The Doctor’s Granddaughter and first companion Susan (Carole Ann Ford) is called back home and into the Time War. Joined along the way by some familiar faces and teamed up with fellow Time Lord Veklin (Beth Charmers), Susan must make some tough choice’s and wants to make it clear, they might not be the ones Grandfather might have made.
Sphere of Influence by Eddie Robson
Susan is given her first mission by the Time Lords. She must serve as diplomat to the Sensorites, to bring them into the war on the side of the Time Lords. As someone who has had past dealings with them she is the natural choice. They just need to pick up an old friend and teacher of her’s first.
What a marvellous way of getting us into a new set. Use a Previous Alien race that are ripe to come back after not being used much and have Ian Chesterton (William Russell) come along for the adventure.
As joyous as having Ian and Susan reunited this is not a story that rests on just that. The Sensorites are uncertain about joining the war, some more so than others and this story plays on Susan’s knowledge of the race and what may have changed. Ian is clearly having some fun with being among the stars again and Russell brings this to life in style and more than shows he’s still got it.
The Uncertain Shore by Simon Guerrier
Susan and Veklin are sent to search for a spy on a world on the brink of being lost to the Time War. As the inhabitants wait for their end to come in the battle on the horizon the two Time Lords must find the spy on a strict countdown to fate.
I like the idea of following a planet who are innocent causalities to the war. The thought of how a people would react to a war they have no say over, but that is about to engulf their planet is an interesting one and this story explores the way different people cope with this unenviable situation. Susan becomes a painter and shows her more seasoned way of subtly getting information from the people on this planet whilst Veklin is more impatient for answers.
This is somewhat of a slower paced spy story, with shades of Casablanca woven in.
Assets of War by Lou Morgan
Susan is called in by Cardinal Rasmus (Damian Lynch) to help assess the abilities of a new weapon project which utilises living creatures from the Vortex, the Orrovix. Although Susan makes it clear she is not her Grandfather, she is as concerned as he would be at the thought of using living creatures for weapons. When there is a break in containment, they will soon find out how much of a good idea these living weapons are.
This is a classic morality tale combined with a cautionary tale of Man trying to best nature. We get to see how Susan fights to stick to her morals from the inside, as opposed to the Doctor, who at this stage is resisting the war. Can one person make a difference from within the war or was the Doctor right in thinking he needed to stay on the outside to do good.
There is also another really good parallel later in the story for how those without money and status can be treated during war as opposed to those with.
The Shoreditch Intervention by Alan Barnes
Susan is sent on a clandestine mission to Earth, 1963. She must go and retrieve a device left on Earth by the Doctor in his first incarnation and Susan from just before they left the Earth for their first Adventure. When the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) as well as Dalek agents arrive on the scene, it appears things may not be as they seem.
I was nervous when it seemed we were heading to 1963, just before the first episode of Doctor Who. This is a well-used setting and plot device to add something new to the cannon we know and to be honest with you, one which seems quite played out. Thankfully this story doesn’t set out to rewrite time or events we know. Rather, it’s just a good setting to have a device on Earth and throw in a little extra to events to have it link personally to Susan’s past.
Barnes has constructed a new story focusing on the early mod scene in this era being taken over by Daleks. This also sets the stage to have the Doctor and Susan start to resolve some pain and strain on their relationship from their last meeting, where Susan lost her son, the Doctor’s Great Grandson, to the Daleks. We get to see their two philosophies on the war bought into contrast as they work through more personal issues.
This is a set I didn’t know I wanted, but I enjoyed. It’s interesting to see how they have set a path for Susan which in some ways echo’s the Doctor’s but is not the same. We see some of the character we knew from all those years ago but also more of who she has become as already shown in prior Big Finish releases. Starting with a guest appearance from William Russell certainly helps set the scene for Susan’s past but having Veklin in the mix moves the character of Susan forward and gives her someone to act as mentor to. Guest cast with the likes of Dan Starky and Nicolas Briggs help elevate the set further, as does the excellent direction of Lisa Bowerman and sharp writing throughout.
It’s a worthy addition to the Time War saga. Buy it now on CD or digital here.