The Five Companions
Audio / June 3, 2017

Released December 2011 Whereas 2010’s Bonus Release ‘The Four Doctors’ took a rather novel approach to a multi-Doctor story by focusing on a new character traversing the Doctor’s personal timeline, 2011’s fuses different eras of Doctor Who together in an altogether more traditional fashion, though still with its own unique twist. As Ian, Steven, Sara, Polly, and Nyssa find themselves brought together and confronted with Daleks, Sontarans, and dinosaurs, ‘The Five Companions’ finds the Doctor directly confronting his past in a thrilling but also very personal tale of survival and reflection. Writer Eddie Robson borrows from ‘The Five Doctors’ and suggests that these past companions are in another part of that serial’s Death Zone on Gallifrey and that the Doctor has been pulled out of his transport to the Capitol to appear at that same area. However, though this is a Fifth Doctor story, the tale wisely focuses on the returning companions themselves, certainly not shying away from the fact that they have aged since leaving the Doctor and allowing moments of reminiscence while showcasing the unique element that each brought to the series while traveling aboard the TARDIS. Obviously Big Finish’s The Companion Chronicles range has kept the earlier…

The Four Doctors
Audio / June 1, 2017

Released December 2010 With Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann all reprising their titular Doctor Who roles for Big Finish since 2001 or earlier, it’s surprising that there has yet to be a multi-Doctor release that encompasses these four eras of the franchise. While Big Finish may be warranted in its unwillingness to highlight multiple incarnations simultaenously, having only dabbled in bringing together various combinations of the lead actors in a select few releases and casting the the earlier three in different roles for the fortieth anniversary special, the audio universe finally gets this monumental inevitability in 2010’s subscription-only Bonus Release ‘The Four Doctors.’ Probably wisely and certainly intriguingly given the setup, writer Peter Anghelides tells four small tales that weave into a cohesive whole, beginning with the Eighth Doctor landing on a Jariden space station where his Fifth incarnation is attempting to stop a dangerous experiment with time. As the Daleks appear with one Colonel Ulrik in tow as they seek a device within a shrouded vault, the story takes an unexpected turn as David Bamber’s Ulrik is thrust into the role of flawed protagonist by becoming the narrative link for each of the four smaller…

Return of the Daleks
Audio / May 23, 2017

Released December 2007 The Third Doctor serial ‘Planet of the Daleks’ is hardly regarded as a classic, and it doesn’t instantly spring to mind as one of the tales most deserving of revisiting. However, as Nicholas Briggs takes over for Gary Russell in the role of producer and also takes on scripting duties for 2007’s Bonus Release ‘Return of the Daleks,’ he manages to seamlessly incorporate the more intriguing elements of that story into the expansive mythology of Big Finish’s own Dalek Empire series to great effect. It’s actually rather surprising that there has not been a story seeing the Daleks returning to Spiridon to reclaim their frozen army to this point, but now that they have once more arrived, Briggs also manages to integrate the light wave sickness that the planet’s natives’ natural state of invisibility causes them. While the Daleks’ motives here tie directly into Dalek Empire, the potential of the ensuing Dalek might also draws the attention and ire of the Seventh Doctor, here traveling alone but just as mysterious and enigmatic as ever as he tempts Karlendorf with secrets and snippets of the true reality around them. Even if it seemed odd to have such grandiose…

Remembrance of the Daleks
Episode / May 4, 2017

Aired 5 -26 October 1988 Sylvester McCoy’s first year as the Seventh Doctor was a rocky one, but one nonetheless brimming with experimentalism as the show tried to rediscover itself on the fly with a new lead and a new mantra that looked forward more than backward. Strangely, although ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ is very firmly entrenched in the past as the entire serial becomes a reference of sorts to the very first serial, ‘An Unearthly Child,’ and is littered with allusions to other past adventures, it’s clear from the start that Doctor Who has finally found firmer footing once more, taking a much more self-aware and sometimes politically-dissident approach as it presented generally much more intelligent stories. The sort of celebratory and nostalgic sentiments that pervade ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ can easily be forgiven for a story kicking off the franchise’s twenty-fifth anniversary, especially in a story that so expertly highlights the characterization of both the new Time Lord and new companion in the process. Indeed, this is easily Sylvester McCoy’s finest performance in the role to this point and entrenches his incarnation as a master manipulator with a much darker side than previously seen. At first debating the…

Alien Heart and Dalek Soul
Audio / April 28, 2017

Released April 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW It’s been quite some time since Big Finish’s Monthly Range has toyed with its format and offered stories of any length other than the traditional four parts. For three consecutive release, though, Big Finish is offering two two-part adventures, one pair featuring each of its stalwart Doctors. The two-part story has been used successfully in The Companion Chronicles, The Fourth Doctor Adventures, and The Eighth Doctor Adventures ranges, but Stephen Cole’s ‘Alien Heart’ and Guy Adams’s ‘Dalek Soul’ mark the first two-part entries in Big Finish’s longest-running range. The use of the Fifth Doctor to introduce this string of releases is particularly shrewd as well, as Peter Davison’s tenure featured the final three two-part stories of thirty minute episodes, stories that were by no means classic but that highlighted just how strong and versatile Davison was in the role. With Big Finish effortlessly transitioning from its trilogy with the boisterous introductory era of Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric to the more earnest era that never reached television featuring just Nyssa alongside the Doctor, this first pair of stories again spectacularly highlights Davison amidst events of surprising scope. In ‘Alien Heart,’ the Doctor and Nyssa discover…

Revelation of the Daleks
Episode / April 18, 2017

Aired 23 – 30 March 1985 Doctor Who, like any long-lasting programme, changes along with the times to better resonate with the audience and drive home its message. With that mindset, it’s unsurprising that the show in the 1980s would start to go down a darker and bleaker path, one that threw aside the rather black and white lines of good and evil that had defined the show for so long. Unfortunately, the writing often let down the realization of some very clever ideas and instead focused on unwarranted violence and brutality, an aspect brought to the forefront with the characterization of the Sixth Doctor. With the show coming under increasing pressure from the BBC, the return of the Daleks provides a momentary reprieve that ends Colin Baker’s first full season on a relatively high note. It’s telling that the Doctor is something of an observer throughout ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ and that events likely would have occurred in the same fashion if he had never shown up. Perhaps this was a purposeful attempt at shaking up the storytelling dynamic, but it is intriguing that a story in which the Sixth Doctor less prominently focuses seems to flow much more…

The Pilot
Episode / April 16, 2017

Aired 15 April 2017 After some sixteen months since the airing of the last full series of Doctor Who, ‘The Pilot’ is an apt title for an episode tasked with re-introducing the Doctor and the mystery surrounding the enigmatic Time Lord as well as with introducing new companion Bill Potts played by Pearl Mackie. With the focus squarely on the burgeoning relationship between the Doctor and Bill, one based on Bill’s intrinsically likable inquisitiveness and practical intelligence, ‘The Pilot’ is accordingly not a story that by itself fundamentally alters the long history and mythology of the programme. Indeed, using Bill’s sexuality and the fact that her mother died so long ago simply as character traits rather than prolonged plot points, the story is instead able to focus on quickly rounding out the character with traits rather than with intrigue, highlighted by her willingness to learn by attending the Doctor’s university lectures without even being a student and to ask questions about what others would take for granted. The storyline itself is fairly straightforward as with most companion debut stories, but ‘The Pilot’ does still manage to present a suitably intriguing- if misunderstood- foe. Even if the resolution feels somewhat anticlimactic…

Resurrection of the Daleks
Episode / April 4, 2017

Aired 8 – 15 February 1984 Many of Doctor Who’s finest stories have been scripted by its various script editors, perfectly encapsulating the tone and spirit of the specific era while incorporating clever ideas and wonderful characterization. In regards to capturing the spirit and tone of Peter Davison’s final year, Eric Saward’s ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ is unequivocally a standout success, managing to draw upon the franchise’s long history in its attempts to flesh out a darker and more complex plot starring a moral but fallible lead. Unfortunately, its reliance on spectacle and the past along with its inability to meaningfully navigate its many subplots with rather unhappy characters just as successfully highlights the flaws of the era as much as its positives. Following the unqualified success of ‘Earthshock’ that brought back the Cybermen amidst a bevy of nostalgia, it’s understandable that the same type of approach would be taken with the iconic Daleks. As a direct sequel to ‘Destiny of the Daleks,’ there are many aspects carrying over from that story that work incredibly well, and the fact that the Daleks have lost their war against the Movellans due to a biological weapon against which they have no defense…

The Five Doctors
Episode / March 24, 2017

Aired 23 November 1983 ‘The Five Doctors’ represents the culmination of twenty years of Doctor Who, a feature-length special that does its best to bring the five distinct eras of the franchise together with a cavalcade of guest appearances by friends and foes alike. From the outset, it’s clear that writer Terrance Dicks is not striving to offer a meaningful story that explores the depth of the Doctor as a character or that fundamentally changes the core nature of Doctor Who, but ‘The Five Doctors’ is an unequivocal success when taken simply as a nostalgic celebration that focuses more on spectacle than on story. It’s interesting to note just how much attention is drawn to the questions regarding continuity that allow this adventure to take place, especially as continuity seemed to be pervading the programme more and more at the time. Part of this, naturally, is down to Tom Baker choosing not to reprise his role for the special after so recently departing. While the inclusion of scenes from the unfinished ‘Shada’ do at least allow a cameo of sorts for both Baker and Lalla Ward, it means that some of the resulting pairings of Doctors and companions are a…

The War Doctor – Casualties of War
Audio / March 5, 2017

Released February 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The introduction of the War Doctor in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ opened up an incredible wealth of potential development and drama for an ever-changing lead character centuries old and fifty years in the public consciousness. A shrouded incarnation who had forsaken the moniker of the Doctor because of his chosen life embroiled in the almighty Time War, Sir John Hurt brought a gravitas and sorrow to the role in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ that added incredible nuance to his resolute determination and desire to do good and instantly made the War Doctor an undisputedly worthy addition to the canon. However, the fiftieth anniversary special would- by necessity- be the only televised episode to delve into this past incarnation’s exploits, offering a tantalizing glimpse of just what could have made his future incarnations shun him so fiercely. Fortunately Big Finish was willing and able to better fill that void in continuity, commissioning four three-story box sets to better highlight the character and era in question. With the release of The War Doctor – Casualties of War and the unhappy passing of Sir John Hurt, the War Doctor era officially comes to a close…