Vortex Ice and Cortex Fire
Audio / May 22, 2017

Released May 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Big Finish’s Monthly Range experiment of releasing two two-part stories per release continues with ‘Vortex Ice’ and ‘Cortex Fire,’ paring Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor with Lisa Greenwood’s Flip in two stories that sacrifice absolutely nothing in terms of ambition and personal drama despite their shorter running time. Jonathan Morris’s ‘Vortex Ice’ opens the double bill as the Doctor and Flip arrive in a mine far below the Mexican surface above while searching for exotic particles, quickly coming upon another expedition searching for alien life. The notion of vortex ice itself is fascinating and certainly worthy of further exploration and appearances should Big Finish ever choose to do so, and the truth behind the particles as explained is instantly intriguing and an immensely strong hook for any story. More importantly for the plot itself, though, is that together they give rise to a surprising amount of poignant- if somewhat despondent- reflection about those who travel in time and the potential consequences that can be incurred. Yet as the story becomes ever more complex and seemingly disparate threads are introduced while a mysterious menace puts lives in jeopardy, it’s Greenwood who anchors events as she proves…

Scavenger
Audio / November 28, 2016

Released March 2014 ‘Scavenger’ closes out 2014’s main range Sixth Doctor trilogy and possibly the saga of Flip herself, venturing into true science fiction territory more than most Doctor Who stories along the way. As the Doctor and Flip aboard a nearby space station view the Anglo-Indian Salvage 2 device tasked with cleaning up a century’s accumulation of debris from 2071 Earth’s orbit, they quickly become involved in a plot dating back some 500 years that threatens both Flip and millions of citizens on the planet below as Salvage 2 comes across something distinctly non-human in origin. ‘Scavenger’ is a story that highlights both of its leads and is filled with clever ideas and concepts. The Doctor reawakening a dormant alien scavenger satellite as he shows off his technical prowess would be a decent enough premise for many stories, but author William Gallagher more fully rounds out his script by injecting substantial amount of history of both the satellite and Earth to make ‘Scavenger’ an altogether more satisfying tale. Thus, interspersed with the tale of the Scavenger tearing out equipment from anything nearby to incorporate into itself while also clearing the Earth of its inhabitants that it views as junk…

The Brood of Erys
Audio / November 27, 2016

Released February 2014 ‘The Brood of Erys’ begins in a very traditional fashion as the TARDIS receives a mysterious message warning its crew not to venture any further toward a single planet and its moon. His curiosity getting the best of him, the Doctor ignores the warning and lands, only for the TARDIS to be raided by the impish Drachee as Flip gets carried away into an ever-darkening mystery. Writer Andrew Smith manages to create a very memorable setting and grand sense of scale very quickly, but the story quickly switches from one of physical antagonists to one of psychological terrors. While it perhaps comes as little surprise that ‘The Brood of Erys’ once more deals with a conscious and intelligent planetoid, a concept that is becoming more common as time progresses, Smith is at least able to offer a unique take on the premise that sets his story apart from earlier ones as he intertwines a tale of an amnesiac woman with a dark history, the implications of a sentient landmass for its inhabitants, and an intriguing exploration of the mind. The title suggests that children are a significant component to this story, and Smith brings in several different…

Antidote to Oblivion
Audio / November 23, 2016

Released January 2015 With the fiftieth anniversary in the past, Big Finish returns to the stories of the Sixth Doctor and new companion, Flip Jackson, with a story that hearkens back to Colin Baker’s televised era. Writer Philip Martin is responsible for two of the most ambitious stories of the Sixth Doctor era, ‘Vengeance on Varos’ that made such good use of biting satire and ‘Mindwarp’ that marked the franchise’s first true attempt at unreliable narration. In ‘Antidote to Oblivion,’ the Universal Monetary Fund and its famed representative Sil return, proposing very strict austerity measures to bail out a bankrupt future Britain. Unfortunately, Philip Martin doesn’t transfer that same sense of ambition to ‘Antidote to Oblivion,’ recycling several narrative threads from his previous stories while making Earth officials seem like fools for so accepting his plan to reduce the population by some ninety percent without protest or even flinching. That said, Sil still proves to be an immensely engaging creation and arguably the most famous of Colin Baker’s tenure, and Nabil Shaban recaptures his villainous role easily as the greedy money-driven being from Thoros Beta always looks out for himself and profits first and foremost. With the script unevenly channeling…

Wirrn Isle
Audio / October 25, 2016

Released March 2012 The Wirrn are one of the more fascinating creatures in Doctor Who mythology, borrowing from the reproductive means of many insects on Earth and laying their eggs in other species with larvae that then eat their way out of the host. Sadly, the lower budget allocated the programme during their introduction in ‘The Ark in Space’ failed to realize their full potential and significantly hampered their menace. However, free from budgetary costume constraints and following a successful repeat appearance in The Eighth Doctor Adventures tale ‘Wirrn Dawn,’ Big Finish brings the insects into its main range to confront the Sixth Doctor and new companion, Flip. ‘Wirrn Isle’ covers a lot of very depressing territory during its running time while still maintaining a sense of the indomitable human spirit. As the Buchman family tries to re-establish a failed human colony on what was once Loch Lomond and struggles to cope with accordant loss, fear, and cynicism, they soon find themselves besieged by a group of frozen Wirrn that is slowly beginning to awake. Yet as the story unfolds, a much deeper emotional layer that explains their actions adds an incredible amount of depth to what otherwise would be…

The Fourth Wall
Audio / October 25, 2016

Released February 2012 After an ambitious story that made excellent use of the Doctor and Davros- even managing to make the latter a character deserving of empathy- but failed to truly capitalize on the introduction of new companion Flip, writer John Dorney attempts to rectify this oversight while offering a uniquely off-kilter tale that showcases the extremely variable format that Doctor Who affords. Led to the planet Transmission owned by media mogul Augustus Scullop when they notice strange goings-on on the time and space visualizer, the Doctor and Flip find themselves present as the new Reel Life holographic technology used for the television programme Laser is unveiled. Through a technical malfunction, Flip is somehow transported out of the TARDIS and into the programme where she quickly begins interaction with the heroic Jack Laser, his assistant Jancey, and the malevolent Lord Krarn. These scenes in a way serve as a parody of Doctor Who itself, and even as Flip thinks she is in some sort of role-playing game, the Doctor realizes that she is in deadly peril, one that ultimately results in her death after she talks back to Krarn. The Doctor, meanwhile, spends his time gathering information by sneaking into…

The Curse of Davros
Audio / October 25, 2016

Released January 2012 Just as the Sixth Doctor, Mel, and Peri have been the beneficiaries of strong characterization from Big Finish that has greatly benefitted their characters, the same can be said about Davros and Terry Molloy. Michael Wisher, of course, provided a sinister performance for Davros in his debut story ‘The Genesis of the Daleks,’ and that, along with the increasing difficulty of including Davros effectively in each televised Dalek story from then on, put the character as played by Terry Molloy in somewhat of a challenging position. However, Davros’s appearances in differing Big Finish ranges has completely rejuvenated and intensified the character, and Terry Molloy has proven time and time again that he belongs in the top tier of Doctor Who villains. Accordingly, the prospect of reuniting the Sixth Doctor and Davros is now a great cause of excited anticipation. ‘The Curse of Davros,’ though, is also notable for bringing Lisa Greenwood’s Phillipa ‘Flip’ Jackson, a guest character from 2011’s Sixth Doctor trilogy opener, aboard the TARDIS as a new companion. Flip is still pretty much a blank slate at the beginning of this tale, but writer Jonathan Morris quickly showcases her rather facetious nature. This characteristic has…

The Last Adventure
Audio / February 3, 2016

Released August 2015 It took until 2015, but Big Finish has finally tied up the last lingering plot point from the classic run of Doctor Who, the Sixth Doctor’s swansong and regeneration. Whereas up until the release of The Last Adventure, fans had to settle for an inadequate explanation of the regeneration and were not even allowed to see Colin Baker properly regenerate. Much like 2013’s The Night of the Doctor provided a satisfying (and also overdue) send-off to Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, The Last Adventure is a spectacular finale for a Doctor who has taken full advantage of the second life the audio medium has afforded him. ‘The End of the Line’ wastes no time with exposition and throws the Doctor and new companion Constance Clarke right into the proceedings. This is Constance’s first released adventure- although not the first in her timeline as her introduction will be saved for a later main release- and so it is a brave choice to limit information about her and to instead have her [rese as someone who has already earned the Doctor’s trust implicitly. This setup works wonderfully well, while still creating a sense of yearning to know more about the…