The Shadow Heart

Doctor WhoFifty years after his reprogramming of the Wrath, the Doctor is on the run from them, and has fallen into the clutches of the Wrath’s hired mercenary, Vienna Salvatori. A number of close calls forces the Doctor to rely on the crew of a modified, space-faring snail to help him escape. The Wrath are never far behind, and the Earth warship Trafalgar, taking part in Earth’s war against the onslaught of the Wrath across the galaxy, is only a step behind them. The Wrath want the two men responsible for their existence: their creator, Tenebris, and the man who turned them into an unstoppable force of flawed justice, the Doctor. Tenebris has been preparing for this reunion with his deadly creation for decades. But it turns out that the Doctor has been working toward the end game even longer.

Order this CDwritten by Jonathan Morris
directed by Ken Bentley
music by Wilfredo Acosta

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), James Wilby (Tenebris), Chase Masterson (Vienna Salavatori), Eve Karpf (Talbar), Alex Mallinson (Horval), John Banks (Captain Webster / Starbaff / Wrath Emperor), Jaimi Barbakoff (Lt. Dervish)

Notes: When Vienna remarks that the Doctor isn’t dead, he tells her he’s “merely pining for the fjords”, providing that moment for which we’ve all been waiting for decades, the meeting of Monty Python and Doctor Who. Chase Masterson also appeared in the subscriber bonus release Night Of The Stormcrow, starring Tom Baker, released the following month in 2012, though she has reprised the role of Vienna in an audio spinoff series revolving around that character for Big Finish.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: A mad chase across the galaxy, The Shadow Heart picks things up from what seemed like a reasonable place to tie off all of the story threads, though the Face Of Evil-inspired plot device of having the Doctor reprogram an artificial intelligence with his own complex code of morality was a nice touch. Vienna Salvatori proves to be a worthy opponent, and the entire retinue of the Doctor’s barely-willing band of supporters seems more than a little inspired by the modern TV series’ trio of Vastra, Strax and Jenny. It’s rollicking good fun, but alas, somewhat predictable (the “surprise” reveal of Jandor’s secret identity is driven home without much subtlety long before the revelation is made). There’s also an unwieldly info-dump taking up much of part four, explaining the Doctor’s timey-wimey, seemingly out-of-sequence machinations for those who haven’t been keeping a flowchart.

The right cast prevents some of these structural weaknesses of the script from being too apparent; so thick is The Shadow Heart with loveable space rogues (including several Robert-Holmes-worthy double acts), I half expected Garundel to show up with Thomas Brewster riding shotgun. (Minor quibble: over the course of the four episodes, Chase Masterson inexplicably begins to slide Vienna’s pronunciation of “Wrath” from the American “rath” toward the British “roth”.) The Shadow Heart is a pleasing enough wrap-up to the “Kylo trilogy”, but it sometimes seems as if the script is more concerned with making sure we know just how clever it is than with Just Telling The Story.