The Hollows of Time (2009)

The fourth part of this first collection of Lost Stories sees the Doctor encounter a creature that like the Celestial Toymaker in The Nightmare Fair that it had faced in the classic series. The Tractators first appeared alongside Peter Davison in Frontios (1984) and to be honest I wasn’t that fussed about their return. Ok they looked a bit odd but seriously there must be more interesting creatures to bring back than the ‘Sand Monsters’. This version as well as the intended version were both written by former script editor Christopher H Bidmead who wrote the 2007 play Renaissance of the Daleks. In that story he wanted ‘From an idea by’ line put about his name and that was because changes had been made to the story that he felt he couldn’t put his name to. In other words if it were rubbish (like it was) then he couldn’t shoulder much of the blame, if only he had done the same for this story.

The story sees the Doctor and Peri in the TARDIS reliving their past adventure. However they can’t quite remember what happened (though they seem to conveniently be able to tell the story). Where they pop to the village of Hollowdean to see Reverend ‘Foxy’ Foxwell. In a series of Lost style flashbacks the story unfolds at a ridiculously slow pace. There are many problems with this story and some are out of the hands of Bidmead and Big Finish. The main one is that the Master was suppose to be included in this story however Cardiff said that Big Finish couldn’t use the Master so the figure of Professor Stream is left in the air (Stream is an anagram of Master). Another problem is that the story is very dull. There’s nothing that I could say makes this story stand out for me. What exactly was the point of having the Tractators in this story? They serve nothing new to the plot and only add to a growing list of one time monsters that Big Finish have bought back however this time to a less than successful point. Another problem is that with the lack of the Master there was a big plot problem which isn’t resolved satisfactory. The Professor Stream was quite interesting in many ways but it would have been nicer to know more about him and why he was in Hollowdean.

The characters as well were very flawed indeed. Simon was a total irritation from start to finish. The character of Reverend Foxwell started off well but soon became tiresome and repetitive. Steel Specs and Jane were two characters that lacked originality and both deserved to be written out as quickly as they were. Unfortunately Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant suffer through a stagnant story that doesn’t allow them to be what they have become in previous lost stories.

In the interview extras between parts 2 and 3 Colin Baker says something that sums up this story for me when he said he didn’t understand the complexities of the story and what I want to know is how are we suppose to know what the hell is going on when the actors don’t know. Christopher H Bidmead seems to be hell bent on installing too much science into his stories. If I want to be bowled over with science terms then I will read a science book. What I want from a Doctor Who drama is 10% of science and 90% of drama.

Unfortunately this story is the worst story that Big Finish has produced for quite sometime. I didn’t really understand Brotherhood of the Daleks (2008) but if I had to listen to Hollows of Time or Brotherhood then I would go for Brotherhood partly because there was a curious element whereas with Hollows there is just nothing engaging about it at all.

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