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 Doctor Falls
Episode / July 2, 2017

Aired 01 July 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Crafting a satisfying finale for any series of modern Doctor Who is an incredibly daunting task, having to reference and wrap up lingering storylines and character arcs while also providing the requisite emotion and logic to satisfy loyal viewers while catering to the largest audience possible. With Peter Capaldi’s departure publically being touted as only one episode away during this year’s Christmas special, ‘The Doctor Falls’ carries even more weight than most, and Bill’s conversion into a Mondasian Cyberman in the presence of two iterations of the Master certainly sets the stage for a bombastic adventure, one that as a whole is one of the most satisfying finales to date. While some may lament that John Simm’s Master and Michelle Gomez’s Missy were not even more prevalent, each of their scenes together is pitch perfect and helps to lend a sense of earnestness to Gomez’s wonderfully unpredictable version as she flits between reverting to her old self and standing beside the Doctor in his continuing battle against evil. Simm’s version is so overtly evil that he is willing to destroy himself to prevent anything he does during any of his lives that could…

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…

The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance
Audio / June 29, 2017

Released November 2010 The First Doctor Box Set concludes with ‘The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance,’ a one-off story written by Morris Farhi as an example of his talents for original script editor David Whitaker to see. The result is one of the most intimate and personal stories Doctor Who has ever achieved, highlighting a very different side of Morris’s writing than the historical intrigue of the preceding ‘Farewell, Great Macedon.’ Through deft descriptions and dialogue, Fahri is able to paint an incredible picture of the alien world of Fragrance, a world in which the concepts of war, hunger, and strife have been eliminated. However, the price for this paradise is a high one, and though everyone is happily married by the age of thirty, a feeling of love must be reciprocated to keep death at bay. While it’s perhaps unsurprising that Barbara should be the unknowing cause of unrequited love, thus inadvertently signing a death sentence for one of Fragrance’s populace, Rhythm, it’s the characterization of these two as they try to traverse their feelings and the resultant consequences that truly shines, allowing for truly magnificent and emotional sentiments and dialogue that ring hauntingly true in a fashion that…

Farewell, Great Macedon
Audio / June 28, 2017

Released November 2010 Following an overall successful exploration of what could have been for a theoretical season twenty-three featuring the Sixth Doctor, Big Finish turns its The Lost Stories range to other eras’ tales that never made it to production. A logical starting point for this approach would be at the very beginning, and Nigel Robinson adapts two scripts from Moris Fahri for The First Doctor Box Set, following much in the vein of The Companion Chronicles and utilizing narration and a limited cast rather than trying to fully recreate that bygone time. ‘Farewell, Great Macedon’ opens the set and provides a perfect example of the slower, more methodical historical adventures that populated Hartnell’s early tenure, and having the Doctor cross paths with Alexander the Great as he returns to Babylon and the fabled Hanging Gardens is a fascinating conceit rife with dramatic potential. Though the narration likely slows the pacing down more than intended and possibly takes away from some of the individuality of the conspiratorial characters, the story is nonetheless written in such a way that the motivations of both friends and foes are so clearly prevalent that these never become an issue as the intrigue of the…

The Macros
Audio / June 26, 2017

Released June 2010 The first season of Big Finish’s The Lost Stories concludes this approximation of an alternative season twenty-three with ‘The Macros,’ a story written by the legendary Ingrid Pitt. As the TARDIS materializes aboard the disintegrating USS Eldridge following the ill-fated Philadelphia Experiment, the Doctor soon realizes that the problem is stemming from the planet Capron in another dimension, one with a tyrranical ruler whose horizons and intentions are significantly expanded as the Doctor arrives to explain the situation. Unfortunately, ‘The Macros’ is a decidedly average story in just about every way, unable to make the most of the real-life mystery behind the ship that forever vanished following an invisibility experiment and failing even to explain the nature of the title which is not mentioned once throughout the entirety of the story. There are semblances of some very clever ideas in play, and the notion of the ship being wedged between two dimensions is a strong basis for a Doctor Who story and certainly carries far more intrigue than the official story of the ship being renamed and given to the Greek Navy. With the smaller universe drawing upon the energy reserves of the larger universe through an…