Doctor Who: Warriors’ Gate by Stephen Gallagher, writing as John Lydecker restored from the original extended manuscript (1981); audiobook read by Jon Culshaw (with John Leeson as K9) (BBC Audio, 2019) Even in heavily expurgated form, the version of Warriors’ Gate published in 1982 outshone all but a few of the original Target novelisations. The 2019 audiobook restores Gallagher’s original…
The Black Archive #29: The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon by John Toon (Obverse Books, 2019) A slim volume given the double episode. Toon touches on conspiracy theories (as a tonal setting) and the nomenclature of historical stories, while concentrating mainly on the moral ambiguity of the Doctor’s actions. Some easily digestible philosophical points are tabled for discussion.…
Doctor Who: The King’s Dragon by Una McCormack (BBC, 2010); audiobook read by Nicholas Briggs (AudioGO, 2011) Somewhat drawn-out, like an old four-parter told over six episodes. Nonetheless, McCormack tells a steady tale amidst the obligatory befriendings, betrayals and plot-twisting volte-faces. The support cast has some depth and the Doctor, Rory and Amy are spot-on. Nick Briggs reads well. …
Doctor Who: The Creeping Death by Roy Gill (Big Finish, 2019) A fast-moving audio adventure very much in keeping (both in length and tone) with a television episode. Nothing extraordinary but it’s nice to have the Tenth Doctor and Donna together again. David Tennant and Catherine Tate slip effortlessly back into their roles.
Doctor Who: The Emperor of Eternity by Nigel Robinson (Big Finish, 2010) Deborah Watling does her best to sell this paper-thin historical adventure but the character interactions are nonsensical, the writing is amateurish—more an expanded story outline than a fully realised drama—and the plot unravels like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
The Black Archive #31: Warriors’ Gate by Frank Collins (Obverse Books, 2019) Warriors’ Gate, one of the standouts of Doctor Who’s original run, arose from an unlikely concatenation of circumstances. Collins delves deep into the specifics of its shared authorship (interesting) and also the more nebulous resonances of literary and cinematic influence (less so).
Doctor Who: Lurkers at Sunlight’s Edge by Marty Ross (Big Finish, 2010) Although H. P. Lovecraft wouldn’t have been out of place in Doctor Who’s much-vaunted gothic horror run, Lurkers brings precious little originality to the homage. Ace has some nice moments but the guest characters are tired-and-true stereotypes and the plot unbearably cliched.
Doctor Who: The Feast of Axos by Mike Maddox (Big Finish, 2011) This remarkably non-gratuitous sequel tempers the Sixth Doctor’s usual bombast with UNIT-era realism and gives Colin Baker something to work with for once. The script verges on proper SF and the characters have reasonable motivations. Even the aliens are allowed some dignity!
Doctor Who: A Death in the Family by Steven Hall (Big Finish, 2010) Something of a masterpiece. Hall’s script is exceedingly clever in its own right and perfectly captures the essence of the Seventh Doctor. It earns its big emotional moments and features brilliant performances by McCoy, Aldred, Philip Olivier, Maggie Stables and Ian Reddington.
Doctor Who: Rat Trap by Tony Lee (Big Finish, 2011) Heavy-handed on the guest characterisation but a good story for the regulars (particularly the Doctor, Nyssa and Turlough). Although the ethics of animal experimentation provide a strong underpinning, this is rather destabilised by Big Finish’s penchant for rasping, borderline unintelligible monster voices.