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…

The Fate of Krelos
Audio / March 17, 2017

Released July 2015 ‘The Fate of Krelos’ marks the opening instalment of the two-part finale to the fourth series of The Fourth Adventures, a run buoyed by some very strong releases amidst the expected sense of nostalgia that pervades the range. Surprisingly, writer Nicholas Briggs begins the conclusion with a rather minimalist piece intended to set the tone for the true finale, the rather experimental nature of the release readily apparent in the blurb that states that, while something gigantic is descending upon Krelos, the Doctor notes that the TARDIS could do with a good clean as Leela and he set off for a spot of fishing. The title of the conclusion makes no secret that the Cybermen are going to be involved in events, but ‘The Fate of Krelos’ does little to foreshadow their arrival. In fact, the story almost revels in its lack of plot and momentum, allowing for a more intimate exploration of the leads as they prepare for a holiday and then find themselves trying to comprehend the seemingly instant destruction of the city before them. Although there isn’t quite a strong enough sense of horror created to substantiate the sparse action, the mystery and intrigue…

The Cloisters of Terror
Audio / March 14, 2017

Released June 2015 ‘The Cloisters of Terror’ marks a return to the gothic horror of the Philip Hinchcliffe era for The Fourth Doctor Adventures following a run of more experimental tales that would not have so easily slotted into the established televised era. As the Dean of St Matilda’s College, Dame Emily Shaw, calls upon the police to solve the mystery of a missing student, the Doctor and Leela slowly uncover the secret behind the story of the former convent’s three ghostly nuns that reaches back a thousand years. As is the case with many stories in this range, the one-hour format doesn’t allow too much exploration of the characters or the setting, and the plot does end up feeling rather straightforward and somewhat rushed as a result. Nonetheless, ‘The Cloisters of Terror’ is exceedingly confident with its story, and the truth behind the geometric progression of the hushed disappearances of girls at the convent throughout the centuries revealing that they have been kidnapped to save the world from a crashed alien ship is a clever subversion of expectations that comes to life wonderfully. With the astral projections from the ship simply a smokescreen, writer Jonathan Morris is able to…

Suburban Hell
Audio / March 13, 2017

Released May 2015 The Fourth Doctor Adventures continues its run of experimentation with distinctly non-traditional ideas and settings in ‘Suburban Hell,’ a story which finds the Doctor and Leela trapped in a suburb of North London as temporal ruckage has taken the TARDIS to another time zone. Yet as they prepare to endure an evening and dinner with Belinda and Ralph, a strange fog rolls in holding blue-skinned creatures with dinner plans of their own. Doctor Who has, of course, attempted a few stories with a more domestic aspect to them over the years, and the familiar surroundings often allow the characters to truly come into focus as well-rounded individuals. However, ‘Suburban Hell’ works more with generalities and broad strokes than intimacy, the guest characters written in such a way that any sort of positive attributes are hidden beneath arrogance, cowardice, or spite. The culture of the 1970s dinner party is a perfect backdrop for a science fiction story, but the interpersonal relationships here are difficult to fully invest in when there is so little to actually like about the people involved. This seems to have purposefully been the point for Belinda as the belligerent wife, in particular, but it…