Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
It’s difficult to know where to start with this one. There is so much going on!
So lets start with the Virgin books. It was so exciting when they got the licence. The BBC at the time in their infinite wisdom had decided as well as booting off the TV Doctor Who, that books based on it weren’t worth it either. So Virgin books stepped in with some new fresh talented writers, like Mark Gattis and Russell T Davis (I wonder what happened to those 2?). These were obsessively written by some very talented fans of the show, for the fans. As such they loved swinging for the fences. Bringing in so much Doctor Who mythology as to make Omega take a peek from the antimatter universe to see what the fuss was all about. Not that there weren’t some great additions to the DWU, Bernice Summerfield being one of the most notable.
But I digress! We have been in recent years treated by Big Finish to some adaptations of said Virgin books; Cold Fusion is the latest. It’s a challenge I think to do this. I feel like the Virgin books have a style of their own as do Big Finish. So in this effort they have to really satisfy both.
In Cold Fusion it is made even harder by having two Doctors, a lot happening and a story full of Doctor Who references.
I feel like when the book came out, we wanted… no, needed all the Doctor Who they could cram into a book and this book did that in spades. This can feel somewhat jarring now as Big Finish knows where our next meal is coming from. By which I mean, at the time, this was more Doctor Who and the only Doctor Who we had, so we wanted it to be ‘sci fi porn’. No non fan would be reading so we could have it as ‘in’ as you like. Now we have Doctor Who on TV, books and Big Finish releasing several Doctor Who titles every month, so we can take our time, pepper in the references more slowly and welcome in new fans who maybe don’t know their Zarbi from their Raston Warrior.
But I don’t mean to sound negative, this is of it’s time somewhat and if you go in with that in mind then it is an enjoyable listen. But let’s look at the really positive. The obvious one of course is having two Doctors in the story. Lance Parkin does a great job of highlighting the differences between the Doctors. With the 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) operating in the shadows and being up to his usual mysterious games that the Virgin novels explored so well and then the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) being his more amiable friendly self. Bring into that, the 5th Doctor being recently regenerated it means you can bring in him still finding himself and how his companions are reacting to this new Doctor. Also the last 10 minutes with the Doctors working together are pure magic.
I also love the 5th Doctor era music they have used in this that really conjures up his time as the Doctor for me.
Big Finish have also added a few updated Doctor Who references. The bit where the Doctors discuss the times they have met before is a joy.
So in conclusion this story is somewhat of its time, sometimes confusing and also very enjoyable and gives us a fun multi Doctor story. Confused? You will be, but you won’t mind! 7/10 Sonics.
Download/order here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/cold-fusion-1232
Pre-order CD from Amazon.
Check out the rest of our Big Finish reviews!