The Green Gift

Posted in Audio by - May 12, 2023
The Green Gift

Released May 2023


The latest of The Ninth Doctor Adventures sets, Pioneers, kicks off with Roy Gill’s ‘The Green Gift’ and the Doctor, Callen, and his talking canine Doyle landing on The Greenwood, a vast spaceship nearing the end of the its journey to revitalize a ravaged Earth. The Doctor knows that such a long journey must come with a cost, however, and he soon discovers that much more than just the greatest works of Earth have been saved aboard this ship.

Callen and Doyle made an immediate impact in the preceding story and brought with them immense narrative possibilities after the previous devastation they had to endure. As such, it’s quite interesting to note that while the Doctor is looking uncover any hidden secrets about this ship that is founded upon such a noble premise, he is likewise looking to see if this is a safe place for Callen and Doyle to continue their lives without him and that it is, in fact, worthy of them joining. He is clearly quite fond of these two travelers, and Adam Martyn and Harki Bhambra make the two instantly likeable with an engaging mixture of honour and fun, but the slight mystery fueling this shift in character as he looks to part from his companions receives an immense payoff when he finally admits that he is not ready to open his entire life up to friends just yet so soon after the harrowing events of the Time War. The Ninth Doctor on audio has thus far been written as a slightly lighter version of the burdened version on screen who slowly came to open up to Rose and others, and so this piece of introspection is a firm reminder of just how much this character has also been through and how much it all still weighs on his soul.

Of course, Callen and Doyle likewise must have a reason to want to leave the Doctor after waxing lyrical about their previous unseen adventures alongside him, and Maddison Bulleyment as Tay Lothlor is brilliant as the excited and dedicated denizen of this generational ship who is so committed to her role in eventually saving Earth even if she herself will never see it. A natural chemistry among these actors quickly develops as they discover certain dangers that have begun to build up on the ship, and the mutual love and respect between humans and canines alike assuredly will lead to a happy and noble life together for this unlikely grouping given their shared passions and perseverance. It genuinely is unfortunate that these characters will not have more time aboard the TARDIS to more fully develop and to lend their optimism and honesty to what are often quite serious proceedings, but they have nonetheless left an impact both on this series and on the Doctor during their brief tenure.

Naturally, the Doctor is correct with his suspicions that this ship is not quite the flawless beacon of hope it claims to be, and Christopher Eccleston gives a wonderful performance as the Doctor continues to press Fiacra for information about how the ship functions and adapts its energy usage to changes in space around it, how she expects to manage the continually dwindling resources of this closed environment, what the purported gift for Earth is, and even the true goal of their mission. The constant questions continue to layer a degree of unease and uncertainty to belie the gleaming veneer and optimism of this ship’s stated intent, and although Louise Jameson is not given an immensely nuanced role even as the Doctor discovers the pervasive influence of a force from the past, she provides a strong and confident counter to the Doctor who is assured in her decisions no matter how the ideals of this ship have been compromised and individuals exploited to fuel its mission’s continuation. And although title of the piece does provide a hint, the strong connections to ‘The Green Death’ regarding enemies and organisms alike are surprisingly well-incorporated and provide a strong sense of interconnectedness to the Doctor Who universe while highlighting the strength of human spirit and the jaded short-thinking and selfish nature that can run rampant within capitalism. ‘The Green Gift’ is not necessarily a story that breaks new ground or that develops its supporting characters in too much painstaking detail, but the fascinating premise and the dark secret at the core of the ship’s flight plan as well as the strong performances and indomitable optimism that never relents no matter how grave and dangerous the revelations become help to create an engrossing and wholly enjoyable tale that will hopefully lead to the Ninth Doctor continuing to open up more about himself and his past for Big Finish’s stories.

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