Project: Lazarus stars Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor with Maggie Stables as Evelyn. It was written by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, directed by Gary Russell and released in June 2003 by Big Finish Productions.
The train of heavy emotions continue with the Main Range from Big Finish after Doctor Who and the Pirates or The Lass That Lost a Sailor and Creatures of Beauty being brilliant and dramatic and just some of the best things Big Finish have produced. Today I’m looking at a sequel to one of the tensest Doctor Who audios, Project: Twilight, with Project: Lazarus. This story is the first multi-Doctor story since Big Finish’s inception The Sirens of Time. The story like most sequels isn’t as good as the first story, but Project: Twilight is a hard act to follow and just because it isn’t as good that doesn’t mean that the story is bad. It is still one of the classics as Scott and Wright are both good authors who know what they are doing.
The plot is made up of four parts, but similar to The Ark, it is essentially two different stories with two different plots that are interconnected. The first plot involves the Sixth Doctor figuring out a possible cure for Cassie’s vampirism from Project: Twilight and takes Evelyn back to Norway where a professor is looking for a mythical creature which of course turns out to be an alien along with Cassie when there is a twist that Cassie has been working for the Forge after brainwashing by Nimrod reprised by Stephen Chance, and is ready to capture the Doctor to steal his DNA. Evelyn gets to shine here as she is the one who reverses Cassie’s brainwashing through reminding her of her son and how much she loves him. This first half of the audio is definitely the better half as it rocks the emotional relationships of the Doctor and Evelyn as Evelyn cannot live with the constant death anymore and needs to see something in her life change before she can continue travelling. The performance from Maggie Stables is extremely emotional as Evelyn deals with a lot of trauma which is heightened with the revelation that her days are numbered as she has a heart condition. I also love her scenes with Rosie Cavaliero’s Cassie, codename Artemis, who is clearly brainwashed and gets to be redeemed with the promise that the Doctor will find Cassie’s son. Cavaliero is great at playing the brainwashed Cassie and again has become like Nimrod. Colin Baker is also great as the Doctor here as he fights with Evelyn and almost wants to see the Forge reformed without Nimrod as everything could be done well. Nimrod is in the entire audio and is played by Stephen Chance where he is the main villain in a turn following the mantra that “I’ll survive Doctor. I always do.” which just feels like he will never be ended and is pretty much confirmed immortal. There is one problem with these first two parts as they are rushed and could have been three parts just so we could get more at the Forge and with Cassie.
The second half of the story takes place years later when the Seventh Doctor near the end of his life, returns to the Forge after a time storm where it is revealed the aliens from the first two parts are invading while the Forge have continued with Project: Lazarus. The project itself is to clone the Sixth Doctor which sees Colin Baker having a great performance as the clones once they realize he is a clone followed by the revelation he is only three days old. The plot here is paper thin and feels like things were cut out by the request of Gary Russell just so they could be less packed which is the other big flaw of the story. It could be added and this could become a six part story with a special release. Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy have some great repartee with each other as McCoy’s Doctor realizes something is wrong from the beginning and he is still being the manipulator behind everything while Colin Baker is emotionally damaged and we get to see just how bad everything gets. Nimrod is also in this section and is still great with Ingrid Evans as Dr. Crumpton who is the second in command of the Forge. Evans is the moral center here as she shows she has a moral center still even though she does some awful things. The imagery of the direction in these parts are very graphic with imagery and Gary Russell knows just how they are supposed to do here. The ending of the story has it seem like the whole Forge saga is over, but of course it isn’t as this audio and Project: Twilight will influence audios to come.
To summarize, Project: Lazarus is a near perfect story here and is essential listening along with Project: Twilight because of how many ramifications there are for the future. It basically becomes Big Finish’s version of the Virgin New Adventues character arcs which continues in Arrangements for War and The Harvest. The only problem of this story is its bad pacing and as this is still in the price range so it is very cheap and available to get. 90/100