The High Price of Parking
Audio / July 16, 2017

Released July 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The planet Deshrah is a world of renowned natural beauty and splendour, a world so beautiful and popular that one must first park on the nearby artificial planetoid aptly named Parking before being able to teleport there. But before the Doctor, Mel, and Ace are able to complete their journey to Deshrah, they quickly become involved in the ongoing clash between the overzealous Wardens and the sect of the Free Parkers as spaceships spontaneously combust and a dark secret at the lowest level of Parking becomes known. As the very notion of having tribes descended from lost travelers who could not find their spaceships and thus took up residence on Parking likely suggests, ‘The High Price of Parking’ is a more lighthearted story than many Seventh Doctor tales end up being, foregoing the era of the master manipulator and instead channeling the likes of ‘Paradise Towers’ by revealing a hidden danger in a skewed version of a perfectly commonplace environment in which sects of citizens rise up against the instilled and segmented bureaucratic norms where no one person holds all of the information. Much like ‘Paradise Towers,’ however, the script doesn’t quite manage to…

Dragonfire
Episode / May 2, 2017

Aired 23 November – 7 December 1987 Continuing the disparity between concept and execution that has pervaded Sylvester McCoy’s first year in the titular role, ‘Dragonfire’ stands out as a story that seems uncertain of what it wants to be. It’s clear that the writing itself is very much trying to take Doctor Who into a new era unencumbered by the past, but the core plot and its tone along with the production values make it seem as though the tale is attempting to be something akin to a lost Fourth Doctor serial. Nonetheless, the overall execution is an improvement on the preceding serial, and writer Ian Briggs unashamedly shows off his knowledge of science fiction lore as he includes both overt and subtle references to many other franchises. Of course, while the nods to Indiana Jones and Alien are incorporated well enough as the plot drives forward, it’s the introduction of Ace and her seeming ties to The Wizard of Oz that are most pronounced and important. It may be rather under-developed, but the origin of a girl named Dorothy who suddenly finds herself on another world after a time storm whisks her away certainly evokes that classic movie…

Delta and the Bannermen
Episode / April 26, 2017

Aired 2 – 16 November 1987 Following the general disappointment and rather overt backlash to what Doctor Who had increasingly become under producer John Nathan-Turner, it’s no surprise that the first year of Sylvester McCoy’s tenure featured rather experimental stories that broke from what had become tradition in order for the programme to find both itself and public acceptance once more. Unfortunately, and even more than with ‘Paradise Towers,’ the actual execution of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ doesn’t manage to live up to the potential that its central concept presents, resulting in a rather sloppy affair littered with intriguing notions. Indeed, there is something quintessentially British about the fifties pulp stylings and a toll booth traveling in time and space as Nostalgia Tours offers tourists the opportunity to explore a holiday camp in Wales of all places. However, despite the purposeful underlying sense of absurdity, there remains a tremendous disconnect between the tone of the story and what actually occurs, a fact likely due to the troubled scripting process that required several major rewrites. What begins as a rather light-hearted story suddenly features mass murders at the hands of a crazed madman, but there never seems to be any resounding…

Paradise Towers
Episode / April 25, 2017

Aired 5 -26 October 1987 ‘Paradise Towers’ is certainly not a perfect Doctor Who tale by any stretch of the imagination; however, despite its inconsistencies in both tone and pace, it unabashedly represents a fresh breath of experimentalism that suggests the programme is truly ready to embrace a new era after the rather bland introduction of Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor in ‘Time and the Rani’ that had failed to properly introduce the actual characters of the Doctor or Mel to the audience at home. Even though it’s clear that both the writing staff and McCoy have not yet settled on a definitive characterization for the Seventh Doctor as he shifts between bumbling and hesitant and darker and more contemplative, ‘Paradise Towers’ firmly embraces 1980s cyberpunk culture without holding back, using its more absurd science fiction elements to speak about remarkably relevant social topics without feeling the need to reach the levels of grim despair such attempts did in Colin Baker’s era. Within the confines of the titular towers, urban decay, fascism, gangs, and even cannibalism reign supreme, but the story somehow manages to balance a line between terror and absurdity that never demands that the audience take it completely seriously…

Terror of the Sontarans
Audio / January 4, 2017

Released September 2016 The Doctor and Mel arrive in a seemingly deserted base once home to monstrous military experiments, its halls once filled with chilling screams. Once the Sontarans arrive to search for any remnants of their research team, though, terror gains an entirely new meaning for the warlike beings as very peculiar occurrences on the planet become known. Sylvester McCoy again excels as the lighter Seventh Doctor that was paired with Mel. As with the previous two releases, it’s a refreshing change of pace to again experience such levity and an overall smaller and more individualized perspective after the incredible burden of continuity that overtook the Seventh Doctor audios during the end of Hex’s tenure in the TARDIS. The Doctor here is a bit more reckless but just as cunning, exclaiming that individuals that had the time to launch a distress beacon can’t have been in too much danger in the first place and that it’s unfair of Mel to suggest that those held in cells are dangerous given his own propensity for ending up in them himself. Fittingly, though, there are undercurrents of the darker side of the Seventh Doctor as he suggests that there are parts of…

The Warehouse
Audio / January 3, 2017

Released August 2015 The Doctor and Mel land in an orbiting warehouse, an isolated and vast storage and delivery facility designed to meet all of the needs of the general populace on the planet below. Yet as the Doctor delves into the mystery behind the unchanging stock and the unpredictable computer, the mould and vermin above the station slowly reveal themselves. Writer Mike Tucker has successfully captured the essence of the televised Seventh Doctor and Mel, though both the actors and he have tempered some of the more egregious excesses that plagued that era. With no convoluted or shadowy scheme or fears about Elder Gods or other seemingly undefeatable forces, the Doctor here is much lighter and more carefree, Sylvester McCoy initially excelling at sarcasm but able to amplify the intensity when needed as the horror of the sacrifices becomes known. Although Tucker doesn’t necessarily write Mel as the most intelligent or perceptive person, he has also captured the spirited enthusiasm of the character and puts her computer skills to excellent use, and Bonnie Langford again shines from beginning to end in the role. An orbiting warehouse and its ability to instantly deliver anything to anyone at any time is…

We Are the Daleks
Episode / January 2, 2017

Released July 2015 1987 Great Britain is a divided one, the members of the upper class elite seemingly never further separated from those below them. With media mogul Alex Zenos offering an economic miracle that has investors scrambling in support, the Doctor and Mel seek to discover the truth behind Zenos’s partners and just how the phenomenally popular video game Warfleet is involved. The title makes it apparent that the Daleks are the foe of the tale, but they are presented in a rather unique fashion here as they hope to exploit the power of the free market to begin their newest attempt at universal conquest. Indeed, these Daleks are intricately aware of the influence of the Doctor on those around him, a crucial piece of their plan hinging on their enemies becoming too demoralized to continue on once the Doctor is out of the picture. At the same time, the 1980s setting and vibe lends a novel edge to events that makes perfect sense within the confines of the Seventh Doctor era, the smart and serious characterization of both leads providing an intriguing alternative to the more light-hearted versions written and portrayed on television. Sylvester McCoy’s voice absolutely seethes…

The Seeds of War
Audio / November 9, 2016

Released March 2013 Earth is emerging from a long and tenuous war against an intergalactic enemy that seemed utterly unstoppable until it simply and inexplicably stopped its advance. With humanity still crippled, the Doctor and Mel join its struggle to survive in order to ensure its future. Their fates intertwined with the Teveler family as events progress across ten systems from the Great Tower of Kaslos to the Reliquaries of Earth, the Doctor and Mel devise a plan while remaining ever cautious of the waiting Eminence. The Eminence represents Big Finish taking full advantage of its complete control of all of Doctor Who’s history. While the Sixth Doctor recognizes the Eminence and is wholly aware of the particular threat that he poses, especially since he still carries a taint within his mind, this is the audience’s first introduction to the enemy that will make its chronological debut in an upcoming The Fourth Doctor Adventures tale. Although it is unfortunate that the usually talkative Sixth Doctor does not want to go into detail about his previous possession at the hands of the Eminence, Colin baker still does a wonderful job in portraying a bristlier version of the Doctor to unsettlingly imply…

Spaceport Fear
Audio / November 8, 2016

Released February 2013 Following the wonderfully unconventional ‘The Wrong Doctors’ to kick off the fiftieth anniversary year, the Sixth and Doctor and Mel undertake an altogether more conventional adventure in ‘Spaceport Fear,’ author William Gallagher channeling elements of such televised stories as ‘Paradise Towers’ and ‘The Face of Evil’ to tell of another tense siege tale following his previous story ‘Wirrn Isle.’ The central conceit of an entire civilization evolving within the confines of a spaceport is an intriguing spin on a familiar premise, and every aspect of these peoples’ live relates to the only world they know. Thus, the societal divisions into business and economy class, the baby deliveries in Arrivals, and even the children coming of age by ‘declaring’ are all interwoven into the script effortlessly while fleshing out the culture effectively. Unfortunately, though, the cultural aspect of the story does little to actually impact events and doesn’t even lead to any sort of detailed social commentary about the situation. So while it’s intriguing to experience this interesting culture, there’s also no necessity to the culture being such an overt focal point. With Ronald Pickup doing astounding work as Elder Bones who created and protected this society, for…

The Wrong Doctors
Audio / November 7, 2016

Released January 2013 It’s incredibly surprising that it’s taken so long for the quandary of the Doctor and Mel- a companion from his personal future- heading into the TARDIS for the first time on-screen following the events of The Trial of a Time Lord to be addressed. Matt Fitton finally offers an explanation for that gap in continuity to kick off Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary year in fine style as the Doctor sets course for his destiny in Pease Pottage following the departure of Evelyn Smythe. However, arriving just after his earlier self returns with Mel from Gallifrey, the older Doctor has arrived too late and the younger Doctor too early, setting up a complex tale as the proper continuity with the proper versions of the Doctor and Mel must be maintained. Colin Baker is given a monumental task in portraying both the more subdued Big Finish version of the character as well as the more confrontational version of the televised era, and he succeeds admirably while highlighting just how much the character has grown and progressed in the audio medium. Fitton is unafraid to have both Doctors meet and converse throughout the story, and Baker is able to imbue…