Released December 2015
Within the framework of the Seventh Doctor unsuccessfully trying to teach Ace to fly the TARDIS, Big Finish’s December 2015 release is another four-story compilation effort.
‘You Are the Doctor’ is the first story of the set, with Ace having landed the TARDIS on a foul-smelling space ship rather than Australia as intended. In a unique twist, the action that follows is offered in the form of a ‘Choose Your Adventure’ tale. Narrative cues allow the listener to choose which course of action to take as the Porcian plot is slowly revealed. Although most of the tale is played for humour, the reveal at the heart of the story is quite sad and touching, adding a much needed sense of gravitas to really make the story resonate. While it’s hard to imagine this style of audio story being able to sustain itself for a longer period of time, it certainly is enjoyable in a half-hour format.
A mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie tale forms the backbone of the second story, ‘Come Die with Me,’ as Ace lands the TARDIS in an old, eerie manor. Unwillingly embroiled in a competitive mystery that has claimed 1,868 intellectual souls with Ace potentially the next target, the Doctor is soon racing against the clock to succeed where so many others have failed before him. The host Mr Norris is suitably enigmatic, and the mystery is crafted well enough that nothing is too obvious nor to cryptic to detract from the enjoyment. With a great plotline and a plapable atmosphere, this is easily a story that could have been a feature release, but it still fills its one-episode allotment admirably.
‘The Grand Betelgeuse Hotel’ takes a different approach and begins with Ace already standing trial for two murders. Through interrogation and flashbacks, Ace slowly reveals how the Doctor and she arrived at the hotel and the events leading up to the trial. Remarkably, given its short running time, the world has a sense of realness and even oppression to it, and some sharp social commentary adds another layer of austerity to the tale. This is possibly the weakest of the four stories, but it’s still a gratifying tale as it flaunts the influences it has taken from its namesake.
‘Dead to the World,’ the final story of the set, is the most traditional Doctor Who tale of the bunch as Ace’s wayward piloting has led the Doctor and her to the spaceship Daedalus, the only thing between Earth and a plague that liquefies everyone’s brains. This is very much in the vein of the classic ‘base under seige’ formula, but some witty banter and a clever alien menace really help to elevate this above the typical fare. There’s some sly foreshadowing in play, and the end of this story sets up the next Seventh Doctor release as he reveals that the TARDIS is looking for some unknown person.
Each story presented is tonally unique and successfully highlights the different genres and types of stories that Doctor Who is able to explore. McCoy and Aldred are again pitch perfect their familiar roles, and the scene is set for what is presumably the next Seventh Doctor adventure.