To celebrate 20 years of producing Doctor Who audio drama, Big Finish have released The Legacy of Time, an epic six-part adventure uniting all corners of the Doctor Who universe. Read on to see my thoughts on the first three stories in this incredible set.
1. “Lies in Ruins” by James Goss
The Legacy of Time unites the many eras of Doctor Who right off the bat with James Goss‘s opening story Lies in Ruins, which sees Paul McGann‘s Eighth Doctor team up with River Song (Alex Kingston) and Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman) as they explore a most beguiling planet.
This isn’t the first time McGann’s Doctor and River Song have met; they first crossed paths in 2015’s The Diary of River Song: Volume One, which is available all throughout the month of August at half price (check it out here– it comes highly recommended!).
This story does, however, see the first meeting between River and Bernice, which has been long called for by Big Finish fans and certainly doesn’t disappoint. The interaction between these two characters is fantastic, echoing somewhat Rose and Sarah Jane’s fractious relationship in School Reunion, and providing some comedy in what turns into quite a bleak story. Bowerman and Kingston give it their all, and I hope we see these two reunite again in the future!
The high point of this story is without a doubt Paul McGann’s performance as the Doctor. This is the Doctor from the Time War, something Goss explores throughout the piece. I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that we’ve never seen the Eighth Doctor like this before…
The cast for this story is quite small; aside from the the Doctor, River and Benny, Alexandria Riley‘s Ria is really the only other major character in this script. Ria is the Doctor’s companion in this story, and she has an incredibly unique and interesting storyline that fits this iteration of the Eighth Doctor perfectly. Again, I won’t spoil anything, but there are some great revelations surrounding the character that really bring this story to life.
Overall, Lies in Ruins is an incredibly interesting opener to the box-set, uniting classic and modern Doctor Who in a story full of twists and fantastic character moments. There are some intriguing hints at the overall storyline of the boxset too, which left me excited to crack on with the remaining stories…
2. “The Split Infinitive” by John Dorney
The Counter Measures team, around which this story revolves, is somewhat a mystery to me. I haven’t yet delved into their audio series, nor heard The Assassination Games, their Main Range story with Sylvester McCoy. Understandably, then, I came to this story with a degree of trepidation…
…which was, thankfully, quashed early on by the incredibly engaging and action-packed narrative John Dorney gives us in The Split Infinitive. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Counter Measures aficionado or a complete newbie to the characters, this story is an incredibly accessible listen.
Taking place over two time periods simultaneously, the plot is rather complex, but ultimately very rewarding. With the Counter Measures team working on the same case in both the 60s and the 70s, there are lots of timey-wimey moments, which reminded me somewhat of Blink, with things happening in the past affecting the present.
The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) feature in this story, splitting up to solve a puzzling mystery involving gangsters, a man divided across the decades and an old enemy. Their interactions with the Counter Measures gang are well-written, recalling their initial adventures in Remembrance of the Daleks.
Howard Carter‘s music really brings the story together, taking on a very 60s, spy thriller vibe. Coming after the futuristic setting of the previous story, and the modern setting of the next one, this gives The Split Infinitive such a unique feel, which is great in a boxset as long as this one!
All in all, this is a fact-paced, engaging story that serves as a perfect introduction to the Counter Measures team to those who’ve not yet experienced their adventures. After this, I’m looking forward to hearing more from the gang in Dorney’s The Movellan Manoeuvre in April next year.
3. “The Sacrifice of Jo Grant” by Guy Adams
Guy Adams‘ The Sacrifice of Jo Grant is another story that unites classic and modern Doctor Who, seeing 1970s UNIT collide with the version of the team introduced in The Day of the Doctor.
Seeing past and present collide on the Jurassic Coast as pirates, dinosaurs and soldiers flood through a dimensional portal to the present day, this episode continues the previous stories’ suggestions that something has gone wrong with time.
As Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) deals with this in the 21st century, Kate (Jemma Redgrave) and Jo (Katy Manning) travel back to the 70s, where they meet the Third Doctor, played by Tim Treloar. This is a story packed with emotion; from the Doctor and Jo’s touching reunion, to a moment in the second half of the episode that gave me chills just hearing it, Adams certainly knows how to tug at the listener’s heartstrings.
Katy Manning is the highlight of the piece, giving an incredibly touching performance, similar to her emotional scenes with Matt Smith in The Death of the Doctor. I also enjoyed her interactions with Ingrid Oliver; their characters complement one another incredibly well, and I hope we see them reunite again in the future.
Action-packed and emotional, The Sacrifice of Jo Grant is the best story yet in The Legacy of Time, and leaves me excited to see where the rest of the set goes from here.
Stay tuned for my thoughts on the final three stories in the boxset, which will be posted later in the week!
The Legacy of Time is available as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
If you enjoy these reviews, follow us on Twitter @who__review