Another wonderful release in this series of stories that pay homage to the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who.
Big Finish has rolled out the sixth volume of adventures featuring the Third Doctor as portrayed by Tim Treloar. As with previous volumes, this series aims to pay homage to this early era in terms of the story style and atmosphere.
This has been a series that has consistently done well by engaging writers who grew up on the era as well as a cast that not only consists of the original actors, but of people doing near perfect impressions of the cast members no longer with us. Aside from Treloar’s almost pinpoint accurate Jon Pertwee impression, Katy Manning still manages to pull off a young Jo Grant despite it being nearly 50 years since she first played the part!
Guy Adam’s Poison of the Daleks opens the set and sees the welcome return of John Levene as Sgt Benton and Jon Culshaw doing the most eerily on-point impression of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. At times it is so convincing you would swear they merely found dialogue from original actor Nicholas Courtney and used that! The story sees the four regulars investigate an air recycling plant that is helping combat air pollution. What they find is a link to another planet and yet another mad scheme by the Daleks.
The pacey script is an excellent piece that really plays on many of the themes of the Pertwee era such as environmental concerns and messing with things we do not understand. The aforementioned regulars are well supported by a guest cast that includes stand out performances from Elli Garnett (Davis-Hunt), Clive Hayward (Brock/Roboman/Frasi), Abigail McKern (Skwoj/Ari), and Alexandria Riley (Red).
The second story, Operation: Hellfire by Jonathan Barnes, sees the Doctor and Jo sent to World War 2 Britain by the Time Lords to recover an amulet. They soon find themselves caught between Nazis, members of a weird cult, and a British Prime Minister who wants any advantage he can get whether it comes from Earth or not. Ian McNeice reprises his wonderful performance as Winston Churchill in a couple of all-too-brief cameo scenes but the bulk of the heavy lifting comes from the remaining cast which includes Elli Garnett (Davis-Hunt), Beth Goddard (Sally), Terry Molloy (Sir Davenport Finch), Samuel Clemens (Hegley), and Mark Elstob (Wing Commander Douglas Quilter). It does not quite match the first story in terms of excitement and feels a little slow to get going but otherwise, it is perfectly enjoyable.
Nicholas Briggs, as always, does an outstanding job not only in the director’s chair but as the voice of the Daleks in the first story (and audio footage of him directing through his Dalek voice modulator is quite hilarious). His evocative music score is also to be highly commended for its attention to detail in replicating the music of 70s Doctor Who. The sound design by Steve Foxon and Scott Ampleford is another top drawer effort. There are bonus interviews included alongside the two four-part stories.
Fans of earlier releases in this series (or even fans of the Pertwee era of the show) will delight in this set which continues the run of excellent releases seen in previous volumes.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: May 2020
Approx RRP: $47 CD, $20 Digital Download