Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
The Taste of Death by Helen Goldwyn
The Doctor and Rose take at break at the luxurious resort planet MXQ1. Good beaches, great accommodation, but the food is the real star attraction. In fact it’s so good it’s addictive.
I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler that this is the Slitheen story (they are on the front of the box artwork). I’m always a bit weary of this monster from NuWho who looked too cute and doe-eyed to be really menacing, looked too stiff whilst a practical suit and a little under-convincing as CGI and who’s main trait seemed to be as the farting monster (despite some interesting stories they featured in). But here you don’t have to worry about how the suits look or the CGI, the doe eyes aren’t seen and the farting seems not be be such a big plot point in Goldwyn’s script. They are played more as a plotting, sinister alien in this story and are all the better for it.
But the first thing I was of course listening for was Dudman’s voice as the 10th Doctor and as Rose. He crushed it. Having already heard his 10th Doctor I knew he was really good, but to do a sustained version for this long, it was still flawless. And even when he was doing Rose, he was more subtle than a lot of male performers are when voicing a woman and really got an essence of her voice, without trying top hard to sound exactly like her. The supporting voice of Arinzé Kene asOrentino also works really well in this story. This is a good opener to the set.
Backtrack by Matthew J Elliott
The Doctor is this time joined by Martha crashing within the vortex and the vortex herself seems to be struggling. They find themselves onboard “The Outcome”. A commercial time ship, treating people who can afford it a tourists guide to history first-hand. But as the Doctor knows only too well, Time Travel needs to be left to the experts.
This is a really good story for the Doctor, but they’ve picked an especially good story for Martha too (again voiced very well by Dudman). This is something Big Finish is really good at. Looking at who the companion is and directly involving their skills and what they do for a living. In this one, Martha gets to use her medical skills to good effect in a way that fits the story. It’s got a great guest star in impressionist Jon Culshaw as well. Not only known to the Big Finish world, but also someone Dudman has worked with before and the chemistry is clear. They do a little “Doctor off” in the behind the scenes interview, in which I experienced Jacob Dudman’s 9th Doctor for the first time, something I’m sure Big Finish will want to utilise in the future as again it’s wonderful.
It’s also one of these stories that feels like it mirrors real life events with “Space Tourism” being a turn of the day, what happens when people involve themselves in “Time Tourism”? And can commercial companies doing this be trusted not to cut corners in the name of profit?
Wild Pastures by James Goss
The Doctor is investigating Wild Pastures rest home and heads to get his trusted friend Wilf Noble to help by going undercover with him. When he gets to the Noble household he is instead greeted by Donna’s Mum Silvia and so gets a very different partner in crime. And when they do go undercover they find things are even worse than they thought and the Doctor might be in as much danger as the residents.
Firstly, I could tell early on this was a James Goss story. He’s got such a great distinctive style that really shines. What a great idea to pair the Doctor with Silvia, played so expertly, as in the TV show, by Jacqueline King. The portrayal both in the writing and performance seems even to elevate beyond the high standard of the TV show version. There is an extra touch of bossiness and fast talking that really hammers home “this is where Donna gets it from”.
The relationship between the Doctor & Silvia can also be explored a bit more. The way she is a tough customer to please, but she is on the right side really and how that toughness can help in some situations. In some moments she can do what the Doctor or even some traditional companions can’t.
As great as the other stories have been so far it‘s obviously an extra thrill to have some actors come back from TV Who especially when they are so well written for.
Last Chance by Guy Adams
The 10th Doctor is on a mission to save species who are about to be hunted to extinction, knowing he himself is about to face the end of his journey. As he combats a particularly relentless hunter, he is reunited with Lady Christina de Souza, who’s hunt is purely as always for jewels and gems.
This is a really nice pairing of a story about something so moral and of our time as saving an endangered species and a companion who is less than morally steadfast. But it also shows a complexity to this character that as much as she isn’t worried about stealing a few high value items, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about anything.
The Doctor too in this story has an interesting motivation being near the end of his time and wanting to complete certain missions before he gets there.
In the writing there particularly feels a lot of stylistic nods to Douglas Adams, who has inspired a number of Doctor Who writers as well as having been in the original “Last Chance to See” TV show for the BBC and written the original book.
This is a real tour de force for Jacob Dudman. Helming the set both as the Tenth Doctor, the companions and most of the cast and he does a wonderful job of narration (as complemented on by James Goss & the other writers in the extras). I usually find these sets being narrated takes me out of the action somewhat but he blends it into the action so naturally that if anything it draws me in more. All the guest players are also perfectly cast and performed, hats off to director Helen Goldwyn on the casting choices.
With Dudman’s extremely versatile voice and his huge range of impressions I can’t wait to hear him take on the 11th Doctor in a set and now I’ve heard it, I think he’d be great playing as the 9th Doctor as well. 9/10
Buy it on CD or download here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-tenth-doctor-chronicles-1629