The Eighth Doctor - Stranded 1 (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 23 August 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Stranded 1 (Credit: Big Finish)
Writer: Matt Fitton, John Dorney, Lisa McMullin, & David K Barnes
Director: Ken Bentley
 
Featuring: Paul McGann, Nicola WalkerHattie Morahan, Rebecca Root, Tom Price, & Tom Baker

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

Released June 2020

Running Time: 5 hours

Since at least 2007, the Eighth Doctor has been pretty much bouncing from one epic storyline to the next.  His adventures with Lucie Miller began his epic journey, where he had four series styled closer in tone and style to the revived version of the series, often ending in big epic finales.  This concluded with a big arc involving the Daleks and the Doctor facing great personal loss.  This led directly into the 4-set series Dark Eyes in which the Doctor yet again battled the Daleks (and eventually the Master) across time and space.  From there was the epics Doom Coalition and Ravenous.  While those have been his regular ongoing adventures, he has also starred in a series of sets set later in his timeline, once again in big epic adventures during the Time War.  Simply put, the Eighth Doctor has been put through the ringer.  He has been bouncing from big giant arc to big giant arc, and now, finally...things have quieted down a bit.  

The TARDIS has crash-landed on Earth in 2020 and has been depleted.  Right now it is just a box.So the Doctor, Liv, and Helen decide to take up shelter in the Doctor’s house on Baker Street...only they have found that it has been turned into a series of flats.  The Doctor being the owner has now become the Landlord.  Liv and Helen have attempted to take up the main duties of maintaining the building and the financial aspects...while the Doctor becomes reclusive and obsessed with fixing up the TARDIS (currently a seemingly impossible task).  Also featured is Tom Baker, who reprises his role as the mysterious Curator (from Day of the Doctor), who offers some mysterious warnings to Liv and Helen.  Lost Property really sets the tone for this new series. It is smaller, quieter, and it is genuinely refreshing.  I have enjoyed the big sets up to now, but you can only keep upping the ante so much before it becomes tiresome. This was definitely a necessary way to go at this point.  

In the second episode, Wild Animals, Liv has taken up a job in a shop in order to help pay the bills why the TARDIS team is stranded on Earth.  Sadly, she and her boss end up shot when a hold up goes awry. While Liv is recovering in hospital, her boss sadly doesn’t make it.  The Doctor then tries to make good on not keeping his friend safe by catching the shooter. But it is something of a wake-up call for the team.  They may not be in the midst of some big alien adventure with tons of explosions and lasers...but danger still lurks.  And the Doctor, who has been losing hope in this environment, hopes that solving the crime will alleviate his boredom.  But he doesn’t solve it.  The police beat him to it.  And he is finally forced to realize that he must start living...not just hiding away, wandering in the park moping.  

The Doctor is finally put into his element in Must-See TV when some sort of Alien tech is attached to several TVs of his tenants that appear to be spying on them.  There is also a mysterious new tenant called Mr. Bird, who is being very helpful with maintenance issues around the place...but also seems to be the cause of their alien spy tech.  Also involved in this episode is Sgt Andy Davison (from Torchwood), who is acting as a sort of liaison between Torchwood and Tania.  Tania is a resident of Baker Street who has begun a relationship with Liv, but also is working for Torchwood for some mysterious purpose. Torchwood seems to have her monitoring the Doctor, but she begins to suspect that who Torchwood is really after is Mr. Bird. 

The set comes to conclusion with Divine Intervention, which features aliens from the future who blame the Doctor for their future plight at the hands of Earth. It is a decent conclusion, which sets up threads for where this new series may lead, and ends with both a glimmer of hope that the TARDIS will return to its former glory someday, but also makes it clear that for now, the gang are stuck where they are.  

Stranded is the beginning of a new chapter for the Eighth Doctor, one that is far from the universe shattering epics he has been so present in for so long.  I definitely welcome this change of pace. Especially as the Eighth Doctor will continue to have his big epic adventures with Time War (which has at least one more installment coming next month).  But either way, it is nice to strip things way back, and focus in on the character stuff. I really enjoyed this.  It has a slower pace and less plot to keep track of...and in general it was just exactly what hte Eighth Doctor needed at this moment to keep from getting stale.