After 42 years of being a fan of Doctor Who I can still be caught unawares by a story, and this months Fourth Doctor story ”Dethras” is proof positive of that. On the surface of it Dethras is not a very Season 18 story – in fact it sounds completely bonkers – a World War 2 submarine, a crew who suddenly fall unconscious and wake up with only three crew members remaining and (wait for it) a Chimpanzee has mysteriously appeared on board. If you are getting a Season 17 vibe from this description then you are not alone. But the execution is pure season 18.
Whereas this situation could have been dealt with with flippancy and one liners we see the mighty Tom Baker here in full no nonsense mode, taking the material seriously, treating it like a serious situation rather than lampooning it and surprisingly it works. It works very well. And I am at a loss at what else to say about the rest of the story as anything else would be absolutely a huge spoiler and ruin the enjoyment that this little gem brings because this is a story that rewards those who know very little about it. So what can I talk about????
The atmosphere, thats what I will go on – it is pure Season 18 – morose, doom laden with a very quick tempered Fourth Doctor who is a complete contrast to how he was in last months release – the concepts are also very science fiction rather than science fantasy as has been the norm with the Fourth Doctor releases, the listener really is drawn in to Bidmead’s vision of Doctor Who in this release. This is a high concept story dealing with evolution and ethics, has a very small cast and a very satisfying conclusion, and I haven’t even touched on who or what Dethras is – because I really can’t.
What isn’t there to love about a story involving a chimpanzee in a submarine? This may be one of the shortest reviews I have ever written, but that is in no way a reflection on the stories quality – Dethras makes you sit up and take notice and challenges, it requires active listening rather than passive enjoyment and stands out as a very mature story, no monkeying around here, Dethras has a well deserved 9/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson
This title was released in April 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until May 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.
In the control room of a World War 2 submarine something strange has started to happen. As the ship runs out of control, its crew begin to fall unconscious…
Finding the submarine in the last place they’d have expected, the Doctor and Romana are confronted by a mystery. Once fully populated, there are now only three men on board. And there’s now also a chimpanzee.
What has happened to the rest of the crew? What are the strange noises they can hear outside the hull?
And most importantly, who, or what, is Dethras?
Written By: Adrian Poynton
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), Alistair Petrie (John), Shelia Ruskin (Flague), Josh Bolt (Philip), Brian Vernel (Robert), John Banks (Franklin), Jane Slavin (Xankari/ Teacher).
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs