The Movellan Grave
Audio / July 16, 2017

Released July 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW What has ostensibly become a hybrid of the televised seasons seventeen and eighteen continues with the current run of The Fourth Doctor Adventures as the Doctor and Romana turn up to investigate when a 1980s English archaeological dig discovers a Movellan power pack buried among Iron Age artefacts. Yet as they discover a Movellan ship concealed underground and as the Daleks’ arch enemies make their way to the surface, a hidden weapon that could forever stop the Daleks and anything else that crosses its path becomes known. Having been introduced in 1979’s ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ with only the briefest of cameos in ‘The Pilot’ some thirty-eight years later, the Movellans remain one of the more elusive and unknown races the Doctor has ever encountered in any medium. With a story dedicated to the humanoid androids who were written as slaves to logic and the presence of their external power packs, Big Finish essentially had to make the decision about whether to tell an origin story or to take the otherwise static race in a more daring and unexpected direction with their reintroduction, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the latter option becomes the focus for ‘The…

The Elite
Audio / July 15, 2017

Released October 2011 Following the incredibly successful introduction of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor to is audio family with The Fourth Doctor Box Set, Big Finish now welcomes Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor into its The Lost Stories range with ‘The Elite,’ a tale from the mind of ‘Enlightenment’ scribe Barbara Clegg. Arriving in a domed city on a planet scarred by warfare where the young population fights for the glory of the Elite, the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan soon find themselves caught up in the machinations and changing schemes of The Cathedral of Power’s High Priest. Set after Tegan’s return to the TARDIS in ‘Arc of Infinity,’ ‘The Elite’ captures the essence of its era spectacularly, highlighting the city-based tale of rebellion against a familiar foe with a synthesized score. The dystopic setting with its intended goal of a achieving a master race under the guidance of its High Priest who descended from above is realized well, and even though the distorted voice and album cover should give the figure’s shrouded identity away, the audio medium keeps the surprise regarding the Dalek’s true presence hidden superbly to deliver maximum impact. It’s quite chilling to realize just how easily the general population…

The Valley of Death
Audio / July 13, 2017

Released October 2011 Tom Baker’s Big Finish debut in The Fourth Doctor Box Set comes to a close with ‘The Valley of Death,’ a story from the mind of Philip Hinchcliffe that was originally intended to air during the season after his departure from the franchise. As the Doctor and Leela join Edward Perkins on his expedition into the Amazon rainforest to find the truth behind his great-grandfather’s disappearance a century earlier, they soon find something sinister lurking within the city of the lost Maygor tribe as Godrin and the Lurons finally make their offer to humanity. ‘The Valley of Death’ is very nearly two tales of two parts each given how disparate the two halves are, the first featuring the search in the Amazon for the missing expedition and fabled golden city and the second featuring an alien invasion in London. This sort of dichotomy has been used to great effect in Doctor Who before, but the two stories are so distinct here that nothing from the first except for the introduction of Godrin and his ability to warp the speed of time carries through to the conclusion. Thus, the immensely visual buildup of the Amazonian environment with its…

The Foe from the Future
Audio / July 12, 2017

Released October 2011 After years of declining to reprise his iconic Fourth Doctor role in the audio medium, Tom Baker finally joins the Big Finish family with The Fourth Doctor Box Set in its The Lost Stories range, a collection of two tales stemming from the immensely popular Philip Hinchcliffe era. The opening instalment, Robert Banks Stewart’s ‘The Foe from the Future,’ was originally intended to serve as a finale for the incomparable season fourteen and shares at least some similarities with the story that would go on to replace it, ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang.’ As the TARDIS follows a twist in the time vortex to the village of Staffham in 1977 where apparitions and dead bodies turn up in equal measure, the Doctor and Leela soon find themselves embroiled in a plan two thousand years in the making that threatens history itself. As far as debut stories go, ‘The Foe from the Future’ is an incredibly strong one for Tom Baker that emphasizes the versatility and range that he brings to the role of the Doctor. There is a moodiness underlying the Fourth Doctor here as he effortlessly switches from morose seriousness to jovial frivolity, and his famed grin…

Earth Aid
Audio / July 10, 2017

Released July 2011 Despite previously existing only as an opening scene and a collection of ideas, ‘Earth Aid’ rounds out Big Finish’s audio recreation of the season twenty-seven that never was as Ben Aaranovitch along with Andrew Cartmel bring the space opera to life and the continuing saga of the Metatraxi to a close. Aboard the space vessel Vancouver that has been tasked with safeguarding a shipment of grain heading from Earth to Safenesthome, the tentative captain Ace and the medical officer known only as the Doctor soon find themselves under attack and in the middle of an ages-old conflict. Even if the reasoning for the setup is never explained, the notion of Ace being a starship captain and completely out of her depth while surrounded by a completely competent crew that quickly realizes something is amiss with its leader is an incredibly engaging one. Sophie Aldred gives one of her strongest performances as Ace tries to channel everything she can remember from Star Trek and other science fiction programmes to muddle her way through as best as possible with the Doctor only in a supporting role for assistance. Naturally, as the Metatraxi reassert themselves with yet another appearance in…

Animal
Audio / July 8, 2017

Released June 2011 With new companions Raine Creevy in tow, the Doctor and Ace land at Margrave University in 2001 and quickly find themselves entrenched in the mysteries surrounding the alien creatures in the science lab and the hidden motives of the student Scobie and his followers. Teaming up with Brigadier Bambera and the rest of UNIT, the Doctor soon finds himself an unknowing pawn in a plan he has yet to put into motion as the lost season twenty-seven confidently continues its trek onward. Strangely, ‘Animal’ is something of a disjointed tale, a story of two halves that independently work quite well but that together don’t quite cohesively mesh. The story quite interestingly starts out as the leads slowly discover the truth of the sentient and carnivorous plantlike beings being housed in the university as Raine and Ace go undercover as students at Margrave to thwart a bombing attempt at the science facilities being carried out in the name of animal rights. However, even if the infiltration of the terrorist group occurs rather too easily, this claustrophobic setting is somewhat abandoned at the end of the second episode as an alien spaceship appears overhead and the story changes trajectory…

Crime of the Century
Audio / July 6, 2017

Released May 2011 Big Finish’s adaptation of the season twenty-seven that never was continues with Andrew Cartmel’s ‘Crime of the Century,’ a story most notable for properly introducing new companion, Raine Creevy. Delving fully into the manipulative and scheming nature of the Seventh Doctor, a safe-cracking heist in London, an invasion of Soviet and alien forces in the Middle East, and a highly guarded facility on the Scottish border all play into his newest plan. Even if the many storylines don’t completely come together in an equal and balanced whole, ‘Crime of the Century’ is exceedingly confident with the story it sets out to tell and is filled with superb imagery and atmosphere that help to sell every action along the way even if the plot is somewhat lacking and the Doctor’s plan and even the titular crime do not come into focus until the very end. Strangely, though following an absolutely superb introductory scene for Raine in which she sneaks away from a party to crack a safe, only to find the Doctor inside, the narrative very much takes the focus off of Raine to put Ace and the warzone in the spotlight for an extended period of time.…

Thin Ice
Audio / July 5, 2017

Released April 2011 Following the resounding success of bringing to life what might have been in an alternative season twenty-three for Colin Baker, Big Finish now turns its The Lost Stories range to the end of the classic series as Marc Platt, Andrew Cartmel, and Ben Aaranovitch flesh out their original concepts and storylines for the intended season twenty-seven. When the Doctor and Ace arrive in 1967 Moscow while the Soviets are seeking for a new weapon to give them command of the Cold War, the fate of Earth and the future of Ace find themselves intertwined as the hidden secrets of lost Martian relics are revealed. Ace is, of course, the one companion who never reached an ending point in the series due to cancellation, and it’s wonderful to hear Sophie Aldred pitch her performance back to the earlier and more emotionally tenuous version of her character in place of the more confident and assured version that her tenure at Big Finish has cultivated. This allows for the continued, nuanced development that the scripts under Andrew Cartmel’s watch started, and her sense of betrayal when she discovers that the Doctor is testing her in order to gain her entry…

The Daleks: The Destroyers
Audio / July 1, 2017

Released December 2010 In an odd choice of marketing, The Second Doctor Box Set contains only one story featuring the Second Doctor. The second and concluding serial is, in fact, not a Doctor Who story at all but instead brings to life Terry Nation’s aborted North American Dalek pilot, ‘The Destroyers.’ As the crew of Explorer Base One comes under attack by the Daleks, Space Security Agents Sara Kingdom and Jason Corey discover a plan that threatens the entirety of the galaxy. ‘The Destroyers,’ unsurprisingly, contains all of the expected tropes from a Terry nation script, meaning that there are prominent set action sequences, ruthless Daleks bent on conquering the Earth, tough space marines, and a harsh environment literally out to devour those within it. Strangely, though, the Daleks are almost secondary characters here, the script assuming that its intended audience is already familiar with the denizens of Skaro but inherently leaving expected newcomers at something of a disadvantage. The narration adapted from Nation’s stage directions does give some of the crucial information needed for the audio version, but the Daleks are more or less presented as single-minded machines with little nuance or explanation for their actions besides conquest. There…

Prison in Space
Audio / June 30, 2017

Released December 2010 Following a very successful revisitation of the William Hartnell era in The First Doctor Box Set, Big Finish forges into the Patrick Troughton era with its next entry in The Lost Stories range. The Second Doctor Box Set opens with ‘Prison in Space,’ originally written by Dick Sharples and adapted for audio by Simon Guerrier, where a holiday for the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe goes wrong as they quickly find themselves arrested for trespassing in asociety under the control of the malevolent Chairman Babs and her World Federation of Womanhood. ‘Prison in Space’ is inevitably going to be a divisive story, for under the guise of comedy and science fiction is a biting resentment of feminism and everything the movement can achieve. Presented is a civilization in which women have risen up and defeated the men who for so long oppressed them, the men being imprisoned to a life of indentured servitude as penance. The issue with any sort of gender role inversion- and this plagued ‘Mission to Magnus’ earlier in The Lost Stories range to a lesser extent- is that the authors frequently take the worst aspects of the original gender’s regime and control and amplify…