Jonathan Morris closes the boxset with the story The Vienna Experience, returning to the character he created in the main range Doctor Who story The Shadow Heart. Vienna is still working with the police, but (this being Vienna) there is more going on than meets the eye – thanks to an implant it is possible to experience her life remotely and even subliminally suggest courses of action.
In some ways reminiscent of earlier stories ,with Vienna being under control of others, this quickly finds its own furrow to plough and we share Vienna’s frissons as she begins to realise things are not as they should be.
Where this story works well is in the way it evolves the sense of being out of control and then flips it back onto the group of criminals who think they are controlling Vienna. They begin to worry when a mysterious other character appears and rearranges the pieces on the playing board.
Matters get more complex (as they frequently do with Vienna) and the biggest twist of all pulls together threads from the previous two stories, threads most listeners won’t have realised are left dangling. Although grim the resolution is to be admired and we end up with the status quo (such as it is) restored, we understand why Vienna has been working with the police and this time (unlike the first boxset) we have avoided a total reset of the character.
It is interesting to compare where Vienna arrives with where we first met her. The original character was darker, not ashamed to be called an assassin and ruthless with everyone and everything, including her own mind. Her original strap-line of ‘if you find out her name, she has to kill you’ has been abandoned, and will at least make it easier for her to get work! The series is avoiding falling into a simple formula though at some stage needs to be more than just a set of clever stories.
Verdict: Once more Vienna comes up trumps but one can’t help feeling there is more this character could achieve 8/10