Doctor Who Audio Review: A Shattered Future Awaits The Doctor

Stranded 3 is a Doctor Who audio boxset directed by Ken Bentley. Paul McGann plays the Eighth Doctor and is joined by a guest cast that includes Nicola Walker, Hattie Morahan, Rebecca Root, Nicholas Briggs, Anjella Mackintosh, Tom Price, and Robert Whitelock. There are four stories in this set, and the adventures the Doctor and his friends experience during a time when the TARDIS was stuck on Earth. The Doctor had found that a property he owned on Baker Street had been converted into a boarding house, and he is compelled to interact with residents while defending the planet from alien incursions and getting his TARDIS to run properly again. Liv Chenka, played by Walker, has fallen in love with a transgender woman played by Rebecca Root. Torchwood operates on the periphery here, although the Doctor isn’t supposed to know about them yet. The TARDIS has regained much of her abilities, but some of the universal history has been altered, and the Doctor needs to determine how much he has to repair.

Tim Foley starts us off with Patience, which sees the Doctor face the Judoon, the mercenary police force who resembles rhinos. Other than the Judoon, I am not sure I have much to say regarding what I found interesting. I didn;t find it the most memorable of episodes. The acting is reliable enough, but one can safely say that most about most, if not all, Big Finish releases.

I will just move on to Lizzie Hopley’s Twisted Folklore, which brings the Doctor and his friends to a planet in the far future where a society is based on old tales in human history, an the Time Lord has a rebellion to organize. This story is a little better but not really enough to keep me fully engaged or motivate me to return to it anytime soon.

Snow is the traditional sentimental story that is often a part of these sets and is written by James Kettle. The Doctor and his friends return to the house on Baker Street fifteen years after they left. Ron Winters is the only resident still there, mourning the loss of his partner. The more unusual aspect here is that snow is only falling in the garden. David Shaw-Parker give a pretty compelling performance. There’s a bit more of a quiet mystery feel in this story that does provide a bit of a respite from some of the more frantic energy of the previous two episodes.

Finally John Dorney closes out this set with What Just Happened? The Doctor and his friends are on a space station with a unique threat. Dorney decides to basically tell the story backwards. This technique tales a bit more concentration in audio format. Once I got used to it, I can then see that Dorney’s reliable talent has indeed come through again for Big Finish. I don’t know if it ended up being one of the greatest stories he has put out, but I can still appreciate the creative effort he attempts.

Overall, I am about ready for the whole saga to come to an end. It isn’t all terrible, but I am now getting the feeling that they writers are sort of concocting ways to reach some four boxset quota. I am not that interested in this romance between Root’s Tania Bell and Liv Chenka. The final solution in the upcoming set might make all of this worthwhile, and I am enough of a fan to stick it out and give it a chance. McGann is great as usual. The performances are fine, and Big Finish always does well with the post production sound effects and music. It’s still impressive considering that this was performed during the United Kingdom COVID lockdown. This collection doesn’t teeter into the abyss of being an utter waste of time, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark of being anything a momentous example of writing greatness even for Doctor Who.

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