2 June 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Andrew Cartmel

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 31st May 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 2nd June 2011

The Seventh Doctor is regarded as the most manipulative or Machiavellian of all the Doctor’s incarnations and that was the responsibility of Andrew Cartmel, who was script editor during Doctor Who’s last three seasons before it went off the air in 1989. So with the unproduced season 27 forming the basis of this latest series of Lost Stories, it is only right that Cartmel should be involved. Unfortunately, Crime of the Century isn’t as strong a story as you would hope from the man credited with laying down the legendary “Cartmel Masterplan”.

Our story begins in 1989 with Raine Creevy, daughter of cheeky chappie Marcus Creevy from the previous story Thin Ice. Raine is not only charming but an expert safecracker and Cat burglar. One night while trying to rob from a safe at a very fashionable house party in London, she finds something or rather someone inside it she hadn’t counted on; a strange little man from her distant past.

Meanwhile Ace has found herself in the remote Soviet republic of Kafiristan, where the local tribesmen are engaged in a rebellion against the Russian army. There she finds an old enemy and stories of demons hiding in the mountains.

It isn’t long before Raine and Ace find themselves knee deep in the Doctor’s mysterious plans which seem to have something to do with a high security vault on the Scottish border.

One of the strongest elements of this audio is the performances, particularly from Beth Chalmers as Raine. She is sassy, confident and a wonderful contrast to Ace, played superbly as always by Sophie Aldred. Sylvester McCoy, in an at times reduced role for the Doctor is particularly mysterious and the supporting cast all excel.

What lets this audio down somewhat is that it is not sure what tone it should be. The first three episodes contain some incredibly bleak and dark moments and then shifts rather suddenly into a baffling mix of absurd comedy, mostly from the story’s alien menace the Metatraxi. The questionably comic scene where the Doctor fixes their translators seems ill placed in a story which is laced with death.

The Doctor is once again back to his Machiavellian ways, effortlessly moving the people around him to achieve his aim, but throughout I found myself asking why? There doesn’t seem to be any real sense of peril in this story, more a series of often infuriatingly cryptic events which lead us to the climactic scene in the high security vault where the Doctor finally gets what he is after. There are some great moments. Raine’s introduction as a character is brilliantly achieved. Her first meeting with Ace and their subsequent sizing up of one another promises that sparks will fly in future stories.

Crime of the Century suffers by trying to be a loose sequel to Thin Ice, mostly in a couple of recurring characters and the Soviet connection.

Although the continuity is nice, I would’ve preferred a cleaner break from the previous story. Possessing a really good musical score and sound design, there are moments to enjoy in Crime of the Century and Cartmel does succeed in creating a believable and strong new companion for the Seventh Doctor, but overall I was hoping for just a little bit more.

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