Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: The Key 2 Time season

With the release of Graceless II this month, here’s our review of the original quadrilogy of tales that introduced Abby (or Amy as she was known before a certain redhead took possession of the name on TV) and her sister Zara…

The first Key 2 Time story, The Judgement of Isskar is set towards the end of the Fifth Doctor’s life, and sees him once again taken out of time and sent on a mission to retrieve the Key to Time. However unlike the Fourth Doctor stories, the Time Lord isn’t the one in charge: he’s actually there to help an unnamed construct created by the Graces, the makers of the Key. There’s one hell of an info dump in the first episode that Peter Davison and Ciara Janson deliver as efficiently as possible before the main story begins.

While this is an enjoyable tale, and features the return of the Ice Warriors, why is there an obsession with involving the Doctor at the genesis of all his foes? Spare Parts was great for the Cybermen, but did we really need to discover that the Doctor was responsible for the Martians becoming Ice Warriors? 7/10

Coming out the same month as the Key 2 Time story began, the Companion Chronicle, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, is part of the season. It is supposedly read by Sophie Aldred as Ace, but in fact this is far more of a play than its predecessors, with the action getting inside the heads of  both Ace and the other protagonist, Zara. Although adequate (if not too much) explanation is given of the set up of The Key 2 Time season, the story doesn’t really stand alone.  7/10

The season proper continues with Jonathan Clements’ The Destroyer of Delights, with David Troughton enjoying the chance to play The Black Guardian. His vocal resemblance to his father at times is quite spooky, which adds a (possibly unintentional) second level to the performance. This is a fun story set in the 9th Century Sudan and plays around with the mores and customs of the time. It’s occasionally a bit too clever although there’s some sharp dialogue between the Fifth Doctor and his adversaries.

Rather like some of the original Key to Time season’s tales, this feels a little like a Who story that’s had the Key segment theme added to it, rather than being generated from the concept – not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps unusual in a trilogy.  7/10

The Chaos Pool brings the season to an end, with a guest appearance from Lalla Ward adding to the mix in some unexpected and interesting ways. While the cliffhanger at the end of the first episode isn’t that much of a surprise (it’d have been more of a shock if the revelation had been anything else!), the one at the end of episode three really does come out of left field – but makes perfect sense once explained.

Writer Peter Anghelides initially pays homage to The Armageddon Factor, the conclusion of the original Key season, to such an extent that you half expect Time Lord cockney Drax to turn up for a brief cameo. However by the end he comes up with some delightfully devious ideas which bring the saga to a fitting conclusion. 7/10

Paul Simpson

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