Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
The 10th Doctor & Rose are back together again for this brand new set from Big Finish.As much as many of us were thrilled to have the 10th Doctor back with Donna in volume 1, let’s face it, a set that reunited the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) with Rose (Billie Piper) would always be the most anticipated as this was Doctors Who’s reboot as it’s most beloved.
Infamy of the Zaross by John Dorney
When Jackie Tyler finds herself in the midst of an alien invasion of Norwich whilst visiting a somewhat snobby friend, she calls for Rose who returns to her with the Doctor. The Doctor is rather put out to find out he has never heard of the invaders. When he finds out they are not what they seem and that there are camera crews involved, things go from the scary to the monstrous & not too vaguely absurd!
It’s always going to be a win to start off a set with the amazing Camille Coduri back as Jackie and as my editor points out, she’d be pretty amazing in her own box set. Maybe have Jack, Rose, Mickey & even the Doctor popping in to say hi? But I digress. I feel they have done a great job of making her the Jackie we know and love, but maybe even better. In the series she sometimes came off a little too reactionary to me and could be used as the butt of the joke, but then we are meant to see her as a hero when the plot suits. In Big Finish so far she has been treated a little more seriously. Yes she can still be a laugh and still get into trouble but for me they emphasise her strength. The only bit that I would have tweaked is her listening to some of what her friend has to say about Rose just being a ‘shop girl’ without giving her what for there and then. The one thing usually Jackie doesn’t stand for is anyone saying anything unkind about Rose, even if it is a friend.
The plot is inventive and engaging and has that modern twist to it that feels like the rebooted series, especially in the 10th Doctor / Rose era. It felt to me like a modern version of ‘Vengeance on Varos’ in some ways; and I felt had some nods to Doctor Who as a TV show mirrored in the plot.
The Sword of the Chevalier by Guy Adams
The Doctor & Rose meet the Chevalier d’Eon, in 1791 as the Doctor is beaten by her in a fencing duel. But for the Doctor it’s an honour to be beaten by the best. But as the Doctor & Rose strike up a friendship with the Chevalier and head to a fancy ball, they use her credentials as a previous spy to find out what is really a foot.
This is a good mix of Doctor Who spectacle with real historical events. I want anyone who thinks the idea of a female Doctor is something to fear to listen to the Doctor & Rose speak of the Chevalier who in their life lived as a man & a woman and was more than either gender.
Cold Vengeance by Matt Fitton
When the Tardis lands in a deep freezer supermarket outpost Rose is somewhat underwhelmed. But as our heroes search for a choc-ice they find things are going wrong with the equipment & very soon after that they find mankind’s challengers for the Earth, the Ice Warriors are to be more of a worry than some frozen peas going bad.
Obviously it’s amazing to see the 10th Doctor getting to face down the Ice Warriors he didn’t meet in his TV run. Nicholas Briggs takes on the voice duties for the Ice Warriors and does a great job. The Warriors seem perhaps more driven and less bound than their TV cousins and this adds to the tension of not knowing what they will do next. Add to this that this one isn’t set on the Earth and we also know we won’t get the Doctor once again persuading the Ice Warriors to just take another few hundred years nap till the humans are ready.
The first thing I was struck with on this set of all things was Billie Pipers voice. She sounds different. Some have suggested this might be her voice ageing but I don’t think so personally; it sounds like she is going for a much more toned down version of ‘cockney’. I actually always found her cockney a little over the top and would have actually preferred this toned down version on TV, but this is different. This is recreating a time, so it was something to get used to her voice sounding so different and for a bit took me out of the first story. But the writing is so good I was soon won back and let’s face it, David Tennant is always effortlessly the 10th Doctor. Any voice change aside they both seem to be really enjoying being back both in their performances and in the interviews in the behind the scenes and it seems very hopeful both will return to Big Finish in the future. Time has always been the only question with Tennant, but it seems like Piper really enjoyed her experience and the ease with which Big Finish produce these plays helps.
Just so no one thinks they are getting something they are not the ‘Audio Adventures of Doctor Who’ extra is a compilation of extras from other Big Finish releases. I’m fine with them adding this as an AD for there other fine stories, but it should be noted this is what it is. Having said that, we were all here for 10 / Rose love and we got it in spades. In three stories they re create an era for the most part, but with an audio / Big Finish twist to it. I look forward to future releases with them.
Buy it now on CD or download here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-tenth-doctor-adventures-volume-02-limited-edition-1658