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…

An Earthly Child
Audio / May 29, 2017

Released December 2010 ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ marked the first departure of a companion from the TARDIS as the Doctor intentionally left behind his granddaughter Susan so that she might know stability and set roots with David Campbell in the aftermath of the Daleks’ conquest of Earth and eventual defeat. Yet as famous as the Doctor’s speech proclaiming that some day he would come back is, the TARDIS has yet to ever allow the reunion of family members on screen. While this long-awaited meeting was attempted with rather tepid reviews in the BBC Eighth Doctor novel range, Big Finish and stalwart writer Marc Platt now offer their own version of an event some forty-five years in the making. Even without the Doctor’s promise of returning, the notion of revisiting Susan thirty years following the Dalek invasion is a fascinating one, finally allowing both the Doctor and the audience to determine if he made the proper decision in leaving her behind and if she managed to make a name for herself in the intensified time of rebuilding. While she and her now-deceased husband certainly did play a vital role, the Earth is once more regressing, and Susan boldly takes it…

Shada
Audio / May 17, 2017

Original Webcast 2 May – 6 June 2003 Audio CD Released December 2003 There have been countless lost Doctor Who stories through the years, ranging from stories that are just a fragment of an idea to ones with completed scripts simply waiting to be filmed. However, ‘Shada’ is something wholly unique, a partially-filmed Fourth Doctor serial written by the indomitable Douglas Adams that offers a fascinating collision of contemporary Earth and Time Lord history that unfortunately fell victim to an industrial strike. While ‘Shada’ has certainly remained in the public consciousness through the release of the filmed material with linking narration as well as a novelization, Big Finish has crafted an alternative, full-cast production featuring Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor alongside Lalla Ward’s Lord President Romana and John Leeson’s K-9 to finally bring ‘Shada’ fully to life. Obviously a television production and audio production follow wholly different models, but the audio fully captures the whimsical imagination so ingrained into Adams’s original work in a way that simple narration could never manage. Still, with all of the wonderful work Big Finish has done in fleshing out the character of the Eighth Doctor, it is still very evident that this is a script…

Doom Coalition 4
Audio / March 10, 2017

Released March 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Doom Coalition burst onto the scene in October 2015, instantly setting an incredible precedent with the introduction of the mesmerising Time Lord villain the Eleven and never looking back as subsequent stories introduced new companion Helen Sinclair and new villains the Sonomancer and the Clocksmith, re-introduced the ever-beguiling River Song, and slowly built up one of the greatest threats the universe has ever faced. With the Doctor betrayed by a man he once called friend and seemingly doomed along with his companions as the universe’s end approaches, Doom Coalition 4 arrives amidst exceedingly high expectations to finally conclude this sixteen-part epic. John Dorney’s ‘Ship in a Bottle’ opens this concluding set, taking a cue from the third set’s opening tale, ‘Absent Friends’ and offering a much more intimate and introspective story than is usual, albeit one with the impending inevitability of death and resultant destruction of the universe as its backdrop. With no villain or, indeed, any characters other than the three leads present, the focus is squarely on exploring the mindset of the Doctor, Liv, and Helen as they find themselves facing the very real prospect of having to live out the rest…

Army of Death
Audio / October 24, 2016

Released December 2011 The trilogy featuring the Eighth Doctor and Mary Shelley closes with ‘Army of Death,’ a story that at last takes this erstwhile companion to the far future while raising questions outside of the release of just how this could occur given that Shelley would come to write about a very different future in The Last Man. ‘Army of Death’ continues the undercurrent of horror that has been present through the previous two releases, but writer Jason Anopp’s tale deals more directly with the overtly scary side of horror rather than the romanticism and sympathy that have been focal points until now. This leads to some truly good scenes, but the end result falls far short of its predecessors. Seemingly out of nowhere, it is revealed that Mary has begun developing romantic feelings for the Doctor. This is in itself not an unreasonable assertion and this plotline has worked incredibly well both for audio companions and modern television companions, but the throwaway line that the two have shared many further adventures together since ‘The Witch from the Well’ during which time these feelings are supposed to have manifested feels disingenuous and robs the sentiment of true emotional buildup…

The Witch from the Well
Audio / October 23, 2016

Released November 2011 It’s rather surprising that stories dealing with witch lore are so infrequent in Doctor Who’s vast library across different mediums, and ‘The Witch from the Well’ seeks to help fill in that suspicious void while continuing Mary Shelley’s apparent life of monstrous interludes. Author Rick Briggs contributes his first full-length script to Big Finish’s main range after debuting with the one-part ‘The Entropy Composition,’ and he manages to deftly include time paradox spanning several centuries while effectively evoking the best of the Vincent Price horror movie stylings. Arriving in 2011, the Doctor and Mary quickly find themselves in the presence of a witch being released from a well on the lands of one Aleister Portillon. Two twins claiming to be Portillon’s children but quite obviously holding a darker secret scam the Doctor into taking them back to the seventeenth century where the witch originated with surprising ease, and the Doctor’s story accordingly switches to a time when the local witch pricker John Kincaid is exploring several supernatural deaths as the area’s wise woman Agnes Bates becomes increasingly suspicious. The twins exist in both time zones simultaneously and steal the TARDIS with Mary still inside to return to…

The Silver Turk
Audio / October 22, 2016

Released October 2011 Picking up the dangling thread from the anthology release ‘The Company of Friends,’ ‘The Silver Turk’ features an earlier Eighth Doctor than that showcased in either Big Finish’s main range alongside India Fisher or the now-concluded The Eighth Doctor Adventures alongside Sheridan Smith, starting a new series of three adventures where he travels with Mary Shelley. Having previously left his companions Smason and Gemma in Vienna in order to answer a distress signal, the Doctor misses his return date by some fifty-seven years, arriving at the wondrous 1873 Viennese Exposition where showman Alfred Stahlbaum is showing off his newest automaton invention known as the Silver Turk, a being with which the Doctor is all too familiar. Marc Platt is, of course, the author of the seminal ‘Spare Parts’ which gives incredible and emotional insight into the very early foundation of the Cybermen, and so it’s unsurprising that he also writes this early Mondas hybrid as a sympathetic figure. The concept of a civilization capturing and torturing a lone individual from a dangerous alien race, the Doctor mistrusting said individual, and the Doctor’s companion forming a compassionate bond with the being is certainly not novel, but the confusion…

Doom Coalition 3
Audio / September 28, 2016

Released September 2016 After an agonizing wait, Big Finish has at last released Doom Coalition 3, four more stories continuing the ever more complex adventures of the Eighth Doctor, Liv Chenka, and Helen Sinclair as they battle both the past and future and once more cross paths with the enigmatic River Song. This review, by necessity, will feature fewer and fewer spoilers as the four stories are subsequently discussed and the more vital and crucial plot points leading into the fourth set are revealed. John Dorney’s ‘Absent Friends’ kicks off the third portion of the Doom Coalition saga with the Doctor concerned about why the TARDIS has landed in England rather than on Gallifrey as intended. Set just before the turn of the twenty-first century, the TARDIS team finds itself in a small village struggling with the advent of mobile telephones and mysterious calls, a large phone mast from the new telephone company Superville dominating their attention and view and causing plenty of scorn and consternation. As the Doctor tinkers in his TARDIS and soon finds that nothing is wrong with it and that he seems to have been pulled off course purposefully, Helen gives in to temptation and furtively…

Survival of the Fittest and Klein’s Story
Audio / September 12, 2016

Released February 2010 Elizabeth Klein’s travels with the Seventh Doctor continue with ‘Survival of the Fittest’ after several untold travels to the likes of Vulcan, Quinbrax IV, and Mendroxia. Following the pserudo-historical stylings of ‘A Thousand Tiny Wings,’ writer Jonathan Clements’ takes the uneasy duo far into space, creating an extraordinary alien world in the process. Using bees as a point of comparison, the Vrill race is a wholly unique one in Doctor Who. Yet while the Vrill hierarchy and motivations certainly take precedence, the complexities of the race are presented in a refreshingly straightforward manner, the script even delving into the more intricate side of the TARDIS translation circuits to make an olfactory-based communication possible. With Klein and the Doctor having already shared so many stories together off-screen as it were, the two are afforded a somewhat different relationship than that portrayed previously. Though Klein still harbours clear resentment for the Doctor and what he has done to the world that she once knew, the Doctor genuinely seems hopeful that she is in some manner reforming her ways and looking to the more positive and wondrous side of the universe. In a rather deft stroke, Clements does not sweep…

The Company of Friends
Website / August 17, 2016

Released July 2009 It seems somewhat odd that the Doctor with by far the shortest amount of screen time has had the greatest amount of non-televised work dedicated to him. Undoubtedly due purely to the fact that the television movie left the Eighth Doctor as a completely blank canvas full of untapped potential that could never become stale due to continuity constraints, the number of written, comic, and audio adventures dedicated to this regeneration is staggering. With ‘The Company of Friends,’ Big Finish brings those three distinct interpretations of the Eighth Doctor together, framed within the context of travels with just a few of his many companions. It’s certainly a bold move for Big Finish to dip its toes further into non-continuity territory, but it’s also a move that will be sure to appease long-time Eighth Doctor fans while introducing Big Finish fans to alternative interpretations and travels of Paul McGann’s iteration. Of course, the brevity of each story allows only the briefest glimmer of the Doctor-companion relationship, but the sense of nostalgia obtained is a testament to Big Finish as a whole. Intriguingly, the first story features Professor Bernice Summerfield, one-time companion of the Seventh Doctor but who also…