The Doctor (Paul McGann), Liv (Nicola Walker) and Helen (Hattie Morahan) are stuck on Earth with a sick Tardis, no way off the planet, no money and not so much as a sonic screwdriver. The Doctor may face his biggest challenge of all time: a normal life.
Lost Property by Matt Fitton
Arriving on Earth in 2020, the Tardis crew find the Tardis is near death after there fight with the Eleven, sSo the Doctor takes them to Baker Street, to his house there. Unfortunately where he last left Thomas Brewster in charge of it, he has let it out to multiple tenants who aren’t sure about meeting their new landlord. Whereas it might be normal for the Tardis crew to be on edge after everything that has happened, they seem particularly at each other’s throats, as do the tenants. The Doctor doesn’t know what is going on, but a familiar sounding Curator (Tom Baker) who meets Liv and Helen just might be able to help from behind the scenes.
What an opener to this new series, to bring back the Curator, only seen previously in the Day of the Doctor. It is lovely to see Tom Baker playing a different shade of the Doctor, less of the huge Fourth Doctor we know and love, but more of the mystery and playing things from in the shadows (as is necessary for the character the Eighth Doctor doesn’t know exists).
The new ensemble of characters is interesting and the set up of a house full of flats gives us plenty of scope for lots of side stories and different reactions to goings on.
The Eighth Doctor is straight into problem solving mode at trying to get back to time and space travel, leaving Liv and Helen to try to make their new lives work for as long as they might be stuck where they are, so the room for some personal drama is high whilst playing into the plot of everyone being unusually volatile. Is there a mysterious force at work or are they just reeling from what’s happened?
Wild Animals by John Dorney
The Doctor is not coping well with being trapped and has even stopped trying to get the TARDIS working, so Helen tries to get him interested in a new hobby. Meanwhile some of the tenants have helped Liv find a job and another, Tania (Rebecca Root) seems to have taken a shine to her and it is mutual.
But when tragedy of a very everyday nature strikes Liv, the Doctor isn’t able to just deal with it, but needs to save the day. What does that mean when there isn’t an alien menace to fight?
This is a very packed story, given that this is our first to truly have nothing extra terrestrial or time travel related going on. This is a straight up human (well, the Doctor aside) drama.
We have a budding romance, a day job, some lovely, funny moments as Helen tries to slightly domesticate the Doctor and some real personal heartbreak.
Not only does this story work perfectly on its own, but creates some nice development going into the rest of the set.
Must-See TV by Lisa McMullin
The Doctor thinks he has a new plan to get the TARDIS working again, but Liv and a Helen aren’t convinced. As things start to develop between Liv and Tania, Liv fears Her new lady friend is keeping something from her, especially when Sargeant Andy (Tom Price) arrives on the scene and Tania is cagey about how she knows him. Then things get a little odd as a new tenant, the very helpful Mr Bird (Clive Wood) arrives and everyone starts having TV troubles. Are these TV malfunctions just what they seem, or is someone watching them back?
The way the storylines weave together gets more gripping as this boxset goes on. To have Liv trusting someone and letting them in on a personal level and then to have the idea they may not be trust worthy is enticing and well played by newcomer Root. Of course having Torchwood’s Tom Price brought into the story is so good and he plays his usual mix of genuine nohow with just a dash of lovable bumbling.
They play a little on alien devices and sci-fi elements in this story but at heart the characters they have established for his new set keep the human drama at the forefront.
Divine Intervention by David K Barnes
Two aliens arrive to get revenge on the Doctor and the Earth for the destruction of their people. There’s Just one snag, the Doctor, nor the Earth have done so yet and the Doctor is quite sure they won’t. The pair of self-appointed alien saviors don’t seem convinced and are quite happy to risk a paradox to kill the Doctor and anyone else to save their planet and people.
Although it is enjoyable to have aliens crop up in this last story, the main joy of this one is the Doctor solving the day without his usual tools at hand to do so and seeing his new ‘friends’ from the house put in peril. Inspector Andy gets to play companion, whilst being careful not to let on about his association with Torchwood to the Doctor, who he knows can’t find out about them in this incarnation. Along with all this, a young man who the Doctor has taken under his wing, Robin (Joel James Davison), is put in harm’s way wanting to help his new father figure. All this dials up the stakes nicely and the conclusion sets us up for a great second series.
I must admit to having been uncertain at the idea of stripping away so much of what makes a Doctor Who story in this set. After all, we like Doctor Who because it’s Doctor Who. But they have proven once again that at Big Finish they know how much can be taken away or added to a story and still have the feel of the show we know in there. The second story is probably the most stripped back to the every day and still provides us with what feels like true Doctor Who. Throwing other add dashes of alien presences at the Doctor while taking away his usual problem solving tools makes makes for some very different stories and solutions.
The packed guest cast is all brilliant and the emotion ringer all the usual Tardis crew go through makes this a wonderful start for this new range.