Big Finish Audio Drama #60, 2004
Sad how many of the bad stories Colin Baker’s Doctor gets. Ugh. And let me preface this adventure with the fact that I’ve never heard of Hare and Burke. Ever. Usually I really like the historical dramas because I’ve heard of the moment in history and I get to learn a lot about it since I usually start knowing very little to nothing. However, I’ve never, ever heard of Burke and Hare. And they really aren’t that interesting. Despite Daft Jamie being played by David Tennant, I really just can’t picture him as that person. Edinburgh 1827? I just don’t know much of the history of Britain so this is one of these moments that I’ve never heard of in a rather long and varied history. But of course the Doctor has to get involved because Burke is a threat to all mankind, the universe, whatever. Phantasmagoria was the same thing, though not exactly a historical with “famous” figures, and done much better.
So this story is chronologically after Arrangements for War. There was a large arc where they Doctor and Evelyn learned a lot about each other and their motivations in that adventure, coming to an understanding. This one? It starts out just a bit too lighthearted and nothing seems to come of it. Their relationship exists almost as if Evelyn knows nothing and does the questioning thing like all of the other companions. She’s a history professor and she can’t figure it out? Okay, her speciality is the Tudor and Elizabethan times but you can’t tell me that she wouldn’t know the more famous of the body snatchers in other time periods? This is just before the Victorian era, when king George IV still reigned and three years before William IV came to power for seven years. I think it’s admirable to try to focus on the more obscure figures, to create and uncover a mythos around Burke and Hare but it just isn’t all that interesting, honestly.
The soliloquizing is just too annoying. Chatting back and forth. The conversational back and forth between Knox and the Doctor. The “circus” watching the bloodbath, with some people getting to participate as side characters. The flu virus is an excuse for Knox to make $$ on a scheme. Knox is a human? Learns to pilot a TARDIS? Huh. Not buying any of it. The Doctor spells out his ability to save people and change things, wasting his breath on Knox. Sigh. No character development. Separate adventures but nothing really develops or changes or happens, honestly. And it all ends with a wimper, even. I didn't feel for one second that the Doctor OR Evelyn were in any danger, even from the virus. So it goes...
Colin Baker and Maggie Stables
writer: Robert Ross