The Forsasken
Audio / February 10, 2016

Released October 2015 Following ‘The Yes Men,’ ‘The Forsaken’ continues exploring the truly early era of the Second Doctor, again bringing to life the full three-companion team of Ben, Polly, and Jamie. The prime achievement of The Early Adventures compared to the previous Companion Chronicles range is that these tales are allowed more time to breathe and offer a richer experience since every character is allowed a direct share of the action alongside a bigger supporting cast. Since Ben has finally been given a voice again thanks to Elliot Chapman’s impressive impersonation of Michael Craze, this scope is particularly meaningful as some deeper insight into Ben and Polly still trying to understand this new Doctor can be provided, something not really touched on since ‘The Power of the Daleks.’ In fact, this sentiment of uncertainty and new friendships is laced throughout the story, an apt complement to the overbearing feelings of fear and mistrust that pervade the plot. Set on an island off Singapore and featuring a group of stranded World War II soldiers clinging to hope for evacuation, ‘The Forsaken’ fittingly maintains a menacing and oppressive atmosphere as an unknown entity meticulously kills the island locals and soldiers one…

The Yes Men
Audio / February 9, 2016

Released September 2015 The Early Adventures returns with a new run of stories, this time with Patrick Troughton’s Doctor the focus, as Big Finish continues to successfully balance the spirit of the classic series while offering fresh and new perspectives. The Doctor and his companions land on the Earth colony New Houston and find a civilization very reliant on its obedient and subservient robotic underclass. In a sense, this tale holds many similarities to the classic Fourth Doctor story ‘Robots of Death’ and ‘The Yes Men’ toys with the concept while asking the question of what would happen without an outsider’s programming to spur them into rebellion. Would they continue to mindlessly obey or would something altogether more intriguing occur? Of course, in Doctor Who nothing is as simple as it seems. Simon Guerrier has crafted an engaging and political tale full of increasing paranoia set early in the Second Doctor’s personal timeline. Frazer Hines again pulls double duty as both Jamie and the Doctor, and it never ceases to amaze how convincingly he can channel Troughton. Anneke Wills aptly reprises her role as Polly, recapturing the finesse and spark that make her character so enjoyable, and also serves as…

You Are the Doctor and Other Stories
Audio / February 8, 2016

Released December 2015 Within the framework of the Seventh Doctor unsuccessfully trying to teach Ace to fly the TARDIS, Big Finish’s December 2015 release is another four-story compilation effort. ‘You Are the Doctor’ is the first story of the set, with Ace having landed the TARDIS on a foul-smelling space ship rather than Australia as intended. In a unique twist, the action that follows is offered in the form of a ‘Choose Your Adventure’ tale. Narrative cues allow the listener to choose which course of action to take as the Porcian plot is slowly revealed. Although most of the tale is played for humour, the reveal at the heart of the story is quite sad and touching, adding a much needed sense of gravitas to really make the story resonate. While it’s hard to imagine this style of audio story being able to sustain itself for a longer period of time, it certainly is enjoyable in a half-hour format. A mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie tale forms the backbone of the second story, ‘Come Die with Me,’ as Ace lands the TARDIS in an old, eerie manor. Unwillingly embroiled in a competitive mystery that has claimed 1,868 intellectual souls…

The Churchill Years Volume 1
Audio / February 7, 2016

Released January 2016 Ian McNeice gave a masterful performance as Sir Winston Churchill in both ‘Victory of the Daleks’ and ‘The Wedding of River Song,’ and the character was cannily set up as a longtime friend of the Doctor’s, opening the door for further stories both before and after each of his televised outings. In January 2016, Big Finish released The Churchill Years Volume 1 comprising four stories set throughout the life of the Prime Minister- reprised again by McNeice- and winding throughout the post-2005 series of Doctor Who. This release is very much in the vein of The Companion Chronicles or The Early Adventures, featuring a guest actor alongside the McNeice in multiple roles as Churchill, the Doctor, supporting characters, and narrator. The first offering is ‘The Oncoming Storm,’ a Ninth Doctor tale set in 1939 with Winston Churchill the First Lord of the Admiralty. As of now- alongside ‘Night of the Whisper’- this may be the closest Big Finish comes to releasing a Ninth Doctor adventure, but the tone and plot are absolutely in line with the Eccleston era. When a mysterious ‘stone’ is found alongside the Thames, a group of ruthless robotic soldiers (RATS) are soon found…

Wave of Destruction
Audio / February 6, 2016

Series five of Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures kicks off with ‘Wave of Destruction,’ easily recapturing the eccentricity and aura of season 17 as Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, and John Leeson reprise their roles. Writer Justin Richards admits in the extras that he was striving to write something in the same vein as ‘City of Death,’ realising that to emulate it would be folly. In terms of providing an intriguing and credible threat while managing to keep the tone fairly light and surreal with plenty of humour, ‘Wave of Destruction’ succeeds admirably. Returning in the villainous role are the Vardans, an enemy that audio has been much kinder to than the televised series ever was. Conceptually, they have a lot to offer, and their ability to travel across waveforms is aptly explored in this story, making them much more than the placeholder understudies as presented in ‘The Invasion of Time.’ Set in the 1960s when popular music and pirate radio stations were all the rage, this story provides the audio and waveform-based Vardans with a very susceptible Earth. However, and it is perhaps a deliberate scripting choice in sticking with the overall tone of the story, it is a…

The Waters of Amsterdam
Audio / February 6, 2016

The 2016 main range of releases kicks off with ‘The Waters of Amsterdam,’ a story that picks up directly from the events portrayed in the televised ‘Arc of Infinity.’ Rid of the threat of Omega, Tegan has decided to rejoin Tegan and the Doctor aboard the TARDIS, but her past is about to catch up with her. ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’ is an interesting release in that it plays with expectations before really kicking into gear. The initial premise is that Tegan’s ex-boyfriend, Kyle, runs into her in Amsterdam, setting up expectations that this will be a character study for Tegan and more of a fpersonal drama than the classic series normally afforded its companion characters. While, indeed, Janet Fielding is afforded a lot of the focus as the story of Kyle is revealed through a montage of flashbacks- and fortunately the character is portrayed fairly favourably given the circumstances-, this ultimately only proves to be a stepping stone as the story proper starts to assert itself. As it happens, Kyle has also brought to the Doctor’s attention a series of Rembrandt ‘Vessels of the Stars’ works that accurately portray schematics for spaceships. Cue episode two where, after an attack…

The Fifth Doctor Box Set
Audio / February 6, 2016

Released August 2014 The Fifth Doctor Box Set finally reunites Peter Davison’s original TARDIS crew of Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan, finally filling in some curiously Adric-sized holes in the Big Finish expanded universe. With two stories set at different ends of Davison’s first series, the Box Set offers a welcome return to Season 19 and an exciting chance to further explore the characters and their changing interactions. Adric has not been completely bypassed by Big Finish before this release as Adrian Scarborough portrayed a version in ‘The Boy that Time Forgot’ and the character had received mentions in companion chronicles and short stories, but Matthew Waterhouse’s return to the role allows for the character to be much more front and center. Regardless of the general pervading thoughts about Adric, there is no denying that the character has always held a lot of dramatic potential due to his young age and circumstances; even at age fifty-two, Waterhouse adequately slips back into that age and mindset in his voicework. The big issue with Adric’s return, however, is that the TARDIS is once again occupied by four protagonists, but fortunately the writers Jonathan Morris and John Dorney both come up with stories and…

The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 1
Audio / February 6, 2016

The Third Doctor poses a bit of a conundrum for Big Finish. It’s a tonally unique era and one that legions of fans adore, but the unfortunate passing of so many of the key actors has left a rather large gap in storytelling opportunities compared to the other Doctors. While the Companions Chronicles tales are superb and a nostalgic reminder of that bygone era, Big Finish has been reticent to do anything more in line with the televised adventures of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. Until now. Wanting to further explore the Third Doctor era, Big Finish was tasked with the unenviable and nearly impossible task of bringing in someone to respectfully portray the legendary Jon Pertwee. Somehow Tim Treloar manages to do just that, not focusing so much on being a pitch-perfect mimic or impressionist but instead capturing the soul and substance of him. The cadence, manner, and inflections he speaks with absolutely channel Pertwee in a very nuanced performance. Where this ‘recasting’ could have gone spectacularly wrong and instantly turned off listeners, it is instead easy to imagine that Pertwee is still there leading the cause. Anchored by the pitch-perfect duo of Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Richard Franklin…

The War Doctor – Only the Monstrous
Audio / February 3, 2016

Big Finish has had a fair share of important release over the years- recent notables including ‘The Light at the End’ to commemorate Doctor Who‘s fiftieth anniversary and ‘The Last Adventure’ to finally give Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor a proper farewell- but perhaps none have carried such a weight of anticipation as the first box set of the War Doctor saga, Only the Monstrous. With a truly mesmerizing performance in 2013’s ‘The Day of the Doctor,’ Sir John Hurt masterfully played the shrouded version of our Time Lord hero, in so doing almost demanding that he be brought back to further explore this character, the version that had gone to such lengths and done such deeds that his future incarnations chose to renounce him as if he never existed. Thanks to Big Finish, we are afforded that opportunity as the once untouchable Time War is entered as well. In a risky and bold move given the anticipation of the project, writer Nicholas Briggs decides initially to avoid the core of the Time War conflict itself and instead to focus on a different war. There is a slow burn to the opening story, and several parts are essentially a two-handed act…

The Last Adventure
Audio / February 3, 2016

Released August 2015 It took until 2015, but Big Finish has finally tied up the last lingering plot point from the classic run of Doctor Who, the Sixth Doctor’s swansong and regeneration. Whereas up until the release of The Last Adventure, fans had to settle for an inadequate explanation of the regeneration and were not even allowed to see Colin Baker properly regenerate. Much like 2013’s The Night of the Doctor provided a satisfying (and also overdue) send-off to Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, The Last Adventure is a spectacular finale for a Doctor who has taken full advantage of the second life the audio medium has afforded him. ‘The End of the Line’ wastes no time with exposition and throws the Doctor and new companion Constance Clarke right into the proceedings. This is Constance’s first released adventure- although not the first in her timeline as her introduction will be saved for a later main release- and so it is a brave choice to limit information about her and to instead have her [rese as someone who has already earned the Doctor’s trust implicitly. This setup works wonderfully well, while still creating a sense of yearning to know more about the…