The Doctor promises to take Melanie to the grand opening of the opulent Tower of Kalsos, but while the TARDIS does bring the time travelers to the Tower, it arrives moments before the Tower’s demolition. As the last refuge of the noncorporeal entity known as the Eminence, the controller of a zombie-lark armiy of possessed victims known as the Infinite, the Tower is a strategic target of the Earth Alliance military, and the Doctor and Mel barely survive its destruction. Flown back into Earth space without the TARDIS, the time travelers witness what has become of humanity after its lengthy war with the infinite: with resources spread thin, the human civilian population is starving and barely surviving, descending into anarchy. As an alien, and one who records show has a connection to the Eminence and the Infinite, the Doctor is locked up as a suspicious entity, but he and Mel manage to escape and begin making their way to Earth aboard a civilian ship. But Earth Alliance intelligence is right about one thing: the Doctor was once possessed by the Eminence, and after coming into close proximity to it on Kalsos, he may be under its control again.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush), Ray Fearon (Barlow Teveler), Ony Uhiara (Sisrella Tevier), Stuart Organ (Helgert Teveler), Lucy Russell (Trellak), John Banks (Elkinar), Beth Chalmers (Announcer), David Sibley (The Eminence)
Notes: This is not the Doctor’s first brush with the Eminence, though in release order it is; the Doctor’s first encounter with the Eminence occurs in the 2014 fourth Doctor story Destroy The Infinite, and the Eminence returns later in the Doctor’s timeline in the Dark Eyes 2 box set, also released in 2014. Professor Teveler name-checks a series of scientists, including Professor Lasky. Since he’s already met Lasky before, the Doctor encourages Teveler not to put much stock in her research.- it was almost the death of him (The Trial Of A Time Lord parts 9-12).
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Big Finish has had quite a history of trying to get an original villain to “stick”. The audio series had produced plenty of memorable one-off bad guys, and has succeeded in reinventing both one-hit wonders and recuring menaces from the TV series. But for every use of the Wirrn or the Zygons or Sil or any other character created by someone other than the showrunners, royalties must be paid; the production reality is that it behooves Big Finish to try to generate a recurring baddie of its own. But how do you get the audience to take such a creation on board when sales figures show a sharp uptick every time the Daleks appear? The Viyrans, the Forge, the Kro’ka… there’s quite a graveyard of audio-only enemies that have either come and gone, or didn’t quite win a return appearance. The Eminence is the latest attempt to launch an original-to-audio major villain.
The problem is that, while the producers are aware that they’re presenting the middle chapter of the Doctor’s battle with the Eminence and the Infinite, the audience is left scratching its head and wondering what it’s missed. (Both a prequel and a sequel to this clash with the Eminence were a year away at the time of release, though Big Finish did very quickly announce – atypically far in advance – that the story would be continued in due course.) The setting of an impoverished, resource-drained Earth empire is fascinating, and easily could’ve supported its own story without the Eminence angle. The characters are memorable, and the talented cast instantly conjures up a war-weary, shell-shocked family that’s so ready for the war to be over that they can’t envision a threat closer to home.
Will the Eminence be the definitive Big Finish big bad? The jury’s still out. On its own, The Seeds Of War seems to be heavy on vague setup.