“Renaissance Man”

renaissancemanthecover_cover_large“Renaissance Man” is the second of the Fourth Doctor Big Finish adventures, featuring Leela as the companion again.

Spoilers!

The Doctor brings Leela to a research institute in the future to see the unveiling of a new wing of its museum. When they arrive, they meet a lepidopterist who tells them about her work. Some time later, when they meet her again, she’s amnesiac and confused, and tells them that “they’ve taken it all.”┬áThe Doctor also notices that a bit of information that he tells the museum curator, that the curator didn’t know, appears a few minutes later in an exhibit. The Doctor experiments with this, telling the curator some false information, which also later appears in an exhibit. To make a long story short, it turns out that in the quest for acquiring all of the knowledge in the universe, the curator has been stealing the knowledge from people to put it into the museum, leaving them without memories or skills and barely alive. While he’s able to acquire knowledge from what the Doctor says, the Doctor is immune to the mind wipe, though the curator does steal Leela’s hunting skills. The Doctor realizes that misinformation unravels the curator’s web of information, so he continues to feed lies to the curator, and it all comes apart. When the web is destroyed, the information is returned to its rightful owners, and everyone recovers.

While this concept of this story was unique and interesting, its execution left a lot to be desired. First, the setup of the conflict – the Doctor figuring out what was going on – was rather boring, with too much talking and no action at all. Then, the Doctor realizing that he could destroy the whole thing by feeding in lies means that he didn’t need to do anything: since he had already fed in lies at that point, the web was going to collapse eventually, taking out the need for the Doctor to effect any solution. The most disappointing part of the story, though, was that the Doctor was never in any danger, because the mind wipe didn’t affect him. It would have been a much more interesting story if the Doctor had had to race against the impending mind wipe to figure out what the solution was.

The one thing that did stand out in this story – and I think this is becoming a trend here – is Leela. She was superbly written and performed, and at times, she made me laugh out loud. I leave you with my favorite line from the entire audio.

Villain (paraphrased): There’s nothing you can do, so you’d better just give me that knife.

Doctor: You’d better give it to him.

Leela: AT LAST!! RAAAAH!! (attacks the villain)

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