Return of the Krotons
Audio / May 25, 2017

Released December 2009 Whether it was the original intent of the Big Finish subscriber Bonus Releases to transition down a path of familiarity while revisiting old locations and foes or not, ‘Return of the Krotons’ marks the third consecutive release to do so, following in the footsteps of the Daleks on Spirodon and of the Menoptera and Zarbi on Vortis. As the title so succinctly suggests, the immensely persuasive writer Robert Holmes’s first villainous contribution to Doctor Who, the crystalline Krotons, once more cross paths with the Doctor, this time in his sixth incarnation alongside Charlotte Pollard. Whereas ‘Return to the Web Planet’ kept continuity references to a minimum, ‘Return of the Krotons’ revels in them and will certainly reward subscribers with an intimate knowledge of both the audio range and original television serial. Thus, interwoven into a story about the last vestiges of humanity struggling to survive on the planet Onyakis amidst increasingly numerous suspicious disappearances under their dangerous leader Commander Cobden are references to the Dynatrope, Nerva Beacon, C’rizz, and the overall mystery of Charlotte from the Sixth Doctor’s perspective. The story does manage to present these facts in a way that remains at least somewhat accessible for…

Blue Forgotten Planet
Audio / August 27, 2016

Released September 2009 After Big Finish somehow managed to meet and perhaps even surpass the hype surrounding ‘Patient Zero,’ the company challenges itself to repeat that feat with ‘Blue Forgotten Planet,’ the story promising to bring to a conclusion Charlotte Pollard’s time with the Doctor while also wrapping up long-standing paradoxes and the story of Mila as the Viyrans once more return to the fold. Nicholas Briggs is again tasked with bringing a blockbuster in concept to fruition, and he once more succeeds admirably setting incredible stakes while ratcheting up the tension until the very end. Although there truly is a sense that every aspect of this story would work well as a cinematic or televised adventure, it’s the setting and the Viyrans themselves that most lend a sense of immediacy and scope to the proceedings. Post-apocalyptic Earth is certainly a tried and true setting, but the version presented here is firmly grounded in reality and quite relatable to the present. Leading the two groups of survivors, JJ Feild and Alec Newman are absolutely fantastic in bring the plight of Earth’s situation to life, a plight that the threat of the Viyrans keeps very present at all times. The Viyrans…

Paper Cuts
Audio / August 24, 2016

Released September 2009 The Draconians have always been vastly important at least on the periphery of the Doctor Who universe, having their name and cultural aspects occasionally mentioned in both televised and non-televised adventures. Yet despite their popularity, they have never anchored a story outside of their initial appearance in ‘Frontier in Space.’ Tasked with fleshing out a culture and background in much the same manner in which he tackled Time Lords in ‘Lungbarrow’ and the Cybermen in ‘Spare Parts,’ author Marc Platt turns his attention to Draconia and its denizens with similarly strong results. It’s a testament to the script that Draconia feels like an incredibly familiar world that has been visited several time before by its end, and Platt’s introduction of concepts such as the chess-like Sazou, origami-like warriors, and eternal tombs in space truly help flesh out the Draconian culture while paying respect to everything that has been shown previously. Remarkably, much of the world-building is done in the absence of the Doctor and Charley. Instead, these two are much more directly involved in the true action and intrigue of this piece, a prequel of sorts to ‘Frontier in Space’ that picks up on the thread of…

Patient Zero
Audio / August 22, 2016

Released August 2009 ‘Patient Zero’ is one of the most hotly anticipated titles Big Finish has ever released, continuing the fascinating tale of Charlotte Pollard and the Sixth Doctor and tasked with satisfactorily resolving the cliffhanger from ‘The Raincloud Man’ while bringing in both the Viyrans and the Daleks. While these type of ‘event’ stories have a habit of simply failing to meet expectations, ‘Patient Zero’ somehow manages to deliver on all counts, continuing the very strong stretch of audio outings with a superb effort. Writer Nicholas Briggs deftly reprieves Charley from her certain death by having her contract a virus and succumb to a coma, the TARDIS withdrawing its protection from her when her deceit was revealed. This turn of events prompts the Doctor to urgently seek a cure, traveling to the Amethyst Viral Containment Station while Charley stays in the TARDIS’s zero room. Importantly, the story shows that the Doctor has made many trips between the prologue and the true story, giving many isolated events and stories over the past year extra context and meaning. ‘Patient Zero’ finally introduces the Viyrans into a feature-length story after their all-too-brief tease in the one-part ‘Mission of the Viyrans.’ It’s incredibly…

The Raincloud Man
Audio / July 29, 2016

Released December 2008 ‘The Raincloud Man’ serves as a pseudo-sequel to ‘The Condemned,’ the Sixth Doctor and Charley once more cross paths with DI Menzies who is now an investigator of alien affairs in London. Freed of the necessary burden of introducing and buildings this character up from scratch, ‘The Raincloud Man’ quickly sends its plot in several different directions involving a unique battle between the virus-like Cylox and the warlike Tabbalac, an interplanetary casino, Charley’s continued insistence on hiding her true identity from the Doctor, and a peculiar coin from the future. After defeating the Krotons in an unpublished adventure, the Doctor and Charley head for breakfast, unwittingly discovering a mystery that takes them into the depths of the Manchester criminal scene. Wisely, the script separates the two leads, allowing each to uncover pieces of information before rejoining to move the plot forward in an attempt to end a centuries-long war. Charley is never far from the Doctor’s mind, however; despite the rather inconsistent information he has gained about Charley, especially regarding her apparent knowledge about the web of time, he refuses to believe she is capable of such heinous acts as murder as Menzies suggests at one point.…

Brotherhood of the Daleks
Audio / July 21, 2016

Released October 2008 ‘Brotherhood of the Daleks’ has a reputation for being one of the most convoluted Doctor Who plots in the programme’s long history, its unassuming blurb giving away nothing of the satisfying complexity that lies within. In fact, one could be forgiven for expecting a straightforward Dalek tale, and that’s precisely what seems to be in store for the Doctor and Charley as references to the Thals and Spiridon come out very early. However, the greater complexities of the plot soon manifest within an episode structure that is just as unique, creating an altogether more memorable experience as the duo emerge in the middle of a Dalek war with tactics being used that threaten reality itself. Given its placement in the Sixth Doctor’s timeline, the saga of who exactly Charlotte Pollard necessarily forms a crucial component to the tale. This will be a challenging component for some of the more casual listeners, especially because Charley has met the Daleks before in ‘Time of the Daleks’ and ‘Terror Firma,’ a fact that they remember. Despite its heavy reliance on continuity, though, ‘Brotherhood of the Daleks’ has a very clear story to tell, using the Thals and firmly taking the…

The Doomwood Curse
Audio / July 11, 2016

Released August 2008 Tracking a lost book, the Sixth Doctor and Charley travel to London in 1738, arriving at the seemingly idyllic and tranquil country estate of one Sir Ralph and Lady Sybil. Appearances once again prove deceiving, though, with highwayman Dick Turnpin tormenting traveling souls, a murderer wreaking havoc, and the very fabric of reality in the balance. A race against time ensues, with only forty-eight hours to solve the mystery of the Doomwood Curse. Right from the start, ‘The Doomwood Curse’ proves itself as a story filled with great ideas. The Factualizer which the Grel use to change bad facts into good facts is an intriguing narrative device that sets the plot into motion, and the Doctor refusing to tell Charley the end of the story, instead choosing to take her back in time to obtain another copy, is perfectly in character. The changing of facts, in the end, means changing fiction into reality, and Charley becomes the receptacle of the nanite particles when the machine explodes, turning her into another plot device as well to tie together the disparate plot threads. In such a crucial time period where the printed novel is gaining prevalence, the threat of…

The Condemned
Audio / June 27, 2016

Released February 2008 ‘The Condemned’ represents the beginning of a big risk for Big Finish, albeit one full of potential and intrigue. After her attempt to stop the Cybermen left her marooned in the distant future, Charlotte Pollard never gave up hope that someone would rescue her. Believing that her Eighth Doctor had answer that beckon when the familiar TARDIS arrived, she was surprised to instead find an unfamiliar control room and the Sixth Doctor inside, and he was instantly suspicious that she seemed to be not entirely forthcoming with information. Fortunately, the Charlotte Pollard on display here is an incredibly intelligent one and she knows the danger of revealing her own past and the Doctor’s own future to the Doctor who had never made any mention of traveling with her before meeting her in his eighth incarnation. Accordingly, she acts amazed as she experiences the size of the console room for the first time, though the Doctor is still suspicious at how easily she accepted a police box appearing in front of her. The Sixth Doctor is no fool, though, and he eventually confronts Charley directly when her story changes a bit too much for her liking, leading to…

The Girl Who Never Was
Audio / June 21, 2016

Released December 2007 Ever story must come to and end, and ‘The Girl Who Never Was’ is the end to Charlotte Pollard’s travels with the Eighth Doctor. The Eighth Doctor is in a time of transition at Big Finish and, after just experiencing the loss of C’rizz in the ambitious but flawed ‘Absolution,’ Charley demands to leave in ‘The Girl Who Never Was,’ receiving a great sendoff for a beloved character with a solid script that provides tension and, more importantly, plenty of examples of the excellent chemistry between the two leads. The Doctor accidentally lands the TARDIS in 2008 Singapore rather than 1930 Singapore, causing further rancor for Charley, but the Doctor determines that there is some sort of anomaly in 1942 Singapore that is diverting the TARDIS and keeping them from reaching their intended destination. Charley learns from a stranger that there have been sightings of a mysterious ship near Singapore throughout the decades, one that originally disappeared in 1942 and one which the stranger is very interested in finding. The SS Batavia, a freighter that vanished in the Karimata Strait while fleeing the Japanese, provides a suitably atmospheric and creepy setting, and the legends of sightings during…

Absolution
Audio / June 16, 2016

Released October 2007 ‘Absolution’ is an important release for Big Finish as the Eighth Doctor prepares to enter a new era. This is the story that sees C’rizz die, and the production certainly manages to evoke the feeling of a spectacle event to mark the occasion. The scope of this story is absolutely tremendous, and the imagery of the settings and action-packed battles certainly make it easy to envision as a television adventure. C’rizz has been hearing a new voice on top of the multitudes he saved, one begging for him to help more people on a dying world, and when Charley opens his religious Absolver in his room, all of Hell breaks loose as the Doctor’s sins threaten to catch up to him. As the TARDIS console room explodes in a shower of blood, the Doctor manages to land the TARDIS in a fortress standing in a desolate and burning landscape. With demons populating the land, C’rizz has somehow become an apprentice to a devilish warlord. This is very much a story about C’rizz and the eventual sacrifice that he makes, but this focus comes at the detriment of two other facets of the story. The first is that,…