Friendly Fire

Posted in Audio by - April 10, 2023
Friendly Fire

Released April 2023


When the TARDIS needs to reset itself, the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan leave a busy space hub to try to visit an old alien friend of the Doctor’s living on a nearby mining planet in ‘Friendly Fire’ by John Dorney. On arrival, though, his friend Velar is nowhere to be found, and the three travelers soon learn that an unwelcoming disposition from the locals is the very least of their worries with safe departure anything but assured.

For better or worse, ‘Friendly Fire’ is one of the most straightforward scripts that Dorney has ever delivered for Big Finish, turning on its head the oft-seen bias of Doctor Who that non-humans are monsters and presenting an ever-deepening conspiracy as the population tries to keep its terrible actions from ever becoming public knowledge. Unfortunately, with an odd three-part structure that doesn’t quite allow as much pace as two-part tales nor as much depth as four-part adventures, far too much time is spent simply treading water as locals are deliberately reluctant to reveal any information or to advance the Doctor’s search at all. This is most obtrusive when the lead trio actually have to prod locals to say anything at all before then having to wait for a very slow and hesitant response that makes little secret of the fact that plenty of information is being withheld. These shortcomings are mitigated to an extent by the alternative approach of the marshall Reno brazenly showing the Doctor everything he wants to see despite obviously withholding just as much information in the hopes that the Doctor will take her word at face value, but the fact that the Doctor knows that he is being misled while trying to plant his own false narrative to protect his friends when events inevitably turn bad makes almost all of the first two episodes seem far too padded and meandering with little narrative thrust.

Fortunately, the script does become far more interesting once Reno’s previous actions and intentions are fully revealed. Riling the locals against the harmless alien in their midst as times grew tough for the miners, Reno led her colleagues down the worst possible road with the fear of discovery and any resulting punishment creating a constant guilt and need to keep these events contained and secret. To that end, the lives of the three visitors are forfeit to her, and she is just as comfortable using furtive sabotage to remain hidden as she is direct action when any hope of containing this story is lost. Being surrounded by humans as the enemy is certainly an intriguing element that adds an extra layer of tension and nuance to this final part, and Doctor Spencer mercifully gives voice to those who are willing to confront their part in the earlier affair to attempt to make amends in whatever small way possible, but this far more intriguing plot thread is kept from the fore from far too long while the Doctor tries to break through the deliberate obfuscation.

With no true twists, turns, or cliffhangers while the story tries to catch up to the Doctor’s knowledge that he is being misled, ‘Friendly Fire’ almost unquestionably would have been far more impactful, resonant, and balanced as a two-part tale. The performances are all strong as should be expected with Imogen Church and Alice Krige notable in support, and Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, and Janet Fielding excel in every scene together and apart to inject a sense of mystery and urgency throughout. However, the shallow and hesitant attempts of the locals to cover their tracks initially following even the smallest inquiry into Velar highlight the relatively candid and simple plot of this story that features little characterization and that will likely have little lasting impact despite concluding with easily the most dynamic of its three episodes.

This post was written by

1 Comment on "Friendly Fire"

  • Harry West

    This is the set that has finally ended my interest in Big Finish. it is so boring, so slow and so uninvolving that I am not wasting any more time on BF.
    Considering some of the great invention and brilliant stories they have brought us, this is just tedious

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.