Nightshade
Audio / February 28, 2017

Released April 2016 ‘Nightshade’ was one of the earlier entries in The New Adventures, importantly introducing writer Mark Gatiss to the worlds of Doctor Who but also earning a spot among the very best in the series with its deft handling of the characters and their emotions and how they intertwined with a wonderfully personal plot. As Big Finish continues to delve back into Virgin territory, the Doctor and Ace return once more to the sleepy village of Crook Marsham where Professor Trevithick is forcefully reminded of his days as television’s Professor Nightshade and the citizens are quite literally falling prey to their memories. It’s not fair to compare the written and audio versions of ‘Nightshade’ since the two mediums are so incredibly distinct, especially with the audio version condensed to a two-hour running time. Compared to the novel, the audio version by necessity is missing a lot of the ambience and internal drama that was such a highlight of the source material. With a rather straightforward menace at its core as an alien entity feeds off memories, this means that a substantial portion of the story is spent with the characters and getting to know who they are and…

Zygon Hunt
Audio / February 27, 2017

Released August 2014 The Zygons, with only one televised serial in the entire classic run of Doctor Who, have endured in the public consciousness as one of the greatest and most iconic villains the franchise has ever offered, enough to earn them a starring role in the blockbuster fiftieth anniversary special. With their incredibly organic design and shape-shifting prowess, and their reputation undoubtedly bolstered by not being overused like the Daleks or Cybermen, they unquestionably present one of the most unique threats the Doctor periodically comes across. Now, as the third series of Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures draws to a close, Tom Baker fittingly gets the opportunity to confront the famed foes once more. Though the issue of The Fourth Doctor Adventures seemingly being content to revel in nostalgia and to offer rather straightforward tales perfectly encapsulating the essence of the Baker years is a recurrent one, that notion is perhaps more noticeable in a story that serves as a season finale, especially one with such an intriguing atmosphere built up as the Doctor and Leela become entwined in a deadly hunt where there is no clear friend or foe and where tremendous secrets lurk in the shadows…

Kinda
Episode / February 27, 2017

Aired 1 -9 February 1982 There have been many Doctor Who stories featuring more cerebral concepts than simple filling tales with good versus bad or glorious spectacle, but ‘Kinda’ is one of the few to warrant actual discussion on an academic level. Writer Christopher Bailey is able to imbue a rich tapestry of Buddhist themes and images throughout the script, calling into question the evils within more than out and providing a source of strength and steadiness in a somewhat uneven production. There are two very distinct storylines within ‘Kinda,’ the concepts within each also able to overcome a certain obliqueness to create a rather fulfilling parable. Unquestionably the more successful plot thread is Tegan’s struggle with herself and internal negativity, especially when placed in an idyllic, Eden-like environment with a native population perfectly in tune with nature and thus so prone to corruption from any force. The storyline reminiscent in some respects to Heart of Darkness with colonists coming to conquer an untamed world but instead becoming the conquered as they succumb to madness doesn’t quite capture the imagination in the same manner, but the experimental nature of the production and the wonderful imagery lend each a sense of…

All-Consuming Fire
Audio / February 25, 2017

Released December 2015 With the recent resurgence in popularity of both Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes, two of Great Britain’s greatest cerebral heroes, there has been a public yearning for the two franchises to cross over and intersect. As Big Finish’s latest novel adaptation is keen to remind enthusiasts, though, this seeming impossibility already gloriously happened in 1994’s ‘All-Consuming Fire’ by Andy Lane during the height of The New Adventures range. The audio adaptation is very faithful to the source material and will no doubt please those with an open mind, though, understandably, the notion of having Sherlock Holmes deal with aliens may upset Holmesian purists and the notion of having a Doctor Who adventure unfold through the first-person journal narration of Doctor Watson- and in some instances Bernice- may prove somewhat disconcerting for Doctor Who purists. However, the decision to tell the tale as a Holmes mystery that the Doctor and his companions happen to wander into works incredibly well and adds an air of Conan Doyle authenticity while the mystery unfolds in a very unique manner. Indeed, beginning the story with Big Finish’s Sherlock Holmes theme sets the scene for what is to come and, though some of…

The Abandoned
Audio / February 24, 2017

Released July 2014 Co-written by Louise Jameson and Nigel Fairs, ‘The Abandoned’ takes The Fourth Doctor Adventures out of the realm of nostalgia and gloriously into the unexpected. Within the depths of the TARDIS, one of its oldest secrets is about to be revealed as someone long-forgotten is ready to reappear, threatening to change the very foundation of the universe itself as the Point of Stillness draws near. ‘The Abandoned’ is brimming with wonderfully intriguing concepts, and the Point of Stillness itself is certainly one of the most fascinating. The decimal point in Gallifrey’s galactic coordinates, it is the heart of the storm created by the Big Bang and is forbidden to even be discussed for fear of it being defiled and the blurred barrier between fiction and reality breaking. As the Doctor and Leela become gripped by madness and something that defies definition, the claustrophobic setting of the TARDIS interior is used to great effect. Likewise, the loaded history of Marianna is handled deftly, and what could become overcomplicated as a being with the greatest weapon ever devised and a nanosecond away from absolute power who was tricked into manifesting a coma-inducing drug that was used against her instead…

Four to Doomsday
Episode / February 23, 2017

Aired 4 – 12 January 1982 The second story often sets the tone for the era to come when a new lead enters the role. Whether introducing a classic villain, a classic companion, or even a classic genre, the second story of each early era has arguably been among the most important and enduring in legacy. However, ‘Four to Doomsday’ is an outlier in that respect, not because it’s terrible but simply because it is so distinctly average. As the first story filmed with Peter Davison in the lead as the programme tried to learn on the fly how to once again function with three companions, it’s unsurprising that there are so apparent growing pains along the way. Perhaps one of the biggest faults with Terence Dudley’s script, especially after a heavy season of adventures full of grandiose ideas and the weight of the passing of time, is that it simply seems to unfold so nonchalantly. The idea of the self-obsessed Monarch attempting to travel back in time to meet himself as a God is a suitably unique angle for a villain, but there simply is far too little dramatic weight in a rather light plot overall. There are undeniable…

Destroy the Infinite
Audio / February 22, 2017

Released June 2014 The Eminence is one of the more fascinating Big Finish creations in recent years, a gaseous entity and psychic force that can control the minds of others who breathe its Breath of Forever and thus become its Infinite Warriors, essentially impervious walking corpses. Having been recently introduced in the Sixth Doctor story ‘The Seeds of War,’ during which it was suggested that an earlier Doctor and the Eminence had crossed paths before, the story of their initial encounter from the Doctor’s perspective now unfolds in ‘Destroy the Infinite.’ The Doctor takes Leela to the planet Delafoss to show her an unspoiled and thriving human colony, only to find it instead choked by industrialization, its population turned to slaves controlled by the Eminence and its Infinite Warriors. As the duo quickly joins a pair of resistance fighters trying to gather information about the ship, The Infinite, being constructed to turn the war against humanity in the Eminence’s favour , the Doctor quickly makes himself known as a threat and becomes a target for the all-powerful Breath of Forever. David Sibley does marvelous work as the chilling voice of the Eminence, contrasting nicely to the somewhat over-modulated Infinite Warrior…

Theatre of War
Audio / February 21, 2017

Released December 2015 At first glance, ‘Theatre of War’ seems like a bit of an odd choice for Big Finish to adapt from The New Adventures range. The original novel is immensely enjoyable as it meshes space opera and intrigue wonderfully amidst the backdrop of an interplanetary war, but it doesn’t fundamentally alter the trajectory of the leads or franchise in any meaningful way when taken in isolation even though it does put the manipulative Seventh Doctor in the odd position of not necessarily being several steps ahead of everyone else. However, given that ‘Theatre of War’ represents the first chronological meeting between Bernice and Irving Braxiatel, a figure who would become immensely important to Bernice and eventually Big Finish itself in her own ranges, it makes perfect sense to fill in that piece of continuity within the audio medium as well. What’s instantly apparent in ‘Theatre of War’ is the scope of the production, opening on the rain-soaked Menaxus in the ruins of a mighty amphitheatre and quickly shifting to galleries, capitals of empire, and even the insides of a machine that can reproduce a vast number of plays from throughout the ages. The truth behind the supposed lost…

The Eternal Battle
Audio / February 20, 2017

Released February 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Fourth Doctor Adventures has never shied away from the use of nostalgia and classic foes to tell its tales and crisply recapture its intended era, and the sixth series is already proving that it will be no different. And while there have been some instances in which a nod to continuity or recurrence have not enhanced the script in any meaningful way, ‘The Eternal Battle’ is unquestionably enhanced by the presence of the Sontarans as it explores the futility of war when the TARDIS lands in a Sontaran war zone where strange lights flicker in the air and stranger creatures lurk in the shadows. The Sontarans have always been a unique presence within the Doctor Who universe, imbuing the prospect of a glorious death into their way of life rather than seeing death simply as a means to an end like other combative foes. Yet when the Sontarans here find the ability to die taken away as fallen foes and comrades become reanimated, ‘The Eternal Battle’ offers a deeper and better-rounded look into the mindset and motivations of this classic race than practically any story since ‘The Time Warrior’ has, managing to portray…

The Contingency Club
Audio / February 19, 2017

Released February 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Perhaps because of the Sherlockian undertones so prevalent in the character and very fabric of Doctor Who, the franchise has always seemed perfectly at home within the confines of a stylized Victorian era. With ‘The Contingency Club,’ Big Finish returns the Fifth Doctor to that atmospheric period just as The Contingency is quickly becoming the most exclusive and desirable gentlemen’s club in London. Yet as the peculiarly oblivious members, uncannily identical servants, and frightfully dangerous goings-on within the cellar and upper floor suggest, however, a much bigger game than simply achieving social status is being played within the club’s walls. ‘The Contingency Club’ wastes no time in getting the leads involved in the mysterious events after the TARDIS loses power and literally falls out the vortex. Coming upon a valet named Edward, the four travelers are quickly welcomed to the club, its members within showing no real individuality and not taking any notice of their strange attire nor of the fact that Nyssa and Tegan are, in fact, women. Their good fortune does not last long, however, as they quickly become divided and slowly begin to learn the dangerous truth about the club’s mysterious…