Posted in Audio by - November 25, 2022

Released November 2022


A year after leaving the Eighth Doctor’s company, Liv Chenka accompanies Tania Bell on a furniture-shopping excursion to pass a Sunday by in John Dorney’s ‘Flatpack.’ Just as the two cannot agree on how long this store has been present, though, the Doctor with a new face suddenly re-enters their lives as an unfathomable danger encompassing all of time is revealed.

Big Finish has previously found success across its ranges with stories set within large department stores and mall settings, and it’s no surprise that the man who successfully created an entire story around parking is able to twist the familiarity and sheer magnitude of an IKEA-esque store into something far more mysterious and nefarious. Strangely, some people such as Liv know that Flatpack is brand new since the land was empty just a short time ago, but others such as Tania are certain that it has been around for ages since she recalls spending part of her youth within its confines. It’s a store that quite literally seems to offer anything, including food and drink for its customers, but the Doctor is quick to point out that some of the material being sold is certainly not of this time period. With a certain horror that anything- including the exterior of the TARDIS- can be incorporated and mass produced in quick order, the reunited trio comes to realize that the apparent looping back to the same areas within the store is actually just one facet of a facility that is transcendental both spatially and temporally, having existed and that will continue to exist forever while continuing to draw in customers from across the ages and bringing these people through food-induced brainwashing into the continued operations of this facility. Taking to the extreme the mazelike structure and the very controlled progression of customers within IKEA along with the many advertisements and ploys to gain customers’ attention to prolong their time shopping, Dorney brilliantly subverts an absurd but normal feature of life in the very best traditions of Doctor Who, exemplified all the more by Liv’s realization of just how right the customer can truly be.

Big Finish’s Stranded saga represented a bold and unique storytelling opportunity for Doctor Who, and the burgeoning relationship between Liv- who had already traveled with the Eighth Doctor for so long- and Tania was an indisputably crucial element of its profound resonance and success. Regardless of the somewhat divisive conclusion regarding Liv’s decision, Nicola Walker and Rebecca Root quickly developed and fostered a remarkable chemistry that spectacularly captured the incredible strength and emotions of these two women who came to trust and rely upon each other so much. Unsurprisingly, that chemistry easily continues in ‘Flatpack,’ giving a remarkable sense of continuity to this relationship that has continued to progress and deepen outside of the Doctor’s presence. Seeing that Liv has still not completely adjusted to living life one day at a time in a sequential order is also a deft touch that reminds everyone of how difficult life after traveling in the TARDIS can be, and Tania’s insistence that getting into the small routines that a weekly schedule affords can help again hints at how well these two can complement and help each other. Of course, Liv had an incredible relationship with the Eighth Doctor as well, and so the appearance of the Ninth Doctor here is something of a shock for her since it implies that her friend has died despite her familiarity with the concept of regeneration and the fact that the Doctor is still standing before her. With time travel, the Doctor explains, nobody every really dies and so nobody can ever truly mourn, but that sentiment offers Liv little solace and she pointedly asks if the converse is not also true with everybody always being dead.

Interacting with a former Doctor’s companions must be something of a difficult and even imposing proposition given the history and necessary emotions that already exist between these characters, but Christopher Eccleston seemingly effortlessly steps up to the task by imbuing a measured weightiness to his performance that hints far more than simple words can at just what these three characters have experienced. In fact, as his Doctor realizes that he just may be out of his depth here before coming to understand with a crushing certainty just who the manager and his colleagues are within the ever-reaching anomaly of this facility designed to retain its customers, Eccleston gives one of his finest audio performances to date as the Ninth Doctor. ‘Flatpack’ may have done a bit more to hide these individuals’ identities, but the official reveals are nonetheless wholly impactful and, again, allow Liv a defining moment to yet again prove why the Doctor values her friendship so much. To that point, she also realizes that the Doctor needs someone to travel with him, promising that she will always be here for him if he needs her and ending this latest series of The Ninth Doctor Adventures on an understated but powerful note that appears to be drawing him ever farther away from his actions in the Time War and ever closer to his time with Rose and beyond as shown on television.

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