Big Finish Productions

Written by Scott Alan Woodward Cover image
Format Compact Disc
Released 2007

Starring Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas

Synopsis: Confession. Penance. Absolution. The TARDIS breaks down in a forbidden sector of space. Ghostly voices cry out for salvation and only C'rizz, the Doctor's Eutermesan companion, can answer their call - for only he knows the secret of the Absolver. But will he use it to rescue his friends or save the universe? The Doctor's sins are catching up with him and the infernal beast Borarus is hungry. Time is running out and Judgement Day is at hand.


Tara C'rizz! by Joe Ford 26/6/09

Erm... that actually worked. I have distanced myself from Big Finish lately for lots of reasons. There is a mammoth of Doctor Who merchandise to buy these days and a fan truly has to be selective if he isn't to re-mortgage the house and avoid debt collectors. I have always been quite a harsh critic of Big Finish in the past for both creative and personal reasons but as Gary Russell bowed out the series began to shine like it did with those initial 30 odd releases. Unfortunately (and here's a massive slice of humble pie from me), Gary seems to have been the glue that held the production company together and I cannot think of a single release I have listened to since he has gone that got me excited. The Wishing Beast and Valhalla were particularly awful. The general feeling from my end was the dissolution of the intriguing character arcs and more focus on one-off adventures with established TV companions and the result is Big Finish has become more take-it-or-leave-it than ever. Don't have an aneurism but I have actually failed to buy a few stories - and I get half price at work!

Absolution has been a long time coming. Featuring as it does the eighth Doctor, Charley and C'rizz, it should be the release that interests me the least. To put it mildly, they have never been a favourite combination of mine and Charley has been around now for what feels like forever. So popular is this team that they haven't been called upon to light up the schedules for over a year.

Okay, enough with the vitriol already because I am about to do some amazing backtracking - and apologising. To India Fisher. To Conrad Westmaas. To Gary Russell even. Absolution really works. It really, really works but - and that is a big but - it wouldn't work if they had listened to me (like anybody would!). Forget all the tears and melodrama of Doomsday (as exciting as that was at the time), this is how to write out a regular so you will never forget him.

Are there any C'rizz fans out there, though? I mean really? His story has been a dark and nefarious one, grippingly slaughtering people in stories completely unbeknownst to the Doctor and Charley; to his mind he is "saving" them. There has always been a feeling that he doesn't feel entirely at home on the TARDIS and that he was meant for better things. It is only his (occasionally) sweet relationship with Charley that has kept him grounded. Certainly, the Doctor has always been suspicious. It would appear that this has all been heading somewhere after all. There are some great surprises in Absolution that are thrown in your face like a dirty great mud pie which is great remedy after all the hints and whispers that have wound me up over the past few years. So much so (great big breath here) that I am almost tempted to go back to the Divegents universe arc (phew) and listen to the whole story. If I wasn't working full time and squeezing in 16 hours a week of English Lit studying, that might be quite a plan!

But, before we get to the uber-dramatic final episode, there is some lovely character building. C'rizz is separated from the Doctor and Charley and is taken on a spiritual (or should that be devilish) journey with Aboresh. We get a close glimpse of the sort of monster C'rizz might have become if he had not met the Doctor: incredible and uncontrollable mind powers and a delusion of Godhood. The moment the Doctor's life is threatened and C'rizz's voice blasts from the sky and starts tearing apart the guards, you realise just how frightening his potential is. The final revelation - that C'rizz is a receptacle for minds after they have been killed, that he was designed to allow immortality for his own people - makes sense of the voices he has been hearing throughout his time on board the TARDIS. It suddenly makes C'rizz's previous statement that he is "saving" people as he murders them even more terrifying. Deliberately killing people so they can live on forever in him. Brrr...

Once you see what a beast he can be, it soon becomes obvious that C'rizz is going to have to use these powers to save his friends. But not before the tense moment where you genuinely feel he might allow them to die so they can exist in him. Taking on more of Adric's narrative then you would ever believe (stolen from his own universe, at odds with the Doctor, alienated in his adventures), he follows in the Alzarian's footsteps and sacrifices his life. This alone would be enough to give the story a real humdinger of an ending but the final TARDIS scene between the Doctor and Charley is surely the first classic scene Big Finish have given us in a while...

However, it has been played out before, that was why I was so shocked that it worked so well. Charley has been fairly redundant as a character ever since the end of Neverland. Here this is acknowledged, the Doctor pretty much admits that he hasn't felt right ever since C'rizz joined the TARDIS. People move on. That is his opinion. C'rizz's death is given extra poignancy by Charley's horrified, angry reaction. Paul McGann and India Fisher haven't attacked material with this much emotion for an age. The Doctor's lack of reaction shocks even the listener; would he be this blase about us if we travelled with him and died? Suddenly, unexpectedly, you realise how much Charley has grown up. That giggly, addictive adventurer has become a full-blooded, experienced woman, one who can even stand up to a Time Lord. Fisher's performance as the disgusted Charley is remarkably intense and leaves you desperate to listen to the next story. This story acknowledges that they didn't work quite as well as a team and that it is time for both Charley and C'rizz to go. Brave and gripping.

Of course, none of this would work without a good story to back it up and good perfomers to play against and we are fortunate enough that both score highly in Absolution. Scott Alan Woodward has written a striking tale of the TARDIS plunging into the depths of hell with so many gothic overtones it is like watching the entire Hinchcliffe era all super condensed into one story. I love the imagery: slavering beasts, ghostly voices, religious mania, secret passages, blood bubbling from the console... the story primes us for the shock of C'rizz's departure with plenty of dramatic undertones. The story itself comes down to the simple tale of three people and a love triangle that caused people to behave outrageously and had hideous consequences for the planet. A small but memorable cast bring the characters alive. Hustle's Robert Glenister is superb as the persuasive and vindictive Aboresh, his scenes with C'rizz take on an atmospheric unreality and his dramatic standoff with Christopher Villiers Cacothis practically compares with C'rizz's departure.

Barnaby Edwards has always been one of Big Finish's A-List audio directors and Absolution is no exception. The sound effects are constant and hellish, never allowing us to forget where we are, and the music purrs in the background adding menace to proceedings. His primary function here is to give C'rizz a good send-off and Conrad Westmaas has rarely been better. Edwards also draws out the phenomenal emotions in the last scene.

Well-constructed, peppered with knockout dialogue, featuring powerhouse performances and incredible drama. Are Big Finish back on track? Absolution indeed.

A Journey in Hell by Noe Geric 1/11/21

After Gary Russell's departure, new producer Nicholas Briggs decided to slowly wipe every Big Finish original companion from the surface of the Main Range, or put them somewhere else. And poor C'rizz was the first on Briggs's list. He wasn't famous for being the most developed of the characters, but something about him makes me sad about seeing him leave.

Attention, I'm going to spoil most of the story!

Charley does something stupid, and the TARDIS crew find themselves in hell... Literally. C'rizz becomes a God with X-Men superpowers, and the Doctor sees the TARDIS explode with blood. And this is the beginning of one of my favorite story in the whole Doctor Who universe. After putting an incredibly high rating to the most infamous story, Minuet in Hell, people can think I have an obsession with stories set in Hell. Of course not, but I really like when Doctor Who pushes the boundaries. When it isn't a family show, when you can except anything from a story like the New Adventures did.

While Minuet in Hell was mostly a more ''adult'' story, Absolution tries to be epic. And it succeeds perfectly. I thought I was hearing a Marvel Audio adventure from the beginning. The setting is incredibly detailed, with lots of monsters, a citadel at the heart of hell and a mad sorcerer trying to turn C'rizz into a God. The supporting cast isn't incredible. It's nice but nothing more. And I can't help but thinks Cacothis is played by Peter Davison after smoking fifteen cigarettes.

The Doctor is back to his Scherzo persona, while Charley is at her most irritating particularly near the end. As it's his last story, it was obvious that C'rizz should be underwritten for his last three episodes (of course I'm being sarcastic, hehe!). Yes, our good old friend Westmaas plays his few scenes as if his life depended on it. He managed to change my vision of the boring C'rizz from the divergent universe into the magnificent demon we see in the last episode. I would've preferred to see C'rizz being turned into a demon more slowly across his last three releases. Like if Absolution was a great season finale.

McGann seems to be underplaying half of the stuff. Like in Scaredy Cat, he doesn't sound concerned about the stuff. And it's quite disappointing. But of course all the plot is building up to the finale: C'rizz's sacrifice!

Sadly, it wasn't as I would've liked. The Doctor and Charley are taking their time to say goodbye to C'rizz, and it feels as if the guy had a chronometer that'll tell him when he's going to die. The whole stuff is too long to be emotional enough. It's a real parasite among Doctor Who emotional scenes: being too long to make me cry. Every regeneration (particularly since 2005) feels forced. When a companion dies we've still got 30 minutes to tell him goodbye. And it spoils the effect. If I take another show like Breaking Bad, most of the great emotional scenes work because they're quick and takes the audience by surprise. Absolution fails on that point and ends on Charley moaning with her most irritating voice.

But Absolution, even with its poor reputation, is one of my personal favorite for its themes, ideas, and concept. Would never have dreamed to see the TARDIS bite the Doctor? Or even bleed? Even with some faults, it manages to be epic, and I'll recommend it even if I can't guarantee everyone will love it as much as I do: 9/10