23 November 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Simon Guerrier

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 30th November 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 23rd November 2011

The Doctor is dead. Steven Taylor and Oliver Harper are on the run. Trapped on the planetoid Grace Alone, they arrived to face the fate which had been haunting them since Oliver joined the TARDIS crew in 1960s London. Greeting them were the massacred bodies of the planetoid’s crew, and the perpetrators of the deed; an alien race known as the Vardans. Steven has felt recently, that when travelling with the Doctor he is living on “borrowed time”. Time is very quickly running out, and not everyone will escape it alive.

The First Wave is the conclusion to, and the strongest entry in the Oliver Harper trilogy.

The story itself works nicely for the format. It is not over complicated but it has a wonderfully tense and reflective feel. The theme of the story is most certainly about borrowed time, and how this has become a part of Steven Taylor’s character throughout the trilogy. His reflections on those he has lost when travelling with the Doctor, and cool resignation that he is next in the firing line are played superbly by Peter Purves who carries this play almost single handed with another fantastic interpretation of the First Doctor.

That is not to discredit the performance of Tom Allen as Oliver, who has grown on me throughout the course of the trilogy. There is something unapologetically heroic about Oliver towards the play’s conclusion, and Allen, particularly in the closing scene plays him beautifully.

The inclusion of returning villian, the Vardans, has thankfully not been shoe horned in for nostalgia’s sake. Their presence makes perfect sense and works to the story’s advantage, particularly in the final sequence.

Simon Guerrier’s writing is on top form. The play is written more as a two handed drama, with flashbacks and flash forwards narrated by Purves and Allen. This approach works very well, and the sense of foreboding about the inevitable fate of Oliver is clear and present but not so much that the conclusion lacks an emotional impact.

The closing scene is too good to spoil, suffice to say it is unexpected, original and done very well indeed. 

The only real criticism I could give is that the character of Oliver has gone before he had more time to really flesh out. I could see more stories with Oliver Harper, as the character had begun to grow, and his back story was strong enough to merit more exploration of his character but sadly it seems it was not to be.

With sterling direction by Lisa Bowerman, The First Wave is an excellent conclusion to what has been an intriguing trilogy for the Companion Chronicles.

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