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…

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…

Zaltys
Audio / March 29, 2017

Released March 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Peter Davison era of Doctor Who saw a subtle shift in the types of stories told to ones featuring slightly higher-concept notions and more cerebral plots than in the past as the programme tried to redefine itself while aiming for a more mature audience that had grown up alongside it. Fitting perfectly into that mould, ‘Zaltys’ concludes the 2017 Big Finish Fifth Doctor trilogy, culminating a successful run of adventures revisiting the early Fifth Doctor TARDIS crew of Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. Writer Matthew J Elliott proves that he is unafraid to drench his story with continuity, but he manages to do so without his references ever feeling intrusive or cumbersome while adding depth to the story in the process. Accordingly, the intimate discussions regarding Tegan’s aunt and Adric’s brother make perfect sense as, much to Adric’s amazement given the powers of the TARDIS and what it allows, Tegan continues with her quest to return to Heathrow. These opening scenes recapture the relationship between the two perfectly, and Tegan’s taunting of Adric while having him recall how much happier he was before Nyssa and Tegan joined adequately sets up the complex story as…

The Awakening
Episode / March 27, 2017

Aired 19 – 20 January 1984 ‘The Awakening’ is the third and final two-part adventure of the Fifth Doctor era, and like ‘Black Orchid’ and ‘The King’s Demons’ it represents a bit of a reprieve from the darker events of the stories surrounding it. With England of both the seventeenth century and 1984 somehow linked through time, ‘The Awakening’ features a great central concept among a bevy of clever ideas that are limited in execution only by the brevity of the story as a whole. The true star of ‘The Awakening’ is the excellent location filming, the three villages used to create the setting a superb backdrop for the temporal mischief as past and present collide. Whereas the studio confines and budgetary constraints often relied on viewers’ imaginations to help create an immersive alien environment, no such help is needed here as the production crew maximizes its time in familiar surroundings. Indeed, it is that sense of familiarity that pairs so well with the supernatural as a crack in an isolated village’s church threatens to unleash an ancient evil. Aided by some wonderful lighting choices, the concept of the Malus as a nonverbal entity having a war within itself and…

Warriors of the Deep
Episode / March 27, 2017

Aired 5 – 13 January 1984 The Fifth Doctor is an extremely intriguing incarnation, one with a gentlemanly and compassionate demeanour and a shrewd wisdom far beyond what his youthful appearance might suggest. However, whereas other incarnations seemingly had a knack for taking control of any situation with the utmost ease, the Fifth often runs into trouble when he tries to get those in positions of authority to listen to him. Accordingly, revisiting the iconic SIlurians and Sea Devils from the Pertwee era, prehistoric foes in two serials featuring humanity’s inability an unwillingness to seek a peaceful resolution to conflict, is a perfect fit for the version of the Doctor most looking for peace. Despite the inclusion of some clever notions, though, the script’s lack of philosophical depth along with gratuitous violence and budgetary constraints keep ‘Warriors of the Deep’ from delivering its intended moral impact. The seabase set is actually quite impressive for the most part, and its shining sterility manages to mirror the rather impersonal conflict at hand. Similarly, though the costumes for the Silurians Sea Devils are hardly among the best the classic series ever produced, the modest updates from the original designs work quite well and…

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 King’s Demons
Episode / March 24, 2017

Aired 15 – 16 March 1983 The inclusion of the Master in the celebratory nature of Doctor Who’s twentieth season with its cavalcade of familiar faces was an inevitability following the iconic foe’s recent resurgence during the transition from the Fourth Doctor to the Fifth. Unfortunately, even though ‘The King’s Demons’ was not intended to be the de facto season finale before the anniversary special ‘The Five Doctors’ aired later in the year, it nonetheless marks one of the weaker stories of the Davison era so far. As was the case with the preceding year’s final story ‘Time-Flight,’ itself a less than inspiring story, the Master here seems to be included simply because he is a familiar face rather than because the script has anything new or novel to do with him. It’s fair to say that the character peaked in ‘The Keeper of Trakken,’ but he has since become a generic villain whose motivations are questionable at best. As it is, he is the most instantly recognisable foe of this anniversary season, but structuring the two-part story so that his reveal is the cliffhanger of the first is inherently flawed and really only gives a brief glimpse of the…