Water Worlds is a Doctor Who audio boxset presented by Big Finish Productions. The three episodes are directed by Helen Goldwyn and stars Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. He is joined by Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush. They are joined by a new companion, Hebe Harrison, played by Ruth Madeley. Hebe is a smart, sassy young woman who happens to be in a wheelchair. Yes, Hebe’s disability is what makes her so unique from all of the other smart, sassy women who have joined the Doctor in his travels through time and space. Anyway, how does this latest trio of adventures stand up?
The Rotting Deep by Jacqueline Rayner introduces the audience to Hebe Harrison. The Doctor and Mel arrive on an oil rig in the North Sea. They find that many of the crew have died. The birds are more aggressive than usual. Something in the water is causing the survivors to go mad. It’s not too bad of a story, but it seems a bit too familiar at times. I may have seemed a little dismissive of Hebe in the earlier paragraph, but I do sort of like her. She is a marine biologist and will have some knowledge of marine life that will be useful to the story and to the Doctor. This story isn’t quite an outstanding kickoff to this set, but it is acceptable and reasonably enjoyable. That is probably down to the performances of the leads and the post-production work. There are a few effectively chilling moments that help make this worthwhile.
The Tides of the Moon is written by Joshua Pruett and sees the TARDIS crew visiting an ancient civilization on the moon affected by gravitational forces emanating from the blue-green planet nearby. Also, there are creatures in the vast ocean on the moon that have a close connection to the inhabitants known as the Gilleans. This turns out to be pretty good, although some of the action sequences are a little hard to interpret. This story was pretty interesting, but I sort of had the same reaction as I did with the first episode. It’s a reasonably enjoyable story but nothing too spectacular. The audience gets to know Hebe a little better, and other than her being confined to a wheelchair, I have a hard time seeing her as being terribly unique in the Doctor Who catalog of companions.
Maelstrom by Jonathan Barnes finishes out this set and actually is much more interesting. The Doctor, Mel, and Hebe arrive on a planet where a small group of people traverse the seas in a large floating township. Strange experiments are being done to implant minds in other people’s bodies. This is probably the oddest story in this set, but it is also the best written. Threats are coming from all directions, and Hebe’s intelligence gets to shine here. Barnes has contributed a lot of scripts over the years to Big Finish, and his skills have not diminished. This is a bit of a chaotic episode, but it’s an enjoyable mess. I think Barnes wins the contest for this blogger’s approval on this collection.
The performances are quite good. Colin Baker’s performance is predictably energetic and enjoyable. Big Finish has also made some great improvements to Bonnie Langford’s character, and her enthusiasm for this not exactly new but much improved version of Mel is quite evident. Madeley is new to me, but she performs well enough, and I am not in a hurry to see her departure. It seems she will be around at least for the next collection of Sixth Doctor episodes, and I am good to see how she develops. The first two episodes are solid with the final entry by Barnes bringing it to a more than satisfactory close.