The Renaissance Man (2012)

After a great start with Destination Nerva and getting use to how the Fourth Doctor stories would work, I settled down to listen to this second stories with some excitment. It’s written by Toms Tardis Award winning writer Justin Richards and it is an interesting story because it features Ian McNeice who has appeared in a Big Finish story before namely 2007’s Immortal Beloved and of course recently appeared as Winston Churchill opposite Matt Smith’s Doctor. The story sees the Doctor trying to continue Leela’s education (which is something that never really got done on TV) and arrives in a quite little English village, its the second story in as many releases to have the setting of a lovely little village.

When listening to this story I did have a feeling that this was similar to the 2005 story ‘Dalek’ where a collector basically keeps everything locked under the ground but collects things because he likes it. In this story we have Harcourt (McNeice) who collects things to assume knowledge, persumably thinking that knowledge is power. I thought that this area of the story was what made it stand out for me. I thought that despite the unoriginal setting and the link to Dalek the whole story flowed pretty well. As this story is a two parter it means that some padding which would be required for a four parter isnt needed and so as a result time is short and everything has to matter but in the early stages I think that sufficent time was made to lay down the bits and pieces that would make up the story and Justin Richards did this very well.

Tom Baker continues to impress in these stories. His voice might be quite different from his time on TV but there are certain mannerisms and tones that help the listener believe that this is the Fourth Doctor. He doesnt sound like he is making that much of an effort yet it still sounds like he is having a lot of fun playing the Doctor (despite those Hornet Nest stories away from Big Finish). It’s a times like this that I wish that Baker would have done Big Finish stories years ago but will embrace the fact that he’s doing them and be happy with that. Louise Jameson is better than she ever was in these stories and continues that in this story. Ian McNeice is the best thing in this story because like Baker he is effortless and his performance is enjoyable throughout. As Harcourt, he is someone who thinks he is smarter than he actually is. It’s hard to imagine McNeice without thinking of Winston Churchill. It’s something that slightly marred the performance for me which isnt McNeice’s fault but it’s true. The rest of the supporting cast were also good Laura Molyneu (Beryl and Professor Lutthewaite) being another enjoyable performance.

The Renaissance Man is the story that I would really start to evaluate the series because Destination Nerva still had the novelty of the new series about it. Overall I liked this story, it was well written adn several of the characters were well written and well performed however I must admit that I did think it started to get a bit bogged down around the 2/3 mark but it managed to pull it together at the end and as a result was a good adventure and shows that this series has some even better moments going for it.

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