Review by Kenton Hall
As a rule, I’ve tended to prefer the full-cast audios from Big Finish to, say, the Companion Chronicles. Not that there haven’t been great stories or, indeed, performances in the other ranges, but given the choice, I’ve enjoyed hearing the story played out by the Doctors and Companions themselves.
When I was young, I used to record the late-night PBS broadcasts of Doctor Who onto cassette (like an MP3, kids, but far more prone to becoming sticky when you spill a beverage on it) and listen to them at night as I feel asleep. The full-cast stories have always taken me back there, although with the benefit of being new stories.
However, this is the latest in a series of Early Adventures I’ve reviewed and I’ve found myself increasingly anxious to listen to the next one. Obviously, they are closer in tone to the full cast stories, with the sad exception of the Doctors in question (and sometimes, as in this case, the Companion) no longer being with us. The Morton Legacy might be my favourite of the range so far. From the very first moment, it felt like a brand-new episode from the Troughton Years which, coincidentally, I have recently been re-watching, which only reinforces the feeling of authenticity conjured here.
That this is a cracking story, well-told, certainly helps as the Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie land in the 1860s and are quickly dispossessed of the TARDIS, which has been purloined for the collection of Josiah Morton, beautifully played by David Sibley. It’s a mystery and a period piece, which suits me just fine, but perhaps what is most impressive is the sense of the TARDIS team, all the more impressive for the performances of Frazer Hines as the 2nd Doctor and Elliot Chapman, replacing the sadly departed Michael Craze as Ben.
It truly feels like a cast that is comfortable with each other and with their characters. There is a warmth and familiarity between them. Anneke Wills and Elliot Chapman, in particular, manage to bring the chemistry between Ben and Polly that was always a joy in the few surviving episodes of their stories with both the 1st and 2nd Doctors. The writer (Justin Richards) is obviously a prolific Who writer, but it doesn’t take away from his achievement here, nailing the tone of the era and the characters, and telling an engrossing story.
So, snap this one up. It’s a great piece of storytelling and a fine slice of Who.
And I’ll look forward eagerly to the next instalment of the Early Adventures!
You can buy this adventure on CD or download here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-morton-legacy-1321