The High Price of Parking
Audio / July 16, 2017

Released July 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The planet Deshrah is a world of renowned natural beauty and splendour, a world so beautiful and popular that one must first park on the nearby artificial planetoid aptly named Parking before being able to teleport there. But before the Doctor, Mel, and Ace are able to complete their journey to Deshrah, they quickly become involved in the ongoing clash between the overzealous Wardens and the sect of the Free Parkers as spaceships spontaneously combust and a dark secret at the lowest level of Parking becomes known. As the very notion of having tribes descended from lost travelers who could not find their spaceships and thus took up residence on Parking likely suggests, ‘The High Price of Parking’ is a more lighthearted story than many Seventh Doctor tales end up being, foregoing the era of the master manipulator and instead channeling the likes of ‘Paradise Towers’ by revealing a hidden danger in a skewed version of a perfectly commonplace environment in which sects of citizens rise up against the instilled and segmented bureaucratic norms where no one person holds all of the information. Much like ‘Paradise Towers,’ however, the script doesn’t quite manage to…

Animal
Audio / July 8, 2017

Released June 2011 With new companions Raine Creevy in tow, the Doctor and Ace land at Margrave University in 2001 and quickly find themselves entrenched in the mysteries surrounding the alien creatures in the science lab and the hidden motives of the student Scobie and his followers. Teaming up with Brigadier Bambera and the rest of UNIT, the Doctor soon finds himself an unknowing pawn in a plan he has yet to put into motion as the lost season twenty-seven confidently continues its trek onward. Strangely, ‘Animal’ is something of a disjointed tale, a story of two halves that independently work quite well but that together don’t quite cohesively mesh. The story quite interestingly starts out as the leads slowly discover the truth of the sentient and carnivorous plantlike beings being housed in the university as Raine and Ace go undercover as students at Margrave to thwart a bombing attempt at the science facilities being carried out in the name of animal rights. However, even if the infiltration of the terrorist group occurs rather too easily, this claustrophobic setting is somewhat abandoned at the end of the second episode as an alien spaceship appears overhead and the story changes trajectory…

Crime of the Century
Audio / July 6, 2017

Released May 2011 Big Finish’s adaptation of the season twenty-seven that never was continues with Andrew Cartmel’s ‘Crime of the Century,’ a story most notable for properly introducing new companion, Raine Creevy. Delving fully into the manipulative and scheming nature of the Seventh Doctor, a safe-cracking heist in London, an invasion of Soviet and alien forces in the Middle East, and a highly guarded facility on the Scottish border all play into his newest plan. Even if the many storylines don’t completely come together in an equal and balanced whole, ‘Crime of the Century’ is exceedingly confident with the story it sets out to tell and is filled with superb imagery and atmosphere that help to sell every action along the way even if the plot is somewhat lacking and the Doctor’s plan and even the titular crime do not come into focus until the very end. Strangely, though following an absolutely superb introductory scene for Raine in which she sneaks away from a party to crack a safe, only to find the Doctor inside, the narrative very much takes the focus off of Raine to put Ace and the warzone in the spotlight for an extended period of time.…

Thin Ice
Audio / July 5, 2017

Released April 2011 Following the resounding success of bringing to life what might have been in an alternative season twenty-three for Colin Baker, Big Finish now turns its The Lost Stories range to the end of the classic series as Marc Platt, Andrew Cartmel, and Ben Aaranovitch flesh out their original concepts and storylines for the intended season twenty-seven. When the Doctor and Ace arrive in 1967 Moscow while the Soviets are seeking for a new weapon to give them command of the Cold War, the fate of Earth and the future of Ace find themselves intertwined as the hidden secrets of lost Martian relics are revealed. Ace is, of course, the one companion who never reached an ending point in the series due to cancellation, and it’s wonderful to hear Sophie Aldred pitch her performance back to the earlier and more emotionally tenuous version of her character in place of the more confident and assured version that her tenure at Big Finish has cultivated. This allows for the continued, nuanced development that the scripts under Andrew Cartmel’s watch started, and her sense of betrayal when she discovers that the Doctor is testing her in order to gain her entry…

Shadow Planet and World Apart
Audio / June 22, 2017

Released June 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Big Finish’s Doctor Who Monthly Range sequence of double two-part releases comes to a close with ‘Shadow Planet’ and ‘World Apart,’ traversing back upon the Seventh Doctor’s timeline to a time when Hex was still fairly new aboard the TARDIS and still had flirtatious and romantic feelings for Ace. With both stories exploring the intricacies of Ace and Hex as individuals and using the planets as much more than simply generic settings, the secrets and unknown mysteries of these worlds rival those of even the Doctor’s most enigmatic incarnation. AK Benedict’s ‘Shadow Planet’ opens the release with Ace choosing to visit the planet Unity, a planet of psychic potential where one can confront and come to terms with one’s hidden, shadow self. However, as the promised safety of the Unity Corporation breaks down, an engrossing story of hidden motivations and deceit quickly unfolds as the shadows step into the light. Doppelgangers are certainly nothing new to Doctor Who, but the very concept of bringing out the aspects of characters they most try to hide allows for a fascinating duality during a very personal investigation of those involved, Ace and Hex in particular. ‘Shadow Planet’…

The Curse of Fenric
Episode / May 10, 2017

Aired 25 October – 15 November 1989 ‘The Curse of Fenric’ often finds itself in the discussion for best story of the classic era of Doctor Who, the perfect blend of script editor Andrew Cartmel’s plan to reinvigorate the mysterious nature of the Doctor while fully developing and exploring the companion by his side. Without even considering the actual plot, it’s clear that Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred have an immense camaraderie, and the relationship that draws parallels to a father and daughter comes alive wonderfully. Indeed, this is perhaps the most grounded relationship within the classic series, the Doctor encouraging Ace to observe and reach conclusions by herself while still being ever mindful of her propensity for jumping into situations head first and Ace trying to earn the respect of the Doctor while still trying to discover herself. Of course, ‘The Curse of Fenric’ is the definitive Ace tale, and never before has a companion developed so much and been so hurt in such a short period of time. ‘The Curse of Fenric’ deals with surprisingly mature themes for a family programme, with Ace’s intimations about being able to use her femininity to her advantage and the metaphorical swimming…

Ghost Light
Episode / May 9, 2017

Aired 4 – 18 October 1989 ‘Ghost Light’ has garnered something of reputation for being a more cerebral or abstract adventure than is the norm for Doctor Who, some viewers and fans being turned off because it does require a greater commitment to piece together the many diverse elements into a cohesive whole. However, it also fits in perfectly with the gradual shift of the programme to put more focus on the companion as an actual person as well as to instill a sense of mystery into the character of the Doctor once more. Appropriately, then, ‘Ghost Light’ is very much a story about the inevitability of and need for change in order to ensure survival. As with any great story, the proceedings on display act as a metaphor for even larger events, and that certainly is the case when looking at Doctor Who as a franchise at the time. Josiah, assured that the British Empire is in decline and heading for anarchy due to lack of direction from the throne, plans to murder Queen Victoria in order to place himself at the head of a society in which the establishment and status quo remain untouched. Intriguingly, there is a…

Battlefield
Episode / May 9, 2017

Aired 6 – 27 September 1989 ‘Battlefield’ opens up what would become Doctor Who’s final season, following in the footsteps of the previous season opener and incorporating a look to the past while further defining the more complex characterization and storylines of the Seventh Doctor. Indeed, the Doctor here is at his most manipulative, a version of him from the future managing to use the current version as a pawn in one of his many grandiose schemes. The Seventh Doctor traveling around the universe to settle old scores and tie up loose ends had been gradually introduced over the previous year, but this is the first time that the Doctor’s personal past, present, and future have crossed paths, lending an extreme depth to the character and adding a degree of certainty to his future when the continuation of the programme was anything but certain. ‘Battlefield’ is actually quite successful with its blending of elements and imagery from different eras of both real-life and the programme’s history even if the production never quite meets its full potential. The notion of Arthurian knights invading modern-day Britain is an enticing concept and certainly helps to anchor the story on a visual level. However,…

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
Episode / May 8, 2017

Aired 14 December 1988 – 4 January 1989 In an anniversary season that featured the return of the Daleks and Cybermen sandwiched around a piece brutal political commentary, it’s easy to forget that ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ is the concluding serial and just as important as any of the others, though for wholly different reasons. Instead of playing on nostalgia to cater to the fans, the serial instead wholly directs its focus inwards at what Doctor Who in general had become at the time after years of public pressure had slowly tempered the audacious and surreal imagination originally on display. As Doctor Who continued its fight for its very life as ratings continued to plunge, ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ is a biting and grim look at the 1980s era in general and the impossible situation it found itself in no matter what changes it made or stunts it employed. Without question, the family comprising the audience of the Psychic Circus that determines which acts survive or perish is the most overt metaphor within the serial, showcasing the struggle and sacrifices made to ensure the BBC’s approval of and continuation with the programme as a viable franchise.…

Silver Nemesis
Episode / May 6, 2017

Aired 23 November – 7 December 1988 To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Doctor Who, producer John Nathan-Turner chose silver as a pervading theme, almost by necessity bringing the infamous Cybermen back to fill that stipulation as the story attempts to continue the darker and more mature stylings of this season’s predecessors. As a comet named Nemesis crashes near Windsor Castle, the Doctor and Ace find themselves in a race against several competing factions to reach it while the question of just who the Doctor is begins to come to the forefront. Unfortunately, ‘Silver Nemesis’ is something of a mess that simply throws too many ideas around as if hoping that some of them will find traction, resulting in a three-part story that seems like it has been haphazardly edited down from four parts. Worse yet, there is startlingly little actual plot to the story besides the quest, but it still comes off as cluttered because of the large supporting cast of Lady Peinforte and Richard, de Flores and the Nazis, and the squadron of Cybermen all in competition against the Doctor and Ace. The truth of Nemesis being a living statue composed of Validium that holds immense destructive capabilities…