The Doctor is asleep in the interzone between worlds, and the Kro’Ka appears to torment him – only to find that it must put up with Charley and C’rizz, who quickly become aware that the Kro’Ka seems to be powerless while the Time Lord is unconscious. Once awakened, the Doctor is subjected to a kind of mind-probing technique by the Kro’Ka, but he quickly gains the upper hand on the interzone guardian, forcing it to tell him, at least in general terms, where the TARDIS is located. The Doctor follows the trail to a place called Caerdroia, a surreal world where verdant hills populated by seemingly normal cows and rabbits lead to a circular maze. But that’s not the most surreal thing about Caerdroia – topping that list is the fact that the Doctor has emerged from the interzone in what seems like three aspects of his character: one rational, one inquisitive and easily distracted, and one dark and quick to anger. Charley and C’rizz can only tag along with the three Doctors as they look for a way out of the maze – and a way to find out who’s holding the Kro’Ka’s leash.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley), Conrad Westmaas (C’rizz), Stephen Perring (The Kro’Ka), Don Warrington (Rassilon)
Notes: Caerdroia is a Welsh word for a labyrinth. This audio adventure received an early release – with alternate cover art (seen here) – at a Doctor Who convention in November 2004; the limited edition alternate cover version was also sold by the internet vendor Tenth Planet.
Timeline: between The Last and The Next Life
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: An intriguing story that’s best left on the soundstage of the mind, the ever-shifting (and I don’t use that term lightly) maze passages of Caerdroia would bankrupt a movie budget, let alone a TV budget – making it a perfect idea for an audio story. The plot threads are definitely being tightened as well, finally giving some direction to the Divergent Universe arc and leading up to what is almost certainly a grand confrontation with Rassilon. If there’s a single problem with Caerdroia as a story, it’s a bit of the dreaded “info-dump” phenomenon, where weird and wacky things happen in abundance in the first three episodes, and all is explained in the fourth.
The cast is on top form, with Conrad Westmaas again getting to hang on to all of C’rizz’s marbles for the whole story. When he steps into the TARDIS for the first time – and it’s easy to forget that until now, he hasn’t seen it – it’s a neat little moment. Another interesting scene is one in which C’rizz asks Charley, point-blank, if she’s in love with the Doctor – that’s the first we’ve heard of that particular idea since Scherzo a whole year ago. As for the multiple Doctors, Paul McGann does an admirable job of acting-via-multitracking, differentiating each version of the Doctor’s personality nicely, though at one point he does rather darkly bring the Doctor’s less-than-charitable side disturbingly close to the same portrayal as his playful side.
And, after a year of TARDIS-free adventures, I have to say that it’s a delight to hear a story close with that familiar wheezing, groaning sound. Granted, the Divergent Universe arc is due to end with the next story, The Next Life, largely due to Big Finish wanting the clear the slate and get the eighth Doctor back to more traditional stories and ditch the interconnected story arcs so there won’t be anything to confuse the anticipated new listeners they’ll be picking up when the new TV series premieres. I suppose I should just say that the Divergent tangent has run its course and we’re getting out of it just at the right time. Not that it would’ve been so bad with a few more adventures like Caerdroia.