Classic Doctors, New Monsters: The Stuff of Nightmares is a new Doctor Who audio boxset from Big Finish Productions. It is the third volume of episodes in which the Doctors from the classic series encounter creatures and adversaries introduced in the renewed series that began in 2005. There are four adventures included in this set.
Tim Foley starts off this collection with his Third Doctor story, The House That Hoxx Built. Tim Treloar provides an acceptable impression of Jon Pertwee’s performance alongside Sadie Miller, who is portraying Sarah Jane Smith, originally played by her mother, Elisabeth Sladen. The Doctor and Sarah travel to Earth in far future where they find an isolated, haunted house, inhabited by the Hoxx of Balhoun and his ward, some kind of sentient sheep. Dan Starkey, a frequent guest on Big Finish plays the role of Hoxx, which is a bit of a departure for him. He actually really helps make this work. Foley provides a bizarre story, but I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. Treloar really has done well with capturing the essence of the late Jon Pertwee. Miller certainly has been getting better with sounding like her late mother. This first story in this set is a promising start.
Robert Valentine reunites the Fourth Doctor and Leela in The Tivolian Who Knew Too Much. Tom Baker and Louise Jameson reprise their roles. The Tivolians are a race perfectly comfortable being conquered, except for the one gangster in their midst. The story takes place in 1970’s Rome, and the Doctor keeps coming across Tivolians and ends up being stuck with one of the more nervous allies he has encountered. The tale is a strange hybrid of a comedic mob and soy story. Of course, the title does rather give away the inspiration Valentine was drawing from. This was a pretty fun romp for the most part. I like that not all of the new monsters are necessarily the bad guys. Baker and Jameson still manage to keep the banter familiar and sharp.
Together in Eclectic Dreams is written by Roy Gill and introduces a new companion for the Sixth Doctor. Colin Baker figuratively slips back into the patchwork coat and is trying to help his new companion, Mari Yoshida, played by Susan Hingley, to get some better sleep. Strangely, Mari has dreams where she encounters a strange long-haired man in a green velvet coat. Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor, is also in this one. The Dream Crabs are feeding again, and it will take two Doctors to wake everyone up. For some reason, I think Colin Baker just shines when playing off one of the other Doctors. He just seems extra funny when reacting to his other incarnations. The Sixth Doctor really struggled with popularity during his television era, however Big Finish continues to make this particular iteration much more engaging. The writers flesh out how brilliantly inventive this Doctor can be in a crisis. McGann’s participation was a treat as well. There is a pretty good twist with Mari’s presence as well. I have a somewhat disapproving take on multi-Doctor episodes, but this ended up being one that worked. I think it was because the Sixth Doctor’s interaction with his other incarnations are often extra funny.
John Dorney brings this set to a close with If I Should Die Before I Wake. The story was apparently conceived by Jacqueline Raynor. Paul McGann is reunited with India Fisher. The Eight Doctor and Charlotte Pollard have some stories to share, however the tales have a deeper purpose. The Dream Crabs are still hungry, and the Doctor and Charley have to use fantasies and myths to find their way back to reality. This one got better as it went along. McGann and Fisher have maintained their chemistry. It was good to revisit this pairing in a new adventure.
Barnaby Edwards directed this set pretty well. The stories were not necessarily stand-outs, but none of them really disappointed either. All of the Doctors were just as fun as I remembered. The performances were all solid and engaging. This turned out to be one of the better collections overall that Big Finish has delivered.