Big Finish Productions
|Written by||Nicholas Briggs|
|Starring Sylvester McCoy|
A Review by Brian May 1/6/14
I tried my hardest, but couldn't find it in myself to enjoy Frozen Time. In fact, I have to concede this is one of the dullest, uninspired stories I've heard in quite a while. It is cliched and derivative, but these are not criticisms per se; as I've said many times before, it's the way it's done that matters. Not every Doctor Who tale can be (or should be) radical, cerebral and/or the nexus of a complex story arc. There are times when all I want is an enjoyable runaround; this could have been one, especially as we have the lost expedition, the recovery team, an Antarctic base and the unearthing of a buried menace.
Unhappily, this isn't one of those stories.
The first fifteen-odd minutes show some potential as the plot is set up, but thereafter it's nothing more than zero-dimensional characters exchanging banal dialogue as a predictable scenario unfolds. The usual melange of escape, capture and numerous showdowns precede an unexciting conclusion, with a token, cringe-inducing environmental "statement" thrown in. Ironically, the story's sole stab at complexity fails because it stretches credibility to the extreme. Having the Doctor buried beneath the ice for several million years doesn't convince at all, while his memory loss is a conveniently hit-and-miss affair. It's better than simply having the TARDIS land and the Doctor stepping outside, but when the circumstances are this far-fetched, perhaps the simpler option is the least worst.
The acting is actually quite good, but because the characters are so hackneyed it's hard to be enthused by the performances. Anthony Calf is the exception, bringing some depth to Lord Barset, but otherwise it's a collection of cliches - the doddery old professor, the nice guy etc - that don't allow for any scope. The casting of a high-profile name like Maryam d'Abo is an admirable coup for Big Finish, but her overcooked French accent does her no favours (but hey, it's Barnaby Edwards, the king of Clouseau, directing this!). Sylvester McCoy is the Doctor who has impressed least in the audios, giving inconsistent performances, and this is one of his weakest: exaggeration of words, continual "r"-rolling, overacting; all his worst traits, all present and correct.
I wonder if Nicholas Briggs just writes filler these days. His story prior to this, The Nowhere Place, I have described similarly, but it has a lot more to offer. Frozen Time is an adaptation of Briggs's own Audio Visuals adventure Endurance (which I haven't listened to so can't appraise), but either Briggs thought it worthy enough to be re-jigged as a professional production, or Big Finish were desperate for a story and he revived it in response. Either way the result is unimpressive.
Another good point: as the master of alien voices, Briggs can add one more feather to his cap with an excellent Ice Warrior impression. But overall this is very boring. 2/10