Her Final Flight
Audio / May 18, 2017

Released December 2004 Normally, science fiction stories involving virtual or alternate realities amount to little more than an interesting diversion with little true impact for any of the main characters. However, despite its own set of shortcomings, the free Big Finish release ‘Her Final Flight’ uses its purposeful inclusion of clichés to its advantage to craft a surprisingly poignant and resonant tale that forces the Sixth Doctor to confront his past while facing imminent danger in the present. Once the story is able to get beyond it rather awkward exposition in which the Doctor lands and talks to himself following a scene in which a stereotypical zealot declares that her bioelectrical implant is ready for the Doctor, events move at a brisk pace and easily fill the seventy-five minute running time without any lag or lull. In fact, even though the world itself is known to the audience to be fictional due to the prologue, the entire story itself wonderfully takes on the form of a tragedy since Rashaa clearly states that everyone within the story is hopelessly doomed. Jonathan Owen’s Hamiyun and Conrad Westmaas’s Damus are incredibly passionate figures and lend a needed counterbalance of determinism and fact to…

Shada
Audio / May 17, 2017

Original Webcast 2 May – 6 June 2003 Audio CD Released December 2003 There have been countless lost Doctor Who stories through the years, ranging from stories that are just a fragment of an idea to ones with completed scripts simply waiting to be filmed. However, ‘Shada’ is something wholly unique, a partially-filmed Fourth Doctor serial written by the indomitable Douglas Adams that offers a fascinating collision of contemporary Earth and Time Lord history that unfortunately fell victim to an industrial strike. While ‘Shada’ has certainly remained in the public consciousness through the release of the filmed material with linking narration as well as a novelization, Big Finish has crafted an alternative, full-cast production featuring Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor alongside Lalla Ward’s Lord President Romana and John Leeson’s K-9 to finally bring ‘Shada’ fully to life. Obviously a television production and audio production follow wholly different models, but the audio fully captures the whimsical imagination so ingrained into Adams’s original work in a way that simple narration could never manage. Still, with all of the wonderful work Big Finish has done in fleshing out the character of the Eighth Doctor, it is still very evident that this is a script…

Real Time
Audio / May 15, 2017

Original Webcast 2 August – 6 September 2002 Audio CD Released December 2002 Before the BBC relaunch of Doctor Who in 2005, it was primarily on the shoulders of Big Finish to keep up any sort of official adventures while the BBC tried to figure out just what exactly it wanted to do with the franchise following the failed backdoor pilot featuring Paul McGann. Following the first official BBCi webcast ‘Death Comes to Time’ featuring Sylvester McCoy, the BBC teamed with Big Finish to offer the much-maligned Sixth Doctor a more official chance at redemption by bringing Colin Baker back into the public consciousness. Fortunately, ‘Real Time’ succeeds admirably in that regard, removing Colin Baker from the behind-the-scenes turmoil that plagued his tenure on television and portraying the arrogance and sense of grandeur that so defined his character in an overall softer and more amenable light. The script wisely does not eliminate the more contentious aspects of this Doctor here, but it admirably explains why such divisive mannerisms and actions that would seem out of place for any other incarnation are perfectly logical and perhaps for the greater good in their own right. This is perhaps best explored when the…

The Ninth Doctor Chronicles
Audio / May 13, 2017

Released May 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Christopher Eccleston burst onto screens in 2005, instantly winning over fans with his confident, funny, and tormented incarnation of the ages-old titular Time Lord. Unfortunately, although his decision to leave the role after just thirteen episodes probably helped the viability of the franchise by allowing regeneration to be introduced and incorporated so early, it also left the Ninth Doctor as one of the most tragically unexplored incarnations to date. As of yet Christopher Eccleston has declined any invitations to reprise his role, but Big Finish has employed the stylings of its The Companion Chronicles range and Nicholas Briggs’s ability to channel the essence of the Ninth Doctor to once more bring 2005 to life with its The Ninth Doctor Chronicles. Cavan Scott’s ‘The Bleeding Heart’ opens the set, focusing on a very emotional and wounded Ninth Doctor fresh out of the Time War prior to his meeting with Rose. It seems natural that he would seek out a respite following the atrocities he both witnessed and committed in the name of the universe, and a planet of perpetual peace provides the perfect draw. However, when a mysterious death prefaces an increasing number of mysterious…

Alien Heart and Dalek Soul
Audio / April 28, 2017

Released April 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW It’s been quite some time since Big Finish’s Monthly Range has toyed with its format and offered stories of any length other than the traditional four parts. For three consecutive release, though, Big Finish is offering two two-part adventures, one pair featuring each of its stalwart Doctors. The two-part story has been used successfully in The Companion Chronicles, The Fourth Doctor Adventures, and The Eighth Doctor Adventures ranges, but Stephen Cole’s ‘Alien Heart’ and Guy Adams’s ‘Dalek Soul’ mark the first two-part entries in Big Finish’s longest-running range. The use of the Fifth Doctor to introduce this string of releases is particularly shrewd as well, as Peter Davison’s tenure featured the final three two-part stories of thirty minute episodes, stories that were by no means classic but that highlighted just how strong and versatile Davison was in the role. With Big Finish effortlessly transitioning from its trilogy with the boisterous introductory era of Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric to the more earnest era that never reached television featuring just Nyssa alongside the Doctor, this first pair of stories again spectacularly highlights Davison amidst events of surprising scope. In ‘Alien Heart,’ the Doctor and Nyssa discover…

Dethras
Audio / April 24, 2017

Released April 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Fourth Doctor Adventures has long been one of Big Finish’s most conservative ranges, often pitching the stories so that they effortlessly fit into their intended era but sometimes sacrificing novelty and ingenuity in doing so. However, that pattern has slowly been changing over the past couple of years and especially with many of the early releases of this current sixth series. ‘Dethras’ as the latest release not only features an immensely intriguing core concept and setting to bolster its atmospheric and engaging mystery, but it also instills a sense of season seventeen’s lighter stylings into the more grave and earnest season eighteen period. Upon finding a World War II submarine adrift in space with only three crewmembers and a chimpanzee on board and no explanation for the rest of the missing crew, the Doctor and Romana immediately become entwined in a grand mystery as they try to make sense of the strange goings-on within the ship’s hull as well as of the strange noises coming from outside. The first episode is something of a slower-paced affair understandably more concerned with building up the mystery with compounding confusion, but this approach does at least…

The Helm of Awe
Audio / April 17, 2017

Released April 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Legendary producer Philip Hinchcliffe once more returns to Big Finish with another character-driven story intended to recapture the core essence of his televised era featuring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson. Given the positive response for this small collection so far, it’s clear that the popularity and love for this era is as strong as ever, and the trickling of releases manages to maintain an air of spectacle and novelty even as they compete against Big Finish’s own The Fourth Doctor Adventures. With the fourth story across three volumes of Philip Hinchcliffe Presents, Hinchcliffe grounds his story on the Shetland Isle of Bothness as the locals prepare to celebrate the Norse fire festival of Up Helly Ya. Yet amidst the intensified blending of Scottish and Scandinavian roots, the Doctor and Leela find themselves tracking an ancient artifact of unimaginable power. Hinchcliffe and adapter Marc Platt brilliantly and perfectly incorporate elements of true Norse mythology to both drive the plot forward and to flesh out the superb environment and tightly-knit community, avoiding the pitfall of sacrificing pacing in order to explain the facts while doing so. The dichotomy between elements of 1970s modern life and the…

The Silent Scream
Audio / April 3, 2017

Released March 2017 Season eighteen of Doctor Who is remembered as one thematically full of entropy and decay, a somber precursor to Tom Baker’s regeneration after seven years as the Fourth Doctor. However, while these themes would come to predominate beginning with the Doctor’s accidental arrival in E-space, Big Finish has proven adept at filling in the spaces beforehand, allowing for a more optimistic return to this era. This trend continues with ‘The Silent Scream’ as the Doctor, Romana, and K9 arrive in 1920s Hollywood where silent film actors hoping to make a comeback are vanishing while strange creatures walk the streets. Writer James Goss has crafted a love letter of sorts to Hollywood’s Golden Age, managing to walk precariously close to the fourth wall on several occasions without ever veering over that boundary or eliciting too much of a sense of campiness or self-indulgence. Indeed, it seems rather fitting that the bombastic Fourth Doctor would have such a soft spot for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s silent film era, and his infatuation with starlet Loretta Waldorf who quickly finds her voice stolen as cellulose shadows reveal themselves provides a natural entry point to the mystery for the audience…

Zaltys
Audio / March 29, 2017

Released March 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Peter Davison era of Doctor Who saw a subtle shift in the types of stories told to ones featuring slightly higher-concept notions and more cerebral plots than in the past as the programme tried to redefine itself while aiming for a more mature audience that had grown up alongside it. Fitting perfectly into that mould, ‘Zaltys’ concludes the 2017 Big Finish Fifth Doctor trilogy, culminating a successful run of adventures revisiting the early Fifth Doctor TARDIS crew of Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. Writer Matthew J Elliott proves that he is unafraid to drench his story with continuity, but he manages to do so without his references ever feeling intrusive or cumbersome while adding depth to the story in the process. Accordingly, the intimate discussions regarding Tegan’s aunt and Adric’s brother make perfect sense as, much to Adric’s amazement given the powers of the TARDIS and what it allows, Tegan continues with her quest to return to Heathrow. These opening scenes recapture the relationship between the two perfectly, and Tegan’s taunting of Adric while having him recall how much happier he was before Nyssa and Tegan joined adequately sets up the complex story as…

Return to Telos
Audio / March 17, 2017

Released August 2015 ‘Return to Telos’ marks the finale of the fourth run of The Fourth Doctor Adventures and the conclusion to the more character-driven openness of ‘The Fate of Krelos.’ With the advertised return of the Cybermen and Jamie as the Fourth Doctor and Leela intrude upon the Second Doctor’s earlier adventure to Telos, it’s fair to say that ‘Return to Telos’ is one of the most eagerly-anticipated titles in the range to date. Nicholas Briggs both writes and directs ‘Return to Telos,’ and so it’s not surprising that the pacing and tension are so consistent as a seemingly unsolvable problem presents itself. Unfortunately, the script fails to capitalize on its immensely intriguing hook, instead choosing to focus on simply talking about potential devastating consequences with dialogue laden with clunky exposition and technobabble. Jamie’s kilt was a nice bit of foreshadowing in the previous adventure, but the realization that the deadly mistake made during ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’ now wreaking havoc for the Fourth Doctor is that Jamie rubbed up against cyber-particles that have remained dormant in his kilt until now is rather underwhelming. There is the intrigue surrounding how those same particles have come to result in the…