The Ninth Doctor gets his first Short Trips release in “Battle Scars” by Selim Ulug. Having thoroughly enjoyed Ulug’s “Landbound”, which won 2016’s Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trip Opportunity, I was incredibly excited to get into this one. Read on to see what I thought.
Battle Scars does what Big Finish does best: expanding on an era of which we saw comparatively little and giving it an audio afterlife. In this case, we delve into the early days of the Ninth Doctor’s life, only hinted at in the TV series, to see what he got up to in the aftermath of the Time War.
This story focuses on the tale told by Clive in Rose about the Daniels family, who cancelled their trip on the Titanic after meeting the Doctor. We focus mostly on the characters of Connie, a “fantastic” young girl who serves as the Doctor’s companion in this story, and Arthur, whose harrowing experiences in the Boer War echo those of the Doctor during the Time War.
Both characters are compelling, not only in and of themselves, but also in the ways they reveal to us different facets of this earlier, rawer version of the Ninth Doctor. This is what makes Battle Scars such a success. As a result of this, the plot does seem a little thin, but when the character work is this captivating, that’s of very little concern.
Combined with Richard Fox‘s wonderful music and sound design, Nicholas Briggs‘ rich narration, and Ulug’s delightful prose, the development this story gives to both the Ninth Doctor and the characters of Connie and Arthur cements Battle Scars as one of my favourite Short Trips to date, and quite possibly Big Finish’s best Ninth Doctor story too.
A fantastic debut Short Trip for the Ninth Doctor, full of emotion and engaging characterisation. Thoroughly recommended.
Battle Scars is available from http://www.bigfinish.com as a download
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