Doc­tor Who

Tra­di­tional com­pan­ions, un­fa­mil­iar Doc­tors

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Videogames/ miscellaneous -

We’re fast ap­proach­ing Big Fin­ish’s 200th regular monthly Doc­tor Who re­lease, and they’re cel­e­brat­ing with an au­dio tril­ogy that gives us some un­usual Doc­tor/ com­pan­ion line- ups. Each story will, in­trigu­ingly, pair com­pan­ions from the show’s early years with dif­fer­ent fu­ture Doc­tors.

The ac­tion be­gins with The De­fec­tors, as UNIT HQ is un­ex­pect­edly evac­u­ated and Jo Grant ( Katy Man­ning) is in­volved in a sin­is­ter ex­cur­sion to an army base on a de­serted is­land. On top of that, the Third Doc­tor has van­ished, to be re­placed by an enig­matic stranger who’s ac­tu­ally the Sev­enth Doc­tor ( Sylvester McCoy). The rea­son for this sub­sti­tu­tion re­mains a mys­tery for now, but the re­sult­ing ac­tion de­liv­ers a se­ries of well-han­dled con­cepts and twist along­side strong per­for­mances. The De­fec­tors is an en­ter­tain­ing adventure, but it’s most ef­fec­tive in the way it blends the ac­tion and mil­i­tary in­trigue of the Per­twee era with the darker, more am­bigu­ous edge of McCoy’s Doc­tor.

Else­where, the Tom Bak­er­star­ring Fourth Doc­tor ad­ven­tures con­tinue in Death Match, which picks up from the cliffhanger end­ing of Re­quiem For The Rocket Men. With Leela ( Louise Jame­son) hav­ing been ab­ducted by the Mas­ter, the Doc­tor and K- 9 set out to find her, but their quest leads them to a bru­tal kill- or- be- killed glad­i­a­to­rial con­test be­ing fought on a dis­tant space sta­tion – a con­test where Leela is now the un­de­feated cham­pion… Af­ter the pre­vi­ous adventure’s pulpy ex­cel­lence, this is a more familiar tale of SF com­bat which oc­ca­sion­ally over­plays its se­quences of armed com­bat­ants shout­ing at each other. The story is so in­her­ently vis­ual and ac­tion- based that it some­times feels like an awk­ward fit for au­dio, while many of the plot de­vel­op­ments are a lit­tle too pre­dictable. How­ever, while gen­uine sur­prises are in short sup­ply, there’s still a touch­ingly emo­tional fi­nale, and ex­cel­lent work from the lead ac­tors – es­pe­cially Baker, who’s once again on top form.

The Fourth Doc­tor/ Leela team is also the fo­cus of the lat­est down­load- only Short Trips short story, nar­rated by Louise Jame­son. The Ghost Trap sees the duo ar­riv­ing on a semi- or­ganic space­craft, where they dis­cover that hu­man­ity’s quest to mas­ter the realm of Hy­per­space has had deadly con­se­quences. The story fea­tures some strong SF con­cepts and builds an ef­fec­tively creepy at­mos­phere that’s aided by Jame­son’s ex­cel­lent nar­ra­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, it also ends up over­do­ing the darker themes, and ul­ti­mately pitches so far into grim­ness that it be­comes a rather de­press­ing and un­sat­is­fy­ing lis­ten. Saxon Bul­lock

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