Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: Stranded 4, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: After crashing in 2020 London, the TARDIS crew has found the future of the universe altered and the human race doomed. As the Doctor tries desperately to unravel the paradox, all roads lead back to Baker Street, and the greatest test of all…

The grand finale to this story which neatly wraps up everything that has gone before.

The TARDIS is fixed but the universe is not. The Doctor, along with his companions Helen and Liv and his gang of housemates must find a point in time where the universes separated. It seems the only man who can help is someone who used to look like one person, but now resembles another person entirely, whether they like it or not. But if the universe can be saved, what happens next?

The final boxset in this series is a pleasing return to form after the disappointingly confusing third volume. There is much to enjoy throughout the runtime of this set and it certainly wraps up the adventure nicely. Big Finish have gone all out to ensure this current iteration of Eighth Doctor adventures finishes in a satisfying and enjoyable way.

Matt Fitton’s Crossed Lines sees the Doctor separate from Helen and Liv in order to stop the development of the man known as Mr Bird (played beautifully by Clive Wood). His two companions are dealing with the curator, in this set played with relish by Colin Baker, who is replacing Tom Baker (which will undoubtedly cause some fans to wail and gnash their teeth). Baker is outstanding and makes his performance resonate well with the situation.

Get Andy by Lisa McMullin sees the Doctor and the now reformed Mr Bird attempt to save Andy Davidson (played with foppish charm by Tom Price) from the fate that met him at the end of Stranded 3. Although at times it can be a very confusing narrative involving multiple timelines and several versions of the same character, the listener’s hands are held reasonably well for such a “timey wimey” storyline.

The Keys of Baker Street by Roy Gill wraps the main story up well as the Doctor and all the inhabitants of Baker Street have to deal with issues from their past lives together in order to save the present and the future. This particular episode is a great achievement for sound designer Benji Clifford who has to deal with many different soundscapes but handles them with aplomb.

The final story, Best Year Ever by John Dorney, serves as a quiet coda for the whole season as we bid farewell to many of the inhabitants we have come to know over the last two years. It ends with a small twist that will leave many long-term listeners wondering what will come of at least one of the main characters.

Throughout all of these episodes, Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor shines (and especially relishes the far too few scenes with Colin Baker) perhaps more than the previous two volumes where the Doctor has taken somewhat of a back seat to the main action. Nicola Walker (Liv) and Hattie Morahan (Helen) do an outstanding job in the companion roles, both actors showing their ability to lead when the Doctor is not around. Rebecca Root puts in a moving performance as Tania Bell—something she has consistently done throughout this series.

Ken Bentley’s direction is, as always, excellent and never seems too overbearing, letting the cast work their magic without too much fuss. The music by Jamie Robertson is especially good in the final episode but is consistently strong throughout.

This is the last of these massive stories told over four boxsets with Big Finish changing many of their ranges to single boxset stories. This is understandable as waiting anywhere from six to nine months between boxsets can be quite hard on the memory (especially without the benefit of a recap). Now that all four volumes are available, the story as a whole can be appreciated much more.

It will be interesting to see where the Eighth Doctor range heads after this, but doubtless, it will great fun. This set has sent off the old style in a suitable grand fashion. 

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

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

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: April 2022
Approx RRP: $45 CD, $20 Digital Download

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