Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
The Forth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson) return once again to the Big Finish world for another original set of stories.
The Sons of Kaldor by Andrew SmithAndrew Smith in his usual style gives you a story that feels familiar and then takes you somewhere you didn’t expect to go. It’s always good to see an underserved foe from the Doctor’s past come back in the audio world and the Voc Robots seem perfect for this; making their second Big Finish appearance. Being robots you have so much room to make them completely different, depending on programming, if someone is controlling them and many other factors. Yet you still get that satisfying feeling that its something from the Doctor’s history. Toby Hadoke makes a great guest turn here.
The Crowmarsh Experiment by David LlewellynThis story uses a great sci fi story idea that is always fascinating to explore. What if you woke up one day and found out your life was a fantasy and a new identity and life you were being shown was being presented to you as ‘the real world’? If you’re Leela, you won’t take it! And when I say this is an idea I have seen before in the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek and a few other shows, this does not mean it is not handled here with enough different beats and with the perfect feeling of the Doctor Who Tom Baker era to give it new life.
Both Jameson & Baker here take great relish at playing somewhat of a duel role. For Baker he is playing 2 parts, for Jameson its more playing the side of her that wants to be Leela, or wants to be someone else. The way they use people and events that seem familiar to Leela’s past to tease her as to what might have been and what could be here is wonderful. Also, how good is it to see Dan ‘Strax’ Starkey show up and get to play something not quite Sontaran?
And how about to round things off a lovely 2 story adventure from John Dorney?
This one has a very special feel of a blend of the best of the 4th Doctor era with a somewhat larger budget than TV of the time could have given them and even larger ideas in a way. There is a feeling to the plot of folks who go into people’s minds to joy ride in their psyche and the idea of a malevolent mind that is too dark for anyone to survive that calls to mind something you might find in Charlie Brookers Black Mirror, one of the great shows of the moment. But with Tom Bakers effortless charms and the great writing by Dorney, it never gets overly dark, just menacing enough.
This feels right as a 2 story idea and it has a really kinetic pace to it.
The 4th Doctor sets under the direction of Nicholas Briggs never disappoint, but in cases like this they can elevate even further. This is good under a benchmark of greatness. Not easy to pull off, but easier with this cast and set of writers involved. Leela is given a satisfying amount to do and she feels more empowered and maybe even a little wiser in this set. As if the writers have dug a little deeper and really explored that even though she may not know what the Doctor knows a proud warrior woman would have skills of her own to bring to bear and a way of thinking that is wise to her skill set. I could say how wonderful Tom Baker is, but I may as well tell you the Earth is round. Anyone with half a brain knows that! In short this is story to story a great set. 10/10.
You can buy if here on CD or download… https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/series-07-volume-1-1607
Big Finish – Doctor Who: 4th Doctor Adventures – The Pursuit of History / Casualties of Time