The Wreck of the World

Posted in Audio by - December 19, 2017
The Wreck of the World

Released December 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The 2017 run of The Early Adventures comes to a close with ‘The Wreck of the World,’ an entry set nearer the end of the Second Doctor era from the mind of Big Finish newcomer and Bruntwood Prize winner Timothy X Atack. When Zoe is separated from the TARDIS during a crash in deep space with a decaying wreck while spacewalking during repairs, the Doctor and Jamie enter the remains and discover that they have happened upon The World, the first colony ship to leave Earth but one that mysteriously disappeared in the middle of its voyage. As a team of violent astronauts stalks the corridors around a suspension chamber housing dead and festering human bodies, a much darker force makes itself known and threatens the ship and everyone on board.

The most impressive aspect of Doctor Who is its ability to traverse different genres and tones with ease no matter the focal cast, and though ‘The Wreck of the World’ quite squarely falls under a modified heading of a base under siege tale, Atack has crafted an immensely dark and oppressive environment that perfectly channels the horrific dangers of both the physical and the unknown within the utter isolation of deep space. Separated from the TARDIS and each other as natural and supernatural forces collide, Atack downplays the often lighter and comradelier relationship of these three amiable characters to instead amplify the threat by showcasing the gritty determination needed amid intense turmoil to discover the true nature of the threat as Earth’s once-greatest hope once more comes under siege.

Of course, an atmosphere is only as strong as its characters, and ‘The Wreck of the World’ makes the most of its small ensemble to create a vivid environment full of honour, bravery, anxiety, and fear, in the process painting the dilapidated and claustrophobic ruin of the wreck as a character in its own right. Judith Roddy exudes a calm confidence as Commander Roddy whose grasp of control and trust is certainly tested, Adam Newington easily conveys a determined sense of principle and respect as the aptly-named Twenty, Don McCorkindale as Porthintus forms a great foil for Jamie while forging a mutual respect, and Richenda Carey expertly portrays Professor Blavatsky as a strong and prideful woman whose ambition knows no bound. As is usual for this range, Frazer Hines plays both Jamie and the Second Doctor and is uncannily able to capture the essence of both characters who lived on screen so long ago. The Second Doctor impression may slip just a bit in a couple of scenes, but the fact that is even mentioned suggests just how incredible this feat truly is and just how much verisimilitude it lends these releases. At the same time, Wendy Padbury captures the young innocence but blazing intellect and resolve of Zoe perfectly, and the variation she adds to her narration helps to create a distinction that keeps the action smartly moving without hesitation.

‘The Wreck of the World’ truly is an impressive Doctor Who title, meshing very human emotions and characteristics with a threat that reaches back into Earth’s history and beyond and presents an impressive and imminent threat for all involved. The tone overall is much more sombre than is usual for this era even as the leads once more find themselves under threat in a confined and isolated environment, but this subtly alters the characters’ dynamics and escalates the overall sense of dread and anxiety as they work to come together and uncover the truth. With expert direction and effective sound design to bolster the strong performances and an impressive script that balances action and narration well, ‘The Wreck of the World’ is an incredible Big Finish debut for Timothy X Atack and a resounding finale to the current run of The Early Adventures.

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