Voyage to Venus

Posted in Audio by - January 17, 2018
Voyage to Venus

Released October 2012

Forsaking the familiar comforts of foggy Victorian London and the Red Tavern to join the Doctor upon his travels through space and time, Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot soon find themselves stepping on the wholly unfamiliar surface of Venus in the distant future when warrior women rule from the clouds and the Grand Empress Vulpina strives to keep her greatest secrets unknown.

The cover art of ‘Voyage to Venus’ actually helps to marry the very disparate concepts of the Victorian investigators of infernal incidents and the alien landscape of Venus very well, the gothic steampunk conglomeration in the sky overlooking a series of strange creatures on the ground providing a contextual frame of reference within which Jago and Litefoot can function. Indeed, there is at least a semblance of familiarity here on this Venus positioned far in Earth’s future when Earth is nothing but an uninhabited husk devoid of all life and resources, the Venusians here actually being remnants of humanity after modifying itself to survive within the harsh atmosphere of this new planet. Jago and Litefoot have learned by now to look deeper than the surface, and this effective revelation affords an extra weight to the production and allows the Victorian explorers to remain grounded without becoming too inundated by the novelty and danger of the events and environment around them.

After setting up the mystery of teeming plant and animal life appearing from nowhere across the surface of Venus over the past six years, writer Jonathan Morris is then able to successfully introduce the Sytherians, the original denizens of Venus who exhausted their own resources and also left their world uninhabitable, eventually left with no choice but to mirror the Silurians’ decision on Earth by placing themselves in forced hibernation until the planet was once more suitable for life. The singular consciousness of sorts that acts as an ambassador for the race is quite fascinating, and the specimens of life they kept to seed their new world when ready displays a sort of kindness and foresight to which the modified humans keeping Sytherian children as slaves provides a brilliant but chilling contrast.

Though the inclusion of humanity does lead to the rather well-trodden and predictable ending of the Doctor trying to convince the masses that not all humans are bad, ‘Voyage to Venus’ excels with its characterisation that keeps the production from ever becoming cumbersome or too formulaic. With only two special releases featuring the cast of Colin Baker, Christopher Benjamin, and Trevor Baxter before the latter two return to their headlining roles alone if the fifth series of Jago and Litefoot, there are no extensive arcs in play, meaning that the thrill of exploration and discovery upon this new world takes precedence even as universal wrongs that transcend any one planet become evident. The Sixth Doctor is at his most enthusiastic and determined here, and, though he has visited Venus before and knows that the splintered world he sees here is not how it was then, his enduring sense of fairness and righteousness makes for yet another sterling outing for this incarnation who ran into so many troubles during his televised tenure. Jago and Litefoot, of course, handle themselves with their usual composure as well once they are able to comprehend where they are and the fact that Earth is not an everlasting world of progress as they assumed, and their progressive thinking and upstanding attitudes are proven immediately upon this world ruled by women even before their bravery is tested.

A Victorian pastiche of an unkown future, ‘Voyage to Venus’ combines the worlds of the Sixth Doctor and of Jago and Litefoot spectacularly to create a suitably engaging mystery full of strong characters and dialogue. As a standalone adventure that both bridges continuity with the Third Doctor’s Venusian knowledge and that offers a break from the increasingly complex arcs that are becoming so common with Big Finish, ‘Voyage to Venus’ is a quick and sharp individual release that the direction and sound design bring to life wonderfully and that hearkens back to the early days of Doctor Who when exploration itself was paramount.

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