impulsive manner!
The episode features Angela Bruce as Martine’s mother, who appears to Martine in hallucinations. Angela is well-known for playing Brigadier Bambera in the ‘Doctor Who’ series and Big Finish audios.
It was intriguing to discover more about Martine’s family background through Angela Bruce playing her mother compared to what we know of Cassandra’s family. Apparently, it was not a happy family.
Maeve Bluebell Wells returns to play Cassandra in certain hallucinations that Martine has of her. There’s an occasion where Cassandra disregards Martine entirely and is obsessed over her business.
I felt a surge of hope that Martine was going to be alright when she received a telecommunications from Cassandra who was on their way to rescue her. There are at least “I love you”s between them!
In the end, it’s all rather tragic when Derek Jacobi as the Master tells Martine via telecommunications that she received no contact from Cassandra. The Master refuses to rescue her.
It’s a contrast in that the Master would leave someone to die compared to the Doctor who would come back and rescue people. In the end, it’s assumed that Martine sadly died whilst in outer space.
‘The Persistence of Dreams’ is a disturbing episode in ‘The Master of Callous’. I wouldn’t call it great as it seemed all over the place, but then again minds can play funny tricks when you’re out all alone.
‘The Persistence of Dreams’ rating – 7/10
4. ‘SINS OF THE FATHER’
The final episode of ‘The Master of Callous’ in ‘The War Master’ series is the most intense of the lot. ‘Sins of the Father’ by Guy Adams sees Derek Jacobi’s Master’s plan come into fruition. So terrifying!
In the episode, everything comes together and everyone is on edge. Only the Master seems to be control of what’s going on whilst everyone else is either losing it, getting impatient or just gone mad.
The episode begins with Derek Jacobi’s Master being tortured on the orders of Pippa Haywood as Teremon. Rather than be hurt by the torturous experience, the Master seems to love being tortured.
Teremon gets fed up with the Master resisting answering questions on where the swenyo ore is. She’s very greedy and hell-bent to get what she wants and even snaps at people to the point of fury.
I found the scenes between Derek Jacobi’s Master and Pippa Haywood’s Teremon mesmerising to listen to. The Master loves mocking Teremon as he’s being tortured whilst Teremon is pretty peeved.
I did wonder why the Master didn’t seduce Teremon to his will by hypnotising her or something. But as it transpires, the Master was gradually weakening Teremon’s will to the point she’s losing control.
The Master manages to break out of her bonds, which Teremon is shocked by as they were meant to keep him firmly tight. Teremon backs away in terror as the Master tells her he won’t spare her life. 😐
I would have liked it if we heard the Master actually kill Teremon with his laser screwdriver rather than have us just assume that he killed her. It could have been a pretty dramatic scene to listen to. 😦
The Ood are once again voiced by Silas Carson in the episode. This time, the Ood go red-eyed. They kill not only the soldiers attacking the colonists, but they kill the colonists at the Master’s orders too.
As the Ood say to Cassandra that they won’t fight for the colonists, they soon get to utter the words “He is the Master and we will obey him!” I wondered whether they would say something like that. 😐
Maeve Bluebell Wells as Cassandra King completely loses it when everything doesn’t seem to go right with her. She even does a HULK SMASH about her house. She could have easily injured herself!
Simon Ludders makes a return appearance playing Elliot King, Cassandra’s father, who appears as a hallucination as a result of her being exposed to swenyo. Cassandra is pretty bitter with her father. 😦
The episode also features Richard Earl back as Sassanby as well as Kai Owen back as Porrit. Sassanby is sadly killed by the Master in an instant using his laser screwdriver on him once arriving by TARDIS.
There’s also Wilf Scolding who plays the First Soldier and Tom Forrester as the Second Soldier who take part in the pre-ordered killings of the colonists by Teremon. Most of their scenes were amusing.
Joe Shire makes a final appearance as Calia in ‘The Master of Callous’. I don’t know what happened to him as he was told to wait in Teremon’s shuttle for take-off. I must assume the Ood killed Calia. 😐
In the end, the Master is about to leave the planet Callous behind with the Ood killing everyone else. Cassandra begs the Master to take her with him in his TARDIS, but he tells her he doesn’t like her. 😦
We then have the scene from the Master’s point of view where he talks to Samantha Béart’s Martine King from the end of ‘The Persistence of Dreams’. He then heads off to collect that swenyo.
Eventually, the Master meets up with Seán Carlsen as Narvin from the ‘Gallifrey’ series to hand over the swenyo. The Time Lords wish to use the swenyo for weapons against the Daleks in the Time War.
The Master is also given a chameleon arch from Narvin as part of their agreement. Pretty soon, the Master will install that chameleon arch into the TARDIS where he’ll end up becoming Professor Yana.
‘Sins of the Father’ is a brilliant conclusion to ‘The Master of Callous’ story. I enjoyed how things came together in the Master’s plans and for a change; he seemed to achieve his goals in the story. 😐
It was eerie to hear the end credits read out by an Ood, voiced by Silas Carson, once the episode was over. I wonder if any of the Ood on Callous lived to survive and tell the tale of what happened lately.
‘Sins of the Father’ rating – 9/10
Disc 5 of ‘The Master of Callous’ CD box set contains behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew looking into the making of the four-part story. Similar with ‘The Seventh Doctor: The New Adventures’ – Volume 1, the interviews are all conducted by the producer/director Scott Handcock.
We start off with a jolly interview with Sir Derek Jacobi who seems really happy to be doing these ‘War Master’ audio stories. We then have an interview with writer James Goss on his thoughts of ‘The Master of Callous’. Quite strangely, writer Guy Adams doesn’t get interviewed which is peculiar.
We move into the ‘Call for the Dead’ territory as we have interviews with Silas Carson, Simon Ludders, Maeve Bluebell Wells, Samantha Béart and Barnaby Edwards. We go back to the interview with Derek Jacobi who shares his thoughts about the Ood and what it’s like to do a story with them.
Next up, we go into ‘The Glittering Prize’ territory where we have interviews with Richard Earl, David Menkin, Tom Forrister and Kai Owen. Apparently Herschal did die at the end of ‘The Glittering Prize’. 😀 After that, we return to the interview with Derek Jacobi who shares more thoughts about the Master. 🙂
It’s then looking into ‘The Persistence of Dreams’ as we have interviews with Samantha Béart, Angela Bruce and Silas Carson. Just to quickly gloss over, I enjoyed Derek Jacobi’s performances as the Master being a vagrant and a food machine. Clearly the cast seemed to enjoy that about him. 😀
And finally we get to ‘Sins of the Father’ where we have interviews with Pippa Haywood and Joe Shire who clearly enjoyed working on the story. I liked Pippa’s theories on what happened to Teremon and what her unheard fate was. The bonus disc closes with final thoughts by Derek Jacobi. 🙂
After the behind-the-scenes interviews, there’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for the third ‘War Master’ box set by Big Finish called ‘Rage of the Time Lords’, starring Sir Derek Jacobi as the War Master and Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. There’s also a suite of incidental music of ‘The Master of Callous’ to enjoy.
‘The Master of Callous’ has been a gripping four-part epic audio adventure featuring Sir Derek Jacobi as the Master. I enjoyed how the four episodes were more serialised than standalone as was the case in ‘Only the Good’. I also enjoyed the Ood and how they were involved in the Master’s big plan.
It was also great to hear guest stars like Pippa Haywood, Barnaby Edwards, Kai Owen and Angela Bruce in ‘The Master of Callous’. I’m currently looking forward to what happens next for the War Master. What dastardly plans will he have up his sleeves to cause trouble in the universe next time?
‘The Master of Callous’ (WM) box set rating – 8/10
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Great review Tim brilliantly written full of great content.
I loved this story tense, dark, disturbing, atmospheric & right up my street, Sir Derek Jacobi is my second favourite Master after the late Roger Delgado as Jacobi War Master oozes evil & hones in on the devious, cunning & manipulation of the character, he’s playing chess by putting all the pieces into play on the board & then when everything in place he strikes.
I truly love this incarnation & i can’t wait hear Killing Time & next year Vs Tenth Doctor box sets..
Trust me Tim i got every War Master release & i have enjoyed them all equally, very well written audio dramas.
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Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Master of Callous’.
Yes, Sir Derek Jacobi is great playing the Master in these Big Finish audios. I’m currently looking forward to hearing him in ‘Killing Time’ with Katy Manning and Sarah Sutton as well as the upcoming ‘Self-Defence’ box set with David Tennant. As soon as I saw David Tennant was going to be in the seventh ‘War Master ‘box set, I immediately pre-ordered it. 😀
I’m pleased you’ve enjoyed the War Master audios made so far by Big Finish. I’ve also reviewed ‘Only the Good,’ the first War Master box set on ‘Bradley’s Basement’.
Many thanks for your comments.