The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 8 contains two more episodes featuring the Third Doctor as performed by Tim Treloar. Of course, he does his best to sound like the late Jon Pertwee and succeeds for the most part. The set was directed by Nicholas Briggs, one of the executive producers at Big Finish Productions.
Katy Manning reprises her role of Jo Grant in Conspiracy in Space written by Alan Barnes. Sam Stafford, Imogen Church, Barnaby Edwards, Aurora Burghart, and Issy Van Randwyck make up the guest cast. This a sequel to the television serial entitled Frontier In Space. The Draconians are back. Twenty years before the Doctor and Jo encountered them the first time, they find themselves caught up in another attempt to stir up a war between the Draconians and humans. There are rumors of some kind of super weapon and a mysterious group known as The Eyes complicating the Doctor’s efforts to intervene for the sake of peace in the galaxy.
This story is pretty average. I am not a huge fan of the television serial from which this follows. Treloar and Manning continue to hone their performances together. I just found much of this to be more repetitive. There also seemed to be some odd editing choices when it came to transitioning through the three cliffhangers. There were times when I wasn’t sure the sequence of events came across all that clearly. I think I was bothered by the television serial by the Doctor and Jo constantly moving from one period of captivity to another through the whole escapade. This revisitation isn’t quite that obnoxious, but it just didn’t have enough to make me reconsider my reservations about its preceding story.
Fortunately, The Devil’s Hoofprints by Robert Valentine was a much more appealing addition. Treloar is paired with Sadie Miller, who is resurrecting her mother’s role of Sarah Jane Smith. Miller doesn’t always sound just like her mother, Elisabeth Sladen, however she gets close enough for me to not be too distracted by the differences. Jon Culshaw returns to stand in for the late Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. The guest cast for this one is comprised of Barnaby Kay, Robert Daws, Derek Griffiths, Carolyn Seymour, and Nicholas Briggs, who is providing the snarls and growls of some creature known as the Icewalker. Okay, I am not sure about calling some alien an Icewalker, but most of the other elements in this story work well. Kay plays a scientist known as Chilton who has already met the Doctor a century or so before, however the Time Lord has yet to meet him. The Doctor’s examination of a new scientific center gets a bit more harrowing as he and Sarah have to travel back to 1855 during a time when a strange phenomenon in the snow caused some superstitious panic. The Doctor then discovers how Chilton knew him in the future. The Brigadier has his own battle for survival as he tries to avoid the crosshairs of a skilled alien hunter throughout the compound.
The Brigadier gets to be pretty much an action hero, which actually comes off rather well. The legend of the Devil’s Hoofprints is actually a real piece of British folklore. Kay plays the main villain and is actually rather compelling. This particular drama ends up coming out rather well. There is enough originality in the story without deviating from the feel of this era.
The two episodes did give me a very mixed reaction to it. Even though I may have a harsher opinion of the first episode, it still has some merit. I was actually rather mixed on the Third Doctor’s era on television as well. I was not a fan of the idea of confining the Doctor to at the time of broadcast would have been present day Earth. I am rather pleased that Big Finish seems to be working around some of that and having more adventures where this Doctor gets to explore other times and civilizations. I commend Big Finish for having the courage to explore this old era with some new talent. Jon Pertwee himself is what keeps me wanting to watch the Third Doctor era in spite of my reservations about some of the production decisions at the time. Treloar’s homage to his legacy is more than adequate for me to appreciate new stories with this particular incarnation. The work that goes into the casting and the post production effects seems to be getting better and better. Even if I have a few curmudgeonly thoughts about this release, no regrets here with the purchase.