Doctor Who Audio Review: More Escapades In E-Space

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures Series 09 Volume 02

The Fourth Doctor Adventures Series 9 Volume 2 contains two more Doctor Who audio plays from Big Finish Productions. Tom Baker stars as the Fourth Doctor and is accompanied in this series by Lalla Ward as Romana, Matthew Waterhouse as Adric, and John Leeson as K9. Nicholas Briggs directed both stories. These stories during the period where the TARDIS had slipped through a Charged Vacuum Emboitment and was left wandering through another universe known as E-Space. Adric had recently stowed away aboard the TARDIS and joined the two Gallifreyans and the robot pooch as they attempt to find their way back to our more familiar universe. Still, as dire as things are, the Doctor doesn’t miss an opportunity to explore. Here are two more adventures created by the masterminds at Big Finish.

The Planet of Witches is the first tale up and is presented by Alan Barnes. The guest cast is comprised of Abigail McKern, Lauren Cornelius, Samuel Blenkin, Michael Simkins, and Samuel Clemens. The Doctor and his companions follow a spacecraft until it crashes onto a planet where they find people escaping a supposed Witchfinder. They encounter someone called Crone who is more than a mere witch.

This episode was pretty good. I think I liked the second one a little better, but there is a female villain here is portrayed quite well by McKern. It’s a solid piece of work from Barnes, but he usually does come through on these scripts. The main cast is quite good here as usual. Waterhouse benefits from some better writing than he was given when he was in the television series. He also seems to have been practicing on how to sound more like a teen-ager even though he is almost sixty. Adric is not really a favorite of mine of the Doctor’s companions, but I am actually glad that Big Finish decided to add to this particular part of the eighteenth season of the television series. It manages to be an enjoyable episode, but I found the next one to be the better one.

Which brings this, dear reader, to The Quest of the Engineer by Andrew Smith. Andrew Smith actually wrote the television story entitled Full Circle, which brought the TARDIS to E-Space and introduced Adric. The Doctor and his friends lose the TARDIS within the fissures of a planet that has a constantly shifting surface. A ruler known as the Engineer, played by Nicholas Woodeson, is a bit of a lunatic with depth. The rest of the guest cast are made up of George Layton, Sarah Woodward, Timothy Blore, and Richard Hansell.

Although there are a lot of familiar elements, there is also some interesting deviations from the traditional plot devices. Although the Doctor is far from sidelined, it ends up being Romana and K9 who have the most interaction with the Engineer. The Doctor has his own challenges, accompanied by Adric, alongside Woodward’s character mainly, but he does not actually meet the Engineer until the near the climax of the adventure. I rather liked the departure from the typical jousting between the Doctor and an adversary throughout the story. The Engineer seems to have a bit more depth and cunning than the typical despot the Doctor often encounters in his travels. Smith presents a pretty well developed background here, which is impressive considering he has written for Doctor Who for about forty years.

I was rather impressed with both episodes, although as mentioned before, the second one in this particular set was just a bit better. I am still impressed with how sharp and energetic Tom Baker sounds in his performance in spite of his getting a little closer his ninth decade. This set concludes the ninth series of Fourth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish Productions, and I am looking forward to many more with Tom Baker still in the lead.

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