My wander back through the Big Finish Subscriber Short Trips hits 2010 and four more great Doctor Who stories to enjoy. Four authors, three readers, four Doctors and six companions (and some UNIT pseudo-companions) — you spoil us!
Excitement aside, are these worth a listen? Short answer, yes; long answer…
When Ian Atkins took over production for the Subscriber Short Trips, he spent some time making sure there was a clear attribution of stories across the years, rather than a somewhat muddled dissemination we had before. [enough big words] Part of this meant adding some stories here and there, hence the first release, The Doctor’s First XI is an Ian Atkins story though now connected to 2010.
Stephen Critchlow reads this Fourth Doctor and Romana I story about a colony struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of alien attack. Through cricket the Doctor helps them move forward, but the process is not without its drawbacks. This story is noted for its perspective on how alien time lords are when viewed by mere humans, and the use of cricket works well, even if other sports might (at the start) seem more natural. Well crafted and has a powerful ending.
Next up Simon Guerrier’s The Switching and Duncan Wisbey gives us the story of an attempted escape from prison by the Master, new insights into the character of the Third Doctor and some Mike Yates/ Jo Grant moments. At its core The Switching takes a very simple idea and uses it to tell us something we didn’t know about the Doctor. It does this subtly and the listener delights in knowing what is actually going on while those around are merely confused by ever eccentric time lord behaviour.
John Dorney’s Lepidoptery for Beginners is both amusing and grim at the same time. Unlike modern Who where time gets re-written continually, this story explores how total foreknowledge would make for an invincible enemy. The Second Doctor, Zoe and Jamie are up against impossible odds as they find themselves out fought by an implacable enemy intent on their destruction. There are some elements of Curse of Fatal Death in the use of time travel to chance ongoing outcomes, but less ridiculous than that story, though no less entertaining.
[pullquote]a fitting ending to a good year[/pullquote]
Eddie Robson’s Little Drummer Boy was the December release for 2010, and fittingly is a Christmas tale finessed just after the Christmas episode of Dalek Masterplan. Thus we have the First Doctor, Steven and Sara Kingdom following a mysterious time travelling boy with the strangest of secrets. The story touches on a couple of core elements of the show at the time with its (mostly) strict adherence to protecting the past (but not our own future). The resolution is unusually timey-wimey and to be fair to Eddie Robson he has Steven echo the same worries about paradox and illogic. There are some wonderful moments in this and it’s a fitting ending to a good year.