With Stranded, Big Finish takes the Eighth Doctor, Liv and Helen to a Covid-free version of London 2020. There they must survive without TARDIS and most of the Doctor’s trickery (no sonic nor psychic paper). Instead they might even have to get jobs! It’s all very different and for me, overdue.
I’m reviewing these one by one, and not rushing them either. First up it’s Matt Fitton with Lost Property. By the way; the cover is by Grant Neil on the FaceBook Big Finish OCD page.
Not quite a kitchen-sink
It’s a very different turn of pace as we see the TARDIS team cope with no TARDIS (it’s stopped working) and everyday life. Worries include jobs, bills and the unexpected Baker Street tenants. This is not the vaguely undefined address we have in other stories; this 2020 Baker Street is now split into flats each with (or about to be with) its own inhabitants.
Helen (being only several decades out of time but from London) gets to take a lead in organisation while Liv meets some of the tenants. We know as listeners there must be backstory and hidden depths to be revealed but Matt keeps matters close to his chest with only odd hints of something deeper.
The Doctor himself is a forlorn figure. Robbed of an immediate need to save the world and with no sonic he falls back on an ill-defined local trader in alien items who also knows the Doctor in other guises. Speaking of which, there’s the Curator.
I enjoyed seeing Tom Baker as a surprise annex to Day of the Doctor but what is his character meant to mean for the overall mythos? (I nearly said canon!) Should he really be popping up in 2020 and nudging events along? Does this rob him of mystique? That all said Tom Baker is easily the star of this story, stealing the scenes and wonderful to listen to.
There is a minor in-story adventure of sorts with mysterious forces and and odd interloper in the basement, but it’s really about meeting some of the new faces. I’ve mixed views on the success of this. There are few unnecessary backstory introductions; one flat has occupants move in during the story and we have a set of characters we’ve yet to get to know fully. Of them all Rebecca Root’s Tania Bell has the most depth (so far) where the others have merged into a slight blur. Writing a series with long-term characters is not the same as a boxset of thinly connected adventures in time and space, and I think this is promising, so far.
Personally I didn’t enjoy the Ravenous series, finding it unfocussed and over the top. This is a very welcome bringing down to earth (literally) and puts the Doctor and TARDIS team in a more banal setting. We don’t want this all the time, but it makes a very nice change.