The Doctor abruptly whisks Charley away from an otherwise pleasant breakfast on urgent business: he’s just read about incidents in Manchester that he suspects are caused by alien activity. A reunion with D.I. Menzies proves to be uneasy for all involved: despite the fact that he helped her solve (and indeed survive) her last brush with alien activity, the Doctor isn’t a welcome sight for Menzies, since trouble seems to follow him. For her part, Menzies seems to have become the go-to investigator for any crimes that have a whiff of paranormal or alien activity about them, and she’s developed a few contacts to help her, including a time-sensitive who can instantly detect the twisted timeline of one Charlotte Pollard. Her secret is out – at least to Menzies – and even though the detective inspector isn’t certain what the implications are for the time-traveling duo, she considers Charley a murder suspect when her time-sensitive informant turns up dead. All leads point the Doctor and friends to a riverboat casino – one which has apparently traveled much further than just downriver. Two alien races converge on this location, prepared to wage the latest battle in a seemingly unresolvable war, and the stakes of the betting have never been higher. The Doctor has to rally his allies around him to save Earth from the carnage and try to stop the bloodshed – but he finds himself increasingly suspicious of his own traveling companion.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), Anna Hope (D. I. Menzies), Michael Fenton Stevens (Brooks), Aidan J. David (Lish), Octavia Walters (Carmen), Simon Sherlock (Kelsa), Jeremy James (Tabbalac Leader), Steven Hansell (The Bouncers), Andrew Dickens (The Cyrox)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: The sixth Doctor/Charley stories have presented a premise rife with built-in intrigue and suspense: the Doctor is unwittingly traveling with a companion who has already traveled with a future incarnation (and, aware of this, the companion isn’t breathing a word of her secret). Any forward motion on this plotline has been very gradual – really a long, ongoing tease. At long as the stories in which these hints are dropped are good, it’s easy to go along for the ride without worrying too much about the reveal.
The Raincloud Man revisits the setting of The Condemned, the first adventure pairing the sixth Doctor and his future companion, complete with D.I. Menzies, the Doctor’s slightly antagonistic ally from that earlier story. Having a time-sensitive character along for the ride is one of the story’s most intriguing elements, as we finally have someone who sees right through Charley’s mystery and understands that it’s a paradox just waiting to explode into a disaster. It may not be the big reveal, but now there’s a recurring character (Menzies) who knows what’s going on, and knows it’s not good. And knowing how much of the truth Charley’s been dancing around, it’s somewhat satisfying to see her squirm a little bit.
The case Menzies is working, on the other hand, isn’t quite as satisfying as her investigation from The Condemned. The previous story, though it involved an alien presence that could’ve threatened more than just a few characters, played out on a smaller stage; The Raincloud Man tries to resolve its mystery with a massive firefight – sure, it sounds impressive, but it’s the sort of thing that, while it may well be cheaper to do in audio form, just doesn’t add to the story like it does in a visual medium.
At the heart of it, though, so much of The Raincloud Man is about moving the sixth Doctor/Charley arc forward – with the languid pace at which that plotline is unfolding, the so-called “A” story of many of these adventures is almost becoming the “B” story by default.