The original TARDIS team is back for another boxset of adventures, this time featuring a familiar face. The first two First Doctor Adventures sets are some of my all-time favourite Big Finish releases, but does volume three manage to be just as good? Read on to find out!
1. “The Phoenicians” by Marc Platt
As with the previous two sets in the series, Volume Three has both a sci-fi and a historical story. “The Phoenicians” is part of the latter camp, and offers an intriguing glimpse into a civilisation that, until listening to this, I knew very little about.
It’s because of stories like this that I love the First Doctor’s era so much. Featuring no science fiction elements bar the TARDIS and its occupants, “The Phoenicians” is almost like a documentary, exploring the epoch in which it’s set in a way that’s both educational and dramatically interesting.
As with the other historical stories he’s written for Big Finish Marc Platt emulates the style of a First Doctor tale perfectly, combining a vivid setting with colourful characters (fictional and real) to create an enthralling look back into the past. Such is the authenticity of the script that I could easily see it fitting into the show’s first season.
David Bradley as the Doctor gets some particularly great material here, but all of the main cast get to shine at one point or another. The main quartet is complimented by a brilliant guest cast, the standouts of which are Ajjaz Awad as Elissa and Jo Ben Ayed as Pygmalion, who convey the petulant bickering of a brother-sister relationship perfectly.
All in all, “The Phoenicians” is a great opening to the set, and an extremely effective historical story.
2. “Tick-Tock World” by Guy Adams
Tick-Tock World is the second story in the set, and the more science-fiction based episode of the two. Set on a mysterious world where time and space are out of joint, this is another great installment in the series.
This story is full of some great ideas, though sometimes I found myself wondering if there was too little plot for the runtime. Nevertheless, the character work here is excellent, and continues the trend set in “The Phoenicians” of really fleshing out the original TARDIS team.
Claudia Grant is served well as Susan here, this probably being the best story for the character yet. The Doctor, Ian and Barbara are also given a lot to do, each of them having several moments of character development that really elevate this story.
The guest characters, played by Mina Anwar (aka Gita Chandra from SJA), Susie Emmett and Belinda Lang are also well-written, and add to this story’s success.
This story also features an appearance from Carole Ann Ford: the original Susan. I’ll give no spoilers here as to what her role in the story entails; all I’ll say is that she does a brilliant job bringing a most beguiling character to life.
The sound design and music is particularly brilliant here, with Joe Meiners bringing the mysterious world in which the story takes place to life stunningly.
Directed by Ken Bentley who, as usual, is on top form, this boxset is another in one of the strongest series Big Finish are currently producing. Taking us from the ancient and vivid world of the Phoenicians to a mysterious and shadowy planet populated by terrible creatures, the stories in this set are brilliant and leave me clamouring for a Volume Four as soon as possible.
The First Doctor Adventures: Volume Three can be purchased on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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