Prison in Space
Audio / June 30, 2017

Released December 2010 Following a very successful revisitation of the William Hartnell era in The First Doctor Box Set, Big Finish forges into the Patrick Troughton era with its next entry in The Lost Stories range. The Second Doctor Box Set opens with ‘Prison in Space,’ originally written by Dick Sharples and adapted for audio by Simon Guerrier, where a holiday for the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe goes wrong as they quickly find themselves arrested for trespassing in asociety under the control of the malevolent Chairman Babs and her World Federation of Womanhood. ‘Prison in Space’ is inevitably going to be a divisive story, for under the guise of comedy and science fiction is a biting resentment of feminism and everything the movement can achieve. Presented is a civilization in which women have risen up and defeated the men who for so long oppressed them, the men being imprisoned to a life of indentured servitude as penance. The issue with any sort of gender role inversion- and this plagued ‘Mission to Magnus’ earlier in The Lost Stories range to a lesser extent- is that the authors frequently take the worst aspects of the original gender’s regime and control and amplify…

The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance
Audio / June 29, 2017

Released November 2010 The First Doctor Box Set concludes with ‘The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance,’ a one-off story written by Morris Farhi as an example of his talents for original script editor David Whitaker to see. The result is one of the most intimate and personal stories Doctor Who has ever achieved, highlighting a very different side of Morris’s writing than the historical intrigue of the preceding ‘Farewell, Great Macedon.’ Through deft descriptions and dialogue, Fahri is able to paint an incredible picture of the alien world of Fragrance, a world in which the concepts of war, hunger, and strife have been eliminated. However, the price for this paradise is a high one, and though everyone is happily married by the age of thirty, a feeling of love must be reciprocated to keep death at bay. While it’s perhaps unsurprising that Barbara should be the unknowing cause of unrequited love, thus inadvertently signing a death sentence for one of Fragrance’s populace, Rhythm, it’s the characterization of these two as they try to traverse their feelings and the resultant consequences that truly shines, allowing for truly magnificent and emotional sentiments and dialogue that ring hauntingly true in a fashion that…

Farewell, Great Macedon
Audio / June 28, 2017

Released November 2010 Following an overall successful exploration of what could have been for a theoretical season twenty-three featuring the Sixth Doctor, Big Finish turns its The Lost Stories range to other eras’ tales that never made it to production. A logical starting point for this approach would be at the very beginning, and Nigel Robinson adapts two scripts from Moris Fahri for The First Doctor Box Set, following much in the vein of The Companion Chronicles and utilizing narration and a limited cast rather than trying to fully recreate that bygone time. ‘Farewell, Great Macedon’ opens the set and provides a perfect example of the slower, more methodical historical adventures that populated Hartnell’s early tenure, and having the Doctor cross paths with Alexander the Great as he returns to Babylon and the fabled Hanging Gardens is a fascinating conceit rife with dramatic potential. Though the narration likely slows the pacing down more than intended and possibly takes away from some of the individuality of the conspiratorial characters, the story is nonetheless written in such a way that the motivations of both friends and foes are so clearly prevalent that these never become an issue as the intrigue of the…

The Macros
Audio / June 26, 2017

Released June 2010 The first season of Big Finish’s The Lost Stories concludes this approximation of an alternative season twenty-three with ‘The Macros,’ a story written by the legendary Ingrid Pitt. As the TARDIS materializes aboard the disintegrating USS Eldridge following the ill-fated Philadelphia Experiment, the Doctor soon realizes that the problem is stemming from the planet Capron in another dimension, one with a tyrranical ruler whose horizons and intentions are significantly expanded as the Doctor arrives to explain the situation. Unfortunately, ‘The Macros’ is a decidedly average story in just about every way, unable to make the most of the real-life mystery behind the ship that forever vanished following an invisibility experiment and failing even to explain the nature of the title which is not mentioned once throughout the entirety of the story. There are semblances of some very clever ideas in play, and the notion of the ship being wedged between two dimensions is a strong basis for a Doctor Who story and certainly carries far more intrigue than the official story of the ship being renamed and given to the Greek Navy. With the smaller universe drawing upon the energy reserves of the larger universe through an…

World Enough and Time
Episode / June 25, 2017

Aired 24 June 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW As with all opening instalments of Doctor Who’s multi-part stories, ‘World Enough and Time’ is charged with providing the exposition and plot developments that will hopefully pay off in the upcoming series ten finale, ‘The Doctor Falls.’ However, as has been controversially heavily publicized, there is more than enough intrigue as the original Mondasian Cybermen return to the screen for the first time in over fifty years and John Simm’s Master reappears to cross paths with Michelle Gomez’s Missy. Fortunately, rather than reveling in pure spectacle, ‘World Enough and Time’ is an episode brimming with clever ideas and superb atmosphere and imagery as the dark story of a 400-mile-long colony ship experiencing differing rates of passing time because of a nearby black hole’s gravitational distortion unfolds. With generations passing at the bottom of the ship as only days pass at the top, the story does well with presenting a world so diseased and decrepit that the alternative of upgrading to a cybernetic being seems viable. Many Cybermen stories over the years have been rather explicit with the body horror that the conversion process entails, but the sight of isolated, cloth-wrapped individuals in a…

The Song of Megaptera
Audio / June 24, 2017

Released May 2010 ‘The Song of Megaptera,’ originally titled ‘The Song of the Space Whale,’ has one of the longest and most intriguing journeys of a Doctor Who script to ever make it to production in any form. Originally written for Tom Baker, rewritten for Peter Davison, and rewritten once more for Colin Baker, this story from the pen of Pat Mills never managed to make it to screen for any number of reasons, budgetary constraint given the fantastic setting likely a major one. Nonetheless, Big Finish has finally allowed the well-traveled and oft-rewritten script to come to life as an adaptation of the Colin Baker version of the Doctor and his companion trying to stop the pursuit of miles-long space whales throughout the cosmos, unhindered by the original revisions script editor Eric Saward had suggested for the time. With that in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that ‘The Song of Megaptera’ is hardly subtle about its ecological and anti-whaling viewpoints. And while the story does take a very whimsical turn midway through, this is absolutely a story that could have worked just as effectively upon Earth’s oceans given just how overt that message is. Nonetheless, in a time when ecological…

Subterranea
Audio / June 22, 2017

Released June 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The TARDIS materializes deep beneath the surface of an alien world, one in which the inhabitants live aboard giant burrowing Drill-Town machines while endlessly hunting for fuel and resources to survive. But as a Drill-Town engulfs the TARDIS with the Doctor and Romana aboard, they soon find that even the largest of machines can become prey to the Silex. As with the best two-part stories, writer Jonathan Morris expertly fleshes out the history of this world and the war of attrition against the relentless Silex that together form the crux of ‘Subterranea.’ With an initial premise that evokes elements of Journey to the Center of the Earth, Morris probably wisely instead chooses to go down a slightly more whimsical route with its sometimes larger-than-life cast of characters and the steampunk cybernetic Silex seeking to assimilate those who run afoul of them. At the same time, though, the Silex become one of the most distracting elements of the story, and that is simply down to just how very reminiscent of the Cybermen they are. The backstory of the foes is incredibly powerful and certainly helps to imbue them with a heightened sense of menace, but…

Shadow Planet and World Apart
Audio / June 22, 2017

Released June 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Big Finish’s Doctor Who Monthly Range sequence of double two-part releases comes to a close with ‘Shadow Planet’ and ‘World Apart,’ traversing back upon the Seventh Doctor’s timeline to a time when Hex was still fairly new aboard the TARDIS and still had flirtatious and romantic feelings for Ace. With both stories exploring the intricacies of Ace and Hex as individuals and using the planets as much more than simply generic settings, the secrets and unknown mysteries of these worlds rival those of even the Doctor’s most enigmatic incarnation. AK Benedict’s ‘Shadow Planet’ opens the release with Ace choosing to visit the planet Unity, a planet of psychic potential where one can confront and come to terms with one’s hidden, shadow self. However, as the promised safety of the Unity Corporation breaks down, an engrossing story of hidden motivations and deceit quickly unfolds as the shadows step into the light. Doppelgangers are certainly nothing new to Doctor Who, but the very concept of bringing out the aspects of characters they most try to hide allows for a fascinating duality during a very personal investigation of those involved, Ace and Hex in particular. ‘Shadow Planet’…

Point of Entry
Audio / June 20, 2017

Released April 2010 The sixth entry in The Lost Stories is ‘Point of Entry,’ a script adapted by Marc Platt from an outline by ‘Enlightenment’ writer Barbara Clegg. Expertly blending history and pseudo-history, the tale of the Doctor and Peri landing in Elizabethan England after avoiding a rogue asteroid in space dovetails wonderfully with playwright Kit Marlowe’s attempts to write Doctor Faustus as the cadaverous Spaniard Velez searches for an Aztec stone blade and the ominous Omnim’s point of entry approaches. Christopher Marlowe is practically the perfect character to include in Doctor Who, his interest in the occult and his possible work as a British spy creating the perfect backdrop for a rich tapestry of charcterization, and Matt Addis brings out the internal conflict of this fascinatingly complex individual exceedingly well. Fortunately, Platt also manages to bring the supernatural facets of the corpselike Velez to life just as successfully, his plan to reunite the mysterious ancient blade and hilt always imbued with gravelly menace and mysticism while allowing a more grandiose and bombastic personality to occasionally peek through. Of course, the brilliant ideas that form the basis of this story help the strong performances shine even more, and beginning the…

The Eaters of Light
Episode / June 18, 2017

Aired 17 June 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW With ‘The Eaters of Light,’ Rona Munro becomes the first writer to have penned for both the classic and revived Doctor Who series. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, there’s something of a more deliberate feel to this episode, focusing on world-building and its supporting cast while hinting at the mystery of the Doctor and relying on the companion to drive the narrative forward. While those latter two aspects can certainly be attributed to any number of modern episodes, few classic episodes indicated that seemingly-inevitable change in direction of the franchise as well as Munro’s original script, ‘Survival.’ Doctor Who has always been at its best when it juxtaposes the utterly bizarre with the commonplace, and perhaps no era of classic Doctor Who did this more successfully than the final two years of Sylvester McCoy’s run as more modern and recognizable settings took precedence. And although Scotland at the time of the Picts and Romans is hardly modern, it lends an incredibly distinctive atmosphere to the story that is further anchored by the juxtaposition of a dimensional gate within a cairn and the notion of crows speaking the name of a Pict warrior for all time…