The Final Phase

Doctor WhoTo save Romana and K-9, the Doctor gives in to the Dalek Supreme’s demand that he hand himself over… but naturally, this is part of the Doctor’s plan, and the Dalek saucer sent to collect him winds up under his complete control. Romana and K-9 get a glimpse of Cuthbert’s top-secret R&D project at last: a tear in the fabric of space-time, which Cuthbert has harnessed and turned into a dimensional gateway to explore (and, more likely, exploit) “the glories of the past.” Romana quickly realizes that this is the only reason why the Daleks are cooperating with Cuthbert: they intend to commandeer the gateway for their own purposes. The Daleks converge on Cuthbert’s space station to claim the gateway for themselves, forcing Cuthbert’s private army to join up with the Proximan rebels to fight off their common enemy. The Doctor arrives to make “adjustments” to Cuthbert’s dimensional gateway, over the corrupt businessman’s protests, but the choices on the table are wiping out the Dalek threat… or annihilation for the entire universe, Daleks and all.

Order this CDwritten by Nicholas Briggs
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Alistair Lock

Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Mary Tamm (Romana), John Leeson (K-9), David Warner (Cuthbert), Toby Hadoke (Mr. Dorrick), Dominic Mafham (Chidak), Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks), Jane Slavin (Halka), John Dorney (Security Man / Warrior)

Notes: This was Mary Tamm’s final performance as Romana before her death in 2011.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: A satisfying second half to the four-part story initiated in The Dalek Contract, The Final Phase is over an hour of shooting and suspense, Daleks doing dastardly deeds, Cuthbert possibly doing even worse deeds, and the Doctor doing what he does best – uniting war-torn local factions to stand united in the face of extinction. All sewn together by fairly intense sound design and Alistair Lock’s marvelously authentic ’70s-style score (this time with blasts of pipe organ to signify that power of the dimensional gateway), this is Big Finish firing on all cylinders simultaneously. Not one performance is out of place (and when you have actors of the stature of David Warner and Tom Baker snarking at each other throughout, it would show if anyone wasn’t putting forth their best effort). The supporting cast gets plenty of action here, and at a couple of points there are more Daleks screeching “Exterminate!” in the sound mix than the show could ever have afforded to put on television during Baker’s reign.

This is also the final appearance of the late Mary Tamm as Romana, and the story nicely justifies why she’s still with the Doctor in her next incarnation, having spent so much of her first incarnation complaining about the Doctor’s incompetence and yearning to return to Gallifrey. Romana gets a moment of clarity that she never got on television, a moment where she realizes that, deadly danger and all, she’s actually enjoying herself… and sadly, this will be the last we hear from Mary Tamm, just when she was fitting in so well in the audio universe Big Finish constructs around the fourth Doctor. She was outstanding through this entire “season” of stories and her loss will be keenly felt.

A bittersweet triumph to round off Tom Baker’s second series of Big Finish audios.