The Harvest (#58)

Big Finish Main Range

Though this story was released far ahead of the other parts, The Reaping (#86) and The Gathering, the Cyber threat is very real here. I don’t know if it’s the background music or the effects, the acting or the villains, but I really felt like McShane (Ace) was under threat by Polk in the chase scene in the first episode. I like how Janie Booth always plays System in the related audios as well. Smart move bringing her back for that! I really think that as far as the audio adventures go, the Cybermen are a cut above in terms of the villains. The Daleks have a few good audios (The Genocide Machine, The Time of the Daleks) but more often than not, they just seem to not translate well. Just listen to the Mutant Phase and you’ll hear what I mean.

The Cybermen, however, have always been described as scarier and more horrifying in books and audios. They can’t quite do the 8 feet tall thing on TV very well. Honestly, platform shoes just don’t cut it for me. They were pretty good on the new TV adventure except that they were big wimps compared to the Daleks. And their menace is more of a philosophical and ideological kind—we will destroy you by making you like us, by making you all the same. Now that is a truly scary thought! Take away our individuality and we’re just like ants. Really crazy ones if we’re cyberdized, too! But the Daleks, they just destroy everything not like them. I think that once people are dead, it’s sad but they don’t live on in horror of themselves, one part of themselves always screaming in terror and horror at what they’ve become. Just gives me the shivers thinking about it!

Anyway, I really like the subversive nature of the path the Cybermen use to try to take over the world in this one. Though perhaps the one flaw is wouldn’t the Cyberleader have thought of the possibility of organ failure? Maybe that wasn’t considered because of the being fleshy thing and not being quite so ruthless. It sure would’ve been an intriguing way to go with Cybermen returning to emotions! Would it have impacted them in the long run, making them the more human? This is by far the strongest of the three audios in this group, from what I can remember. The other two were good but the plots got a bit convoluted in the end. The Gathering was better than The Reaping but each had their good and bad points. This audio introduces nurse Hex, who adds a different feel to the Ace-Doctor team that I think is a welcome relief. Ace and the Doctor work well together and apart, like a well-oiled machine of destruction. For the bad guys, of course. But Ace tends to pay the price of that partnership more than the Doctor ever does. Emotionally, mentally, and physically!

Hex, on the other hand, adds a fresh perspective to this partnership. He does get a bit off the deep end when he meets Oliver Cromwell in The Settling but that wasn’t exactly a stable time in history, either. But otherwise, he adds to the partnership, just as Erimem adds to the Peri-Doctor partnership. Hex is willing to help out and with a real doctor type on board, they may actually be able to save lives and help people when they get hurt. Having someone medical on board the TARDIS always adds a dimension of care that is sometimes lacking for their physical well-being. And he can definitely hold his own in the adventure part of the story, as this first adventure shows us. Thomas Hector Scofield. Cassie Scofield? Perhaps perhaps! Here’s hoping they either encounter Evelyn or the Forge somewhere before Hex jumps ship, which is coming all too soon, if you ask me. Welcome to the team Hex! For now, anyway…

Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, and Philip Olivier

Writer: Dan Abnett

Director: G-Russell

Release: June 2004

Laura Vilensky 2019