Voyage to the New World

Posted in Audio by - January 18, 2018
Voyage to the New World

Released December 2012

Aiming for the Red Tavern but arriving with the Doctor instead at Roanoke Island in 1590, Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot soon find themselves captives of natives in the New World. Delving directly into the historical mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists who left only the word Croatoan carved into a post, ‘Journey to the New World’ offers an atmospheric and enthralling adventure that dabbles in the supernatural while making the most of its characters in the familiar but wholly distinct and dangerous locale.

With little time for exposition in this standalone tale, writer Matthew Sweet immediately showcases the fraught relationship between the English colonists and the natives with an intense battle. Forgoing the true historical genre, however, Sweet also plays with the immensely intriguing idea of having the historical figure Sir Walter Raleigh take control of the TARDIS while trying to figure out its controls and regarding it an optical illusion that can thrill anyone who beholds its splendour. Though that by itself is a great hook for an element of any story, the notion that the TARDIS is consciously trying to get back to the Doctor by drawing undue attention to the fast return switch regardless of the consequences is a fascinating element that crops up all to infrequently within Doctor Who but hints at just how unique this craft truly is. With all of this, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the mysterious ghostly children on the island are not explored in too much rigorous detail, but the mystery these harmless but sensitive mirrors forged with a symbiotic link pose to the Doctor and his companions are certainly unique and help to assuage the reset button resolution that is quite skillfully brushed aside with little regard from any involved.

The trio of Colin Baker, Christopher Benjamin, and Trevor Baxter is brimming with innate chemistry and amongst the most formidable that has ever traveled within the TARDIS, and the Sixth Doctor is perhaps the only one who has a chance to truly outshine the eloquent stylings of Jago and Litefoot. With a mystery at hand and Jago’s life in the balance, the Doctor here is at his most intuitive and determined, and Baker’s reading of John White’s journal is delivered with the requisite gravity and emotion to keep it from ever becoming dull as delivery of written material within a play can sometimes feel on audio. Benjamin again plays Jago as the reluctant hero, and the fact that this character is prone to fainting and fear as much as daring and bravery whether in peril or in the heroic position is absolutely one of the greatest parts of the Jago and Litefoot range that fortunately avoids skewing into overtly comedic territory too frequently. At the same time, Baxter imbues an incredible amount of emotion to Litefoot when he believes that Jago has been lost, and the vigour with which he throws himself into the mystery speaks to the testament of his character and exactly why this range has proven so successful since its start.

Ken Bentley deserves due credit for a sterling directorial outing that, along with the strong sound design and score, perfectly captures the emotions, danger, and atmosphere laden in Sweet’s script. Although the pacing does sometimes lag in the middle portions just a bit, ‘Voyage to the New World’ is a triumphant finale to this brief two-adventure excursion with the Doctor that intriguingly sets up the fifth series of Jago and Litefoot as the intrepid duo arrives some seventy years into their own future.

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