Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: Stranded 2, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: The TARDIS is still stranded but the healing process has begun. After living in Baker Street for months, the Doctor, Liv and Helen find their new friends becoming curious about who they really are.

Big Finish continue to successfully navigate the slow lane with more engaging stories.

The Doctor is still stuck on Earth thanks to a TARDIS that has been drained of all power after escaping the Crucible, although now the “old girl” is starting to show signs of life and the Doctor can travel in time—just not space. How exactly DOES Baker Street look in the past … or the future? How will the relationships established by the Doctor and his companions Liv and Helen hold up? And will anyone notice the strange blue box disappearing and reappearing?

It has been nine long months since the events of Stranded 1 (you can check out the review here on Glam Adelaide) were released and there has been a LOT of water under the Big Finish bridge since then. For people who listen to multiple sets a month, this means having to find your footing again in a story that you last visited when the world was largely in lockdown. Big Finish would do well to provide some kind of recap for the casual listener who may not be “up to speed” or, more likely, can’t remember what happened.

The scripts of writers Matt Fitton, Roy Gill, Lisa McGullin and John Dorney range from average to strong. There seems to be less of a continuous arc, such as with the first set, and more of a focus on individual stories linked by a common theme. The Doctor travels forward and backward in time to find material that will help him repair the TARDIS quicker. McGullin’s episode (Baker Street Irregulars) is by far the most entertaining of the four stories. Dorney’s final episode (The Long Way Round) is uncomfortable listening as Tom Baker’s “Curator” spends most of his time offering sweets to a young girl. A sad misreading of the room by Big Finish. 

That being said, it is nice to be back in “the slow lane” again. Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor is still bored but at least he can now wander through time. McGann gives a beautifully measured performance, his moment of apology in episode two (UNIT Dating) to the Brigadier (played once again with pitchperfect precision by Jon Culshaw) is one of the more touching moments in the Big Finish catalogue

Nicola Walker and Hattie Morahan continue their excellent work as the long-suffering companions, Liv and Helen respectively. Walker has some particularly strong scenes with her lover Tania Bell (played beautifully by Rebecca Root) that expand her character a fair bit. The rest of the supporting cast does an outstanding job of building on the world created in the first volume. There is also a plot twist that will undoubtedly get addressed in subsequent volumes.

The skilled hand of director Ken Bentley gets a major workout at times and he manages to juggle much action and differing pace well. The sound and music design by Benji Clifford and Jamie Robertson go above and beyond to create a fully immersed world for the listener. There are also extensive interviews with cast and crew that, as always, provide much insight into the creation of the set.

With the first volume recently being nominated for an Audie Award for best audio drama, the bar has been set incredibly high for this volume. This volume may not quite reach that standard but it is still well worth the listen. Volume 3 is released in November of this year.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: March 2021
Approx RRP:$45 CD, $20 Digital Download

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