Review – Big Finish Doctor Who #21: “Dust Breeding”

This is the next in line of my Big Finish Productions Doctor Who retro-reviews.

#21 – “Dust Breeding”

From Big Finish’s site:

On nineteenth Century Earth artist Edvard Munch hears an infinite scream pass through nature. Centuries later his painting of that scream hangs in a gallery on the barren dust world Duchamp 331.

Why is there a colony of artists on a planet that is little more than a glorified garage? What is the event that the passengers of the huge, opulent pleasure cruiser ‘Gallery’ are hoping to see? And what is hidden in the crates that litter the cargo hold?

The Doctor’s diary indicates that the painting is about to be destroyed in ‘mysterious circumstances’, and when he and Ace arrive on Duchamp 331, those circumstances are well underway.

Written By: Mike Tucker

Directed By: Gary Russell


Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor); Sophie Aldred (Ace); Geoffrey Beevers (The Master / Seta); Caroline John (Madame Salvadori); Louise Faulkner (Bev Tarrant); Ian Ricketts (Guthrie); Mark Donovan (Klemp / Ambassador); Johnson Willis (Damien Pierson); Gary Russell (Jay Banks); Alistair Lock (Albert Bootle); Jez Fielder (Skredsvig); Jane Goddard (Maggie); Gareth Jenkins (The Krill); Jacqueline Rayner (Lift Computer); Mark Wyman (Museum Announcer)

***minor spoilers ahead***

This was one of the first Big Finish audios I heard, right after I listened to the next one in line, “Bloodtide.”  My review of that story will be posted next week.  Both of these had the double effect of making me want more and leading me to go back and watch the old TV series in marathon.  Sometimes it pays to have a Doctor Who fanboy on hand to tell me where to look when a TV reference is dropped.  Thanks, Carl!  In this case, this story refers back to the 4th Doctor story “City of Death” when the Doctor makes mention that he has the “Mona Lisa” in his personal gallery, but not one with “this is a fake” written under under the painting in felt tip pen – that one’s in the Louvre.  Nothing quite like a little fan wank when it’s actually done well.

scream“Dust Breeding” tells the story of the Doctor’s acquisition of another painting: Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”  My inner art geek took over, and by the time this adventure was over, I had a completely different appreciation for the story behind the story of this particular work of art.  The problem with Expressionism, apparently, is that the painting needs to express itself by imprinting upon those who look upon it, and this one describes itself as “every death you can possibly imagine.”  Ask yourself, would you want to achieve communion with a painting like this?  Sort of makes you wonder how many other paintings have stories like this behind them, and why something like this was ever created in the first place.  Fear not, for you will learn all about the painting’s rather disturbing origins and its unique purpose.

The Doctor’s acquisition of the painting puts him up against his old foe The Master, who makes his Big Finish debut with the intent of releasing the creature of pure mental energy held within the painting.  This version of him is the decaying version in desperate need of a new body as seen in the 4th Doctor story “The Keeper of Traken,” portrayed by Geoffrey Beevers, who reprises the role here in classic Holmes / Moriarty style, without the unnecessary and unwanted modifications to his character made in the current version of the TV series.

Being new to Doctor Who the first time I heard this audio, I naturally wanted to learn more about The Master, so speaking from experience, this is a great one for new fans to hear.  Experienced fans will enjoy it even more, as it follows in the Big Finish tradition of being even better when you’re well-versed in the Whoniverse.