On a historic Monday the 9th of January 2012, Big Finish released Destination Nerva, the first of their Fourth Doctor Adventures a new range featuring (at last) Tom Baker. Much missed by fans as the only living classic Doctor Who not to feature in the new audio adventures would this be a triumph or case of too much hope and exuberance covering the cracks in a disappointing outing? Would it be better than the AudioGo releases also featuring Tom? Let’s find out…
Did I like it?
Yes I did; there short review done, move on to the next thing on the web. What still here? All right then let’s scratch below the surface.
Apart from the usual quality production, sound, direction, casting &c, don’t forget this is the first outing for this combination of stars and characters for many a year (too many some would say). The result is a happy crew giving a great performance of a decent Nick Briggs script and setting a good tone for what I now believe will be a decent run of stories sitting alongside the main range.
What was good and not so good?
First of all the cast:
- Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor: I am very pleased with this; elsewhere I worried about the Paul Magrs AudioGo releases and someone pointed out there Tom was playing Tom rather than the Doctor. Happily (so far) Big Finish have coaxed out a portrayal that feels largely like the 1970s. I did feel a few times that the Doctor was not taking the threats as seriously as he might but that is a minor gripe
- Louis Jameson as Leela: excellent. I was really pleased as how the script and the performance really felt like Leela was new to the TARDIS and all that implied. Nice to hear in the extras that this was very consciously done and how it was achieved
- Raquel Cassidy: nice to have her back so soon after her excellent performance on the Colin Baker Recorded Time tales and she was very comfortable here
- Tim Treloar: a blistering performance as Lord Jack and it is almost a shame that the adventure is over so rapidly.
- At times this didn’t fell like a single-disc story; I felt there were enough layers for a 2-disc tale and to get round this we jumped through some narrative hoops to race towards the end of the plot. The alien Drelleran get somewhat short changed.
- Given Nerva would one day be host to the Wirrn, is the pathology of the Drelleran disease inspired by the mutagenic nature of the Wirrn? I.e. in both cases one touch and you transform?
Anyway, the paradigm has changed, Tom Baker does record for Big Finish and we now have another Doctor to enjoy. Next stop The Renaissance Man!