Posted in Audio by - September 16, 2022

Released September 2022


The lockdowns implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 foundationally altered the way of life for everyone, restricting traditional social and professional activities in turn but in some cases providing openings for new means of work and discourse. Big Finish, of course, has masterfully navigated in-person restrictions through the advent of at-home recordings and an amazing effort from everyone involved, and the latest fruits of those labours is Tenth Doctor Classic Companions that sees David Tennant’s beloved incarnation cross paths with K9, Leela, Nyssa, and Ace as the two distinct televised eras of Doctor Who boldly collide.

In John Dorney’s ‘Splinters,’ the Doctor finds K9 floating in space as a blip shows him a glimpse of a previous console room design. Guarding a weak spot in reality at Romana’s request, K9 accompanies the Doctor to a forested planet whereupon the two are saved by none other than Leela who has taken up residence among these more primitive villagers. This is a village ravaged by the Spriggan as told of in Cornish folklore, a creature who takes mortal children at the age of eighteen and leaves changelings in their place. Within this backdrop, tensions are always at a high, and the battles against trees and nature itself as the Doctor attempts to piece together the rules that this creature plays by is amplified by superb imagery and sound design that imbue a stirring fairy tale quality to this story that Leela’s opening and closing monologues frame.

Trying to understand just where he is in Leela’s timeline given her age and that he last saw her as the Lady of Obsidian in the Time War, the Doctor makes plenty of references to their time together in the TARDIS including a brief but poignant discussion about her departure for Andred. David Tennant is a self-professed fan of classic Doctor Who, and the excitement he brings to this reunion is infectious and captures all of the needed emotions as his Doctor slowly comes to understand the scope of the threat before him after willingly looking past a few disconcerting details. Tennant, of course, has acted beside K9 before on screen, and here the Doctor uses words in a very literal sense to ensure that K9 is integral to the solution without running afoul of the Spriggan’s rules and allowances for outsiders to advance. John Leeson is always superb as this fateful companion, and he effortlessly fits into the Tenth Doctor era as K9 tries to make sense of the available information within his own frame of reference. Likewise, Louise Jameson who has so perfected the more mature Leela through her years with Big Finish masterfully brings forth a weightiness to her performance that hints at the losses she has experienced through the years while still maintaining her overall sense of enthusiasm, optimism, and determination. There is every sense within minutes that is a well-established TARDIS team given how effortlessly the three combine to advance their characters’ investigations and how brilliant the emotional chemistry between Tennant and Jameson is, an impressive feat that fully capitalizes on the unique potential of Doctor Who and that expertly highlights the high quality of writing and acting on display.

Of course, the Tenth Doctor is a veteran of the devastation of the Time War and continues to confront and to come to terms with the repercussions of his actions, and so it’s fitting in a sense that an aberrant and splintered version of himself that crash landed here is to blame. Tennant puts on a chilling voice that retains an eerie essence of the Doctor to bring this foe to life, and the Spriggan’s ability to control this world and to incorporate even the Doctor’s use of the TARDIS into his scheme is an intensely evocative scene that powerfully showcases the true power he possesses. The Spriggan’s integration of key visuals and of Leela herself all successfully tie the unique elements of this story together and provide an emotional dip into the Doctor’s long past without stepping on any established continuity while also hinting at the unknowable vastness of the Time War’s effects. ‘Splinters’ is strong enough as the fairy tale come to life it sets out to be, but the gradual building to and foreshadowing of those final twists makes it altogether more successful and a great start to this latest set of The Tenth Doctor Adventures.

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