Absolute Power, in terms of titles for Doctor Who stories, doesn’t inspire confidence that it’s necessarily going to be the most exciting of romps. But within five minutes you’re hooked and not letting go until the end.
This is the type of Doctor Who audio that Big Finish have always done well: a simple story with straightforward, power-mad villains, betrayal on the sides of good and bad, and a nice simple monster with realistic, take-over-the-world goals.
What’s special about this story though isn’t the plot; it isn’t the similarity the story has to 2015’s Under the Lake / Before the Flood (just ever so slightly, not by much at all, don’t worry) – it’s the dialogue and the characters.
Simply put, this is just a joy to listen to, wonderfully written (by Jamie Anderson, son of Thunderbirds legend, Gerry) and fully realised, with Anderson also directing. Our players in this game feel unique and new yet somehow brilliantly familiar at the same time. There’s a huge third dimension to the characters in Absolute Power and it’s not just within the TARDIS. People’s lives here feel lived, real, and all without trying too hard. These important elements combine to help build a better picture in terms of everyone’s wants and needs. When the monsters finally do appear, the stakes are higher for the listener because of it.
The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison) finally feel like true friends here – a pleasant relationship that’s not felt present in their previous adventures, and something that’s really grated this particular reviewer). The arguing and hostility is lighter in this story and, above all, enjoyable. This TARDIS team seem more fluid together and finally appreciative of one another. When they’re inevitably split up, one looks forward to them reuniting rather than willing them to stay apart in order to spare another barbed war of words based on misunderstanding and frustration. This is the Doctor and Constance at their best and it’s a fine thing indeed.
The story may not be new but the people are and that’s what really counts with Absolute Power. We all love a War Doctor story or an adventure featuring a sexy archaeologist who likes a drink or two, but these are the stories in-between, about real people with real feelings that help remind everyone what Big Finish and their loyal actors are so good at.
Hop on here for a strong dose of Doctor Who.
Absolute Power is out now from Big Finish, £14.99 on CD or £12.99 as a download.