Doctor Who: The Hunting Ground review

At the end of a positive glut of seventh Doctor stories, the Big Finish main range sneaked in a Sixth Doctor story, The Hunting Ground by AK Benedict. It’s a charming story of Icelandic intrigue, police work and enough science fiction added to make it a Doctor Who story without getting in the way of the story. It works well and has plenty to recommend.

Let’s chat further…

The Hunting Ground

First the product page synopsis:

The Doctor arrives in present day Iceland and receives a frosty reception from Inspector Yrsa Kristjansdottir when he becomes the chief suspect in a murder enquiry. But the Doctor knows that the real killer is of extraterrestrial origin.

Joining forces with Yrsa, the Doctor goes in pursuit of a ruthless alien that is hunting humans for sport. Yrsa unearths a dark conspiracy which reaches back into her own past.

Determined to expose the truth and prevent further deaths, the Doctor and Yrsa soon find themselves running for their lives, prey on the hunting ground.

The whole chief suspect thing is a little bit of overstatement, this is Sixie, without companions, doing what he does best: talking a lot, dazzling his audience and getting on with what he needs to do.

The science fiction is mostly straightforward (and none the worse for that): cybernetic wolves, an alien hunter, sentient beings as trophies, some gadgets and (of course) the Doctor become the hunted. If the hunter himself is a bit obviously drawn (bit thick, bit rigid, no moral value) that’s not really a failing, and in creating Marfick (played by Joe Jameson and Will Hislop) AK Benedict has a marvellous new alien to add to the pantheon of those I’d like to hear more of.

The heart of this story is about family relationships, corruption, deception and doing the right thing. Centre stage is Yrsa (Amy Beth Hayes) the rather superbly performed inspector who has the right amount of belief/ cynicism/ courage/ personality to make her ideal companion material. Various other public figures range from evil through to merely corrupt and there’s a slightly overstated (at the end) anti-hunting message. Minor quibbles in a story that also brings Richard Reed’s wonderful police constable into the mix, and also teaches to be careful if the Doctor ever offers to fix your printer.

The writing is exemplary, the pacing strong and the sound work (and music) of Steve Foxon help make this a rather enjoyable listen from start to finish. Highly recommended.

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