Night of the Stormcrow
Audio / June 6, 2017

Released December 2013 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The early Fourth Doctor era is renowned for its more horror-laden stylings, and while the first series of Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures have only lightly incorporated that beloved genre, Marc Platt’s ‘Night of the Stormcrow’ makes the most of its claustrophobic atmosphere and its sense of familiarity amidst an unknowable threat to create a tense tale that would be perfectly at home within producer Philip Hinchcliffe’s seasons at the helm. Intensifying the anxiety and conflict by not even having the Doctor know what is occurring is a familiar plot device occasionally used throughout Doctor Who’s lengthy history, and it’s employed to spectacular effect in ‘Night of the Stormcrow’ as well. Indeed, purposefully leaving an air of mystery around the Stormcrow, the No Things, and the seeming symbiotic relationship between the two that together somehow consume both matter and time maintains a sense of mystery and danger all the way to the very end. Of course, the isolated observatory and the strange orbiting object that no piece of equipment other than the optical telescope can detect sets up the story nicely, and the revelation that the Stormcrow is a scavenger that has been…

The Helm of Awe
Audio / April 17, 2017

Released April 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Legendary producer Philip Hinchcliffe once more returns to Big Finish with another character-driven story intended to recapture the core essence of his televised era featuring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson. Given the positive response for this small collection so far, it’s clear that the popularity and love for this era is as strong as ever, and the trickling of releases manages to maintain an air of spectacle and novelty even as they compete against Big Finish’s own The Fourth Doctor Adventures. With the fourth story across three volumes of Philip Hinchcliffe Presents, Hinchcliffe grounds his story on the Shetland Isle of Bothness as the locals prepare to celebrate the Norse fire festival of Up Helly Ya. Yet amidst the intensified blending of Scottish and Scandinavian roots, the Doctor and Leela find themselves tracking an ancient artifact of unimaginable power. Hinchcliffe and adapter Marc Platt brilliantly and perfectly incorporate elements of true Norse mythology to both drive the plot forward and to flesh out the superb environment and tightly-knit community, avoiding the pitfall of sacrificing pacing in order to explain the facts while doing so. The dichotomy between elements of 1970s modern life and the…

Return to Telos
Audio / March 17, 2017

Released August 2015 ‘Return to Telos’ marks the finale of the fourth run of The Fourth Doctor Adventures and the conclusion to the more character-driven openness of ‘The Fate of Krelos.’ With the advertised return of the Cybermen and Jamie as the Fourth Doctor and Leela intrude upon the Second Doctor’s earlier adventure to Telos, it’s fair to say that ‘Return to Telos’ is one of the most eagerly-anticipated titles in the range to date. Nicholas Briggs both writes and directs ‘Return to Telos,’ and so it’s not surprising that the pacing and tension are so consistent as a seemingly unsolvable problem presents itself. Unfortunately, the script fails to capitalize on its immensely intriguing hook, instead choosing to focus on simply talking about potential devastating consequences with dialogue laden with clunky exposition and technobabble. Jamie’s kilt was a nice bit of foreshadowing in the previous adventure, but the realization that the deadly mistake made during ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’ now wreaking havoc for the Fourth Doctor is that Jamie rubbed up against cyber-particles that have remained dormant in his kilt until now is rather underwhelming. There is the intrigue surrounding how those same particles have come to result in the…

The Fate of Krelos
Audio / March 17, 2017

Released July 2015 ‘The Fate of Krelos’ marks the opening instalment of the two-part finale to the fourth series of The Fourth Adventures, a run buoyed by some very strong releases amidst the expected sense of nostalgia that pervades the range. Surprisingly, writer Nicholas Briggs begins the conclusion with a rather minimalist piece intended to set the tone for the true finale, the rather experimental nature of the release readily apparent in the blurb that states that, while something gigantic is descending upon Krelos, the Doctor notes that the TARDIS could do with a good clean as Leela and he set off for a spot of fishing. The title of the conclusion makes no secret that the Cybermen are going to be involved in events, but ‘The Fate of Krelos’ does little to foreshadow their arrival. In fact, the story almost revels in its lack of plot and momentum, allowing for a more intimate exploration of the leads as they prepare for a holiday and then find themselves trying to comprehend the seemingly instant destruction of the city before them. Although there isn’t quite a strong enough sense of horror created to substantiate the sparse action, the mystery and intrigue…

The Cloisters of Terror
Audio / March 14, 2017

Released June 2015 ‘The Cloisters of Terror’ marks a return to the gothic horror of the Philip Hinchcliffe era for The Fourth Doctor Adventures following a run of more experimental tales that would not have so easily slotted into the established televised era. As the Dean of St Matilda’s College, Dame Emily Shaw, calls upon the police to solve the mystery of a missing student, the Doctor and Leela slowly uncover the secret behind the story of the former convent’s three ghostly nuns that reaches back a thousand years. As is the case with many stories in this range, the one-hour format doesn’t allow too much exploration of the characters or the setting, and the plot does end up feeling rather straightforward and somewhat rushed as a result. Nonetheless, ‘The Cloisters of Terror’ is exceedingly confident with its story, and the truth behind the geometric progression of the hushed disappearances of girls at the convent throughout the centuries revealing that they have been kidnapped to save the world from a crashed alien ship is a clever subversion of expectations that comes to life wonderfully. With the astral projections from the ship simply a smokescreen, writer Jonathan Morris is able to…

Suburban Hell
Audio / March 13, 2017

Released May 2015 The Fourth Doctor Adventures continues its run of experimentation with distinctly non-traditional ideas and settings in ‘Suburban Hell,’ a story which finds the Doctor and Leela trapped in a suburb of North London as temporal ruckage has taken the TARDIS to another time zone. Yet as they prepare to endure an evening and dinner with Belinda and Ralph, a strange fog rolls in holding blue-skinned creatures with dinner plans of their own. Doctor Who has, of course, attempted a few stories with a more domestic aspect to them over the years, and the familiar surroundings often allow the characters to truly come into focus as well-rounded individuals. However, ‘Suburban Hell’ works more with generalities and broad strokes than intimacy, the guest characters written in such a way that any sort of positive attributes are hidden beneath arrogance, cowardice, or spite. The culture of the 1970s dinner party is a perfect backdrop for a science fiction story, but the interpersonal relationships here are difficult to fully invest in when there is so little to actually like about the people involved. This seems to have purposefully been the point for Belinda as the belligerent wife, in particular, but it…

Death Match
Audio / March 10, 2017

Released April 2015 Following the intriguing events of ‘Requiem for the Rocket Men’ in which Leela departed the TARDIS to pursue her relationship with Marshall, ‘Death Match’ serves as an indirect sequel of sorts that deals with the ramifications of that choice, offering wonderful moments of characterization and bringing the Master much more to the forefront in the process. With societal elites’ champions vying for their very lives against each other and the environment, danger is rampant as the only rule is to kill or be killed. It’s inevitable from the start given known continuity that Leela will end up back with the Doctor, but it’s nonetheless immensely satisfying to see the effect that Leela’s absence has aboard the TARDIS as the Doctor and K9 grow increasingly agitated with each other. At the same time, even as the Master becomes much more than a tangential threat as he was in the preceding tale, it’s intriguing to note the disparity of viewpoints and morality that the two Time Lords hold, the Master convinced that their race has the inherent right to decide the order of things as well as who lives and who dies whereas the Doctor is content to merely…

Requiem for the Rocket Men
Audio / March 8, 2017

Released March 2015 The Rocket Men were one of the undisputed standout successes of The Companion Chronicles range, a dangerous foe that perfectly captured the imagination and spirit of pulp comic and action adventures of old. Now finding their way into The Fourth Doctor Adventures, they find themselves the captors of the Doctor himself as the King of the Rocket Men, Shandar, prepares to meet with the Master who is in need of allies. Regardless of the fact that the blurb on the case of ‘Requiem for the Rocket Men’ completely spoils the fact that the Master is present and that events will unfold from his point of view, the story itself is a complete breath of fresh air that makes excellent use of plot devices that seem incredibly obvious in retrospect but have surprisingly never fully been utilized before. Truly, ‘Requiem for the Rocket Men’ completely bucks tradition, not only keeping the Doctor shrouded in secrecy with only a few telltale laughs giving his presence away before his grand reveal but also highlighting the calculating and scheming side of this often bombastic and reckless incarnation as he finally has the opportunity to directly confront the Rocket Men after being…

The Darkness of Glass
Audio / March 6, 2017

Released February 2015 The Fourth Doctor Adventures has never been shy with making references to and borrowing elements from the past, and while those attempts can sometimes feel rather forced, creating a claustrophobic and tense environment and channeling the gothic horror aspect of ‘Horror of Fang Rock’ is an obvious choice that pays immense dividends in the audio medium. In 1907, members of the Caversham Society have gathered on a small island to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passing of Mannering Caversham. Arguably the greatest Magic Lanternist to ever live, Caversham also claimed to have summoned a demon from Hell itself, and as people begin to die, the Doctor and Leela must uncover the truth about what happened to Caversham one hundred years ago. Justin Richards’s script may not be the most experimental or groundbreaking, but it is extremely confident in what it sets out to do while making excellent use of its historical setting and expertly tackling the little-known history of Lanternists without going into too much detail. The background regarding Caversham is exquisitely detailed, the only supernaturalist to not be exposed as a fraud summoning a demon at the stroke of midnight to protect him as he…

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…