Starring David Tennant, Jane Slavin, Joe Sims, Juliet Aubrey, Nicholas Briggs, Maria Teresa Creasey, Mark Gatiss, Chris Jarman, Kevin McNally, Gemma Whelan
Written by John Dorney & Andrew Smith
Directed by Ken Bentley
Released by Big Finish - April 2021
***THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***
The pandemic has made so many ripples in our lives, and it has certainly affected the entertainment industry. But Big Finish may not be able to have everyone in their recording studios, but producing audio adventures just needs the actors to set up a microphone on their computer and maybe put some blankets over themselves to make the sound better. It also means that former Doctors who are also in demand actors (like Eccleston and Tennant) are suddenly more available for paid audio work.
Tennant’s schedule opening up allowed Big Finish to plan and record big multi-boxset adventures for the Tenth Doctor. Tennant had obviously joined Big Finish before, but his busy schedule meant he could fit in a small 3-episode boxset with Billie Piper or Catherine Tate. At any rate, releases for the Tenth Doctor have been limited and sporadic. But now that Tennant is stuck at home and needs paying work? Big Finish is able to nab him for some big stuff.
So here, in Buying Time, The Tenth Doctor is picked out of time, away from the TARDIS, and is somehow pulled back to before the Time War. He is quickly teamed with Anya Kingdom and Mark Seven, as they try to avoid getting eaten by invisible monsters, and try and figure out the mystery of some odd time-shifting business. This leads then to a businessman trying to sell time travel to anyone with enough money. And in the end, the Doctor gets fatally hurt…and begins to regenerate? You know it can’t be real because we all know what really happened, but maybe the timeline is completely messed up! At least it is fun.
The story picks up just as we left off in The Wrong Woman, in which the Doctor regenerates into a new female form. Anya and Mark struggle to keep this new Doctor on track in investigating Sheldrake, the man selling time travel (who somehow has a TARDIS powering his business). The big reveal and I just need to again warn of Spoilers, is that this new Doctor is not really the Doctor at all, but a female incarnation of the Meddling Monk, who tied the Doctor up and pretended to be him, then faked a regeneration so she could look like herself.
I don’t know if casting Mark Gattis as Sheldrake was a good move or not. As a villain using a TARDIS for a time destroying scheme, I kept expecting him to be the Master. But that wasn’t the case, and then the casting began to annoy me.
The set comes to an end with The House of Kingdom, which has the trio looking for the inventor of the Space Security Service time machine, hoping it would give the Doctor a route back to his own time and TARDIS, but after a pirate attack, they flee in an escape pod and end up rescued by Merrick Kingdom, Anya’s estranged grandfather. This one focuses more on the interpersonal conflict between Anya and her grandfather, but also has Mechonoids and Varga Plants being used to create a sort of weapon which could maybe be used to take out Dalek helpers like Ogrons or Robomen. But as you expect things get sticky. After things get really haywire, Merrick sacrifices himself to save Anya, and the trio is once again heading off with at least more info into who they need to find. Will they make it? A cliffhanger means it will likely be difficult!
I really liked this set. I was concerned that it was just another big Dalek heavy boxset or story. We’ve barely wrapped up the Time Lord Victorious story, and we are already plunging the Tenth Doctor into another big-time shenanigan Dalek-filled adventure? But that isn’t the case, the Daleks barely feature at all. It is, as was stated in the Behind the Scenes, more of a tribute to the various worlds created by Terry Nation within the Doctor Who Universe…so really any story he wrote are getting a chance to shine, not just his most famous creation. And that really works. The set is exciting and fun, and I enjoy the dynamics of this new trio. I look forward to more.