Guest contributor Kieran Brennan continues his journey through the Eighth Doctor’s early adventures as he takes a look at Seasons of Fear!
When mysterious man calling himself Grayle approaches the Doctor, claiming to have killed him in the future, the Time Lord and Charley journey through history to learn the truth behind this new adversary and, if possible, stop him from committing murder.
It seems odd to me that many Big Finish stories fail to take full advantage of their medium. Theoretically, one could do anything within the audio medium as conventional budget restraints are absent. Seasons of Fear, a globe-trotting, time hopping adventure takes full advantage of this, as even modern Doctor Who episodes would most likely be unable to convincingly pull off the massive scope of different locations and time periods explored within these two hours.
In a weird way, it feels more like a NuWho episode than any other Big Finish release up until this point; it’s fast paced and constantly moving, and, without delving into spoilers, advances the overall arc of the Eighth Doctor in a much greater way than anything that has came before it. Seasons of Fear is full of callbacks, cameos and references to the wider Doctor Who universe, even foreshadowing some future adventures (Well, I think it does at least. This is my first time going through this range, but I’m familiar with a name or two from future adventures).
Even with the constantly changing locations and characters, Seasons of Fear is focused precisely on what I want Doctor Who stories to be focused on: its characters. By which I don’t mean the generic crew of spaceship engineers that far too many Doctor Who stories feature, I mean the Doctor, Charley and Grayle. Stephen Perring is brilliant as Grayle, by far one of the best Big Finish one off villains I can think of; his evolution throughout the story is sold extremely well by the performance.
Paul McGann and India Fisher are of course excellent as well; their back and forth is so entertaining at this point and they really gel together brilliantly as a TARDIS team. McGann gets a bit more to do than usual, stopping a few times to have a short monologue on the beauty of time, life, death and the universe. He even recites an old Gallifreyan bedtime story at one point, called Zagreus. Though, I’m sure that won’t lead to anything…
It would be remiss of me to talk about Seasons of Fear without praising Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox’s excellent script, giving the Eighth Doctor his most timey wimey adventure yet, bouncing all over the place in a nonlinear fashion. I certainly prefer my Who to mess with time and how we as an audience can perceive it, something which, while often harder to convey in audio, Cornell and Symcox excels at here.
Seasons of Fear is a great adventure from Big Finish, one of the Eighth Doctor’s strongest outings yet. With excellent performances and a creative and fun idea, Seasons of Fear takes full advantage of its audio medium and embraces the tropes of time travel in a fresh and interesting way.