The Eighth Doctor: The Time War Series 3Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 8 September 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Time War - Series 3 (Credit: Big Finish)
Writer: Matt Fitton, Lisa McMullin, Roland Moore, & John Dorney
 
 Director: Ken Bentley
 
Featuring: Paul McGannRakhee Thakrar, Adele Anderson, Michael Jayston

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

Released: August 2018

Running Time: 5 hours

The latest Big Finish boxset starring Paul McGann is the third entry in the Time War series.  This time, The Eighth Doctor and his companion Bliss face off against Multiverses, Planets ravaged by the Time War, A Survivor of an Alien Race meant to be entirely erased from history, and the unexpected return of the Valeyard! 

The story begins with a strong vehicle for Rakhee Thakrar's character Bliss (State of Bliss).  This is good because this is the third boxset, and I still feel like I hardly know the character.  Too often she feels like someone for the Doctor to talk to.  No more, no less.  This episode gives her a lot to do, and she carries the whole thing.  Unfortunately, this episode is not a sign of things to come, because for  the rest of the set she feels sidelined into the "generic companion" role.  It's a shame, because it feels like if the writers had any real character with Bliss, Thakrar is clearly capable of pulling it off. But the opener is the only story in this set that gives her any depth.  It's one thing McGann's other ongoing boxset has over the Time War series, Liv and Helen have personalities. They aren't my favorite companions, not even for the Eighth Doctor, but they seem to have some depth written into the characters that Bliss mostly lacks.  Still, this is a fine episode to open the set because like anything Time War related should, it really explores the consequences of the War.

So to does the second entry, The Famished Lands, which dives into a planet which has been turned upside down as a side effect of the Time War.  It's a planet that has limited resources of it's own, and relied on trade to thrive...but the Time War has cut off their supplies, and society has broken down.  A story like this, where the Eighth Doctor has to try and help a troubled world effected by the actions of his own people...well that is exactly what I want from this particular series.

The third entry is Fugitive in Time, and in order to help the people of that planet, the Doctor does a favor for Major Tamasan of the Time Lords...if he helps her, she will help out the little planet he wants to save.  But of course her mission isn't so easy.  They are meant to track down an alien whose race was meant to be entirely erased from History by the Time Lords, find out why she survived and make sure she joins the rest of her race.  This doesn't really gel with the Doctor's usual modus operandi, so it gives him some moral quandary to deal with. 

The set closes out with The War Valeyard which sees the return of Michael Jayston to the role, but this time he believes himself to be the Doctor, fighting the Time War on the front lines...though he seems to be battling himself, caught in a time loop.  The Eighth Doctor is of course concerned by his very existence, as he believed he had wiped him out when his Sixth Incarnation had regenerated.  This is a very entertaining end to the set, and it is always fun to hear Jayston's voice. 

On the whole, I'd say this is a pretty stellar set. It has good stories, good acting, and fun Time War concepts.  If I had a complaint, it is that beyond the opener, Bliss doesn't have nearly anything to do.  Maybe that is why she carries so much of the opener, they knew they were going to waste her in every story that followed. But even with that complaint, there is a lot to like in this set. 

 

 

 






Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Adventures - Vol 5Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 31 August 2019 - Reviewed by Damian Christie
Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Adventures - Vol 5

Stars: Tim Treloar, Katy Manning, Jon Culshaw,
Daisy Ashford, John Levene, Michael Troughton,
Bethan Dixon Bate, Joe Jameson, Andrew Wincott,
Rosalyn Landor, David Dobson, Dominic Wood, Guy Adams
Written by John Dorney and Guy Adams
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Big Finish Productions, 2019

“Run free, my children, run free! Spread out! Soon everyone in England will be a Primord!”

With the recent centenary of Jon Pertwee’s birth, it would probably amaze the actor that his work is still celebrated today. The Season 10 classic series Blu-Ray boxset of Doctor Who has recently been launched, highlighting both Pertwee’s Third Doctor and the “UNIT family”: Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates) and John Levene (Sergeant Benton). It’s the third season in what was a hugely successful Doctor/support team for the program (1971-73) – and would also signal the beginning of the end of the Pertwee era.

Big Finish has complemented the timing of the Blu-Ray release with Volume 5 of The Third Doctor Adventures, featuring two further additions to the “Pertwee canon”. As a regular listener and reviewer of the Big Finish Doctor Who range, until now I’ve largely avoided the “further adventures” of the first three Doctors, preferring to focus on later incarnations and modern series content. There has probably been an element of snootiness involved there – as much as I’m a child of the Seventies (the Pertwee era of Doctor Who is the earliest I can remember), I was sceptical of serials with other actors recreating the roles of late, iconic performers like Pertwee and Courtney.

For example, I’ve enjoyed Jon Culshaw’s impressions for more than a decade but could he really do Courtney justice and recreate the Brigadier? I mean, Kamelion, yes, but the Brig? And who was this Tim Treloar bloke that he qualified to succeed the great Pertwee as the Third Doctor? Never mind that a rudimentary search of the Big Finish website reveals Treloar has done quite a lot of work for the company’s output and that on IMDB he’s been a long-time thesp in TV and film, clocking up appearances on The Bill, Foyle’s War, Silent Witness, Father Brown and Call the Midwife, as well as a cameo in Disney blockbuster Maleficent! Strangely, I’ve never before had any issue with the recasting of the First Doctor on television (both Richard Hurndall and David Bradley) but clearly when it came to BF’s recasting of earlier Doctors, I had more of a bugbear than I realised!

I’m therefore pleased to report that my doubts and scepticism were horribly misplaced. Not only do Treloar and Culshaw deliver outstanding portrayals of the Third Doctor and the Brigadier but the two stories that make up this set – Primord and The Scream of Ghosts – are very faithful to the tone of the writing of the period and wonderfully evocative of the Pertwee era, particularly in their use of sound effects and incidental music. The inclusion of Manning (in both tales) and Levene (in The Scream of Ghosts), both portraying their parts in a youthful manner that’s in spite of their true age, further cements the impression that these two tales could very plausibly (with some minor exceptions) have neatly slotted into the Pertwee era.

John Dorney’s Primord is an indirect sequel to the early Pertwee classic Inferno. As Dorney points out in the CD extras, the Primords in the original TV serial were largely surplus to the greater parallel universe/apocalyse scenario. They served as the generic “monster of the week”, memorable for their faux hairy make-up and canines, but with little development whatsoever. In this tale, Dorney seeks to make the creatures more three-dimensional and empathetic – the Primords are all pawns in a greater scheme by quarters of the British political and military brass and at least two of them are originally people that mean something to companions Jo and Liz Shaw (Daisy Ashford, recreating her mother Caroline John’s character).

There is also an implied intelligence and cunning to the Primords that only becomes evident as the broader story takes shape – and is exhibited by the most unexpected of antagonists. It’s a great twist that propels the plot further along in the third and fourth episodes after a gradual build-up in the first two instalments.

The performances of the supporting cast in Primord all contribute to an outstanding script and production. Michael Troughton (the other son of Second Doctor Patrick) relishes the opportunity to play the villainous General Sharp, while Bethan Dixon Bate is the amoral defence secretary Lady Madeleine Rose whose political ambitions clearly override any consideration for the welfare of the Primords or the victims of their weaponisation.

But again, in a story where all but one of the four major characters has been recast, it is Ashford’s turn as Liz that is particularly impressive. Ashford’s voice is almost indistinguishable from her mother’s, in a way that Treloar’s is not from Pertwee’s nor Culshaw’s from Courtney’s; Treloar and Culshaw at times sound very much like the Doctor and the Brigadier but there are other times when their natural inflections inevitably creep in. That’s not as noticeable with Ashford – perhaps that’s the advantage of being related – but Liz’s role in the story also benefits from the twist in her regular characterisation. This no doubt gives Ashford some more freedom with her interpretation, whereas Treloar’s and Culshaw’s portrayals have to be largely consistent with type.

Another highlight of Primord is the pairing of the Brigadier and Jo Grant – which, to the best of my knowledge, never happened on TV! – as they investigate Sharp’s operation while the Doctor works with Liz on a cure to the Primord virus. Culshaw and Manning make this combination work so well that they literally become the heroes of the story in the Doctor’s absence, particularly as events escalate and they stand as the only true levels of resistance to Sharp and the broader Primord threat. You never truly doubt that it is the Brigadier and Jo that you are listening in on.

“Harmonise the signal …”

The Brigadier and Jo are briefly paired together during the proceedings of Guy Adams’ The Scream of Ghosts but rather than split off, the regulars in the Doctor/UNIT family are switched and swapped numerous times throughout the plot. Sergeant Benton, for example, has a nice moment of introspection with the Doctor as he relates how his absence of a social life outside of UNIT prompted him to join a group of CB radio enthusiasts from around the world to broaden his horizons. It’s a wonderful moment of rare sincerity glimpsed in Benton and it is deftly delivered by John Levene, performing the part for the first time in these Third Doctor dramatisations.

Big Finish, being the specialist that it is, has throughout its 20 years of delivering Doctor Who for audio done some wonderfully inventive things with sound, dating back to early instalments like Justin Richards’ Whispers of Terror (1999). The Scream of Ghosts also imaginatively utilises sound as a core plot point. Guy Adams explains in the CD extras that his script is evocative of sound in a great many forms – it embraces the concept of hauntology (ie of structures capturing and evoking atmosphere and sound), explores early developments in mobile telephony through arrogant and capricious scientist Professor Caldicott (Rosalyn Landor) and her assistant Armitage (David Dobson), and, in aspiring musician Warren Deckland (Dominic Wood), portrays the general fascination of instrumentalists since the Sixties and Seventies with experimental music and sound, including musique concrète.

In many ways, the story is quite self-referential, given Doctor Who’s iconic theme tune and experimental, electronic sound effects were themselves products of some outstanding young minds (eg Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgkinson). Warren even closes out the story by mixing the theme tune when the Doctor leaves him with recordings of the story’s very own extra-terrestrial menace – a “cheat” that was effectively used by the TV program occasionally in the Pertwee era to bridge its own cliffhangers!

As a tale, The Scream of Ghosts is entertaining “Pertwee fare”, with an old TV foe (familiar to us as listeners, not necessarily the Doctor) rearing its ugly head. This particular alien race was pretty underwhelming on TV, and indeed has remarkably enjoyed more of a charmed life in Doctor Who spin-off fiction than they’ve probably deserved (I must admit to being staggered by their multiple appearances in other Big Finish stories). Adams’ own renditions of the enemy are unsurprisingly full of their trademark volume and pomposity but unfortunately the prior baggage of their lone TV appearance (for this listener, at least) continues to undermine whatever menace and authority they have. Even the Primords, by comparison, don’t suffer in the same way, even though they arguably were the weakest link in Inferno too.

It’s a pity because were the antagonist more convincing and sinister, The Scream of Ghosts would probably be a great – rather than just a good – serial. Certainly, it’s spooky and atmospheric in parts, playing on many of the insecurities in viewers/listeners that the Pertwee era was very good at exploiting, eg electronic poltergeists that beg for help, static-filled TV sets that seemingly swallow up their owners and unnerving voices that talk through inactive earpieces. As it is, it is just edged out by Primord as the better of the two tales.

Given the writers of both serials have kindly story doctored the other’s work, another intriguing and enjoyable aspect of this boxset is the loose continuity between them. Gender politics and diversity are very strongly felt in both tales, with Jo remarking that between meeting Liz in Primord and Caldicott in Ghosts, she is getting used to suddenly meeting more women with scientific credentials!

Given both stories are0 set in the Seventies, there is an acknowledgement that women were only beginning to be trailblazers (Daisy Ashford remarks in the extras that even her own mother Caroline John did not realise that as Liz she paved the way for more positive female role models). Liz complains that despite her prior knowledge of the Primord virus, she was approached second for expert advice. Similarly, Caldicott has spent a decade proving that her work in mobile telephony is valid, to the scepticism of a male-dominated telecommunications establishment; she therefore doesn’t take kindly to being lectured by a “patriarch in a cape” when the Doctor admits that he was not aware of her work largely because he knows (from future knowledge) that the real advances in mobile phone technology will occur in America, not England.

The difference between Liz and Caldicott, though, is that the former does not take either chauvinism or a lack of appreciation for her scientific prowess too personally; she continues to work at her best, in spite of the glass ceiling. Caldicott, on the other hand, is clearly bitter and frustrated with her lack of progress over a significant period of time and is consequentially hostile to both men and women alike.

It’s also great to see Jo herself, despite her unsuccessful O-levels in elementary school science, proving that you don’t need a super IQ to save the world. In Primord, Jo is a little intimidated by Liz’s scientific prowess but in Ghosts there is no one the Doctor trusts more to save the day – and the planet. Indeed, in a nod to Doctor Who serials of the modern era, Jo becomes literally and figuratively the most important person on Earth, even giving the antagonist the Doctor’s usual ultimatum of a last chance to stand down or suffer total defeat. To reinforce that she doesn’t have the Doctor’s near omnipotence, there’s a nice scene where she turns to UNIT’s original Osgood (from The Daemons) for advice.

There are other nice little touches of continuity between the serials as well. Jo’s affection for dogs is referenced in both tales – the characters of Private Callahan (Joe Jameson) and Warren have four-legged friends. There’s even a joke in Ghosts about (to quote Culshaw’s Brigadier) “damn fool fire extinguishers” when UNIT’s finest are assaulted by one – they are also the “weapon of choice” in fighting the Primords. While Primord and The Scream of Ghosts can be enjoyed independently of the other, they feature “Easter eggs” that enhance the listening experience.

The Third Doctor Adventures Vol 5 is a highly pleasurable listening experience, and a good introduction for listeners (like me) that have until now eschewed this “continuation” of the Pertwee era. In all, this set of serials not only successfully recaptures the nostalgia of the Third Doctor’s tenure extremely well – both through the music and sound effects, and the exceptional performances of Pertwee’s, Courtney’s and John’s surrogates – it also highlights just how unforgiving, sexist and regressive the Seventies could be on matters of gender equality and diversity. To the BF production team’s credit, it tackles these issues without putting on the “rose-tinted spectacles” while maintaining the “feel” and atmosphere of the Pertwee era.






The Eighth Doctor: The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 17 August 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Eighth Doctor: The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller (Credit: Big Finish)
Starring Paul McGann & Sheridan Smith
Written by Nicholas Briggs, Alice Cavender, Eddie Robson, & Alan Barnes
Directed by Nicholas Briggs

Released by Big Finish - July 2019

Once upon a time, it was not as accepted to be a nerd in the mainstream.  In college, I was slowly rediscovering my love for such nerdy things as Star Trek, when I discovered Doctor Who. Tennant was still the Doctor, just about to start his second series in the role, and I watched and rewatched his debut series and then the preceding one with Eccleston over and over again.  But because being a nerd was still not something that people proudly declared to the world, I would tell myself that I only liked the new series, I wasn't someone who would get sucked into that old show. Of course, I got sucked in and went back and watched the entire classic run as well. But I'd never be such a nerd that I'd listen to those audio stories.  

But Big Finish released the first adventures with Lucie Miller, and for whatever reason, I gave them a listen.  They were easily digestible, made in the style of the new series, and they had a Doctor that hadn't much of a TV run, so why not listen to these stories to see if maybe beyond his rather bad movie he could actually be good.  And McGann was great...and Lucie Miller was a fun companion to have along for the ride.  Eventually, I gave up trying to convince myself I wasn't "that big of a nerd" and just listened to the whole back catalogue of Eighth Doctor adventures, starting with Storm Warning on, and I became a massive fan of anything Eighth Doctor.  But every time a new series with Lucie Miller came out, I was always ready and excited.  As good as some of the early Charley stuff was, as good as epic boxsets that have come out since can be...nothing comes close to the Lucie Miller run in terms of consistent quality for me.  

Sheridan Smith has returned for this boxset, set in between her first and second series, and it sees her reunion with the McGann, eight years since Lucie departed in To the Death. In the set the get trapped in a black hole with some confused Daleks, take down an evil mega-corporation with Roller Derby, help some people trapped in a warped Downton Abbey nightmare planet, and finally take on the return of the evil Fendahl.  It's a fun set, and while all the stories are fun and well written, it is the return of Smith and McGann's rapport that is the star of the show.  They play off each other well, and they don't feel like they have missed much of a beat.

If you were a fan of the Lucie Miller era of the Eighth Doctor audio adventures, you no doubt want to get this already.  As a sampler for new fans looking to dip their toe in with the duo, it is decent.  I think it probably more fun for fans who already loved this team.  If you really want to see if you like them together, I suggest just starting with their first series.  Obviously, it is more cost-effective to buy this, and if you want a taste of this dynamic I can tell you that it does not rely heavily on continuity, and you won't be lost. 






9.5. Doctor Who - Short Trips: Under ODIN's EyeBookmark and Share

Friday, 2 August 2019 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
Under ODIN's Eye (Credit: Big Finish)
Narrated by: Nocola Bryant;
Written by: Alice Cavender
Directed by: Helen Goldwyn  

 

Sad about your local market shutting down? Don’t worry about it! Come on down to ODIN Megastore, where we have everything you’ll ever need. Enjoy our Hygge atmosphere. Browse stylish new ODIN wardrobes. Relax with friends on our new ODIN sofas. Friends gone missing? Meet new ones at our food-hall, where you can chill out and live happily ever after.

Welcome to ODIN Megastore, where everything is for sale. Even your planet.

For me, at some point during the sixth Doctor's tenure, the show started to feel a bit embarrassing to watch. I would have been in my mid teens, and moving away from more 'childish' things. However revisiting the series years later, I have a fondness for Colin Baker's Doctor. 

In Alice Cavender's latest Big Finish entry, he is about as loud and abrasive as he got. Full of puffed up self importance and ego. Prime sixth Doctor then!

The Doctor takes Peri to what he remembers as a quiet, unspoilt little planet. Full of old fashioned markets, and friendly locals. When they arrive he sees that all of this has changed, thanks to the giant ODIN Megastore, somewhere that sells anything you could possibly want. As always things aren't quite what they seem, and there is of course an alien threat behind the new retail conglomerate.

Under ODIN's Eye is a thinly veiled swipe at consumer giants such as IKEA and Amazon. It's an enjoyable enough story, played out perfectly by the wonderful Nicola Bryant, who captures Peri and the blustering sixth Doctor perfectly.....however I did prefer Kablam!

Under ODIN's Eye is available from Big Finish HERE.






Doctor Who - Short Trips 9.6: The Same FaceBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Same Face (Credit: Big Finish)
Narrator: Katy Manning
Written by: Julian Richards
Director: Nicholas Briggs

No one survives in politics on Samael. Felicity Morgan has learnt this the hard way, as she keeps being assassinated. However, she has a secret. A secret that has kept her alive. A secret that has propelled her to the top job. When the Doctor and Jo arrive on Samael, they learn the impossible truth.

One woman. One face. Many lives.

The story for The Same Face is a third Doctor classic template. An alien government in crisis - with the Doctor turning up just in the nick of time. I must admit to rolling my eyes a little when I started listening to the story unfold, thinking to myself how unoriginal it was.

Then something happened that gave the story a much-needed kick up the rear end, something that perhaps I should have seen coming, but didn't....and THEN well, the least said about that big second twist, the better!

In short, The Same Face takes a (very) well-worn plot and adds a lot of magic to it. What also helps is that Katy Manning is on ABSOLUTE top form, slipping back into Jo Grant with startling ease. I expected the character to sound different with age, but no, not at all.

Julian Richards has created a mini-masterpiece with this story. An absolute gift to fans of this era that was an absolute joy to listen to.

The Same Face is available from Big Finish HERE.

 






The Legacy Of Time - Big Finish - 20th Anniversary SpecialBookmark and Share

Sunday, 28 July 2019 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley

“Brave heart…….ermmmm……all of me…?”

 

The Legacy of Time is an epic six-part adventure, celebrating 20 years of Doctor Who at Big Finish!

Time is collapsing. Incidents of chaos and devastation are appearing throughout the lives of one Time Lord and his many friends – all fallout from one terrible disaster. From Earth’s past and present to timeless alien worlds, from the cloisters of Gallifrey into the Vortex itself….The Doctor must save universal history – and he needs all the help he can get.

 

Lies In Ruins by James Goss

At the opening of Lies in Ruins, we join River Song (Alex Kingston) and her team excavating some ruins, only to find that one Bernice Somerfield (Lisa Bowerman) had beaten her to it. It seems that the ruins lie on a mysterious planet, a planet that until very recently didn't exist. The planet is rich with ruined temples and towers…as well as ghosts from the past. 

Not being able to resist a mystery, the pair are joined by the eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and new companion Ria (Alexandria Riley). Between the four of them, they discover the identity of the planet, while at the same time fending off a rather ruthless salvage attempt.

Lies in Ruins is a story that is jam-packed with action. It hits the ground running, and doesn't let up that rather frantic pace. I found the plot with its slow reveals quite intriguing, and was genuinely surprised with the final twist as to what the new planet actually was.

My one gripe would be Ria. She really grates, and yes, this is a part of the plot - but did they really need to make her quite so unlikeable?

 

The Split Infinitive by John Dorney

The Counter-Measures team are investigating a gangster who seems to be aging people to death. Without warning, they are visited by Ace (Sophie Aldred)  and the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), who are investigating a very strange, temporal anomaly  The twist is that Ace is visiting them in the 1960's and the Doctor in the 1970's.

Once again, things unfold at breakneck speed. I'm beginning to wonder if it is because there is simply so much to cram into these stories!

The plot device of having the narrative split across two time zones is a great idea, especially when the story relating to the earlier time zone needs to play out in order to see how the later time zone will deal with any ramifications, which is probably the dictionary definition of timey-wimey.

What really stood out for me though was Howard Carter's music. It had a proper old school jazz vibe about it, quite unique, and something that went well with the story.

 

The Sacrifice Of Jo Grant by Guy Adams

In the present Jo Grant (Katy Manning), Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) and Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) are investigating a spate of wormholes, when Jo and Kate are inadvertently sucked into one and deposited in the middle of a UNIT adventure from the 1970’s (or is it the 1980’s). This lends itself to quite a touching reunion between the much older Jo Grant and the third Doctor (here voiced by Tim Treloar). We also find that Kate Stewart’s father is contactable on the other end of a radio link – will she take this opportunity to talk to him? 

Sadly, it is with Kate’s dilemma on whether to contact her father where the story falls down. I found the writing that shows Kate ‘agonising’ over whether to contact the Brigadier to be incredibly trite – it just seemed so out of character, and I just didn’t buy it.

Despite that, I think The Sacrifice of Jo Grant is my favourite of this collection. It is after all a classic Pertwee tale of holes in time and dinosaurs.

Let’s address the title of this segment. The story starts with a voiceover declaring Jo Grant dead and a hero, so we know straight away where this story is going – does it fulfil its promise – I’ll let you find out.

 

Relative by Matt Fitton

Relative is a rather light-hearted story (and a great play on words), with the fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) thrown together with his (future) daughter Jenny (Georgia Tennant). It's also the first story in the set to truly try to bring together some of the dangling plot threads that might prove a link to the previous entries. 

It seems that a TARDIS has exploded and is creating some sort of temporal event. The TARDIS is forced to materialise on a ship full of tourists…and a stowaway, Jenny. There’s a lot of humour to be mined from the situation especially when Jenny keeps referring to the fifth Doctor her “Great, great, great, great, great Gramps”, much to his obvious annoyance.

The Sirens are introduced to the story arc here (previously seen in Sirens of Time). These are creatures that feed on temporal energy and positively feast on a paradox…..and space tourists. The kleptomaniac Time Lord the Nine (John Heffernan) is also thrown into the mix to complicate the Doctor and Jenny’s rescue attempt.

Ultimately the story is quite throw away, but at least by the end of it, the listener starts to have a good idea of what might be going on.

 

The Avenues of Possibility by Jonathan Morris

When DI Patricia Menzies (Anna Hope) is called to a case where a man has seemingly stumbled out of the eighteenth century, things appear to be getting strange. When that man then asks for the Doctor, she knows something is very wrong.  Of course, the sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)  and Charlotte Pollard (India Fisher) are at hand to help. It appears that Earth is peppered with faults in time. There are wormholes that connect to possible futures and probable pasts everywhere.

Things are then further complicated when one possible future, where Britain is a dictatorship suddenly takes an interest in invading its own past, creating a huge paradox that attracts the attention of the Sirens, meaning that time itself could be torn apart.

Jonathan Morris has created an interesting take on a paradox with The Avenues of Possibility, which is another strong entry into this celebratory box set which really delivers the goods. The writing is slick and very clever, and well delivered by a very strong cast.

 

Collision Course by Guy Adams

Now we come to the grand finale. A fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), Leela (Louise Jameson) and Romana (Lalla Ward) adventure split across two time periods, and two versions of the same planet. A planet that is steeped in Time Lord legend, and where the first-ever TARDIS had it's very first test flight with rather disastrous results. It'll take at least six Time Lords to save the day (and maybe a couple of others just for good measure). Where ever could we find them?

I found Collision Course, for the most part to be the weakest of six stories included in this set. I think mainly because of the way the action is split (again) across two time periods, everything after a while blurs together. There is also a lot of technobabble, and some very earnest monologues, describing how dire the situation is, and how there can be no resolution.

Collision Course also features the money shot that we have all been waiting for, and that is the payoff of having multiple Doctors in the same room, bickering away about their own self-importance.

So, here is the thing with The Legacy Of Time, I was looking for a proper multi-Doctor story, and yes, I got it for about 10 minutes of the 480 plus minute run time. However, I wanted more. As a sum of it's parts the overall story is very enjoyable and included some iconic characters that were solely the creation of Big Finish......but  I felt as if I was a bit short-changed by the lack of Doctor on Doctor action. I understand that this is Big Finish's huge 20 year finale - and that is truly a wondrous milestone to hit. But there could have been a lot more interaction between the Doctors.

I appreciate that there is a lot of celebration going on. With odd pairings of companions past and present and some nice, unexpected cameos from others, but - this story is nearly forty quid! That’s a lot of money. Rest assured, The Legacy of Time is no Zagreus (thank goodness), but it could have been a better celebration, maybe by pairing some Doctors together with the companions?

Overall, a very good effort, all expertly directed by Ken Bentley, and as mentioned previously, as individual stories, very enjoyable. But as a multi-Doctor epic? Not quite so much.