Subterranea
Audio / June 22, 2017

Released June 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The TARDIS materializes deep beneath the surface of an alien world, one in which the inhabitants live aboard giant burrowing Drill-Town machines while endlessly hunting for fuel and resources to survive. But as a Drill-Town engulfs the TARDIS with the Doctor and Romana aboard, they soon find that even the largest of machines can become prey to the Silex. As with the best two-part stories, writer Jonathan Morris expertly fleshes out the history of this world and the war of attrition against the relentless Silex that together form the crux of ‘Subterranea.’ With an initial premise that evokes elements of Journey to the Center of the Earth, Morris probably wisely instead chooses to go down a slightly more whimsical route with its sometimes larger-than-life cast of characters and the steampunk cybernetic Silex seeking to assimilate those who run afoul of them. At the same time, though, the Silex become one of the most distracting elements of the story, and that is simply down to just how very reminiscent of the Cybermen they are. The backstory of the foes is incredibly powerful and certainly helps to imbue them with a heightened sense of menace, but…

The Haunting of Malkin Place
Audio / May 22, 2017

Released May 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW After hearing strange footsteps in the Doctor’s house at Baker Street that leads them to search out the birthplace of Henry James, a chance encounter with a spiritualist on a train instead sends the Doctor and Romana on a ghost hunt, following the supposed trail of the most convincing stories of a genuine haunting ever heard. With strange movements and noises commonplace at Malkin Place, the intrepid duo quickly find their beliefs challenged as the scientific and the spiritual collide in spectacular fashion. The ghosts of Malkin Place quickly come into focus as the tormented Maurice is duly introduced, the denizen who has employed the spiritualist, Talbot, to help him make sense of the strange occurrences as he tries to understand his own past. Fittingly, Romana adamantly refuses to believe in the existence of ghosts even as she goads the Doctor on, but it’s clear as soon as the travelers arrive on the property that this is not going to be a light-hearted affair. The introduction of Talbot necessarily forms a significant portion of the first episode, but events truly pick up when Gunnar Cauthery is introduced as Maurice and his character’s mystery and…

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…

Dethras
Audio / April 24, 2017

Released April 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Fourth Doctor Adventures has long been one of Big Finish’s most conservative ranges, often pitching the stories so that they effortlessly fit into their intended era but sometimes sacrificing novelty and ingenuity in doing so. However, that pattern has slowly been changing over the past couple of years and especially with many of the early releases of this current sixth series. ‘Dethras’ as the latest release not only features an immensely intriguing core concept and setting to bolster its atmospheric and engaging mystery, but it also instills a sense of season seventeen’s lighter stylings into the more grave and earnest season eighteen period. Upon finding a World War II submarine adrift in space with only three crewmembers and a chimpanzee on board and no explanation for the rest of the missing crew, the Doctor and Romana immediately become entwined in a grand mystery as they try to make sense of the strange goings-on within the ship’s hull as well as of the strange noises coming from outside. The first episode is something of a slower-paced affair understandably more concerned with building up the mystery with compounding confusion, but this approach does at least…

The Silent Scream
Audio / April 3, 2017

Released March 2017 Season eighteen of Doctor Who is remembered as one thematically full of entropy and decay, a somber precursor to Tom Baker’s regeneration after seven years as the Fourth Doctor. However, while these themes would come to predominate beginning with the Doctor’s accidental arrival in E-space, Big Finish has proven adept at filling in the spaces beforehand, allowing for a more optimistic return to this era. This trend continues with ‘The Silent Scream’ as the Doctor, Romana, and K9 arrive in 1920s Hollywood where silent film actors hoping to make a comeback are vanishing while strange creatures walk the streets. Writer James Goss has crafted a love letter of sorts to Hollywood’s Golden Age, managing to walk precariously close to the fourth wall on several occasions without ever veering over that boundary or eliciting too much of a sense of campiness or self-indulgence. Indeed, it seems rather fitting that the bombastic Fourth Doctor would have such a soft spot for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s silent film era, and his infatuation with starlet Loretta Waldorf who quickly finds her voice stolen as cellulose shadows reveal themselves provides a natural entry point to the mystery for the audience…

The Eternal Battle
Audio / February 20, 2017

Released February 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Fourth Doctor Adventures has never shied away from the use of nostalgia and classic foes to tell its tales and crisply recapture its intended era, and the sixth series is already proving that it will be no different. And while there have been some instances in which a nod to continuity or recurrence have not enhanced the script in any meaningful way, ‘The Eternal Battle’ is unquestionably enhanced by the presence of the Sontarans as it explores the futility of war when the TARDIS lands in a Sontaran war zone where strange lights flicker in the air and stranger creatures lurk in the shadows. The Sontarans have always been a unique presence within the Doctor Who universe, imbuing the prospect of a glorious death into their way of life rather than seeing death simply as a means to an end like other combative foes. Yet when the Sontarans here find the ability to die taken away as fallen foes and comrades become reanimated, ‘The Eternal Battle’ offers a deeper and better-rounded look into the mindset and motivations of this classic race than practically any story since ‘The Time Warrior’ has, managing to portray…

The Well-Mannered War
Audio / February 13, 2017

Released April 2015 ‘The Well-Mannered War’ is the final of Gareth Roberts’s season seventeen The Missing Adventures trilogy to be adapted for Big Finish. With some of the more overt humour toned down and a greater focus on a very imaginative and vivid plot, it’s also quite tonally distinct and helps give nuance and greater depth to the events surrounding the titular 200-year war between humans and Chelonians in which not a single shot has been fired. Yet as the Doctor, Romana, and K9 arrive, they soon find something sinister lurking in the shadows, amplifying tensions and heralding a most unwelcome change. The story wonderfully goes to great lengths to describe just how strange this supposed war is, highlighting a tea lady that caters to both sides and leaders of both factions making increasingly tenuous excuses to avoid any sign of hostility. Even as strange deaths amass and tensions begin to boil over as a dark presence slowly makes itself known in a most unassuming and invasive manner, there always seems to be a lingering desire to return to the peaceful armistice of normality, a fascinating backdrop for a story centred around the very serious prospect of war and its…

State of Decay
Episode / February 12, 2017

Aired 22 November – 13 December 1980 Terrance Dicks initially wrote ‘State of Decay’ to feature in producer Philip Hinchcliffe’s final year, seeing the BBC pass on it due to its own Dracula adaptation airing near that time. Fittingly, its airing during Tom Baker’s final season gives one final glorious throwback to the gothic horror traditions that proved to be so popular in his early years, dialing back the overall humour that had started to pervade Doctor Who during Graham Williams’s tenure and offering a remarkably satisfying peek into the Time Lords’ violent past. Baker himself seems to be much more vigorous and enthusiastic here than during much of his final season so far, the threat of the Time Lords’ ages-old vampiric foes demanding his full intensity after showcasing a wearier Fourth Doctor nearing the end of his time to this point. His character is still as flippant as ever, but he’s incredibly serious and dramatic when needed and shows an immense pride in Romana that highlights just how superb this pairing is. Indeed, the idea of these three vampires ruling through fear and intimidation to control the evolution of the society and keep it in a perpetual medieval state…

The English Way of Death
Audio / February 11, 2017

Released January 2015 Released in conjunction with ‘The Romance of Crime,’ ‘The English Way of Death’ continues the retrospective reimagining of Gareth Roberts’s trio of masterful The Missing Adventures tales that so expertly captured the vibrant essence of season 17. With the Doctor intent on returning some long-overdue library books, traces of time pollution in 1930 London alter his plans and bring him to a seemingly innocuous seaside hut that houses a peculiar mystery, a strange smell in the air perhaps signalling the oncoming death of the entire planet’s population. Unsurprisingly, the tone of both stories in this set is quite similar, ‘The English Way of Death’ also channeling the surreal humour of Douglas Adams while satirically poking fun at the social norms of the 1930s in the vein of Wodehouse, freely adding in zombie clichés, and presenting another larger-than life villainous entity in Zodaal as Terrence Hardiman’s Stackhouse comes into focus. The plot is rich and complex without ever becoming overwhelming, though the extensive comedy mined from the pandering of members of the upper class elite will obviously cater to a certain portion of the audience more than to others. Still, the incredible imagery employed throughout creates an undeniably…

Full Circle
Episode / February 7, 2017

Aired 25 October – 15 November 1980 Following the successful- if ultimately underutilized- theme of collecting the segments of the Key to Time to link the episodes of season sixteen, ‘Full Circle’ opens up a trilogy of adventures set within E-space, a small and green-tinted universe comprised of negative spatial coordinates. And although it may seem a bit strange to insert a series of stories in an entirely new universe into the farewell season of Tom Baker, ‘Full Circle’ and those stories following continue to build up and expand upon the themes of entropy and decay within the confines of its unobtrusive linking device, hinting at Romana’s future departure while also introducing newcomer Adric to the TARDIS. ‘Full Circle’ is perhaps so successful because it offers a rather higher-concept brand of science fiction than is usual for Doctor Who, the marshmen filling the traditional role of menace but the true threat being the repressive system of rule present on Alzarius. While the Doctor is undeniably a force for good wherever he lands, it’s immensely rewarding to see him take on the very human failings of those in power putting their own community above everything else and putting in place procedure…