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Doctor Who Monthly Series: Paper Cuts by Marc Platt

01/11/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who Monthly Series: Paper Cuts in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who Monthly Series: Paper Cuts in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 120 minutes 2 CDs. Price: CD: 14.99 (UK), download: 12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-413-9) cast: Colin Baker, India Fisher, Anthony Glennon, Sara Crowe, Paul Thornley, John Banks and Nicholas Briggs.

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Charlie is no longer travelling with the Doctor. Except she is. The Doctor hasn't noticed the difference. He's a man. There has been a subtle change in their relationship. She's more protective of him. She has just as much to hide as the real Charlie but it's a whole other bucket of fish.

They've narrowly escaped from the Daleks but there is no way of stopping the explosion that leads to the creation of Patient Zero. You might say it couldn't or shouldn't be changed. But now the new Charlie is settled into her Companion role and even starts trying to deal with the Doctor's in-tray. It seems even the Doctor gets email but has trouble getting through the 30,000 or so unread missives. Still he doesn't need to worry about missing appointments. A time traveller is rarely late.

The Doctor's been invited to attend the Red Emperor on Draconia. The invite even has coordinates, which don't happen to be on Draconia itself. He has a history with the planet as he once had to advise the Emperor to isolate it from the rest of the galaxy to avoid passing the space plague. It might be said that wasn't the most popular advice ever received.

Still, when the Doctor returns, he's not expecting the Red Emperor to be dead and an obnoxious heir apparently trying to be in charge. The Prince is not impressed that the Doctor, a soldier and a lowly fisherman have been selected to be candidates to be the next Emperor. The fisherman's gutted as well. Then there is a problem with the dowager Empress who has to stick her oar in.

The contest is to take place on a spaceship above the planet of Draconia where the Emperor has been perfectly preserved. You might say it's a tomb with a view. The walls are elaborate constructions of paper and that's not the only origami in evidence as warriors appear red and white who seem to be made of paper but paper cuts can kill.

As Charlie attempts to make sense of her role in this drama the Doctor must solve the enigma of the deathless Emperor and both must try to stay alive. How long can this Charlie keep the real truth from him?

As the countdown to the departure of India Fisher ticks on, this audio continues on from 'Patient Zero', with an interlude where the 'false' Charlotte Pollard takes on the full role of the companion. There are occasional reminders that she's not the real deal but the story is allowed to roll on with full dramatic impact.

With mystical elements, Japanese feudalism, paper walls that come alive with stories this is another exceptional tale from long-time 'Who' writer Marc Platt. It creates an amazing world of proud lizard-like creatures that live in elaborate society where ultimate power is the goal. Strange paper walls fold in on themselves and blind paper warriors move like guided chess pieces at the behest of an unknown player. It all adds to the mystery. The different characters, the soldier, the fisherman and the prince are allowed some development which gives some depth to the drama.

It's also worth noting that this audio, much like most of the Big Finish audios, are always worth at least another play. There is so much in them that might escape appreciation on the first run through.

Sue Davies

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