An intriguing release in the monthly Dr Who range that puts the Fifth Doctor on his own for the first time.
The Doctor, in his fifth incarnation, has apparently deserted his companions. On his own for the first time in a while, he finds himself visiting several points in Earth’s history, from East Berlin in 1975 through to a mysterious dancing plague. Along the way he encounters one of Australia’s founding citizens as she makes her way from England to Australia and confronts what appears to be a bridge troll…
The monthly Doctor Who range goes back to Peter Davison’s fifth Doctor and continues a story arc that was last visited in November of last year (#258 Conversion). Not for the first time for this range, this is an anthology of four short episodes rather than one or two longer stories. As such the pacing is quick and allows little to no time to get bogged down with too much padding.
Davison himself continues to give his Doctor much more depth of character than he was ever allowed on the TV show and, after over 20 years of playing him for Big Finish, he seems so completely at ease and comfortable in the role. His voice may lack the youth that it had back in the day but the energy of the character is still very much there.
The scripts vary in tone with Steve Lyons’ Ghost Station being the most atmospheric and Tommy Donbavand’s What Lurks Down Under being the most fantastical. The Bridge Master by Jacqueline Raynor is an enjoyable little romp while The Dancing Plague by Kate Orman is a very cute premise albeit with a very big letdown of an ending. All the scripts however, are well directed by Jamie Anderson and backed up by the wonderful sound and music design of Wilfredo Acosta. The music from the set is also presented as a separate bonus track included with the release.
The small supporting cast are also very adept with many taking on several roles big and small across the set. Timothy Blore (Peter Meier/Lucas), Wayne Forester (Clement/Dr Richard Alley/Gerhardt), Kate Harbour (Agatha/Teuthis/Margareta), and Laura Aikman (Mary, Townsperson) all perform superbly across their multiple performances. The set contains interviews with most of the cast and crew as well as some of the writers to give some background on the process of bringing this set to life.
There is much to enjoy in this release and fans of the Fifth Doctor will no doubt be curious to hear how he copes on his own. This is definitely a quirky release and a brave choice for the Big Finish production team who should be commended for trying something new and out of the box.
With the recent news that the monthly range is to be wrapped up after 275 volumes (with the classic Doctors getting larger boxsets instead), it will be interesting to see where the series heads before its conclusion. Fans are certainly spoilt for choice and this set adds to an impressive array of stories featuring this Doctor.
Definitely worth a listen.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: July 2020
Approx RRP: $28 CD, $13 Digital Download