The most successful era of the new Doctor Who has once again been brought to life by the busy folks at Big Finish. David Tennant returns as the Tenth Doctor and this time is joined by his original companion, Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper). Both actors slide comfortably back into their roles 11 years after they both started. There is a wonderful sense of companionship between the two that permeates the entire set (similar to that between Tennant and Catherine Tate in Volume 1) and the amount of fun the two have working together is evident throughout.
This set consists of three one-hour adventures (with bonus music suites at the end of each disc), an extended behind the scenes disc of interviews and recording sessions and another disc of highlights from recent Big Finish releases (some of which have been reviewed elsewhere on this site).
John Dorney, Guy Adams and Matt Fitton have been given the task of recreating the era and have achieved mixed results. Dorney’s script, Infamy of the Zaross, is by far the most entertaining of the three. It brings the Doctor and Rose to Earth to witness an alien invasion but not one that the Doctor has encountered before. Joining the TARDIS crew is the wonderful Camille Coduri reprising her role as Rose’s mother, Jackie Tyler. It has some much needed humour and a very relevant message about the desire for celebrity.
Guy Adams’ The Sword Of The Chevalier pits the Doctor, Rose and the real-life character of the Chevalier D’eon (played brilliantly by Nickolas Grace) against an alien slave trader with three heads (one of which has died). The concept is fascinating and Mark Elstob and Lucy Briggs-Owen make a remarkable pair of villains but the story is heavy-handed in its moralising at times and lacks clarity in plot points and pacing. However, the sound design and music by Howard Carter is particularly strong and evocative in this story.
Fittons’ Cold Vengeance sees the welcome return of the Ice Warriors. The storyline starts off strongly enough but discards established continuity in favour of a more feel-good ending. The supporting cast of Keziah Joseph (Lorna), Maureen Beattie (Brona Volta), Sean Biggerstaff (Callum Volta), Anthony Stuart-Hicks (Management/Bert) and Nicholas Briggs (Lord Hasskor/Commander Slaan) are all worth mentioning for their fine performances.
Briggs also directs all three episodes and generally keeps the pace and flow of the scripts moving along, but it is clear that the unusually quick turnaround time for this set (due to the availability of the actors) means that the scripts lack the final amount of polish that make the best Big Finish audios really stand out.
That is not to say that the set is unenjoyable, nor that fans of the Tennant era won’t enjoy hearing their favourite Doctor in new adventures again, but with such an important era one hopes the next set has more time available to it so that the writers can really work through some of the story issues from this set.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: November 2017
RRP: $61 (CD), $25 (Download)