Synopsis: Masterful is a special release marking the 50th anniversary of the first TV appearance of the Master in January 1971.
The Master’s finally done it. He’s won. He summons his other selves to a celebration of his ultimate victory. And they come – from across time and dimensions. But he’s forgotten to invite someone. And Missy’s not happy.
Has the Master really conquered the universe? Or has something more awful been unleashed? Something that even all the Masters cannot stop?
Missy is determined to reveal the truth. Because one fact about the Master’s existence never changes. No-one can trust the Master.
Review: Apart from the official synopsis, I can’t delve into plot. The Masters are the plot. That is all and everything. Consequently, I’ll concentrate on story structure and performances.
Writer James Goss firmly grasps narrative economy. Limiting the settings and supporting characters has two effects.
First, a definitionally chaotic tale becomes more focused. Second, a group of committed actors have the room to continually balance and rebalance the chaos and the order.
Additionally, Goss understands that a story centered on the Masters requires a Doctor proxy. Consequently, the plot strand he builds around Jo Grant is an elegant and necessary piece of internal logic.
Finally, Goss embraces the idea that the Masters require a fresh perspective on themselves. To that end, he gives listeners a new version of the character to serve as a foil to his other-selves. The results are a deserved treat. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a Short Trip or two with this latest iteration.
I don’t have a sufficient vocabulary to praise the actors reprising the Master. I’d have to start with brilliant and empty a thesaurus from there.
Instead, I’ll single out Milo Parker. He has a fascinating and difficult mandate. He plays a younger version of the Master’s original incarnation.
As a result, Parker must convey a personality listeners haven’t encountered. At the same time, that different personality must harbor the potential to become the incarnations around him. It’s an unenviable balance that Parker maintains with aplomb.
Finally, I must shower kudos on Katy Manning. Jo is a necessary heart amid rampant psychopathy. Manning brings years of tender awareness, grounding the darkest tales with warmth.
Thank you, Big Finish. Listeners have been given a multi-Master story that is inescapably everything it needs to be.
You can purchase Masterful (Standard Edition) here.
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- Audio Production10