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Doctor Who: The Cradle Of The Snake

1/12/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: The Cradle Of The Snake (Doctor Who Monthly Series) in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Cradle Of The Snake (Doctor Who Monthly Series) in the UK

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Doctor Who: The Cradle Of The Snake (Doctor Who Monthly Series) by Marc Platt. pub: Big Finish. 120 minutes 2 CDs. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-474-0). cast: Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Mark Strickson, Dan Stevens, Vernon Dobtcheff and Hugh Fraser

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‘Cradle Of The Snake’ is the final instalment in the trilogy that brought back the classic team of Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa to the fold of the Fourth Doctor. This is the one where everything kicks off. It’s been simmering for a while; just a hint of unfinished business and it’s not the question of why Turlough is still wearing that school uniform.

It’s the Mara that raises its snaky head and that’s not pretty. Previously seen in ‘Kinda’ and ‘Snakedance’, this is as good a time as any to bring it back. Whilst Tegan was the fragile vessel that contained the deep, dark spirit, this time it seeks out something stronger. What better than a Time Lord with all that knowledge and power to call on?

The Doctor takes the crew to Manusa, over one hundred years before the Mara is due to unleash the chaos and darkness into the civilisation. It’s a modern, thriving place and it won’t know what hit it. So it’s up to Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa to reclaim the Doctor. But they are only three against the many and they may not even be three. It’s New Year’s Eve on Manusa. Hold onto your hats, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

Thank goodness it’s what we’ve all been waiting for where the Doctor gets nasty. It doesn’t happen very often and often the Fourth Doctor is so ineffectual that we barely register his presence. This time it’s much more fun as the possessed Doctor rampages through the city. Supporting characters include Rick Ausgarten, the popular scientist who is determined to make dreams real but doesn’t realise that nightmares are much stronger and the safety inspector whose inspection releases her own inner demon.

Big Finish regular writer Marc Platt (also writer of the classic Doctor Who story, ‘Ghostlight’) has put together an eclectic cast of characters. He has even written in a few jokes as the characters start to act…out of character. The supporting characters are well-balanced with just enough to set up the story without being overburdened. The snake shaman does however remind me of the Rafiki in ‘The Lion King’ and is an eminently slappable feature. Not having seen the original TV Maras, I did not find myself hampered as there is enough details to make it clear what we are dealing with. I really liked the ‘bad’ Doctor and hope to hear more of him sometime. It was always lurking under that nice guy exterior anyway, just look at how he treated Adric.

This is a truly thrilling story and it takes you in right to the end wondering what will happen and who will win (even though you know really).

Sue Davies

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