The Avenues of Possibility

Posted in Audio by - July 19, 2019
The Avenues of Possibility

Released July 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As The Legacy of Time reaches its penultimate tale with ‘The Avenues of Possibility,’ writer Jonathan Morris revisits the Sixth Doctor during his travels with Charlotte Pollard, the walking paradox whom the Eighth Doctor first rescued from assured death aboard the R-101. When DI Patricia Menzies suddenly finds the eighteenth century colliding with the present, she and her modern police forces must join her time-traveling acquaintances to save Earth’s proper course of history.

Having only appeared in three serials for Big Finish to date, DI Menzies has nonetheless made an incredible impact in the audio realms of Doctor Who, and she provides the perfect point of commonality for both the police and the Doctor as magistrate John Fielding who lived centuries previously appears and asks to speak to someone who knows of the Doctor. Soon becoming embroiled in a series of time breaks with links to potential alternative futures amidst a series of disappearances in a pattern the Doctor for the second story in a row likens to fragmentation around a gunshot wound through time, Menzies capably takes in the bizarre nature of the events around her and steadfastly confronts danger in its myriad forms with a grim determination that puts practicality and common sense above all else. It’s so easy for those involved to get caught up in the larger-than-life nature of the Doctor and mysteries and danger that seem to beckon for his presence, but Anna Hope again adeptly captures the resolute nature of her well-intentioned, courageous, and intelligent character that highlights just how much Menzies can continue to offer in her everyday hero capacity.

Naturally, as this epic release approaches its end, the extent and the identity of the threat truly begin to make themselves known, and the Doctor’s early warning that all of time and space could be irreparably fractured is extremely prescient given just how truly audacious the stakes become. With Charley herself a paradox of the Doctor’s making that has come to focus so profoundly during her tenure with two incarnations, it’s only fitting that she should find herself entwined in a combination of bootstrap and grandfather paradoxes fronted by Sara Poyzer’s tough Stables who leads a military force hailing from an alternative 1951 in which the British Empire truly reigns supreme back some two hundred and fifty years into the past to ensure that her timeline becomes the true reality. Realising that they could also prove to be their own undoing should they kill their own ancestors when fronting a most surprising form of resistance, Stables is reassured that all paradoxes will be consumed and that her team has free reign to kill as needed, in the process intensifying the paradox and fueling the surprising resurgence of the Sirens of Time who featured in Big Finish’s very first Doctor Who audio release in 1999. Though this does rely on an incredible amount of short-sighted gullibility on Stables’s part, these beings that feed on changes in history and that feature in many Gallifreyan myths confidently steer history astray to fuel their own desires, and the Doctor and Charley present a feast the likes of which nothing else can compare that puts even the very existence of the Time Lords themselves in danger as the Sirens move to the final phase of their ultimate scheme.

Precisely because this is a story that must escalate the threat without providing any real resolution for these characters, however, ‘The Avenues of Possibility’ doesn’t quite end with the impact it could have in another situation. Simply stating that the Sirens used the Doctor to feed but wanted to keep him alive hardly paints him in his strongest light even if it suits the narrative at hand, and the Doctor’s inevitable amnesia following Charley’s emotional outburst about her true relation to him and everything she will go on to experience with him is a bit too reminiscent of their final adventure together in ‘Blue Forgotten Planet’ and acts more like a placeholder than a new and revelatory scene as might be expected in this celebratory context. What cannot be faulted in any way, however, is the energy and enthusiasm that both Colin Baker and India Fisher bring to this production, effortlessly recapturing the very unique dynamic of this TARDIS team in which the companion knows much more than the Doctor could ever anticipate. Both the Doctor and Charley are at their most determined as the paradoxes continue to mount and potential timelines blink into and out of existence with innocent lives at stake, and this is a firm reminder of what this pairing could still offer should Big Finish ever choose to revisit this era in a more expanded context.

‘The Avenues of Possibility’ is incredibly ambitious and quite wonderfully sets up what is sure to be a bombastic finale, but that setup work does come at the expense of any sort of self-contained resolution to its own story. Still, with stirring guest turns by Duncan Wisbey as novelist Henry Fielding and Richard Hansell as brother John to put known faces to the history that is at such danger or running off course, the different timelines merge expertly with strong direction and sound design to create a wholly engrossing and captivating story that even manages to highlight the implicit good that can appear in the most unexpected placed while providing Menzies with the potential for a very happy future, indeed. This is a tale that will demand its audience’s attention, and the questions raised certainly provide the potential for an immense payoff twenty years in the making.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.