The Burning Prince (#165)

Big Finish Main Range

There is plenty here going on – a rescue mission, double-crossing, and sabotage while all heading towards a planet filled with unstoppable aliens. Can’t go wrong with a formula like that, right? Well… in this case John Dorney crammed a lot into a little space and though it’s exciting and there are more twists than an Escher painting, it lost me on the ride. With these stories, it’s never about how good or bad the writing or acting is. With Big Finish, 99% of the time those things are both so well done it’s difficult to critique them successfully, without just being one of those internet bullies everyone despises yet seems to aspire to.

Instead, I am critiquing my entry into the story, my experience throughout the writing, acting, and sound design. I always enjoy these stories but I have to base a critique on something! And in this case, I just didn’t love how the story moved. I can see this as a setup for another story (The Acheron Pulse, I do believe) and I think it’s very successful in that case. But the classic story of a prince wronged and power-crazed people making things happen in order to gain more power just fell flat for me. Peter Davison has some great lines about being put in the cells, as usual, and trying to help but he isn’t his usual charming self that everyone just trusts pretty quickly.

The story starts with his landing on the military rescue vehicle and continues down a rather predictable path once the saboteur gets to work. The Doctor always shows up when things are just over the hump on that roller coaster – it’s all downhill from here! You’ve already taken the ride up the clicking launcher and you’re ready to begin the chaos. So I just couldn’t really get into this one, and the end put me off, too. Prince crazy dude, wow! Definitely like it as a setup story but I didn’t love it as a story unto itself.

Peter Davison

Writer: John Dorney

Director: Ken Bentley

Release: September 2012

Laura Vilensky 2019