The Wrong Doctors

Posted in Audio by - November 07, 2016
The Wrong Doctors

Released January 2013

It’s incredibly surprising that it’s taken so long for the quandary of the Doctor and Mel- a companion from his personal future- heading into the TARDIS for the first time on-screen following the events of The Trial of a Time Lord to be addressed. Matt Fitton finally offers an explanation for that gap in continuity to kick off Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary year in fine style as the Doctor sets course for his destiny in Pease Pottage following the departure of Evelyn Smythe. However, arriving just after his earlier self returns with Mel from Gallifrey, the older Doctor has arrived too late and the younger Doctor too early, setting up a complex tale as the proper continuity with the proper versions of the Doctor and Mel must be maintained.

Colin Baker is given a monumental task in portraying both the more subdued Big Finish version of the character as well as the more confrontational version of the televised era, and he succeeds admirably while highlighting just how much the character has grown and progressed in the audio medium. Fitton is unafraid to have both Doctors meet and converse throughout the story, and Baker is able to imbue enough nuance into his performance that it’s always perfectly clear which version is speaking, a testament to his acting prowess and to his knowledge of the character.

As strong as this core concept is, though, ‘The Wrong Doctors’ fortunately does not rely simply on the two versions of the Doctor meeting. Instead, a grand tale of time ruptures and alien entrepreneurs that includes some gratifying character work for Melanie Bush as her past is explored also unfolds. In her first main range appearance for Big Finish since ‘The Wishing Beast’ some five years ago, Bonnie Langford is an absolute delight as Mel- two versions of Mel, that is- who has become a much more enthusiastic and nuanced character herself with Big Finish. The story makes good use of her computer programming backstory elements that are so often forgotten, and though one version of Mel on display is the result of a false timeline, Langford is able to imbue both versions with amazing depth and emotion.

The mystery behind Pease Pottage rightfully gets ample exploration as well, and the temporally-complex story is very rewarding in its own right. Mardax shipping technology maximizes its process by using the volatile element Valanxium, an element that decays backwards and which can result in holes being punched into the time vortex when used. As the mysterious Petherbridge uses Mel’s extraordinary memory capacity to monitor the resulting alternate timelines in order to bring himself into reality, it’s no wonder that this version of Mel seems rather scatterbrained in other aspects. As the dangers of the realities manifest, Mel showcases her ingenious nature as she traps Petherbridge in a temporal cul-de-sac from which there is no escape, in the process deleting herself from the present to secure the universe’s future. Using the TARDIS and the ATC technology, the Doctor is able to look through the alternate realities to choose the proper elements of Mel in order to reconstruct the brightest and bravest version to meet him at the proper time for the first time.

‘The Wrong Doctors’ is a superb start to the fiftieth anniversary year, displaying a supreme confidence in storytelling on the part of Matt Fitton and Big Finish while celebrating Big Finish’s own rehabilitation of both the Sixth Doctor and of Melanie Bush. With two staggering performances from each of its leads and an exciting plotline, this is an incredible story that could only be told at this point in time as the televised and audio histories of Colin Baker’s incarnation intertwine masterfully.

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