The Five Companions
Audio / June 3, 2017

Released December 2011 Whereas 2010’s Bonus Release ‘The Four Doctors’ took a rather novel approach to a multi-Doctor story by focusing on a new character traversing the Doctor’s personal timeline, 2011’s fuses different eras of Doctor Who together in an altogether more traditional fashion, though still with its own unique twist. As Ian, Steven, Sara, Polly, and Nyssa find themselves brought together and confronted with Daleks, Sontarans, and dinosaurs, ‘The Five Companions’ finds the Doctor directly confronting his past in a thrilling but also very personal tale of survival and reflection. Writer Eddie Robson borrows from ‘The Five Doctors’ and suggests that these past companions are in another part of that serial’s Death Zone on Gallifrey and that the Doctor has been pulled out of his transport to the Capitol to appear at that same area. However, though this is a Fifth Doctor story, the tale wisely focuses on the returning companions themselves, certainly not shying away from the fact that they have aged since leaving the Doctor and allowing moments of reminiscence while showcasing the unique element that each brought to the series while traveling aboard the TARDIS. Obviously Big Finish’s The Companion Chronicles range has kept the earlier…

The Four Doctors
Audio / June 1, 2017

Released December 2010 With Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann all reprising their titular Doctor Who roles for Big Finish since 2001 or earlier, it’s surprising that there has yet to be a multi-Doctor release that encompasses these four eras of the franchise. While Big Finish may be warranted in its unwillingness to highlight multiple incarnations simultaenously, having only dabbled in bringing together various combinations of the lead actors in a select few releases and casting the the earlier three in different roles for the fortieth anniversary special, the audio universe finally gets this monumental inevitability in 2010’s subscription-only Bonus Release ‘The Four Doctors.’ Probably wisely and certainly intriguingly given the setup, writer Peter Anghelides tells four small tales that weave into a cohesive whole, beginning with the Eighth Doctor landing on a Jariden space station where his Fifth incarnation is attempting to stop a dangerous experiment with time. As the Daleks appear with one Colonel Ulrik in tow as they seek a device within a shrouded vault, the story takes an unexpected turn as David Bamber’s Ulrik is thrust into the role of flawed protagonist by becoming the narrative link for each of the four smaller…

An Earthly Child
Audio / May 29, 2017

Released December 2010 ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ marked the first departure of a companion from the TARDIS as the Doctor intentionally left behind his granddaughter Susan so that she might know stability and set roots with David Campbell in the aftermath of the Daleks’ conquest of Earth and eventual defeat. Yet as famous as the Doctor’s speech proclaiming that some day he would come back is, the TARDIS has yet to ever allow the reunion of family members on screen. While this long-awaited meeting was attempted with rather tepid reviews in the BBC Eighth Doctor novel range, Big Finish and stalwart writer Marc Platt now offer their own version of an event some forty-five years in the making. Even without the Doctor’s promise of returning, the notion of revisiting Susan thirty years following the Dalek invasion is a fascinating one, finally allowing both the Doctor and the audience to determine if he made the proper decision in leaving her behind and if she managed to make a name for herself in the intensified time of rebuilding. While she and her now-deceased husband certainly did play a vital role, the Earth is once more regressing, and Susan boldly takes it…

UNIT: Assembled
Audio / May 26, 2017

Released May 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Through three boxsets, the UNIT audio range has already established itself as one of Big Finish’s most enthralling and engaging, perfectly blending the mannerisms and sensibilities of both classic and modern Doctor Who while proving more than capable of standing tall without the help of the wayward Time Lord. For the much-anticipated fourth set of stories, UNIT: Assembled seamlessly brings together members of both eras of UNIT, highlighting the similarities that span generations as Earth’s original ruling denizens once more awaken to wreak havoc. Matt Fitton’s ‘Call to Arms’ opens the set on a more reflective and personal note to allow the audience to become at least somewhat familiar with the post-UNIT lives of John Levene’s John Benton and Richard Franklin’s Mike Yates, the two who quite explicitly serve as a doorway to the much beloved Third Doctor era of Doctor Who here. As characters and Doctors move on, it’s rare to revisit past companions and acquaintances, especially in their more mature years, but even taking the small step to reveal that Benton moved on from selling cars to owning a pub is a welcome piece of information that further defines such a well-liked…

Return of the Krotons
Audio / May 25, 2017

Released December 2009 Whether it was the original intent of the Big Finish subscriber Bonus Releases to transition down a path of familiarity while revisiting old locations and foes or not, ‘Return of the Krotons’ marks the third consecutive release to do so, following in the footsteps of the Daleks on Spirodon and of the Menoptera and Zarbi on Vortis. As the title so succinctly suggests, the immensely persuasive writer Robert Holmes’s first villainous contribution to Doctor Who, the crystalline Krotons, once more cross paths with the Doctor, this time in his sixth incarnation alongside Charlotte Pollard. Whereas ‘Return to the Web Planet’ kept continuity references to a minimum, ‘Return of the Krotons’ revels in them and will certainly reward subscribers with an intimate knowledge of both the audio range and original television serial. Thus, interwoven into a story about the last vestiges of humanity struggling to survive on the planet Onyakis amidst increasingly numerous suspicious disappearances under their dangerous leader Commander Cobden are references to the Dynatrope, Nerva Beacon, C’rizz, and the overall mystery of Charlotte from the Sixth Doctor’s perspective. The story does manage to present these facts in a way that remains at least somewhat accessible for…

Return to the Web Planet
Audio / May 24, 2017

Released December 2008 ‘The Web Planet’ is one of the earliest Doctor Who stories, an ambitious attempt at science fiction set on a world with no humanoid creatures despite a meagre budget that simply could not allow the full realization of said ambition. Nonetheless, despite its rather overt shortcomings ‘The Web Planet’ has retained a fond attachment through the years, and Daniel O’Mahony’s ‘Return to the Web Planet’ marks the first return to Vortis from Big Finish, and a most welcome and enjoyable one at that. With the brief running time allotted this story, O’Mahony wisely does not delve deeply into the mythology stemming from the Doctor’s original visit to Vortis. Instead, only the Menoptera and Zarbi make return appearances, and ‘Return to the Web Planet’ actually follows quite a traditional format as the Doctor and Nyssa soon find themselves in the company of two ostracized Menopterans. Indeed, with the story split between the tragic story of Acheron and his wingless daughter, Hedyla, and the presence of an exterior threatening to change the way of life on Vortis, there are only a few scenes featuring and overt action or tension, but the pacing and intrigue are never anything less than…

Return of the Daleks
Audio / May 23, 2017

Released December 2007 The Third Doctor serial ‘Planet of the Daleks’ is hardly regarded as a classic, and it doesn’t instantly spring to mind as one of the tales most deserving of revisiting. However, as Nicholas Briggs takes over for Gary Russell in the role of producer and also takes on scripting duties for 2007’s Bonus Release ‘Return of the Daleks,’ he manages to seamlessly incorporate the more intriguing elements of that story into the expansive mythology of Big Finish’s own Dalek Empire series to great effect. It’s actually rather surprising that there has not been a story seeing the Daleks returning to Spiridon to reclaim their frozen army to this point, but now that they have once more arrived, Briggs also manages to integrate the light wave sickness that the planet’s natives’ natural state of invisibility causes them. While the Daleks’ motives here tie directly into Dalek Empire, the potential of the ensuing Dalek might also draws the attention and ire of the Seventh Doctor, here traveling alone but just as mysterious and enigmatic as ever as he tempts Karlendorf with secrets and snippets of the true reality around them. Even if it seemed odd to have such grandiose…

The Haunting of Malkin Place
Audio / May 22, 2017

Released May 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW After hearing strange footsteps in the Doctor’s house at Baker Street that leads them to search out the birthplace of Henry James, a chance encounter with a spiritualist on a train instead sends the Doctor and Romana on a ghost hunt, following the supposed trail of the most convincing stories of a genuine haunting ever heard. With strange movements and noises commonplace at Malkin Place, the intrepid duo quickly find their beliefs challenged as the scientific and the spiritual collide in spectacular fashion. The ghosts of Malkin Place quickly come into focus as the tormented Maurice is duly introduced, the denizen who has employed the spiritualist, Talbot, to help him make sense of the strange occurrences as he tries to understand his own past. Fittingly, Romana adamantly refuses to believe in the existence of ghosts even as she goads the Doctor on, but it’s clear as soon as the travelers arrive on the property that this is not going to be a light-hearted affair. The introduction of Talbot necessarily forms a significant portion of the first episode, but events truly pick up when Gunnar Cauthery is introduced as Maurice and his character’s mystery and…

Vortex Ice and Cortex Fire
Audio / May 22, 2017

Released May 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Big Finish’s Monthly Range experiment of releasing two two-part stories per release continues with ‘Vortex Ice’ and ‘Cortex Fire,’ paring Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor with Lisa Greenwood’s Flip in two stories that sacrifice absolutely nothing in terms of ambition and personal drama despite their shorter running time. Jonathan Morris’s ‘Vortex Ice’ opens the double bill as the Doctor and Flip arrive in a mine far below the Mexican surface above while searching for exotic particles, quickly coming upon another expedition searching for alien life. The notion of vortex ice itself is fascinating and certainly worthy of further exploration and appearances should Big Finish ever choose to do so, and the truth behind the particles as explained is instantly intriguing and an immensely strong hook for any story. More importantly for the plot itself, though, is that together they give rise to a surprising amount of poignant- if somewhat despondent- reflection about those who travel in time and the potential consequences that can be incurred. Yet as the story becomes ever more complex and seemingly disparate threads are introduced while a mysterious menace puts lives in jeopardy, it’s Greenwood who anchors events as she proves…

Cryptobiosis
Audio / May 19, 2017

Released December 2006 Big Finish’s intermittent Bonus Releases were an incredible marketing strategy that added extra value to their already-robust subscription offerings. Naturally, the unique niche they filled allowed Big Finish to experiment with storytelling style and even authors, and newcomer Elliot Thorpe’s ‘Cryptobiosis’ is certainly anything but by-the-numbers Doctor Who. However, as the audios continued to become more readily available to the mainstream and the Bonus Releases were eventually made available to non-subscribers for purchase, these free offerings continued to take on an added importance and had to stand up by more than uniqueness alone. As a lengthy one-part story, ‘Cryptobiosis’ has little time to set up its plot, and so the Sixth Doctor and Peri are already aboard the ship Lankester amidst mysterious goings-on. Indeed, the Doctor is cast into suspicion in remarkably short order as the tales of a sick patient and murders aboard the ship come to light. Fortunately, the script takes an intriguing turn as, after Captain Callany arrests the Doctor, he drafts him into the service of the Navy and thus makes the Doctor subject to all of its rules as he becomes the ship’s medic. This misdirection is logical and refreshing, not only…