The titular Lucie ’bleedin’ Miller (Sheridan Smith) is back from before her untimely death in a new series of adventures with the 8th Doctor (Paul McGann), featuring some adventures we never heard them take.
The Dalek Trap by Nicholas Briggs
When the Doctor seems to go into a zombie state and takes the Tardis into a black hole Lucie must act to keep them safe, especially when her memory starts to fail her and the Doctor leads them straight to his deadliest foes.
It is always wonderful when an actor who knows a character or a race really well take on the writing duties and Big Finish seems always keen to encourage this. When you get Nicholas Briggs at the helm of a Dalek script after voicing them for so long as well as being at the head of all the output of Big Finish, expectations are understandably high. He doesn’t disappoint. It makes all the sense in the world to put the Doctor into a fugue state for much of this first adventure, thus allowing Sheridan Smith to remind us how capable the character of Lucie is and also showing us how much we missed her. As always with Big Finish, it feels like a character we haven’t heard from in so long hasn’t missed a beat. They manage to do something different with the Daleks too (never easy after all these years) by putting them at times on the back foot. It’s a great and novel way to start the set and series.
The Revolution Game by Alice Cavender
Lucie reminds the Doctor it’s her birthday and so he sets the controls to random for a birthday surprise. When they land by a roller derby in the year 3025 Lucie thinks she’s struck gold. But they will find out these games can be deadly, but not nessisarily for the player. The colony world of Castus Sigma has a dark secret some will go to great lengths to hide.
It feels really in keeping with the fun loving Lucie that she would be up for a good roller derby and totally in keeping with Doctor Who for there to be a dark underbelly to such a light hearted pursuit. Cavender does a great job at giving a script that captures both notes. There are some great undertones of ecology, colonialism and the price we can end up paying to live so well.
The House on the Edge of Chaos by Eddie Robson
The Doctor, in landing the TARDIS, accidentally manages to bring down the house – or at least a wing of it. No matter, all the staff in the house ask is that the Doctor and Lucie help keep order and do their quickly assigned new roles in the house, Lucie upstairs, the Doctor down. As there is literally nothing outside the house on this desolate world, they must keep order where they can. But to what end?
This feels like a strong adventure choice for the 8th Doctor. Paul McGann, and thus the 8th Doctor particularly, embodies for me the “man of the people” side of the character. Whilst he stokes rebellion below stairs Lucie gets to poke fun at how the upper class live and the pointless nature of such a class system. The guest cast is brilliant, with special nods to the master of the house Darious Horton (Rupert-Vansittart) and his faithful assistant running the house Alana (Alicia Ambrose).
Island of the Fendahl by Alan Barnes
The Doctor and Lucie get separated when he experience some medical issues after the Tardis lands on the island of Fandor. A strange town where they seem to be expecting the Doctor to join them, but why? When it appears an old foe might be in play on this island, the Doctor knows that’s impossible – he killed the Fendahl long ago!
Even though we know the enemies of the Doctor always come back, it’s nice to start from the establish mythos of why the creature shouldn’t be able to return and work our way back to how it has. This story by Alan Barnes manages this well. The script treads the fine line between keeping to lore we know and adding something new to tease the audience. There are some nice notes of films like The Wicker Man and of some classic Who stories but without sacrificing originality. When a long dead monster can go to such great lengths to return, it’s also too good to see the Doctor really struggle and lose his usual air of cool. In a set named after a companion, it’s a great opportunity to have that companion be the driving force.
Lucie Miller is one of a very strong stable of original companions Big Finish has created, and I think they have been wise in chosing to revisit these characters after their final scenes in the way they have done with the TV companions. Both Lucie and Sheridan Smith really brings on the wonder of being a companion in a way you feel any of us would given this opportunity with the Doctor, and they have given her four great stories to showcase this. There is a nice flow to this set directed by Nicholas Briggs, who apparently wasn’t busy enough! I look forward to further sets expanding her story.