The Sarah Jane Adventures, Series 3 (BBC, 2009) Series Three maintains a good mix of serious and silly SF, shifting the focus slightly away from Sarah Jane and towards her young companions. The stories are imaginative but at their weakest where mainstream Doctor Who elements (K9, the Tenth Doctor) feature.
Doctor Who: The Crowmarsh Experiment by David Llewellyn (Big Finish, 2018) Leela is attacked during one of her adventures with the Doctor, and wakes up in a research institute for implanted dream consciousness. Which of her realities is genuine? Perfectly pitched performances by Louise Jameson and Tom Baker. A nice idea cleverly executed.
Doctor Who: The Sons of Kaldor by Andrew Smith (Big Finish, 2018) There’s nothing new here, as such, but Smith has scripted a nuanced small-scale Kaldor robots story that feels fresh even while treading the familiar ground. The acting is up to scratch and the lack of big action holds the soundtrack in check.
Doctor Who: Illegal Alien by Mike Tucker & Robert Perry (BBC, 1997); audiobook read by Sophie Aldred (Bolinda, 2016) Blandly written and at least twice as long as it needed to be. Great chunks of the story involve treading water, running around pointlessly, and building up characters (both major and minor) that turn out to be nothing more than gross…
Doctor Who: Dark Universe by Guy Adams (Big Finish, 2020) Even if his schizophrenic personalities lack individual depth, the Eleven is a villain to be reckoned with and one of Big Finish’s great contributions to Who. Adams scripts a story of conscious bravura that deflates with the Seventh Doctor’s usual cop-out masterminding.
Doctor Who: Planet of Evil by Louis Marks; dir. David Maloney (BBC, 1975) The overlooked classic of the Tom Baker years. Planet of Evil makes the most of its premise, combining a nuanced script with tight direction and some seriously good acting (particularly from its leads). Roger Murray-Leach’s alien jungle set constitutes a series highpoint.
Doctor Who: Tick-Tock World by Guy Adams (Big Finish, 2019) A more-or-less successful mix of experimental SF and character overhaul. The production team at Big Finish still seem uncertain how to develop Susan—her emotions, maturity, competence and relationships fade in and out—but at least they’re trying. Well worth a listen.
The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat; dir. Nick Hurran (BBC, 2013) Like many of Moffat’s ‘big’ scripts, this has a rushed, scattershot feel—not from poor conceptualisation but from trying to cram too much into too little space. That said, there are plenty of nice moments. The interaction amongst Doctors is perfectly pitched.
Doctor Who: The Phoenicians by Marc Platt (Big Finish, 2019) It’s easy to envisage this historical adventure as part of Doctor Who’s first season. Platt spends time developing Ian and Barbara’s relationship, and pays some attention to women’s search for independence. David Bradley is on form, his interpretation idiosyncratic yet not unfaithful.
Doctor Who: At Childhood’s End by Sophie Aldred (BBC, 2020); audiobook read by Sophie Aldred (BBC, 2020) An unexpectedly proficient debut novel. The prose rarely sparkles but Aldred builds the story well, bridging the 30-year divide between Season 26 (dark manipulations) and Series 12 (sparkly rainbow TARDIS family). Her audiobook reading affords Ace’s journey a further layer of authenticity. …