Empire of the Racnoss
Audio / July 28, 2017

Released July 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW After battling the Weeping Angels in the first Classic Doctors, New Monsters box set, Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor now encounters the Racnoss in Scott Handcock’s ‘Empire of the Racnoss.’ As the TARDIS is torn from the vortex and the Doctor finds himself in the midst of an ages-old conflict involving his own people, he soon finds that his good intentions come with consequences that always find him on the wrong side. Without question, the Fifth Doctor is often portrayed as one of the kindest and most gentlemanly of the Doctor’s many incarnations, and it makes perfect sense that he would absolve himself of any allegiance to his people and help a fallen Racnoss when afforded the opportunity. However, as old wounds run deep, he soon finds himself suspected by the Racnoss of criminal acts and by the imprisoned Time Lords of brazen treason. This and the ensuing events as he teams with rather unlikely allies result in one of the rare times when the Doctor’s strong sense of morality leads to more anguish than had he simply towed party lines and turned a blind eye, and Peter Davison is superb as he showcases a…

The Children of Seth
Audio / July 19, 2017

Released December 2011 To round out its trilogy of Fifth Doctor adventures to open the third series of The Lost Stories, Big Finish turns to ‘The Children of Seth,’ a story from the mind of ‘Kinda’ and ‘Snakedance’ writer Christopher Bailey. When the TARDIS picks up a message on the temporal scanner containing only the word ‘Idra,’ the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan travel to the Archipelago of Sirius as the Autarch is about to announce a crusade against Seth, the Prince of Dark, and the secrets of Queen Anahita and of Level 14 threaten to become known. ‘The Children of Seth’ is nowhere near as deep or thought-provoking as Bailey’s two televised outings, but it also wisely never pretends to be and instead superbly focuses on fleshing out the world and culture of Sirius as the Doctor and his companions take rather proactive roles in finding out about their surroundings during their familiar routine of capture and escape. Accordingly, the political treachery and mistrust is all presented logically and fluidly, and the justice system on display is certainly severe enough to add an extra layer to a story that takes a distinctly different route from its many peers that also…

Hexagora
Audio / July 17, 2017

Released November 2011 Big Finish’s The Lost Stories Fifth Doctor trilogy continues with ‘Hexagora,’ a story from Peter Ling and Hazel Adair and adapted for audio by Paul Finch. When the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan arrive in Brisbane and uncover an alien abduction leading them to the planet of Luparis and a city very reminiscent of Tudor London, they soon uncover a secretive plot that threatens the very livelihood of two species. ‘Hexagora’ is a story that certainly contains immersive visuals and strong ideas, none more so than the Luparis façade of Tudor London complete with people skating on the frozen Thames River. Fortunately, the titular Hexagora race is just as intriguing, an insectoid race that migrates through space and conquers in order to colonise but that is now on the verge of extinction due to the impeding Ice Age on Luparis while its population remains too weak for another journey. With the ability to move amongst a planet’s native population unnoticed, they have added human memories of that time to their hive memory and are now relying on abducted humans to form the unwilling hybrid crux of their species’s continued survival through the harsh conditions. Even if the story…

The Elite
Audio / July 15, 2017

Released October 2011 Following the incredibly successful introduction of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor to is audio family with The Fourth Doctor Box Set, Big Finish now welcomes Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor into its The Lost Stories range with ‘The Elite,’ a tale from the mind of ‘Enlightenment’ scribe Barbara Clegg. Arriving in a domed city on a planet scarred by warfare where the young population fights for the glory of the Elite, the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan soon find themselves caught up in the machinations and changing schemes of The Cathedral of Power’s High Priest. Set after Tegan’s return to the TARDIS in ‘Arc of Infinity,’ ‘The Elite’ captures the essence of its era spectacularly, highlighting the city-based tale of rebellion against a familiar foe with a synthesized score. The dystopic setting with its intended goal of a achieving a master race under the guidance of its High Priest who descended from above is realized well, and even though the distorted voice and album cover should give the figure’s shrouded identity away, the audio medium keeps the surprise regarding the Dalek’s true presence hidden superbly to deliver maximum impact. It’s quite chilling to realize just how easily the general population…

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…

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…

Planet of Fire
Episode / April 4, 2017

Aired 23 February – 2 March 1984 Writer Peter Grimwade was given an immense task when writing ‘Planet of Fire,’ effectively ushering in a definitive closure of sorts for the Peter Davison era following Tegan’s rather unexpected departure at the end of the preceding serial. Although the second half does devolve into a fairly generic tale, the fact that the script is able to so effectively introduce new companion Peri while also writing out Kamelion, Turlough, and seemingly the Master is a testament to the quality of the writing from the man who had delivered the less-than-stellar ‘Time-Flight’ the year before. While the Fifth Doctor never loses his more optimistic outlook on the universe, it is intriguing to note just how much the events of this third season have taken a toll on him physically and emotionally. The sheer brutality that the universe has thrown at him was, understandably, the reason that Tegan decided to leave so abruptly, and mercifully the ramifications of Tegan’s departure are dealt with in a much more meaningful fashion that previous companions’, Adric’s tragic death included. In some respects it is understandable that the Doctor cannot simply change course without second thought as he has…

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…

Frontios
Episode / March 31, 2017

Aired 26 January – 3 February 1984 Although ‘Frontios’ eventually turns into a rather conventional tale whereupon the Doctor must save a planet from an aggressive alien power, it begins as a restrained but powerful reminder about the ever-darkening path that Doctor Who was beginning to explore during the John Nathan-Turner era. The franchise has never been shy visiting the future and exploring human outposts, but the last vestiges of a human colony struggling to survive in its adopted fascist manner at the end of the universe after receiving no answers to its pleas for help for thirty years is a dramatically darker take than the unbridled optimism for continued survival usually portrayed. Wisely, ‘Frontios’ withholds revealing any sort of alien presence until well into the story’s running time, adding a tense paranoia to the situation by doing so as Captain Revere is cast in a villainous light despite the colonists’ insistence that they must be under attack from otherworldly forces. Indeed, as the colony begins facing more trouble and law and order begin to crumble, ‘Frontios’ is set up to be a deep exploration of the threat that humanity poses to itself in a heightened situation. Even as it…