The War Machines
Episode / September 17, 2016

Aired 25 June – 16 July 1966 For the first time since ‘An Unearthly Child’ three years earlier, the Doctor finally returns to present-day Earth, closing out the third season with ‘The War Machines’ which sees yet another companion departure and experiments with a new story style that would become a hallmark of later eras. Instead of enjoying the familiar backdrop, however, the Doctor and Dodo quickly become entwined in a global threat as they uncover the dark secret behind WOTAN within the Post Office Tower. WOTAN, the Will Operating Thought Analogue, is the most advanced computer of the time, able to think for itself and even verbalize its opinions and judgments. Going beyond its programming, though, WOTAN has somehow gained sentience and hypnotic powers, determining that humans are inferior and must become obedient to machine will. At the original time of broadcast when computers were much less commonplace, this was a tremendously and disturbingly topical and novel storyline that played upon the public fear of increasing human dependence on machines very well as WOTAN created an army of human and machine slaves alike. ‘The War Machines’ does unfortunately highlight the decreasing health and capabilities of William Hartnell in the…

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…

The Tenth Planet
Episode / January 25, 2016

Aired 8 – 29 October 1966 With the benefit of hindsight, it’s almost impossible to argue that there is a single more important episode in all of Doctor Who’s long history than ‘The Tenth Planet.’ Aside from introducing the Cybermen, the only alien foe to remotely approach the iconic Daleks in terms of popularity and design, it also gives a glimpse into what would become a staple for the foreseeable future of the franchise, the base under siege format. Most importantly of all, though, it introduces the concept of regeneration (or renewal as it was called at the time) as William Hartnell leaves his iconic role behind. As countless interviews and stories since there have revealed, William Hartnell was becoming increasingly ill and affected by arteriosclerosis, having more and more trouble both meeting the physical demands of the show and remembering his lines. A proud man, these faltering abilities also made him more irascible, and with the declining ratings of the programme a factor as well, the decision was made to bring in a new lead. Story editor Gerry Davis reasoned that, since the Doctor is not human, there is no reason that he might not have the ability to…