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Reviewed: Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor Adventures – The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook

The vibrant colours and absurd plots you would find the Fourth Doctor encountering in the pages of Doctor Who Weekly are the kind of tone that Big Finish’s The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook takes from and commits to at full pelt.

It all starts with a biff in the time vortex between the TARDIS and another time machine, and leads to the Fourth Doctor and Leela landing in Normandy in the days before D-Day. Here they encounter… a man having a picnic. A picnic soon to be intercepted by the Nazis.

It turns out this man is a member of a party of people on one of ‘Thadeus Nook’s Time Tours’, a tourism venture that takes people to important dates in galactic history. Not only is the time machine that Thadeus Nook is using an unreliable type, but he’s also based his business in some low-rent space docks at the shabby end of a city containing a spaceport. He has a tiny office in a way-off spot, so it’s some surprise he’s actually successfully got his time travel business off the ground.

And as if trying to prove we should take him seriously, he then whisks away Leela – without consent – on a time tour!

What then occurs is a time chase as the Doctor and his (slightly) more reliable TARDIS try to track down Thadeus as he zips through the fourth dimension with Leela and his tour party. There’s some recognisable dates in Earth history, and a crossing of the Doctor’s own timestream (not that he knows it yet) before the most recognisable galactic moment of them all. That is, if you come from the future.

It makes sense to pin the unravelling of Nook’s time travel exploits on a significant historical moment that listeners are new to, as it enables the plot to slow down over the second half of the story to do more world-building and also explore the members of the tour; who may be more significant than they first seemed. Especially when it comes to meeting infamous tyrant Grannus Drek and his twisted cult.

Drek, who in this reviewer’s mind resembles Death’s Head somewhat, is the big bad that becomes the focus of the third and fourth episodes as he learns from the tour party of the significance of events that are about to occur around him and tries to change the outcome by using both the Doctor and Nook’s time travel capabilities. Everything really has got out of hand for Nook by this point.

While the Doctor and Leela do have quite a bit to do, it’s very much jumping in and out of time machines with different people as the story heads towards its conclusion and Drek aims to get control of his own past and future. The Doctor claims ‘Thadeus Nook is a nincompoop’, but in the end the entrepreneur does redeem himself and helps foil Drek. He even gets a happy ending with his love interest too, while the Doctor and Leela head off to meet some dinosaurs…

The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook is available now from Big Finish, as a single release or in a set with The Primeval Design.

Elliot Wood

Reviewed: Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor Adventures – The Tribulations of Thadeus Nook

by Elliot Wood time to read: 2 min
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