The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Audio Review: Colditz

“Colditz” (Big Finish #25)
Written by Steve Lyons, directed by Gary Russell
Featuring the Doctor, Ace, and Nazis

Rating: C+

If asked who my favorite Doctor Who writer was, I would not have to hesitate much to say Steve Lyons. Sure, he has never written a story for the show; his work is entirely in audios and novels, but up until “Colditz,” I had never given a single thing he has written anything less than four out of five stars, or in the case of this blog, a B. Unfortunately, that streak comes to an end with this audio, which is still slightly above average.

The Doctor fighting the Nazis is something that happens A LOT in Doctor Who. Even the novel Illegal Alien that I reviewed recently featured the same cast fighting Nazis in the same war. This same wonderful TARDIS team also tackled the Nazis in Timewyrm: Exodus by Uncle Terry, in a very strong novel. and there are likely at least a dozen others that aren’t immediately coming to mind. Unfortunately, this one isn’t as good as either Timewyrm: Exodus or Illegal Alien.

“Colditz” is essentially the story of the Doctor and Ace showing up in World War II, and the Nazis see that they have a time machine and want it, so they capture the Doctor and Ace so that they can use the TARDIS to turn the tide of the war in its waning days. There is more to it than that, but the meat of the story is that. It’s not a bad plot, but having previously been floored with enthusiasm over my previous readings and listening of Lyons, I have come to expect something more awe-inspiring.

There are some good performances. As always, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are brilliant with perfect chemistry, and it is also pretty cool to hear David Tennant perform in a Doctor Who role several years before he would become a very solid Tenth Doctor. Beyond the above average performances, though, I think this was really just an average story. Hardly as good as everyone else seems to think, but certainly enjoyable. I still love Steve Lyons.


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10 thoughts on “Audio Review: Colditz

  1. I tend to agree with you about Steve Lyons. He is one of the greatest Dr. Who writers, though Paul Cornell is a strong contender.
    Colditz has a really strong British nostalgia feel; it reminds one of old war films that they used to play on weekend afternoons. Including the line ‘for you ze war is over’ might have been going a bit far.
    The villain Elizabeth Klein later comes back in A Thousand Tiny Wings and becomes briefly a companion of the Seventh Doctor.
    I just adore Klein. Its great to have a sexy mature woman in Doctor Who. Please check out my Elizabeth Klein fan fiction.

  2. I do have a big complaint against Colditz though, and that is the portrayal of Ace. Big Finish seemed to be reacting to the New Adventures and seemed to want to make Ace less violent.

    In this story she is horrified by the death of Kurtz. This seems out of character with Ace in the NAs. You will recall that in Timewyrm Exodus, she wanted to watch a zombified German soldier blow his head off with a grenade.

  3. Yes, you can fit it into the canon. But that does not mean one should necessarilly be happy about it.

    I like the 5/Peri combination and you can fit any number of missing adventures between Planet of Fire and Caves of Androzani, but I totally understand those fans who hate the notion of this continuity gap. There is a strong argument that having a series of 5/Peri adventures cheapens the Fifth Doctor’s self-sacrifice. It seems much more impressive that the Fifth Doctor gives his life for somebody he barely knows.

    In the same way, I hate the idea of a gap between Survival and Timewyrm Genesys. I love the way the NAs develop the character of Ace and having Big Finish offer a separate development in the Ace story arc in between Survival and the NAs diminishes the impact of the NA storyline.

    • I entirely disagree. There’s nothing about anything I’ve listened to or read that in any way impedes the progress of Ace’s story in the New Adventures. On 5/Peri, I wouldn’t mind if there was no gap there, because frankly I think Peri is pretty much awful, and 5 is my least favorite classic Doctor.

  4. You want a classic story to show your friend? I recommend Horror of Fang Rock. That story totally shows what Doctor Who can do with a limited budget and primitive effects.

  5. Interesting plot, woeful some performances with David Tennant one of the worst offenders. His middle name should be ‘tone it down.’ The man has no acting range at all. There are some great ideas but they get lost in histrionics toward the end and such as characters start screeching their lives out.

    • I loved the way the Doctor was so hilariously confident; boasting to Klein about how he was going to escape. I know some listeners found that a bit annoying though.

      I’m just working on a Klein/ Seventh Doctor story this minute.

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