Doctor Who: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield volume 4
Ruler of the Universe: The True Saviour of the Universe
written by James Goss
I feel there's something of an injustice with the Big Finish Masters. Obviously Beevers is delightful and I won't hear a word against MacQueen but Sam Kisgart's interpretation deserves more love than it gets, I feel. Of course, this is only the third time he's played the Master in nearly fifteen years but there's a lot to recommend it.
For one thing, Kisgart does a fantastic line in snobbery. His scene where he takes Benny out to tea and complains as she pours in the milk before the tea is pitched brilliantly. Later on he mistakes a Spider-Man quote (you know the one) for Machiavelli with just as straight a face (well, the tone of the straight face, you know what I mean). He spends a lot more of the story interacting with Benny than he does with the Doctor and, as it was in the last box set, there's some serious flirting going on between the two of them which is both disconcerting and entertaining.
Given the differences of the continuity, Kisgart's Master and the Doctor don't seem to have as much animosity between them as the relationship is usually played. It also helps that this time round Kisgart has the Missy version of the character to influence him, at one point dismissing a murder attempt as how he says hello.
That having been said, the story does revolve around the classic Master plot of there being a doomsday weapon and an ancient evil to be raised and all that. It plays out much as you'd expect given the Master's fantastically bad and yet incredibly consistent history with those sort of things. Kisgart also gets to do some fantastic scenery chewing during the climax after a whole story of calm, quiet and urbane seductiveness.
The whole plot of the collapsing universe continues with the Doctor unsure of whether he can make his own plan work, a sense of self-doubt only enhanced by impeachment proceedings and the influence of the Master. The Master's entry into the world of politics is explored with all the subtlety of a brick through a window right down to the obvious Kelly Ann Conway analogue doing spin for him on the news. If this is the final hurrah for the Kisgart Master its at least one that does interesting things with the character, things that probably can't be done with the “proper” Master without effectively ending the character.
And if its the end of David Warner's Doctor? Well, that's a lot less cut and dried as the ending leaves him open to return in future box sets or not depending on what Big Finish decide they want but I certainly wouldn't object to more stories where he gets to act as the Doctor on adventures rather than the Doctor trapped and confined by politics.
As a final note, the last scene gives me hope that some day soon WE'LL BLOODY FIND WHO PETER MARRIED!
NEXT EPISODE: Helmstone