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 Fifth Traveller
Audio / October 16, 2016

Released October 2016 The Early Adventures continues with Philip Lawrence’s ‘The Fifth Traveller,’ revisiting the era of the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara Vicki, and Jospa. Jospa, of course, is the orphan from the slums of Earth’s future that pickpocketed the Doctor and then joined the TARDIS team, forming a powerful sibling-like camaraderie with Vicki along the way. Only, the audience knows that none of that happened, and the mystery of how this man came to insert himself into established continuity forms the driving force of this intriguing release. The early years of Doctor Who is famous for occasionally allowing ambition to trump what could realistically be achieved on a minimal budget, and ‘The Fifth Traveller’ certainly channels that sense of ambition with its scope. After Jospa discovers an organic jellyfish-like creature that should allow the Doctor to finally control the TARDIS with much greater precision upon the planet of Vavidic, the story proper takes place in the jungles of Arunde. This vegetative world and its golden primates’ culture and structured society are both fleshed out and described wonderfully, the incidental music and sound design helping with the former and telepathic communications of the latter adding incredible depth to these creations.…

The Age of Endurance
Audio / September 20, 2016

Released September 2016 The Early Adventures has been a revelation for Big Finish, affording the eras of the First and Second Doctors a chance to flourish, crafting new full-cast adventures while staying true to the tone and very essence of those times. ‘The Age of Endurance’ marks the beginning of the third series and sees the original TARDIS crew of the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara land aboard a seemingly empty spaceship that soon leads them to the very heart of an impossibly old war. Without question, one of the biggest talking points of ‘The Age of Endurance’ will be the recasting of Barbara Wright. While there is a natural trepidation whenever a beloved character must be recast due to the unfortunate passing of the original actor or actress, Big Finish has certainly proven adept at doing so while paying homage and due respect to the original performances with the previous decisions to cast Tim Treloar as the Third Doctor and Elliot Chapman as Ben Jackson. Following her wonderful turn as Jacqueline Hill in the fiftieth anniversary special An Adventure in Time and Space, Jemma Powell is a perfect decision to take on the role of Barbara in The Early…

The Chase
Episode / August 25, 2016

Aired 22 May – 26 June 1965 ‘The Chase’ is an odd Doctor Who serial, clearly an attempt to profit off of the Dalek craze of the time but also quite brilliant in its own way. Written by Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, ‘The Chase’ in a way follows the format of his previous six-parter ‘The Keys of Marinus’ in which there are several near-standalone stories with an overall link. Here, the Daleks pursue the Doctor and his companions through time and space to several different locales, in the process encapsulating the fluid and experimental nature of early Doctor Who perfectly. It’s quite easy to dismiss ‘The Chase’ as an overall pointless episode, especially since Terry Nation admitted that public demand rather than narrative need spurred the story making it to screens and since it falls into the easy pattern of the Doctor and his companions arrive somewhere, battle against the Daleks, and then leave. However, there are several small intricacies thrown in that make ‘The Chase’ a very worthwhile viewing whether one holds that viewpoint or not. The opening of the story is particularly important, not only because it finally shows that the TARDIS has become home to…

The Space Museum
Episode / August 23, 2016

Aired 24 April – 15 May 1965 There are few who would consider ‘The Space Museum’ to be a classic Doctor Who story, but as a concept it is incredibly interesting and certainly pivotal to the programme as a whole. The idea of interfering with and changing time is certainly not a novel one, having been referenced in almost every historical tale to date, but here it is the TARDIS team’s own future and fate which hangs in the balance. Harkening back to the events of ‘The Edge of Destruction,’ eerie noises and direction that give a sense of disorientation dominate the beginning of ‘The Space Museum.’ The crew soon discovers that they have somehow jumped a time track, leaving them unable to interact with their environment in any meaningful way. The Space Museum itself is brought to life by some incredible model work, but it should be noted that the actors’ shadows do detract from the sense of scope the sets are aiming to achieve. Regardless, as the Doctor and his companions wander through the Museum while trying to avoid the patrolling the Moroks, the sense of unease is only heightened as each room seems to be identical, the…

The Crusade
Episode / August 21, 2016

Aired 27 March – 17 April 1965 Following the more light-hearted and comedic undertones of ‘The Romans,’ Doctor Who returns to a more serious tone with its historical outings in ‘The Crusade,’ a harrowing look at the Third Crusade in twelfth century Israel. Intriguingly, although the TARDIS crew once more becomes embroiled in events rather quickly, they find themselves this time between two men, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, who both simply desire peace. David Whitaker’s script wisely avoids pointed Anglophilic bias, showcasing both the rights and wrongs of both sides of the struggle as well as the shortcomings of the prominent individuals. Richard is quite prone to temperamental outbursts, especially when his plans are questioned or need to be modified. Yet rather than allowing the character devolve into a totally unlikable wretch, actor Julian Glover adds an intrinsic air of nobility and righteousness to his character that better defines Richard and keeps him both powerful and believable. Bernard Kay also does tremendous work as Saladin, the antagonist of Richard but a man who is still presented as very dignified and intelligent. There is, of course, the obvious fact of the makeup required to bring the non-Caucasian character to life,…

The Web Planet
Episode / August 16, 2016

Aired 13 February – 20 March 1965 One can approach ‘The Web Planet’ from a mindset either of viewing a ground-breaking piece of drama from 1965 or of viewing a story in which the budget simply didn’t meet ambition and to which time has not been kind, the faults becoming ever more glaring. Even if one is able to look past the wires and costumes that evoke a sense of local theatre as the production crew and cast tries to bring the planet of giant ants and butterfly people to life, it’s sadly still apparent that there is very little action to carry events. As the Doctor and his companions land on Vortis after experiencing a power drainage, they soon find themselves allying with the Menoptra to regain their planet from the Zarbi and their leader the Animus. While the concept is sound, there unfortunately isn’t enough material to warrant six episodes, and the dialogue-laden script often creates lulls in the pacing. The few battles and action scenes present regrettably do not feature the best direction, creating a sense of bizarreness rather than danger. Despite the slow pacing and padded plot, there is a certain charm to proceedings regardless of…

The Romans
Episode / August 11, 2016

Aired 16 January – 6 February 1965 ‘The Romans’ sees Doctor Who return to the the historical genre, adding a new twist by focusing more on comedy and entertainment rather than education as most historical stories have so far. Avoiding the potential disaster of this setup, ‘The Romans’ ends up being a fine story that toys with the typical format in several clever ways. Rather than focusing on how the TARDIS survived the cliffhanger at the end of ‘The Rescue,’ it is simply implied that the TARDIS is much stronger and more resolute than previously known, and the story instead opens with the Doctor and his companions enjoying a fancy Roman meal. ‘The Romans’ also tells several stories concurrently, managing to even succeed in telling two tales- one with Barbara and one with both the Doctor and Vicki- taking place in the same place without either party being aware of the other’s actions. This is again another area fraught with potential disaster that could undermine the entire story, but somehow it succeeds without ever becoming frustrating or annoying. ‘The Romans’ is the first story to predominantly incorporate comedy, to this day remaining one of the few stories to seriously attempt…

The Rescue
Episode / August 8, 2016

Aired 2 January – 9 January 1965 ‘The Rescue’ is a brief but important two-part story for Doctor Who, representing the first time that a new companion has joined the TARDIS since the premiere and continuing the gradual shift of the Doctor from the terse curmudgeon to the more compassionate hero he would eventually truly become. For a story directly following ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth,’ ‘The Rescue’ wisely does not ignore the fact that Susan has just departed. While Susan is only directly referenced once as the Doctor slips and calls Barbara by her name instead, it’s clear that her presence has not been forgotten by anyone. Both Barbara and Ian seem to be perfectly understanding of this personal crisis of the Doctor’s as well, giving him space as he opts to be alone to get used to the emptier TARDIS. Yet he is incredibly open and warm to Vicki, sympathizing with her plight on the planet’s surface and actively inviting her to join him on his travels. Whether driven by the emptiness he is experiencing by not having Susan around or not, these interactions are some of the most human that the Doctor has yet shown and continue…

The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Episode / August 5, 2016

Aired 21 November – 26 December 1964 Just as ‘The Daleks’ is arguably the most important post-premiere episode, introducing an incredibly popular foe while showcasing the scope of the programme, ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ is likewise an unequivocally vital story that still has its footprints on the show all these years later. This is the first story to feature a recurring foe, the first story to send off a companion, and the first alien invasion of London itself. Yet despite its iconic status, ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ is also a flawed story, short bursts of progress in plot dampened by long stretches of padding that bear little relevance to the overall story. The Daleks’ testing of the Doctor’s intelligence is an intriguing concept, but they already know that he has an uncanny intelligence beforehand, taking away the dramatic impact that separating him from the others may have had otherwise. Similarly, the Slyther creature at the mines and the reptilian creature in the sewer both serve to heighten the danger but ultimately their appearance and implementation seem rather ineffective, simply another means of extending the story along with several chase and capture sequences. However, using the individual episode tiling…