Doctor Who: The Doomsday Contract by John Lloyd; adapted by Nev Fountain (Big Finish, 2021) Originally commissioned during Douglas Adams’ tenure as script editor, The Doomsday Contract exhibits a Hitchhiker’s tonality but without quite the same zest. Tom Baker gives it some welly but the denunciation of bureaucracy via reductio ad absurdum seems a bit old hat.
Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks by Chris Chibnall; dir. Annetta Laufer (BBC, 2022) Third try lucky for Chris Chibnall and Dalek specials. The time loop is a winner (explainy bits aside), while the enclosed environment and localised stakes allow the pepper pots to rise above their usual pointlessness. The guest characters have personality beyond function.
Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol by Steven Moffat; dir. Toby Haynes (BBC, 2010) A successful transplanting of Dickens’s novella into the Doctor Who universe, using science fiction to clever effect and adding a twist to the tale. Moffat captures both the Doctor’s exuberant childlike aspect and the seriousness beneath. Matt Smith is in top form.
Missy: The Belly of the Beast by Jonathan Morris (Big Finish, 2019) A well-acted story with a callous, slightly loop premise and Caves of Androzani vibes (treated with uncommon restraint by the Big Finish effects department). Though perfectly enjoyable, this does rather feel as if Morris dusted off an old script featuring the Rani.
Doctor Who—Flux, Chapter 6: The Vanquishers by Chris Chibnall (BBC, 2021) The Grand Serpent turned out to be superfluous. Passenger served no purpose except to prove unexpectedly convenient. And the Flux itself was downgraded from universe devourer to infinitesimal matter-snacker. An enjoyable enough finale but something of a disappointment given the intricate build-up.
Doctor Who—Flux, Chapter 5: Survivors of the Flux by Chris Chibnall (BBC, 2021) Flux survives its first information dump and reaches the cliffhanger with everything to play for. This instalment sees some powerful performances (notwithstanding a comedy hermit in dubious taste) and portends either an epic final showdown or a damp squib riddled with subplot.
Doctor Who—Flux, Chapter 4: Village of the Angels by Chris Chibnall & Maxine Alderton (BBC, 2021) Chibnall has shown himself a past master of raising the stakes. Flux is on such a trajectory, ‘Village of the Angels’ proving creepy and superb. Hopefully it won’t suffer the sort of anticlimactic let-down as befell ‘Spyfall’ and ‘Can You Hear Me?’
Doctor Who—Flux, Chapter 3: Once, Upon Time by Chris Chibnall (2021) Not entirely satisfying as a self-contained episode, yet engaging enough and sufficiently comprehensible as to reveal some of the bigger picture (within which lies the Doctor’s Timeless Child origin story). The fractured mosaic / relived memories narrative allows for some out-of-character acting.
Missy: The Broken Clock by Nev Fountain (Big Finish, 2019) Nev Fountain certainly isn’t afraid to try something different. Here we’re given a faux- cheesy American reconstruction of an impossible historical murder spree laced with metatextual fourth-wall breakings (themselves explained in-story). Though it’s clever and fun, fake fakeness still sounds risibly fake.
Doctor Who—Flux, Chapter 2: War of the Sontarans by Chris Chibnall (2021) Flux evinces lessons learnt from the Key to Time season arc, embedding the big picture more cohesively within its component parts. Chapter 2 sees Dan go from strength to strength, and rehabilitates the Sontarans somewhat (though still playing them mainly for laughs).