What’s it about: Elizabeth Klein is an anomaly. A renegade from an alternate future in which the Nazis won World War II, In an attempt to get to know his latest companion, the Doctor invites Klein to tell him how exactly she came to be in possession of his TARDIS and of the events that led to her trip into the past to Colditz Castle.
The Real McCoy: The Doctor is a realist and he understands that they may be ideologically opposed and not like each other but they are travelling companions now so they have to find some way of co-operating. He can’t imagine why anybody would want to steal his corpse because he is much more fun when he is alive! The Doctor admits that his death in her timeline was no accident, that he arranged the whole thing.
Breathless Romantic: How exciting to get to listen to an alternative eighth Doctor who was born out of violence just as ours was (the Nazi’s shooting the seventh Doctor down mirrors the death of our Doctor by a San Francisco gang). Because we know he does not have access to the TARDIS there is the exciting prospect of him on the streets of Berlin, penniless and homeless trying to find a life for himself and work up to a position of power so he could gain access to his ship again. Its so exciting a prospect I would have loved to have spent more time with this version of the eighth Doctor but what we get is intriguing enough to set all these thoughts rolling. Paul McGann is at his charming best, the Doctor worming his way into Klein’s affections by suggesting that she will do great things with access to a time machine that he can provide and help her study. Young, slim and handsome in a gothic kind of way, that’s how Klein describes the eighth Doctor. Yunis doesn’t like the idea of Schmidt working with Klein and feels there is a mocking attitude to him. It turns out that since he regenerated the Doctor has been helping political prisoners to flee the country and undermining the Reich’s ethnic cleansing programmes.
Reformed Nazi: Klein is still clinging onto the hope of using the TARDIS to reclaim her lost Nazi future. She will never accept this reality because she doesn’t belong here. In 1962 when Klein was researching physics at Cambridge (very Liz Shaw) she was commandeered and taken aboard a special military airship to fly her to Berlin. She was quite happy at Cambridge and her researches has reached a critical stage – this is very Liz Shaw, its practically a retelling of the scene between Liz and the Brigadier in Spearhead from Space. Yonis Faber is a charming man and before long they were sharing meals together and falling into bed whilst the research went on. Time travel interested Klein before she ever discovered the TARDIS having written her thesis about it at Cambridge and she uses her wily feminine charms to get Faber to sanction her meeting with the Doctor. Yonis warns Klein about the dangers of time travel and how tinkering with it could result in the most catastrophic changes but Klein is desperate to get her hands on the consequences – a decision she will live to regret bitterly. That entire timeline lives only in her memory now which is quite a burden to carry. She went back in time because she was determined make Yonis the Fuhrer. Klein realises now that she was used by a future Doctor to go back in time and erase her entire timeline and all this time she has blamed herself for what has happened.
Standout Performance: If you needed any more reason to (beyond the superb characterisation and the storytelling opportunities) excuse Klein’s return then listen to Tracey Child’s give it some real welly as she Klein discovers the Doctor manipulated her into deleting her entire timeline. She is furious and however this ends now you know it wont be pretty.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Mankind has a breathtaking ability to sweep things it doesn’t understand under the carpet of history.’
‘I was so determined to secure a glorious future for the Reich for Yonis and myself I took a gamble with time’ ‘And lost…’
‘The memory cheats…’
‘You used me!’
Great Ideas: Its easily the best idea for a one parter Big Finish have ever given us and unless I am very much mistaken it is the last of its kind. This features the story of Klein’s first trip in the TARDIS, a tale that is not only worth telling in its own right but fills in a lot of the gaps that led from Colditz and add much depth to that story. In a government depository in Berlin are various items of extra terrestrial technology recovered from alien incursions over the years and it was to be Klein’s job to study them. Surely that is a job that no scientist could refuse! Chairman Hitler was reluctant to accept the existence of superior alien technology, decreeing that they were sealed away and their existence denied. Since his death policies have changed and Yunis wants to make a unit to unlock the secrets of these devices. A UNIT? This is almost a cruel twisting of established Doctor Who continuity but a very fun one. I could imagine this Nazi version of UNIT winding up exactly where the show was during the alternative universe in Inferno, a fascistic scientific base manned by slave labour. I love how this segues into Colditz but telling the story with a very different outcome, the Nazi’s having captured the Doctor and killed Ace and having won the war. Stupidly the Doctor returned to Germany ten years after the events of Colditz and was shot down, forcing a regeneration. In 1961 the ruling body was shaken by conflict and a time machine had the power to literally shape the future which was an exciting enough prospect for Klein, guaranteeing the supremacy of the Reich. Because they know how to fly the TARDIS back to a previous journey (thanks to the eighth Doctor’s insider knowledge) Klein theorises they could travel back to 1944 before he was killed and bring him to the future and force him to reveal the secrets of the time ship.
Audio Landscape: The story picks up directly where A Thousand Tiny Wings left off with the Doctor and Klein still in the Kenyan jungle. The Doctor making the tea, rain in the forest, gun shot, high speed diamond tipped drills trying to gain access to the TARDIS, siren, phone ringing,
Musical Cues: Simon Robinson’s music for this story is excellent, from his magical twinklings as the Doctor asks Klein to recount her story of discovering the TARDIS (it sounds rather like the noise Enlightenment made when it was unveiled in the story of the same name) and the powerful bridges between scenes as the eighth Doctor and Klein meet and start working together. Just because this is a one off it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be the best that it can be.
Standout Scene: I had absolutely no idea that the eighth Doctor was going to have a role in this story the first time I heard it and I remember walking down a forest path with Simon’s mums dog and literally punching the air with delight when I heard his voice. I cannot remember this being heavily publicised at the time (maybe it was and it completely passed me by…it has been known to happen) but I was so shocked in a gleeful way it was the first time Big Finish had pulled off that kind of surprise to me since The Master showed up in Dust Breeding. It’s a truly great moment and it still makes me beam from ear to ear.
Result: A compelling story that cleverly rips the ending away from Colditz and introduces us to a world under Nazi rule before using a Doctor that should never have existed to put it all right again. For so many reasons it is an exciting piece; to delve more deeply into Klein’s obsession with time travel, to explain who we originally met her, to meet an alternative eighth Doctor and the fact that this one part story is used to enhance the trilogy of tales rather than feeling like a tacked on bit of nonsense. The script is of a very high standard and has clearly been thought through well and the first time I heard Paul McGann’s voice at the end of that telephone I almost pissed my pants with pleasure! The sad truth is I could have happily have turned this story into the three parter because there was so much more to explore but what’s great is that even at just half an hour the story never feels rushed or underdeveloped. Its easily my favourite one parter and continues this runs sterling quality: 10/10