Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio 130-132: The Klein Trilogy

The Doctor encounters an old acquaintance in an unexpected place…

A strong start for the trilogy with Andy Lane’s A Thousand Tiny Wings as the Seventh Doctor once again encounters Elizabeth Klein, the time-displaced Nazi from the nearly ten year old story Colditz. It has to do a lot of info-dumping in the first episode, but manages this neatly. Mixing genuine historical menace with an alien experiment, the story counterpoints Klein’s National Socialist beliefs with the reality of someone putting them into practice. I would recommend relistening to Colditz first though.  8/10

Survival of the Fittest actually contains two separate tales. The first, Klein’s Story, amplifies the backstory for the Doctor’s time travelling Nazi companion, and allows for a guest starring role by Paul McGann as an Eighth Doctor from an alternate timeline. John Ainsworth and Lee Mansfield’s script cheekily reworks elements from the Third Doctor story Spearheard from Space. No surprises, but useful for those who haven’t heard Klein’s debut in Colditz.   7/10

The central story, Survival of the Fittest, set some time later during the Doctor and Klein’s travels bases itself around a central conceit that might seem odd for audio – a species that communicates by smell. Jonathan Clements pulls this off by clever use of the TARDIS’ translation circuits, although the resolution does raise some questions about what happens when the Doctor moves on from other planets, particularly when he’s left a companion or two there! It takes a little time to get going, but this is a thought-provoking story, both for the characters within it as Nazi ideals are taken to a logical conclusion, and for the listener. 8/10

The Architects of History brings the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. Klein’s been a loose end within Big Finish continuity for nearly a decade, and Steve Lyons brings her story full circle, with a guest appearance by his BBC Books monsters, the shark-like Selachians. Unfortunately, they really could be any old alien putting the Galactic Reich’s Moonbase under siege – the focus is firmly on the Doctor, Klein, and the various versions of history that Klein’s manipulations of the TARDIS have created. The Doctor is very close to his New Adventures incarnation here – a chessplayer on multiple boards – with a coldness to him we’ve not seen for some time. A nice bonus is a suite of music from the story that ironically works better heard on its own than it does in context.  7/10

Paul Simpson

The Klein trilogy is available at a special price this weekend.

 

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