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tomb-ship-cover

“How is getting past a giant metal block slamming against the floor every couple of seconds not impossible?”

The Doctor and Nyssa land on board a giant floating pyramid travelling without apparent destination through the limitless vistas of space.  Of course, they’re not the only intruders aboard…

A family of grave robbers has designs on a legendary treasure deep within the bowels of the tomb.  But there are riddles and traps galore to be found herein, and terrifying insectoid life forms guarding its secrets…

Wow, someone’s really letting their geek flag fly…

With a rather obvious genesis in a bit too much Tomb Raider style videogaming, the entire script by Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby (The Doomsday Quatrain) is comprised of little more than one timing based trap and linear logic puzzle after another.

There’s little or nothing to engage the viewer here, mind, as these aren’t the sort of mental challenges presented by the Agatha Christie style whodunit, but an entirely intrinsic algorithm left to the characters themselves (generally the Doctor) to solve for the rest of us, sans clues.  All that’s left for the listener is to sit back and enjoy the ride, as it were.

And to think, readers used to complain about the deus ex machina, ‘godlike’ mystery solving of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes…

“I’m sorry about your brothers.”
“Half brothers, really.  Mother…there’s two things she’s good at collecting, husbands and treasures.  And she keeps the treasures a lot longer than she usually does the husbands.”

There’s another obvious source here, relating to none other than comic book legend Jack Kirby.  With her callous singlemindedness and implementation of pre-planned eugenics to achieve her aims, the tyrannically acquisitive Virna (Eve Karpf) is clearly inspired by the Apokoliptian ‘bad mother’ Granny Goodness.

Effectively torturing, lying to and utilizing her numerous offspring to her own selfish ends, she spawns seeming dozens of progeny from multiple fathers, cracking the whip militarily to use them as cannon fodder in her exploration and pilfering of suchlike tomb ships throughout the universe.  With their naïveté and devotion, are these effective laboratory bred slaves even slightly removed from Granny’s Furies and slave camp “trainees”?

“You mean it was all for nothing?”

While the synopsis promises exploration of ancient mysteries with a sci-fi bent, much akin to Pyramids of Mars, Tomb of the Cybermen or even the somewhat flawed Last of the Colophon, all we’re actually given is a sort of celebration of geekery, with Who melded to the related but intellectually less developed worlds of the videogaming and superhero comic book industries.

“Right behind you…unfortunately…”

Leaving little for the listener but a lengthy and moebius strip-like repeating sequence of often underdeveloped characters as they express a neverending loop of naïveté, callousness, tension and death, the end result comes off a bit hollow: Who in trappings, but featuring precious little of its essential composition beneath.

Sans soul, we’re left with something of a whitewashed sepulchre, looking ornate and exotic to casual viewing, but filled with little more than the stench of dead men’s bones within.

“Lovely boys, you must be so proud.”

While I did certainly enjoy The Tomb Ship speaking as a fan of both Who and the sort of “mystery in space” milieu being tapped into here, those accustomed to far meatier fare from Big Finish (and Classic Who per se) should take note.

 

http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/tomb-ship-827

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