The Five Companions
Audio / June 3, 2017

Released December 2011 Whereas 2010’s Bonus Release ‘The Four Doctors’ took a rather novel approach to a multi-Doctor story by focusing on a new character traversing the Doctor’s personal timeline, 2011’s fuses different eras of Doctor Who together in an altogether more traditional fashion, though still with its own unique twist. As Ian, Steven, Sara, Polly, and Nyssa find themselves brought together and confronted with Daleks, Sontarans, and dinosaurs, ‘The Five Companions’ finds the Doctor directly confronting his past in a thrilling but also very personal tale of survival and reflection. Writer Eddie Robson borrows from ‘The Five Doctors’ and suggests that these past companions are in another part of that serial’s Death Zone on Gallifrey and that the Doctor has been pulled out of his transport to the Capitol to appear at that same area. However, though this is a Fifth Doctor story, the tale wisely focuses on the returning companions themselves, certainly not shying away from the fact that they have aged since leaving the Doctor and allowing moments of reminiscence while showcasing the unique element that each brought to the series while traveling aboard the TARDIS. Obviously Big Finish’s The Companion Chronicles range has kept the earlier…

The Secret History
Audio / December 31, 2016

Released June 2015 The Doctor, Steven, and Vicki land in the Italian city of Ravenna in the year 540 as the Byzantine General Belisarius continues to lead his army’s march. With Steven quickly ending up on a boat bound for Constantinople, the Doctor must mount a rescue operation while finally discovering who is sabotaging his personal timeline and putting both his life and the history of Earth at risk as the Fifth Doctor is sent into his First incarnation’s time. As opposed to the previous two stories in this Locum Doctor trilogy, the Fifth Doctor is quite easily able to convince Steven and Vicki that he is a younger version of their Doctor, his amiability and honesty in response to his former companions’ intellectual and sensible questions serving him well. Astoundingly, Peter Purves and Maureen O’Brien still sound exactly as they did during the Hartnell years, lending an incredible air of realism to the core concept behind this story, and the script marvellously captures Vicki’s mischievous nature as the ideals from her time come crashing down in a past full of such uncertainty as well as Steven’s adventurous and physical prowess as he comes to terms with the potential of…

The Sontarans
Audio / December 21, 2016

Released December 2016 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Sontarans are, of course, one of the most well-known enemies in the Doctor Who universe, a clone race focused on the glory and honour of warfare and caught in an ages-old battle with the shape-shifting Rutan host. Even allowing for the Second Doctor’s wiped memories following his interactions with the Sixth Doctor in ‘The Two Doctors,’ the Third Doctor seems keenly aware of the Sontarans when he first comes upon them on television in ‘The Time Warrior,’ intimating that they have crossed paths at an earlier time. With the advent of The Early Adventures, writer Simon Guerrier has crafted a stupendous first encounter between the First Doctor and the early sons of Sontar, one in which the futuristic companions of Steven Taylor and Sara Kingdom are one step ahead of the Doctor with their knowledge of the tales of and deeds of their foes. ‘The Sontarans’ manages to achieve an incredible amount in its four episodes as the Doctor comes to understand these new enemies and their unique mindset, strengths, and glaring weakness. What starts off quite simply as a tale of a battle between human Space Security Service soldiers and a group…

The Ravelli Conspiracy
Audio / November 22, 2016

Released November 2016 While the televised Doctor Who has long since shied away from the true historical genre, opting to include otherworldly beings or technological anachronisms in its jaunts to the past, Big Finish has generously kept the genre alive and well, proving time and time again that solid drama in any medium has the potential to be just as engaging as the flashiest of special effects. The Early Adventures gives Big Finish the opportunity to more thoroughly explore Earth’s past with the original TARIDS teams that most frequently did so, and ‘The Ravelli Conspiracy’ bravely follows the First Doctor, Vicki, and Steven into the ever-increasing conspiracies of 1514 Florence with astounding results. Dennis Spooner left his role of script editor in early 1965 and is responsible for fully introducing Steven in ‘The Time Meddler,’ his final solo script. However, despite the chronological placement of ‘The Ravelli Conspiracy,’ writers Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky have managed to channel the distinctive voice of Spooner in this comedic drama that quickly sees Steven and Vicki captured and Niccolo Machiavelli trying to re-establish himself in the House of Medici, the script emphasizing Machiavelli’s lofty reputation while not discounting the fact that his theories…

The Savages
Episode / September 15, 2016

Aired 28 May – 18 June 1966 ‘The Savages’ is possibly the most unknown and unheralded of Doctor Who’s third season, yet another story that only exists in audio format. With a strong display of morality interlaced with rather satisfying action and drama, though, as well as the departure of another TARDIS stalwart, ‘The Savages’ certainly presents a rewarding experiences for those seeking out what remains of it. As the Doctor and Steven continue their sort of tussle for dominance that mirrors their first story together nicely, the story presents a very novel and refreshing concept by having the Doctor be expected where he lands. The Elders of this unnamed planet, an extremely advanced race that the Doctor knew existed somewhere in this area of space, recognize the Doctor as the greatest expert on time and space. However, the Elders are not quite the benign people that they seem, sucking the very souls or life force out of individuals to achieve their means. While Jano tries to explain that they get the best aspect of those that they choose to represent their society, the Doctor sees through this charade and even stops Captain Edal from abusing one of the planet’s…

The Gunfighters
Episode / September 13, 2016

Aired 30 April – 21 May 1966 ‘The Gunfighters’ has long been a somewhat contentious Doctor Who story, having scored very low viewing ratings and audience appreciataion ratings upon its initial broadcast. While some laud it as being the first Western made for British television, ‘The Gunfighters’ is very much a British response to the Western genre; it is of course unreasonable to think that a small sound stage would adequately capture the open splendour of Western locales, but the budget is stretched for full effect and the overall result is another interesting and entertaining experiment for the early years of Doctor Who. Perhaps the strongest aspect of ‘The Gunfighters’ is its comedy, the always strong and energetic Peter Purves being the unwitting focal point as Steven is forced to put on a ridiculous American drawl, dress in stereotypical but 1960s-inspired Western garb, and sing a painfully repetitive and saloon ditty. William Hartnell supposedly lobbied long and hard for a Western-themed story, and he throws all of his weight into his performance, proving remarkably adept at slapstick timing while also delivering sparkling dialogue and proving to be a very British counterpoint to the very American Doc Hohliday. Even poor Dodo…

The Celestial Toymaker
Episode / September 11, 2016

Aired 2 April – 23 April 1966 Picking up with the cliffhanger from ‘The Ark’ in which the Doctor becomes invisible, the TARDIS soon lands in the domain of the ancient and eternal Celestial Toymaker, a being with a penchant for games with the highest of stakes. With Steven and Dodo almost immediately cut off from the TARDIS and the Doctor, they are tasked with solving and winning a series of challenges before the disembodied Doctor finishes the Trilogic Game set before him. In so doing, ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ represents Doctor Who’s first trip into more surreal territory, putting a nefarious spin on childhood pastimes along the way. Of course, the invisible and sometimes mute nature of the Doctor allows a script-based reason for William Hartnell to again take a scheduled holiday. Apparently, producer John Wiles had several problems with William Hartnell behind the scenes and wanted to take the programme in a more adult direction, intending to replace him with someone else when the Doctor rematerialized at the end of the story. This, of course, does not happen, but it perhaps sowed the seeds for the renewal/regeneration that would occur later to usher in Patrick Troughton. Regardless of the…

The Ark
Episode / September 10, 2016

Aired 5 March – 26 March 1966 ‘The Ark’ is an intriguing Doctor Who story, both in terms of structure and theme as the story is split into two distinct halves with the Doctor and his companions joining the action in one place during two very different time periods. This is a relatively high-brow concept for Doctor Who at this point, a show that until now has been wary of confronting the possibility of its heroes’ actions altering future events, and these consequences are made all the more powerful after the Doctor’s dramatic dialogue insisting on non-intervention at the end of the preceding serial. Essentially two two-part stories, ‘The Ark’ begins like a very traditional story, channeling events of ‘The Sensorites’ as the Doctor again searches for a cure for an ailing population. The civilization in peril here, though, is humanity itself, its remaining members embarking on an ark in hopes of finding survival. Although the humans are expecting to find resistance on the planet they have chosen, it’s intriguing to note how xenophobic their situation has caused them to become, accusing the TARDIS travelers of being spies sent to infect them with a deadly pathogen. They freely admit that…

The Massacre
Episode / September 9, 2016

Aired 5 February – 26 February 1966 ‘The Massacre,’ or ‘The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve’ represents another grueling historical adventure for Doctor Who, a marked change in tone and setting from the fantastic affairs of the Dalek epic that preceded it. Unfortunately, while the programme has found great success in creating stories out of historical fact, be they serious or light in tone, ‘The Massacre’ is a story plagued by many behind-the scenes issues, restraints, and decisions that ultimately affect the overall quality of the script and what is allowed to occur in the plot, so much so that writer John Lucarotti reportedly asked for his name to be taken off of the credits. As an aside, the official novelization of the story varies markedly from the televised serial and is much more indicative of what Lucarotti originally intended, but the 1966 original, a story that now only exists in the audio archives, ends up being more of a footnote than a story of any significant consequence. Landing in 1572 Paris, the Doctor wishes to visit biologist Charles Preslin to discuss his discovery of germs. When the Doctor seemingly disappears for an extended period, Steven becomes more worried and…

The Daleks’ Master Plan
Episode / September 7, 2016

Aired 13 November 1965 – 29 January 1966 With only three of its massive twelve episodes still surviving in the video archives, ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ remains somewhat of an unknown entity despite its rather legendary status. While looking back it’s easy to comment solely on the length of the serial or to consider the effect that a change in writer partway through or the break for an isolated Christmas Day farcical tale have on the overall experience, the audience’s lack of foreknowledge of what was coming at the original time of broadcast would undoubtedly have yielded incredible rewards. This, the fourth ‘true’ Dalek tale in Doctor Who, very much draws from Terry Nation’s previous scripts. Having previously submitted two serials with somewhat linked individual stories, ‘The Keys of Marinus’ and ‘The Chase,’ it’s clear that he has learned from the strengths and faults of both as he initially sets out to create a more cohesive and grandiose tale. While ‘The Keys of Marinus’ failed to effectively connect its vignettes together with a strong theme and ‘The Chase’ failed to effectively build the tension and danger despite the persistent presence of the Daleks, ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’- allowing for the…