Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: The Second Doctor Adventures – Beyond War Games, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: Before Earth, before UNIT, before exile, the Second Doctor enters into a dangerous bargain in return for his freedom…

The first set to feature the Second Doctor on his own is a great reboot of the era led by the son of the original actor.

The Doctor has been sentenced to exile on Earth and he is being forced to change his appearance, but as he spins into darkness he is suddenly pulled out of it again. Who are the CIA and their representative, Raven? Why has he not changed? And is the cost of remaining in his current body worth it? The Doctor does not have a long time to mull over these points before he realises that he is back on Skaro—the planet of the Daleks—and he is being asked to stop himself from eradicating them once and for all.

Michael Troughton—son of the late Patrick Troughton—makes his formal debut as the Second Doctor following on from his appearance in The Annihilators back in February. This new series from Big Finish finally gives the Second Doctor a proper “home” in the range. Troughton’s version of the character originally played by his father is a wonderful mix of imitation and impression. As he points out in the bonus interview material the problem with the Second Doctor is not just the voice but the physicality that he brought to the role—something hard to bring forward in an audio medium. In this respect, Troughton does a stellar job.

The Final Beginning by Mark Wright and Nicholas Briggs sees the Doctor sent to Skaro on a mission for the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA for short). Ostensibly to recover an operative of theirs, the Doctor soon realises that there is much more to the mission than he was led to believe. The four parts to this story are roughly 15 minutes each which makes for a quick prelude to what will, undoubtedly, be something that is spread over several sets. Emma Noakes begins her recurring role as the Doctor’s new boss, Raven. There is much charm oozing out of her voice that underlines a much darker persona—something we only see a glimpse of in this set. Tim Treloar (who has voiced the Third Doctor for a number of years) and Anna-Maria Nabirye round out the main cast in this story as Silas and Catrona respectively. They do a great job with their limited time in the story.

Wrath of the Ice Warriors by Andrew Smith is the second story in the set. The Doctor now finds himself in Scotland where the Brigadier and UNIT are preparing for an alien invasion. As it turns out, there appears to be one involving the Ice Warriors led by the merciless Lady Zelanda (played wonderfully by Who legend Katy Manning). But things are not always what they seem and the Doctor needs to find the connection between Zelanda, a lone Warrior called Skaar and Scottish painter named Sheena. All roads will eventually lead to the stars …

This story is presented in the more traditional four 30-minute episode format but the plot seems a little light for the length which leads to a lot of running around and long-winded conversations. That being said, the final two episodes are well-paced and move towards a fun and exciting climax.

Jon Culshaw continues his brilliant rendition of the Brigadier while Mark Elstob plays three different roles throughout the story including the Ice Warrior Skaar. Lucie Goldie rounds out the cast with a subtle performance as Sheena Flynn.

Nicholas Briggs has fingers in many pies for this release including writer, composer, director, producer and dusting off his modulator to portray the Daleks. How he manages to successfully juggle all of these roles and maintain quality throughout boggles the mind. Benji Clifford, and Toby Hrycek-Robinson assist Briggs with the music while Steve Foxon assists Hrycek-Robison complete the sound design, both of which remain at the very high standard we expect from the Big Finish stable. There are bonus interviews included to help round out the releases that feature both cast and crew.

This is a wonderful release that will delight fans of the Troughton era and will, hopefully, lead to future release along the line. A minor quibble is that it would be nice if the Big Finish team would perhaps put a little more effort into the cover design for future releases as this and the First Doctor adventures sets seem a little on the cheap side. It’s a small point but given the high standard of other covers, these seem to be very rushed.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: July 2022
Approx RRP: $35 CD, $17 Digital Download

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