November 2019 brought an early release for the Doctor Who Short Trips range with Hall of the Ten Thousand. Jaine Fenn joins the ranks of Big Finish writers with an Eight Doctor and Charley story. India Fisher narrates and I have to say it’s the most accomplished of the recent run of Short Trips stories, some of which I’ve had reservations about. Let’s dive in…
Hall of the Ten Thousand
Here’s the Big Finish summary:
The Ten Thousand represent everything the Doctor admires. Ingenuity, creativity and triumph of peace over war. So, naturally, he’s taken Charley to see them.
However, their arrival isn’t the quite the gallery visit they expected. Why is everything slowly falling apart? Why is the artist refusing to see them?
But for Charley, there’s a question that’s far more urgent. Did that statue just move?
Ignore the moving statue – this is not Blink follow-up. Instead we have a grim take on the futility of war, madness and a futuristic version of the Terracotta Army. In space no less.
As the Doctor and Charlie explore a famed exhibition a grim reality comes to light, one which the Doctor can’t resolve with the wave of a magic wand / sonic screwdriver. It’s a well-paced and well-constructed story from a skilled writer (see Jaine’s website). As the ending approaches details dovetail together and there’s a resolution several shades darker than we normally get with Doctor Who.
India Fisher reads well, there’s background sound work from Richard Fox and it really feels like an Eighth Doctor and Charley tale, with both characters captured without resorting to tropes. There’s no Edwardian Adventuress rather a portrayal of a young woman growing up one more step as the story exposes her to the stark facts of the exhibition’s existence. It’s anti-war but never heavy-handed.
On the strength of this release I hope we get much more Big Finish from Jaine in future. Hopefully not too far off as well!