Buying Time

Posted in Audio by - April 16, 2021
Buying Time

Released April 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The eighth series of Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures introduced the Doctor and fans to Jane Slavin’s Anya Kingdom, a member of the Space Security Service initially posing as police officer Ann Kelso. Yet while Kingdom’s actions had an undoubtedly dramatic impact on the Doctor as that series reached its dramatic climax and conclusion with her true identity and associations with the Syndicate revealed, it seemed as though Anya’s interactions with the Doctor would be isolated to that particular point in time. However, after since featuring with android Mark Seven alongside River Song in ‘Queen of the Mechanoids’ and then indirectly with the Fourth Doctor in ‘The Dalek Protocol,’ Anya now finds herself confronted directly with a Tenth Doctor who has been pulled out of time without his TARDIS in Big Finish’s sprawling epic Dalek Universe that looks to cohesively bring together so many of Terry Nation’s grandiose ideas.

John Dorney begins this first of three box sets with ‘Buying Time,’ deftly handling the challenging task of introducing Anya and Mark to new audiences without simply retreading what has already been done before. With time going awry and the Doctor not knowing how he arrived in this unknown location, it’s clear that he is still affected by the actions of Anya from so long ago, a fascinating dynamic that David Tennant and Jane Slavin play to perfection as circumstances force them to work together once more. The Doctor clearly has little patience for Anya even if he still obviously cares for her as a person, and the manner in which he casually reveals her secrets to her fellow agent is perfectly in line with this regeneration who is still so scarred and looking to assert control over any aspect of grief he can. There’s never spite, and Anya assuredly still feels remorseful even as she likewise attempts to assert the authority her position and knowledge allow, and the mutual respect the two share despite their history and obvious differences is a strong driving force for this story that should continue to pay dividends as their relationship further develops.

Of course, Mark Seven is just as integral to this saga’s success, and Joe Sims shows an easy chemistry with both Tennant and Slavin to bring his tactical and intelligent android to life vividly while helping to provide plenty of necessary information to ensure the Doctor and the audience are fully caught up with specific affairs. As echoes of an apocalyptic future ominously bleed through, the Visians of Mira last seen in “The Daleks’ Master Plan” make a triumphant return to highlight how even some of Nation’s more fleeting creations can continue to have an undoubted impact in this franchise no matter how directly or indirectly they may be involved with the narrative. Yet as effectively as the Visians and the temporal warnings bring the heroes together with the TARDIS unavailable for an easy escape, the introduction of George Sheldrake who capitalized on the fall of the Syndicate on Earth to expand his own empire and who is now planning to offer controlled time travel to any paying customers is altogether more fascinating. Naturally, the Doctor is appalled at the series of paradoxes that will almost naturally ensue, but the discovery of Gallifreyan technology powering this technology makes it altogether more personal while adding another intriguing layer to this assumed danger. Sheldrake has only a limited role here as the lead trio come to realize just what they are facing with so little time remaining before the operation is in progress, but Mark Gatiss instantly creates a dynamic character brimming with ego and haughtiness who should prove to be a most intriguing foil as personal and universal dangers continue to amplify.

In typical Terry Nation style, the Daleks are nowhere to be seen in this first episode, but rather than saving their entry for a traditional cliffhanger, Dorney instead presents something all the more audacious that on the surface flies in the face of established continuity. The result is something truly remarkable, however, and the confidence needed to write something like this is the perfect ending for an immensely confident introductory episode that perfectly achieves its goals of revisiting established events from televised an audio serials while creating an incredibly engaging universe in which this particular saga;s dangers and mysteries can develop. There may not be a classic companion upon whom the Doctor can rely as he is constantly reminded of his past and of his current status alone and mysteriously out of place in the universe, but Tennant is on top form throughout and effortlessly fronts a monumental tale that hopefully indicates just how strong, frenetic, and expansive this latest series of The Tenth Doctor Adventures will be.

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