Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Featuring: Tom Baker, lalla Ward, Matthew Waterhouse,
John Leeson, Samuel Blenkin, Samuel Clamens
Abigail McKern and Nicholas Woodeson
Original release date: February - 2020
Distributed by Big Finish
9.3 The Planet of Witches by Alan Barnes
"My turn for the brain scan is it? Izzy Whizzy let's get busy!"
Whilst attempting a detailed scan of E-Space, K9 detects the trail of a large spacecraft. Seeking a lead for their escape, the Doctor sets out on its trail towards a misty yellow planet.
Arriving just in time to witness a crash-landing in the planet’s swamps, the Doctor and his crew discover a number of escaping prisoners fleeing from someone claiming to be a Witch-finder... whilst terrifying ‘familiars’ float around them.
For this is the planet of the witches... and the witches may just know the way home.
The search for the CVE resumes in this third story of the fourth Doctor's 9th series with Big Finish. The Doctor, Romana Adric and K9 find themselves on a very damp planet where witches and witch-finders exist.
The fantastical elements of the plot are very well handled, and for a while the listener is almost fooled into believing that this is a world where magic actually exists, despite the Doctor's reasoning that it can't.
K9 has quite a key role, with John Leeson pretty much front and centre for the final quarter of the tale.
The supporting cast is excellent, with Abigail McKern's duplicitous Crone being the standout, her never ending cackling did grate a little though.
Of course, there is no magic, and everything is explained away nicely by the time the final credits kick in, but The Planet of Witches is a very enjoyable listen.
9.4 The Quest of the Engineer by Andrew Smith
"Beards!?!? Is that the only scientific qualification on this planet!?"
The TARDIS crew’s attempts to escape E-Space lead them to a strange planet with a surface that shifts and changes constantly.
Losing their ship down a fissure, they venture into the depths of this world and encounter the man who rules this place – a man known only as ‘the Engineer’. He tells them that he’s on a quest for illumination, and to find a rumored portal in space that may lead to another reality, with knowledge unknown in this universe.
It seems he may be on the same quest as the Doctor and his friends. But can he be trusted? And who is he really?
The big finale to this series is The Quest of the Engineer, where we join the Doctor mid-adventure, rescuing Adric from a prison cell, that leads them to a shapeshifting planet, that can literally turn itself inside out.
Nicholas Woodeson plays the titular Engineer with great relish, he makes for a perfect villain. I couldn't help though to think that his cyborg army The Enforcers could have easily been turned into E-Space's version of the Cybermen, which I think was a sadly missed opportunity.
It's a shame though that this grand finale was (for me) the weakest story of the four in this series, it just didn't quite gel with me.
Our four leads are all brilliant, and I'm happy to report that Matthew Waterhouse's Adric is on top form after a bit of a wobbly start in the previous two episodes.
Series 9 on the whole though was very enjoyable, if somewhat frustratingly repetitive in some aspects of the plot. K9 is 'lost without hope' at least twice. The Doctor and companions seem to get split up when one of them 'suddenly' needs to go back to the TARDIS, but none of this detracted too much from my enjoyment of revisiting one of my favourite eras of the show's classic era.
Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 9 Volume 2 is available from Big Finish HERE.