Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor returns for his eighth series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures and with it comes a new companion and some old threats.
Subtitled The Syndicate Masterplan, this set begins a season arc involving a race called the Sinestrans and a much bigger conspiracy to rule the galaxy. Long-term fans of the TV series will undoubtedly spot the clue in the title as to where the Doctor ends up.
Director Nicholas Briggs is once again guiding the venerable Baker and his cast with some skill borne from his own love of the era. As with previous releases, the music and sound mix by Jamie Robertson is an excellent homage to the original series whilst still sounding very fresh and exciting.
This series sees the introduction of Anne Kelso, a new companion played by Jane Slaven. Kelso is a disgruntled PC who finds her skills, and her preconceptions about life, challenged by her adventures with the Doctor. Slaven is excellent and her rapport with Baker is evident right from the start. John Leeson also appears on two of the adventures voicing the lovable robot mutt K-9.
Other cast members include Glynis Barber (Kathy Blake), Ewan Bailey (Hugo Blake), Fenella Woolgar (Vanessa Seaborne), Andrew Ryan (Titus Wayland), Finty Williams(Ada Lovelace), John Shrapnel(Nigel Colloon), Anna Acton (Brox), Blake Ritson (Elmore), Roger May (Mac Foley), and Tracy Wiles (Drones).
The scripts are varied in style and quality but all of them are entertaining. The first and fourth scripts (by Andrew Smith and Guy Adams) are the most successful of this set in capturing the era and sustaining the interest of the listener, whilst the other two scripts (by Phil Mulryne, Simon Barnard and Paul Morris) lack some polish in their execution of plot. As a bonus, there are interviews following each adventure with the cast and crew showing the amount of fun had by all.
It is clear that there is love for Tom Baker’s Doctor both inside and out of the Big Finish studios and with the second half of this season due next month, as well as two more seasons already recorded, we will undoubtedly be enjoying much more from the “man with the scarf and jelly babies” for quite some time.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: January 2019
RRP: $44 CD, $20 Digital Download