1. Beneath the Viscoid by Nicholas Briggs
Our first outing with Jacobi is with him buried deep beneath the surface, in fact deep beneath the oceans of the planet Gardezza the Masters Tardis lies. It has an abundance of power for which is required to potentially blow up one of the Dalek’s war ships that is engaged in the Time War. The Master manipulates the crew of the salvage team convinced that by tapping into this power source they will be able to blow out of existence the Dalek ship. However here in lies the crux of the nature of the Master. He is quite willing to allow other to do the hard work and graft in order for them to free up his capsule so he can be on his way, at the expense of their lives. This to him is a normal trade, his own self worth outweighing anything that the belies anything remotely approaching what could be called a humane side, a caring side, their is only one person the Master cares for and that is the Master. Needless to say that he gets what he wants at the expense of the others, it is also apparent that through his time war exploits that the Daleks have and are tracking him, so they are aware of his whereabouts and that he is up to something, something that could lead to their destruction.
The first outing of David Jacobi as the Master whom is caught in the time war, is a concept that was talked about when the War Doctor series was put out, according to the extras on this release. I for one, didn’t know what to expect in this release. Was this a Big Finish throw of the dice much the same as the war doctor releases that utilised a true hardcore thespian actor of the hilt of the late great John Hurt, this time in the Doctor’s alter ego form. Was this going to be as good as the John Hurts War Doctor series, that for me was standout. Well the first episode is fantastic it sets up the whole storyline with a great deal of want on the listeners part, you want to find out more. The story is a little light and frothy which is fine, as it is that wonderful cheeky thing that Big Finish always do, they lure you in and then they have you hooked into the story. For me this played to this strength, I was also immediately under the spell of Jacobi and his talents has he played a rather more creepy, and very cold and scary version of this much loved Whovian character.
2. The Good Master by Janine H Jones
Set on a planet that acts as a hospital medical care center for those incumbents that have suffered at the hands of the Daleks in the Time war, we find the Master now acting as a medical doctor, actually saving lives, surely this cannot be the case, there must be a hidden agenda, and, of course we have to wait as the story builds to it rather clever and well devised ending. The Master abuses his position to his own gain once again, the one thing however that stands out for me in this is the rather callous and cruel manner that Jacobi as bought to the character. This is far more a nasty variant of the character, and that coupled with his almost relaxing and soothing tones makes this probably one of the most alluring and deceptive interpretations of the Master. This bridging story is rather slick and Jones as put in place the building blocks for what is now escalating as a tremendous story. We also see the Master take a companion on board. But will this be a companion he wants to nurture as his own, or is it a companion that he will use for the purposes of his own desires. When the planet is being attacked by the Daleks at the end of this episode we see that the Master is up to no good once again, and the way he lets life slip away is almost psychotic, it certainly once again reveals yet more of the true horror that Jacobi is bringing to this part.
3. The Sky Man by James Goss
With the saved soul Cole that the Master as bought with him from the planet Arcking, Cole wants to make amends, wants to save a world, so the Doctor almost sets him a task, but again is the task for Cole’s own benefit, and to fulfill his dreams, of it is merely a way of the Master gaining more ground, furthering his needs and wants, it seems that at first all is not as you think, the Master in this episode is barely here, but you cannot help feel his presence around. The story set amidst a group of people on a planet that as largely rejected the advancement of science and that lives a simple life, are a odds with Coles need to prove himself and are reluctant and suspicious of his attempts to introduce ways and means that will assist and help them better what they have. In fact the local community deeply mistrust him and his ways, Cole falls in love with a local farmers daughter who brings out his softer side, and the romance is charm to listen to. However, you know that not to far around the corner things are going to turn and they do, and by Coles own hands and his desires to help and save them he in fact creates a monster. One that will ultimately be is undoing, and one that the Master as planned all along.
4. The Heavenly Paradigm by Guy Adams
Finally on leaving Arcking and traveling back to Earth the Master and Cole are on the trail of the TimeLords secret base. Hid amongst the suburbia and everyday world and life of normal people is a house in an everyday street that hides this secret. The Master and Cole get in, and, the final reasons why the Master as done what he has done become apparent. The story reminded me a lot of a 4th Doctor adventure that BF put out some time ago, based around the same era as well of the 70’s. The Master is in full pomp now, with his almost maniacal traits not hidden from view and he is happy to make any sacrifice to get to the Heavenly Paradigm for his own gain. To be the one left in control of all and those that don’t bow to him will be destroyed. The time war is now the least thing of worry for the universe.
Well BF have done it again, a fine outstanding piece of work and acting and production, are all wrapped up in this release, I for one was simply amazed at the simplicity and yet the complexity of the story telling which made this for me a first rate release. Whether we get the pleasure of a further Jacobi offering I would not know, I hope so, this was truly a marked classic in the time war canon of the Who Universe and gives for me one of the standout Master performances ever. IT gives the character an edge almost like Hannibal Lector intellectually brilliant, meticulously evil in his ability to plan and destroy, and the ridiculous clever end game that is always in play. Super and entertaining stuff. I for one cannot wait to see if we are to hear more of this.