REVIEW: Death Match

Death Match
by Matt Fitton

Starring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson

Out now - buy HERE

Review by Nick Fraser

Orbiting a world covered by acid oceans, the champions of the mega-rich and super-powerful fight to the death on board Quarry Station. Presiding over the deadly game, ensuring compliance with its one and only rule, “kill or be killed”, is The Master. Even in his horrific state of decay, Gallifrey’s Bad Boy has manoeuvred his way into the role of host, schmoozing and charming the galaxy’s bigwigs in his new rotting cowl.

Matt Fitton wastes little time in bringing the two Time Lords head to head, and Death Match is much more entertaining for that. Tom Baker and Geoffrey Beevers are worth the purchase price alone, with both putting in powerful performances, conveying the combat between The Doctor’s moral fury against The Master’s icily disdainful indifference. Rarely passing up the opportunity to reveal the cleverness of his plans to his nemesis before sending him to his expected doom, The Master revels in the absolute belief that, as God-like beings, Time Lords can do what they wish with lesser beings for the simple and rather reason. Because they can.

Having taken control of Quarry Station with its long established fights to the death purely for his own entertainment, The Master reveals a typically elaborate scheme to ensnare The Doctor, for the pleasure of revealing to him the identity of his champion: Leela, Warrior of the Sevateem. And of course, then, the more direct plan to have him killed.

Operating as a sequel to Requiem for the Rocket Men [read our review here], but perfectly capable of being enjoyed as a standalone adventure, Big Finish assemble all of the necessary elements for a very enjoyable audio experience. Fitton subtly drops in just enough information from earlier adventures to introduce Marshall, one time Rocket Man, and his developing relationship with Leela. Louise Jameson reveals a rarely seen facet of the noble savage’s personality, and the depth of the connection between Leela and Marshall. With the stakes raised by The Master activating End Game protocols from which there can be only one survivor, it doesn’t look good for the warrior and her partner.

Some of the shouty fight scenes are a little difficult to follow at times, but the performances of the regular cast and guests are excellent throughout. The smooth bantering between The Master and High Abbess Lady Castrella is a delight, although presumably she’s particularly attracted by the lure of power…

In the end it’s K9 who saves the day, turning the tables on The Master and his new consort. But the Death Match exerts a heavy toll, and Jameson delivers a great performance as Leela struggles to deal with the events that follow. A story that pitches power and greed against loyalty, Death Match provides another fine example of the continuing adventures of The Fourth Doctor, and with Baker and Co. in such fine form, it’s to be hoped that there’s plenty more of such quality material to come. 

Thanks to Big Finish

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