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8 November 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Rick Briggs

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: 31st October 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 8th November 2012

The Doctor arrives on the planet Cawdor deep within the Drashani Empire almost thirty years after his last visit ended in bloodshed. The Doctor has a promise to keep to a dead man but not everything goes smoothly for him. After the Succession of Blood, power in the Empire has befallen the young Empress Cheni and for five years the Empire enjoyed peace. 

But then the Wrath came.

Led by the feared Lord Tenebris, the Wrath lay waste to the Empire and the Drashani have been at war with them ever since. With Cawdor next in line for conquest, The Doctor must use all his wits of he is keep his promise. But what is the secret of the Wrath’s weapon, The Archeron Pulse and what connection does Tenebris have to the Empire? As the Doctor uncovers the truth it seems that old secrets and betrayals could lead to the Drashani’s ultimate destruction.

The Archeron Pulse is the second part of Big Finish’s closing trilogy for the main Doctor Who range this year; a series of interconnected stories detailing the history of the Drashani Empire. After the brilliant The Burning Prince, I speculated how much of that story would cross into this second chapter and as it turns out quite a lot does. This is a direct sequel to the previous story as without giving too much away, plot threads and characters carry over into this story and its events are explicitly defined by those that took place in The Burning Prince.

Writer Rick Briggs has done a fine job of creating a engaging storyline within the framework of the larger scope that this trilogy of stories is offering. While not as strong as the first story, The Archeron Pulse is still rather enjoyable. 

Colin Baker puts in a fine performance as The Doctor with a nod to the hubristic elements of the character from television. Thankfully he retains enough of the development of the character that has occurred throughout Big Finish to not let it become too much of a throwback. His arrogance does make for some wonderful comic moments and his clashes with Tenebris are some of the audio’s highlights.

Lord Tenebris is an engaging villain played with relish by James Wilby whose character really is the most important component of this adventure. Tenebris is almost certainly a nod to Darth Vader, showing the influences of space operas that have informed this trilogy so far but Briggs makes him enough of an interesting character to avoid him being a direct copy. As the revelations of Tenebris’ past are stripped away rather dramatically at the end of part two, the play shifts gears and what follows is some intriguing exposition that slows the action down somewhat but lays the ground work for the rather downbeat but hopeful finale. 

The supporting cast are fantastic but their stories seem to suffer once Tenebris makes his entrance dominance of the character over the proceedings. The Wrath are a fascinating creation and from the conclusion it seems that we have not heard the last from them.  

The Archeron Pulse is a great story which manages to be enjoyable and not fully suffer under the weight of exposition that is certainly being laid for a dramatic closing chapter.

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