The Outlaws is the latest release from Big Finish Productions to feature the First Doctor. There are actually two stories here which features a new actor in the role. Stephen Noonan tries his hand at resurrecting the role initially performed by the late William Hartnell. Lauren Cornelius brings back a character first played by a deceased actress, Jackie Lane. The Doctor and Dodo are about to have some more adventures together. The set is directed by Nicholas Briggs.
The Outlaws is written by Lizbeth Myles. Rufus Hound returns as an old adversary, known as the Meddling Monk. Gynis Barber, Christian Edwards, Sam Stafford, Carly Day, and Barnaby Edwards comprise the guest cast. The Doctor and Dodo arrive in England in the early thirteenth century where a conflict is brewing between the Sheriff of Lincoln and a gang wanting to interfere with the king’s efforts to find a war with France. The leader of the gang knows the Doctor quite well, and Dodo has fallen into his hands.
It’s a fun adventure and reveals a piece of medieval English history. Noonan isn’t always able to sound exactly like Hartnell, but the spirit of the performance is close enough. Cornelius is an engaging addition to the Big Finish cast. Barber is cast as a female sheriff of Lincolnshire at the time. It turns out that Nicola de la Haie is actually a real historical figure at that time. Carly Day delivers a standout performance as Idonea de Camville, who was so wonderfully petulant and duplicitous. Idonea is supposed to be quite unlikeable, but Day sort of gives her an amusing charm that made me hate her as much as I should.
Compared to some of the other output from Big Finish, this probably wasn’t what I would call the greatest, however it was a fine enough introduction to this latest version of the First Doctor.
A second shorter story is written by a woman as well. Lizzie Hopley delivers with The Miniaturist. Paul Copley, Yasmin Mwanza, Benedict Briggs, and Caroline Hrycek-Robinson make up the guest cast here.
This is probably the one I prefer in this little set since it has a spookier tone. The Doctor and Dodo arrive in the future at an abandoned mine where a geological exploration is occurring. Ghostly children have been materializing, and a presence has been at the heart of otherworldly occurrences, which includes keeping the Doctor and Dodo from access to the TARDIS.
This one was quite gripping in spite of the shorter length, although I am more of a sucker for ghost stories and surrealism in Doctor Who.
Well, I am glad that Big Finish continues to dip into this era even if the pool of original performers is getting smaller. They apparently plan to have David Bradley return to the role, however Noonan does well enough. He does imbue the Doctor with a strange sort of growl at times that I do not remember Hartnell uttering. It’s a little distracting, but perhaps Noonan will improve on sounding a little closer to Hartnell.
Anyway, Big Finish is showing a bit more courage on recasting and exploring early eras of the series. Even if I like some episodes more than others, I respect the overall effort and will enjoy revisiting the era of William Hartnell even though he is no longer with us.