Released September 2009
After Big Finish somehow managed to meet and perhaps even surpass the hype surrounding ‘Patient Zero,’ the company challenges itself to repeat that feat with ‘Blue Forgotten Planet,’ the story promising to bring to a conclusion Charlotte Pollard’s time with the Doctor while also wrapping up long-standing paradoxes and the story of Mila as the Viyrans once more return to the fold. Nicholas Briggs is again tasked with bringing a blockbuster in concept to fruition, and he once more succeeds admirably setting incredible stakes while ratcheting up the tension until the very end.
Although there truly is a sense that every aspect of this story would work well as a cinematic or televised adventure, it’s the setting and the Viyrans themselves that most lend a sense of immediacy and scope to the proceedings. Post-apocalyptic Earth is certainly a tried and true setting, but the version presented here is firmly grounded in reality and quite relatable to the present. Leading the two groups of survivors, JJ Feild and Alec Newman are absolutely fantastic in bring the plight of Earth’s situation to life, a plight that the threat of the Viyrans keeps very present at all times. The Viyrans still hold so much unknown potential in the universe of Doctor Who, and after their previous appearances hinted at their seeming apathy toward life as they obsessively strive to complete their mission of eradicating viruses, but ‘Blue Forgotten Planet’ showcases that obsession on an entirely new level. Realizing that every human holds a dormant particle of a certain virus and that there is a one in five-point-four billion chance that a human may contract the virus through metastasis over the next seven millennia, the Viyrans’ attempt at viral eradication causes the entire human population to devolve to mindless brutes. Deciding that even this is not assurance enough, the Viyrans then decide that only genocide will completely eliminate the risk of viral spread. Michael Maloney is again spectacular at imbuing the Viyrans with a cold and calculating nature, further cementing the Viyrans’ deserved place in the pantheon of Doctor Who antagonists.
When a story is this important- and one that features the presumed departure of a companion no less- the leads carry an even bigger burden than usual, and both Colin Baker and India Fisher deliver mesmerizing performances. The self-proclaimed Edwardian Adventuress lets loose with a raw and powerful emotional delivery rarely experienced in her final grand adventure, but more importantly Fisher is able to give a certain degree of humanity to the determined though somewhat manic and psychotic Mila. ‘Blue Forgotten Planet’ suggests that the Sixth Doctor and Mila have had many unpublished adventures together, Mila becoming more like Charley along the way, and Fisher does very well in portraying two similar but distinct versions of herself throughout the story. And while it’s quite easy to simply say that Colin Baker once more delivers a powerful performance as arguably the strongest classic incarnation in the audio format, he, too, packs an incredible amount of emotion into his performance that will relentlessly grip any listener.
To Big Finish’s credit, Charley did meet a rather final fate, one that does not allow for both the Doctor and her to escape unscathed. Yet as emotional as the consequences are for Charley, the emotions regarding the Doctor’s fate are all the more powerful. Knowing that Charley is herself a massive paradox in the Doctor’s timeline, she uses the Viyran technology to corrupt the Doctor’s memories of her. The Viyrans were established to be quite adept at manipulating memories in their first appearance, and here the result is that the Sixth Doctor remembers his travels with both Charley as well as with Mila masquerading in Charley’s form as being travels with Mila in her own form. While memory modification may seem like the easy way out in terms of regarding this temporal issue, the way it all comes together and unfolds in completely engrossing and satisfying, keeping the Eighth Doctor’s first meeting with Charlotte Pollard in ‘Storm Warning’ as it should be.
Packed with powerful emotion, tension, action, and answers, ‘Blue Forgotten Planet’ brings to a very rewarding close the adventures of Charlotte Pollard with the Doctor(s). It’s rare that a company can manage to meet and perhaps even exceed the lofty expectations placed on a certain release, but Big Finish and Nicholas Briggs have managed to do it twice in quick succession with both the opening and closing installment of this Sixth Doctor trilogy.