Doctor Who Review – The Acheron Pulse and The Shadow Heart

(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow) So parts two and three of the Drashani Empire trilogy are out. I figured that, what…

Chris Swanson


(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow)

So parts two and three of the Drashani Empire trilogy are out. I figured that, what the heck, I’d review both in the same article. So here you go. Enjoy!


The Acheron Pulse is act two of the trilogy. The first part, “The Burning Prince”, featured the Fifth Doctor. The last part features the Seventh. This is the middle act, with the Sixth. Middle acts are notoriously hard to pull-off well. Does Big Finish do it here?

The story has the Doctor (Colin Baker) arriving some thirty years after the events in “The Burning Prince”. Following the so-called “Succession of Blood”, there’s a new woman on the throne, now, and the empire has moved forward. Currently they’re fighting a war against a species known as the Wrath, led by their evil overlord Tenebris, who use the titular weapon to do…oh, all sorts of bad things.

As a follow-up to the previous part, this story works well enough. It also works decently as a stand-alone tale, and seems to have a fairly definite end. The identity of Tenebris is spectacularly predictable, but works well.

As usual, Colin Baker does a great job in a role that often works best when he doesn’t have a standard companion with him, and the guest actors all do just fine.

[rating: 4]

The Shadow Heart features, as I mentioned above, the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), and here there’s a bit more story going on, including lots of the timey-wimey stuff that the modern series has often indulged in.

The Doctor arrives, wounded, at what is essentially the Mos Esiley Cantina. There he’s helped by two “snailers”, who travel around the galaxy in a large ammonite that’s capable of warp speed, because why not? He’s then hounded for a while by the ruthless bounty hunter Vienna Salvatori (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Chase Masterson, soon to have her own audio series from Big Finish), and is stuck, yet again, trying to deal with the Wrath and their general badness. Or has he already dealt with it? Because, as mentioned, timey-wimey.

This was a very good conclusion to the story. The “romance” arc between two characters from the first part is finally put to rest in a proper fashion, the Seventh Doctor’s usual “plots within plots” personality is put to good use, and all the supporting characters were quite fun, except one: Vienna. This is something of a problem, since she’s to have her own series soon. For some reason, though, nothing about her really gripped me as a character, and I can’t see where Big Finish is going to take her on her own. But I’ve been surprised by them before, so maybe I will be again.

That said, this was a great ending. I especially liked that, unlike the ending to the Excelis trilogy, this one had somewhat of a happier conclusion. Happy endings are nice from time-to-time. I was also, as usual, very pleased by Sylvester McCoy, and I quite look forward to hearing him again in the standard “main range” audios, mostly so I can find out what the fallout over the whole Hex thing ends up being.

[rating: 4.5]

Overall, I can recommend this set of audios, but I would strongly recommend getting them as a set of three. If you’re looking for a good holiday present for the Doctor Who fan in your life, buying all three CDs would likely be a great choice!

Next month: 1001 Nights, featuring the return of another Deep Space Nine actor!