Doctor Who: The Creed of the Kromon by Philip Martin (Big Finish, 2004) Philip Martin’s two serials were highpoints of Doctor Who during Colin Baker’s all-too-brief tenure. Creed of the Kromon features Paul McGann’s Doctor but carries a similar vibe, suffusing its SF setting with a depth and complexity rarely seen in weekly adventure serials.
Doctor Who: Animal by Andrew Cartmel (Big Finish, 2011) As Cartmel the script editor, so Cartmel the writer: an eye for the big picture; blithe on particulars. Funky musical transitions cannot enliven this ponderous, time-wasting run-around. Meantimes, Sylvester McCoy retreats into affability mode, presumably to medicate against banal and ham-fisted dialogue.
The Black Archive #34: Battlefield by Philip Purser-Hallard (Obverse Books, 2019) The sections on Arthurian legend outstrip the casual reader’s needs (Purser-Hallard is an authority). The remaining chapters delve astutely into Battlefield’s production-level evolution and aspirations, piecing together a cogent analysis of where this unheralded story succeeds and what it might have offered.
Doctor Who: Scherzo by Robert Shearman (Big Finish, 2003) An experimental, at times very disturbing two-hander played with considerable finesse by Paul McGann and India Fisher. The premise is to be lauded but lacks execution (at both script and production level). Though not incongruous, the unceasing background mosquito whine was ill-advised.
The Black Archive #35: Timelash by Phil Pascoe (Obverse Books, 2019) Pascoe approaches Timelash without an obvious agenda to push, motivated by a fondness for the story yet making no attempt to proselytise. His exposition is centred around the use of HG Wells as a character, and evinces the creative bleed-through between texts.
Dr. Seventh by Adam Hargreaves (BBC, 2017) Though drawing a pretty faithful Seventh Doctor (and Ace), Hargreaves manages the almost inconceivable feat of making his Cheetah People less threatening than those of the original serial. In mitigation, the Master’s cameo is era-appropriate in its preening reveal and blustering fizzle.
The Black Archive #33: Horror of Fang Rock by Matthew Guerrieri (Obverse Books, 2019) Guerrieri is clearly an erudite writer and diligent researcher. However, the four constructs by which he interprets Horror of Fang Rock seem associatively rather than directly relevant; the non-Who works he analyses tend rather to dominate, relegating Horror itself to the background.
Doctor Who, Series 12 BBC, 2020 Series 12 shows tremendous diversity and production values, top-notch acting and highly imaginative storylines, albeit that some of the most promising scenarios boil down to heavy-handed moralising (‘Orphan 55’, ‘Praxeus’) or egregious dei ex machina (‘Spyfall, Part 2’, ‘Can You Hear Me?’).
Doctor Who: The Wormery by Paul Magrs & Stephen Cole (Big Finish, 2003) The experimental storytelling doesn’t always pay dividends, but at least the writers aren’t stuck on the bog-standard. Colin Baker holds himself in fine fettle (and is afforded an uncommon depth of character). Former Pertwee-era companion Katy Manning runs rampant as Iris Wildthyme.
Dr. Eleventh by Adam Hargreaves (BBC, 2017) Hargreaves, in his usual clumsy way, has Matt Smith’s Doctor and River Song run a pointless gamut of monsters… but can only think of three (Zygons, Silurians, Weeping Angels) before resorting to snakes and spiders! The ending is as tiresome as ever.