The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles: Geronimo!

Posted in Audio by - October 11, 2022
The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles: Geronimo!

Released October 2022


Freshly out of retirement, the Eleventh Doctor has dedicated himself to finding Clara Oswald and preventing the woman who has died twice from doing so again in the latest instalment of The Doctor Chronicles, Geronimo!

Alfie Shaw opens this set with ‘The Inheritance’ which introduces new companion Valarie Lockwood as the Doctor visits Earth of the fifty-fourth century. This is a world owned by the Fulcrum Corporation and fronted by Arabella Hendricks, and Research Rig 6 has been closed and isolated for months since the discovery of a lethal plague. With the Doctor a known quantity due to his UNIT files even if his help here is predicated upon delivery of information on Clara Oswald, Arabella selects cybernetic engineer Valarie to assist him in finding a cause and cure for this outbreak. In due course, the two discover that currency itself is at the root of this society’s problems, a plague that affects the richest members of society first and one that takes on an altogether more personal tone for Valarie as a lottery win continues to work its way through her family as subsequent inheritances are accepted. Safiyya Ingar makes an instant impression as this young and cybernetically-enhanced woman who finds herself in a race against time to save her family, and she imbues a commendable sense of intelligence, sensibility, and genuine empathy to her performance to make Valarie a natural choice for the Doctor to eventually invite aboard the TARDIS. Mandi Symonds is likewise superb as Valarie’s mother, Patricia, and the relationship presented here is utterly believable and a strong foundation for Valarie’s actions that likewise delivers the powerful emotions needed as Patricia cannot find a way around the delivery of her own inheritance. However, the suggestion that a mysterious and powerful client of Fulcrum brought this blight to Earth also provides an effective throughline for this set as a whole just as the capability of this disease to spread so quickly and to eradicate so completely provides a uniquely powerful threat for this particular story that revels in the unchecked power of greed and extortion as Fulcrum looks to maximize its profits by enticing everyone to spend as much as possible once the plague’s cause is made public. Of course, until Matt Smith is announced to be reprising his role for Big Finish, Jacob Dudman’s uncanny performance continues to set the standard for these audio adventures, and his immense chemistry with Ingar as well as the nuanced emotion he brings to the Eleventh Doctor who so capably flits between whimsy and earnestness perfectly set the scene for this look into this vital yet relatively unexplored era of the Eleventh Doctor’s life in which he is clearly so determined and unafraid of using threats to make sure the common good comes first.

‘The House of Masks’ by Georgia Cook presents Valarie with her first opportunity to travel away from her world, landing in Venice of the eighteenth century during Carnivale after the TARDIS is hijacked. Using the psychic paper to gain entrance to a masquerade ball, the Doctor and Valarie quickly find themselves embroiled in a deadly series of affairs as the Lady Sicura requests the Doctor’s help in finding Captain Tomasi who wants her dead and as Tomasi asks Valarie to help him kill Sicura to free everyone within the palazzo from imprisonment. The palazzo is filled with and is itself part of the further intrigue, however, and the two soon discover that this is a disguised spaceship hosting a party attended by robot facsimiles of crewmembers who have perished. This is a brilliant and visual idea that fits in well with the often ostentatious visuals of the Eleventh Doctor era, and it speaks to the possible emotional depth of an artificial intelligence and the profound resonance of personal loss as Sikura has done everything she can to- in her thought processes- save at least a vestige of those around her. Of course, Valarie is still coming to terms with the shocking loss of her mother in the previous story and the Doctor is still stinging from his own loss of the Ponds, and so the mutual understanding and empathy underlying the heightened emotions within this confined setting add a brilliant extra layer of nuance that each performer plays perfectly. Safiyya Ingar again makes an incredible impact as Valarie navigates her own tumultuous emotions amidst a world moving on without her loved one present, and Valarie’s very open and direct nature continues to impress as she eagerly steps outside of Fulcrum’s umbrella to truly experience life. Likewise, Jacob Dudman again gives an incredible performance as the Eleventh Doctor, tapping into the childlike wonder and grim determination of this incarnation exceptionally well in this latest trip to Venice that the sound design and music so vividly bring to life. The premise of ‘The House of Masks’ may not be quite as unique as the preceding story, but the prime supporting performances of Genevieve Gaunt and Fode Simbo help to create an immersive backdrop upon which Dudman and Ingar continue to excel as the Eleventh Doctor continues to develop for Big Finish.

The set concludes with the audaciously-titled ‘The End’ by Rochana Patel. Following an immensely intriguing setup in which Valarie arrives on a cattle transport ship and sees the Doctor barely saved from cardiac arrest before time loops back and the same events unfold with the heroes’ roles reversed, the two come to learn that a temporal parasite has chosen this ship to begin its spread through the cosmos anew now that the Time Lords are no more. The Doctor knows these time spiders from Time Lord legend since his people made it their mission to eliminate every single one as they appeared from the vortex throughout time, and he understands implicitly just how quickly they can replicate and cause untold damage through their ability to manipulate time itself around them. Of course, while these spiders are vividly realized through stunning sound design, creatures that cannot speak on audio implicity require a good amount of time with the characters simply speaking about the danger they pose; while this is necessary and doesn’t necessarily detract from the overall affair, it does mean that their motivations have to also be limited to what the Doctor expresses and so takes away from the potential of the spiders doing something even more ruthless or conniving. Nonetheless, the split timelines shown here are each equally engaging, and their eventual dovetailing helps to complete a fascinating experience that ranks amongst the Eleventh Doctor’s most ambitious. With the needed antitoxin unable to be synthesized and delivered in time, Jacob Dudman gives his typically superb performance as the Doctor who so desperately wants to avoid the loss of any more lives following his recent ordeals with the Ponds. The Doctor fully understands his obligations and the magnitude of the situation even as he allow his mind to wander while improvising possible courses of action to take, and his self-assuredness that is present right up until all hope is lost is proven to be justified when he outmanoeuvres the time loop trap to emerge victorious once more. Safiyya Ingar likewise cements Valarie’s status as a brilliant addition to the TARDIS, and her confidence, quick thinking, and shrewdness should continue to pay tremendous dividends for this range as she continues to cope with the loss of her mother and as the threat of a nefarious Time Lords looms large. It may have helped if the scope and scale of this story was reduced just a bit to allow the spiders themselves to focus more alongside their incredibly dangerous abilities, but ‘The End’ is a unique and suitably strong conclusion to this set that has again proven that Big Finish already has a firm grasp on the Eleventh Doctor era even in the absence of the original cast members.

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