Last of the Colophon
Audio / February 17, 2017

Released May 2014 Jonathan Morris’s ‘Last of the Colophon’ continues the audio adventures of the Fourth Doctor and Leela, the intrepid duo this time landing upon the dead world of Colophos alongside the crew of the Oligarch survey ship. As the presence of a strange communication from the wheelchair-bound and bandaged Astaroth Morax- a being who claims to be the last of the Colophon race- suggests, though, the truth is not as obvious as it seems. ‘Last of the Colophon’ is an extremely confident script that easily breezes along from beginning to end without ever losing its path, but the path taken is an extremely predictable one. This unfortunately means that it comes as no big surprise that the last surviving member of a thought-dead race ends up having megalomaniacal schemes and thoughts, nor that the big revelation serves as the centerpiece of the release’s cliffhanger. However, the script does still take measures to treat the revelation as an earned surprise rather than an inevitability, and the hints such as the door that can only be opened from the inside intimate the concealed dangers at hand. Morris also does well with a vivid- if harrowing- backstory regarding the civilization on…

Damaged Goods
Audio / February 16, 2017

Released April 2015 The New Adventures novel ‘Damaged Goods’ was undoubtedly an obvious choice for Big Finish to adapt for its audio range. Published in 1996 and written by Russell T Davies, the man behind the incredible success of the 2005 television revival, ‘Damaged Goods’ instantly earned its place amongst the very best written adventures as it grimly focused on very real characters with very real drama in very real settings. It’s quite easy to see the beginnings of what Doctor Who would become in the future, the definite focus on working-class families, a seeming fascination with Time Lord technology, a respectful hint of non-traditional sexuality, and even the inclusion of the surname Tyler all making appearances here. Thus, even with the darker and more manipulative version of Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor in the starring role, ‘Damaged Goods’ in retrospect proves to be the perfect link between the two televised eras of the franchise, telling an enthralling and emotionally-laden story in the process. It’s no secret that The New Adventures skewed into much darker territory than the televised series, and ‘Damaged Goods’ is perhaps a more extreme example than most due to its very contemporary setting. As the Doctor and…

The Keeper of Traken
Episode / February 16, 2017

Aired 31 January – 21 February 1981 Death and decay have been constant narrative streams through Tom Baker’s final series of adventures, and ‘The Keeper of Traken’ runs with those themes and utilizes the impending departure of the leading man to add a tremendous deal of weight to a satisfying tale upon the peaceful world of Traken that might otherwise have seemed a bit too excessive. Considering that the script had to undergo several late changes to accommodate a shift in the production staff’s desires, prime examples being the surprising revival of the Master and the impetus put on the character of Nyssa as Sarah Sutton was eventually asked to become a companion, due credit must be given to writer Johnny Byrne and script editor Christopher H Bidmead for managing to still craft such a coherent and enjoyable story. The titular Keeper of Traken is quite an intriguing notion, and the fact that he is not immortal and all-powerful only makes him more so. Sensing that a powerful evil is invading his idyllic planet of purified goodness that makes evil shrivel away, he calls upon the Doctor who is still hurting from the departure of Romana and K9 for help.…

The Evil One
Audio / February 14, 2017

Released April 2014 The Fourth Doctor Adventures turns once more to Big Finish stalwart Nicholas Briggs for the fourth adventure of its third series, bringing Leela to the forefront with events hearken back to her televised debut in ‘The Face of Evil’ and beyond. As the Doctor and Leela find themselves surrounded by the mystery of and the investigation into a space cruiser’s missing crew and passengers as well as by a horde of metal mantis-like aliens, Leela finds herself haunted by terrible nightmares and the dawning realization that everything she takes to be true may be a lie. Big Finish has done wonders with expanding companions’ backstories and characterization in its many years of audio production, and ‘The Evil One’ initially seems as though it is the story to finally do the same for Leela, a refreshing notion after the majority of the early releases in The Fourth Doctor Adventures have relied on nostalgia and tradition more than anything else. In theory, looking at Leela’s relationship with her father and comparing that to her relationship with the Doctor is a fantastically enticing idea; unfortunately, the story never goes into any detail regarding why Leela should come to doubt herself…

The Well-Mannered War
Audio / February 13, 2017

Released April 2015 ‘The Well-Mannered War’ is the final of Gareth Roberts’s season seventeen The Missing Adventures trilogy to be adapted for Big Finish. With some of the more overt humour toned down and a greater focus on a very imaginative and vivid plot, it’s also quite tonally distinct and helps give nuance and greater depth to the events surrounding the titular 200-year war between humans and Chelonians in which not a single shot has been fired. Yet as the Doctor, Romana, and K9 arrive, they soon find something sinister lurking in the shadows, amplifying tensions and heralding a most unwelcome change. The story wonderfully goes to great lengths to describe just how strange this supposed war is, highlighting a tea lady that caters to both sides and leaders of both factions making increasingly tenuous excuses to avoid any sign of hostility. Even as strange deaths amass and tensions begin to boil over as a dark presence slowly makes itself known in a most unassuming and invasive manner, there always seems to be a lingering desire to return to the peaceful armistice of normality, a fascinating backdrop for a story centred around the very serious prospect of war and its…

Warriors’ Gate
Episode / February 13, 2017

Aired 3 – 24 January 1981 ‘Warriors’ Gate’ marks the end of the E-space trilogy, a deeply rewarding story that brings choice to the forefront as a pathway to the normal universe presents itself. It’s no secret that this season is one fraught with the looming prospect of change, and ‘Warriors’ Gate’ certainly pays respect to this season’s earlier stories and developments while boldly kickstarting the programme’s bold new direction. With Romana ordered to return to Gallifrey before the incidental E-space excursion, the return to reality poses a complex conundrum since she no longer wishes to return home after seeing the universe alongside the Doctor. With Lalla Ward’s departure from the role well-known, the question of how Romana would be written out of the show is a major driving force amidst the darker, more cerebral events on display. Indeed, the season’s recurring themes of age and change are an intrinsic part of ‘Warriors’ Gate,’ and the space freighter with aliens in suspended animation that is unable to navigate through a space where the coordinates all read zero is an intriguing if suitably depressing opening moment. Even with Biroc- one of the aliens with the ability to see some semblance of…

The Crooked Man
Audio / February 12, 2017

Released March 2014 The reliable John Dorney pens the third entry in the third series of Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures, delving expertly into the gothic horror genre while eventually proving to be operating within the confines of a sequel to a beloved classic tale. As the Doctor and Leela come upon a series of monstrous murders along a wintry seaside, they soon realize that something supernatural is at work, a force of evil hiding behind secrets and doors and seemingly tied to a particular young family. Dorney proves quite quickly in ‘The Crooked Man’ that he has an apt willingness to utilize macabre details, and the titular Crooked Man’s attack on the bookshop is incredibly chilling to effectively set the scene for the events to follow. Once it is revealed that the characters introduced are actually fictional constructs of literature, the story takes an unexpected turn as the weak point between the real world and the Land of Fiction becomes the focal point, the Crooked Man coming through the fissure and allowing another fictional denizen to follow him for each person in the real world he kills. With available storytelling mediums and the sheer magnitude of stories constantly…

State of Decay
Episode / February 12, 2017

Aired 22 November – 13 December 1980 Terrance Dicks initially wrote ‘State of Decay’ to feature in producer Philip Hinchcliffe’s final year, seeing the BBC pass on it due to its own Dracula adaptation airing near that time. Fittingly, its airing during Tom Baker’s final season gives one final glorious throwback to the gothic horror traditions that proved to be so popular in his early years, dialing back the overall humour that had started to pervade Doctor Who during Graham Williams’s tenure and offering a remarkably satisfying peek into the Time Lords’ violent past. Baker himself seems to be much more vigorous and enthusiastic here than during much of his final season so far, the threat of the Time Lords’ ages-old vampiric foes demanding his full intensity after showcasing a wearier Fourth Doctor nearing the end of his time to this point. His character is still as flippant as ever, but he’s incredibly serious and dramatic when needed and shows an immense pride in Romana that highlights just how superb this pairing is. Indeed, the idea of these three vampires ruling through fear and intimidation to control the evolution of the society and keep it in a perpetual medieval state…

The English Way of Death
Audio / February 11, 2017

Released January 2015 Released in conjunction with ‘The Romance of Crime,’ ‘The English Way of Death’ continues the retrospective reimagining of Gareth Roberts’s trio of masterful The Missing Adventures tales that so expertly captured the vibrant essence of season 17. With the Doctor intent on returning some long-overdue library books, traces of time pollution in 1930 London alter his plans and bring him to a seemingly innocuous seaside hut that houses a peculiar mystery, a strange smell in the air perhaps signalling the oncoming death of the entire planet’s population. Unsurprisingly, the tone of both stories in this set is quite similar, ‘The English Way of Death’ also channeling the surreal humour of Douglas Adams while satirically poking fun at the social norms of the 1930s in the vein of Wodehouse, freely adding in zombie clichés, and presenting another larger-than life villainous entity in Zodaal as Terrence Hardiman’s Stackhouse comes into focus. The plot is rich and complex without ever becoming overwhelming, though the extensive comedy mined from the pandering of members of the upper class elite will obviously cater to a certain portion of the audience more than to others. Still, the incredible imagery employed throughout creates an undeniably…

White Ghosts
Episode / February 9, 2017

Released February 2014 After a close encounter with a missile forces the Doctor to land the TARDIS on a planet at the very edge of the universe that experiences light only one day every thousand years as that rare day approaches, Leela and the Doctor find themselves entwined with Senior Tutor Bengel’s geographical study, soon discovering that the shroud of darkness is far safer than the brightness of day. ‘The King of Sontar’ ended with an emotional bang as the Doctor and Leela had a tremendous disagreement regarding Leela’s choice of action, a fascinating thread of development for a well-explored duo. Although ‘White Ghosts’ unfortuanately does not necessarily deal with the ramifications of that falling out directly, opening with the Doctor apparently ready to forgive Leela after spending several days in between adventures secluded in his TARDIS, it does at least manage to highlight how much the Doctor’s presence has changed Leela as she worries about the Doctor’s well-being, researches her potential foes, and stands up for herself while looking to the less savage parts of her Sevateem heritage to provide an unexpected but immense source of help. Clearly the setting is a vital part of ‘White Ghosts,’ and the…