Hunters of Earth

Posted in Audio by - December 13, 2017
Hunters of Earth

Released January 2013

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary year of Doctor Who, 2013 saw a myriad of special productions in several mediums, highlighting eras new and old. The audio medium was perhaps the most prolific in terms of entries, with Big Finish releasing its own fiftieth anniversary special, ‘The Light at the End,’ a momentous entry in The Companion Chronicles that went right back to ‘The Beginning,’ and a trio of entries in its monthly range set in 1963. However, the company used a novel range called Destiny of the Doctor to a take a unique approach at storytelling, a set of eleven loosely linked stories relayed by companions that each sequentially features one of the first eleven incarnations of the Doctor, marking the company’s first foray into the modern television series territory in the process.

‘Hunters of Earth’ follows the First Doctor and Susan before their fateful meeting with Ian and Barbara on Totter’s Lane at a time when Susan is simply looking for a simple life for her grandfather and her and to be accepted by her Coal Hill School classmates. Having inadvertently drawn attention to herself, however, at a time when teenagers are becoming restless and mysteriously begin hunting down anyone who is different, she quickly finds herself in a desperate situation. This setup allows for a rather fascinating exploration of the Doctor and his granddaughter who were only briefly glimpsed in this lonely context in ‘An Unearthly Child,’ and Carole Ann Ford does well with presenting a young woman coming to terms with her unfamiliar surroundings on Earth and the attention of Cedric at Coal Hill while at the same time capably exerting her intuition and knowledge when needed, especially when she discovers that Cedric’s attention comes with a hidden motive. The Doctor presented here is a version at his most paranoid, looking over his shoulder with every move he makes and furtively collecting parts to repair his TARDIS but failing to realise just how much attention is being paid to him by unseen forces.

There are several nice callbacks to the earliest Doctor Who stories peppered throughout, and the notion of something affecting the children of London and turning both individuals and taunting groups against outsiders is a suitably chilling one that comes with some forcefully frightening visuals. Even the Doctor is subjected to the torment of a group of youths, and the scrawling of ‘Aliens Out’ on the TARDIS perfectly sums up the dangerous and isolationist social environment within the context of this story. The mysterious Colonel Rook has been following the actions of the Doctor and Susan for quite some time, aware that they showed up without documentation and piecing together their origins through first-hand reconnaissance and accounts from his nephew, Cedric. He knows that they have come from another world and, though ultimately proving to be an honourable man, makes it known that he will go to whatever lengths are necessary to ensure their cooperation with his attempts to stop the hypersonic effects of a disturbed German weapon on the minds of the local youths.

Despite some intriguing ideas, ‘Hunters of Earth’ does revel in nostalgia for a bit too long before presenting the actual conflict. Though it’s not surprising that there is a hidden reason for the surge in xenophobia, the revelation that the source is an accidental triggering of a forgotten weapon is a bit underwhelming, especially after the story initially presents Colonel Rook as a much more mysterious possibility whose knowledge should cause much greater consternation for the Doctor. Carole Ann Ford may not be able to perfectly capture the tones and stylings of William Hartnell, but ‘Hunters of Earth’ is without question a story that excels with its characterization, setting, and atmospheric paranoia much more than with actual plot, the cameo of the Eleventh Doctor speaking to Susan by radio broadcast a seemingly disparate moment that may come into greater context as events play out over the remainder of the series.

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