Doctor Who Audio Review: Before The Eleven, There Was The Nine

The Nine is a Doctor Who audio boxset featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor presented by Big Finish Productions. This set contains three stories all written and directed by different contributors. The Eleven was introduced a few years ago and is another renegade Time Lord. He has an affliction where his previous incarnations exist in his current body. This Doctor has apparently faced this particular insane Gallifreyan earlier than the audience knew. We learn that having merely nine personalities inhabiting one form isn’t much better than eleven voices.

The Doctor and the Nine clash in The Dreams of Avarice by Guy Adams. John Heffernan plays the Nine. Richard Dixon, Ronni Ancona, and Mark Elstob round out the guest cast. Ken Bentley serves as director. The Nine has stolen a planet in which the Doctor is trapped. With the help of a skeptical detective, the Doctor has to retrieve his TARDIS, have the planet restored, and avoid getting arrested when this is resolved. Someone as bizarre as the Nine facing this particular Doctor is generally fodder for some worthwhile entertainment, and Adams delivers here. Tom Baker continues to sound enthusiastic and effective as he gets ever closer to his ninth decade. It’s a totally absurd story which wobbles a bit when it comes to clarity, but I didn’t care. The banter between the Doctor and Inspector Probert as they struggle to stop the machinations of the Nine makes the confusion irrelevant. The Doctor’s occasional dismissive attitude toward the Nine is also terribly amusing. The performances make this mess of a story work, and Adams is a good enough writer to pull this off. It has a lot of hammy performances and silly dialogue, but it still manages to entertain quite thoroughly.

Shellshock needed two writers, Simon Barnard and Paul Morris, to be brought to our ears. Nicholas Briggs returns to the director’s seat for this one. Alicia Ambrose-Bayly plays a German nurse who assists the Doctor during the First World War. The guest cast is comprised Finlay Robertson, Nicholas Asbury, Richard Hope, and Christopher Naylor. Soldiers are not only suffering nightmares, but they seem to share the same one. Also, a scientist is conducting experiments that alter the thoughts and loyalties of those who have doubts about the purpose of this war. The Doctor knows that human beings are capable of great atrocities, but some of this may have a more extraterrestrial influence behind it. Nothing really goes off the rails here, and the performances are up to par, however this one felt like it dragged a bit. It’s another one that I didn’t really hate, but I didn’t love it either,

Lizbeth Myles closes the book on this set with Peake Season with Jamie Anderson directing. The Doctor meets writer Mervyn Peake, who is played by David Holt. Jules de Jongh, David Sterne, Marc Silk, and Ava Merson-O’Brien all pitch in as the guest cast. I will be honest and admit that Mervyn Peake is not someone who was on my radar. Peake was apparently a popular fantasy author who died in 1968. The Doctor and Peake are transported to a strange city where they somehow get jobs as newspaper cartoonists. It’s a strange, fun episode that is not likely going to be listed as a fan favorite.

As usual, Tom Baker’s participation is what lifts the material from the threat of mediocrity. The writers are competent, and of course Big Finish remain masterful in their post-production work. The collection overall is entertaining and does not deserve to be overlooked.

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