Review: Short Trips – Hall of the Ten Thousand

Review by Jacob Licklider

Big Finish’s Doctor Who: Short Trips range provides an excellent writing opportunity for new writers for the company to test their strength in a short story format. The 30-40 minute short story format with a single narrator almost forces writers to become creative with how they approach telling a story. November 2019’s release is one such story from a new writer, Jaine Fenn, who before working for Big Finish has written several science fiction novels. Hall of the Ten Thousand is her debut Short Trip, an Eighth Doctor story set early in his run narrated by India Fisher in character as Charley Pollard.

Fenn’s story manages to differentiate itself from other Short Trips by telling the story from the perspective of Charley creating an atmosphere similar to Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles range which hasn’t featured Doctors other than the first two since 2014. Fenn is clearly a fan of the Eighth Doctor and Charley TARDIS Team as their interactions are the highlights of the story. Their interactions, while occasionally falling into standard Doctor/companion banter, are elevated by the characterisation between the characters. There is a breath of fresh air for the team as it brings back the sense of the Romantic days, unburdened from the baggage of the Eighth Doctor’s later life.

The plot of Hall of the Ten Thousand does contribute to one issue with the story, and that’s that it feels like this was a story better suited for a full two-hour story. The plot takes place in an art
museum and deals with art that comes alive with a tone that feels very much like Vincent Price’s House of Wax with less insanity and more of a steampunk sort of feeling. The steampunk nature
fits in well with the era Fenn is evoking as the plot is about an artist who makes art out of genetically grown people in a war. There is a lot here to be explored in a simple 40-minute story and it almost isn’t enough to go as in depth as perhaps Fenn would have wished. There are only one or two extra characters due to the shorter nature of the story and a central villain who feels just a touch underdeveloped for the story. Overall, Hall of the Ten Thousand is a nice slice of Doctor Who brimming with excellent ideas and a pretty fun plot. It manages to scratch an itch but perhaps needed a longer, full cast format, to truly become one of the all time greats of the range. 8/10.

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