Review by Kenton Hall
“I shall delight in taking your life off your hands.”
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a large percentage of positive reviews for Doctor Who stories – in any medium – tend to feature the word atmospheric. The beauty of the programme’s ever changing settings and tone is that is offers the opportunity for and the challenge of world-building of enormous scope. So, when it successfully conjures a sense of place and time, it allows the storytelling to sing in a completely different way.
The Hunting Ground is a fine example of this, and I’m going to come right out and say that it’s already one of my favourite stories of recent years. This is for several reasons. Firstly and, perhaps, most importantly, it is beautifully written by A.K. Benedict; who turns in a script that is equal parts Scandinavian murder mystery and sci-fi comedy in the Douglas Adams mode. The latter is very difficult to pull off; as it inevitably involves not being Douglas Adams, but Benedict manages to capture that same anarchic spirit without losing her own voice.
The second major point in The Hunting Ground’s favour point is its Doctor. Colin Baker sounds like he is having an absolute ball in this story, his lone Sixth Doctor showing off all the development that Mr Baker has been able to bring to the character since it came to Big Finish. He is in turn confident, brash, loveable, kind, verbose and commanding. The Doctor, in other words. He’s a joy to listen to and he fits this story like an undoubtedly multi-coloured glove.
One of the interesting things about past Doctors taking part in stories written to suit their eras, but conceived in the present, is that, on occasion, such as here, you genuinely get a piece of Doctor Who that couldn’t have been made under any other circumstances. Scandinavian crime drama has, obviously, become a thing in recent years. And it meshes surprisingly well with the world of the Doctor.
The guest cast – especially Amy Beth Hayes as de facto companion Inspector Yrsa Kristjansdottir – are engaging too, but my biggest takeaway from The Hunting Ground is that I want more Colin Baker (which I already knew) and more A.K. Benedict (which I didn’t know, but should have) – I genuinely started shopping for her other work during a short break between Parts Two & Three.
So, I guess recommended is the correct review speak, but what I mean by that is that I loved this story and I think you will too.
Buy/download here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-hunting-ground-part-1-2018