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…

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 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…

Memory Lane
Website / May 30, 2016

Released October 2006 ‘Memory Lane’ begins on a perfect summer day in an idyllic English neighbourhood, an ice cream truck rolling down the street and snooker playing on the television. Unfortunately, what seems to be a peaceful and unassuming place houses a much greater secret, and writer Eddie Robson slowly increases the mystery and sense of unease to create an enjoyably unsettling but still lighthearted experience. With a shorter running time than most Big Finish main range releases, ‘Memory Lane’ moves along at a very brisk pace with minimal padding. Tom Braudy, a ten-year-old boy, starts off as the focus of the intrigue as he builds a spaceship out of Legos. Strangely, though, he appears to be much, much older than his age would suggest, and his Nan seems completely undisturbed by the appearance of the TARDIS which is then promptly stolen by the driver of the ice cream truck. Yet finding the TARDIS proves rather difficult as every house in the unending neighbourhood is the exact same, each filled with its own Tom’s Nan and each one’s television playing a video of astronauts trying to escape from a creature aboard their ship, one of the astronauts sounding eerily like…

Other Lives
Audio / May 6, 2016

Released December 2005 The TARDIS trio of the Eighth Doctor, Charley, and C’rizz has been one met with overall mixed reviews despite some genuinely intriguing storylines and character development. However, ‘Other Lives’ completely mixes things up by offering a more light-hearted story in which each of the characters has a double in 1851 Britain. Stories with doubles are nothing new in the long history of Doctor Who, but Gary Hopkins pushes this idea to the limit with all three having doubles, and the result is easily one of the best releases from Big Finish’s 2005 catalogue. While the doubles of Charley and C’rizz are interesting enough as French aristocrats who end up taking the TARDIS, the inherently more intriguing aspect is the double of the Doctor as the missing and married Doctor Marlow. Seeing the regulars assume these lives, the Doctor posing as Mrs Marlow’s husband to keep her from losing her home and Charley and C’rizz posing as the aristocrats to prevent a revolution is both written and acted well by everyone involved. Of course, a Eutermisan in Victorian England is sure to raise eyebrows, and C’rizz experiences a hauntingly effective journey as he is brutally introduced to the…

Terror Firma
Episode / May 1, 2016

Released August 2005 Doctor Who returns from its interesting but ultimately flawed Divergent universe story arc with ‘Terror Firma,’ a story that picks up the cliffhanger ending of ‘The Next Life’ as the Doctor, Charley, and C’rizz are confronted by Davros right from the outset. Joseph Lidster is tasked with scripting this unwelcome return to the normal universe, unsurprisingly using a flashback-fueled narrative since meeting Davros would normally be a mid-story cliffhanger rather than a starting point. Surprisingly and intriguingly, though, these flashbabcks go back to well before Paul McGann’s Big finish audio debut in ‘Storm Warning’ and attempts to rewrite all of the Eighth Doctor’s adventures as part of a bigger plan of revenge by Davros. Big Finish has already taken the initiative to fill in Davros’s story between ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ as well as between ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ and ‘Remembrance of the Daleks,’ and so it’s not surprise that his time immediately following his last televised appearance is the focus here. Other media have explored this time period in Davros’s life before, but Lidster combines threads from those earlier televised stories and puts forth the view that Davros eventually becomes the…

The Next Life
Audio / April 18, 2016

Released December 2004 Whether because Big Finish feels that the time has naturally come or because of the arrival of the new televised Doctor Who coming in 2005, the Eighth Doctor’s adventures in the Divergent universe come to an end in ‘The Next Life.’ The end result is a satisfying tale that addresses and wraps up several lingering plot threads for the previous two seasons and successfully reintroduces the Doctor back to the normal universe. ‘The Next Life’ has many positive attributes, but there are some negative worth noting as well. Unfortunately, this is another story in which the Doctor speaks to himself in order to handle the exposition of the story, and though this is becoming an increasingly infrequent problem with Big Finish scripts, it is nonetheless just as jarring. The exposition is not handled that well with Charley or C’rizz either, both confiding to loved ones they know to be false in a sort of virtual reality experience. This approach ultimately provides a little bit of background for both companion characters but does little to advance the plot, giving the sense that ‘The Next Life’ is simply treading water before allowing itself to get on with its big…