The Eighth Doctor is out of the Divergent Universe… and it’s time for him to face the Daleks again as Kieran Brennan takes a look at Terror Firma!
Davros has captured the Doctor. Having survived the destruction of Skaro, he has rebuilt his Dalek empire. But something is wrong. Davros is in danger, he’s changing and his only hope is the Doctor. Will the Doctor help one of his greatest enemies, or will he find further horrors on this strange new planet infested with Daleks?
As a semi-sequel to one of the most beloved Doctor Who stories of all time, Remembrance of The Daleks, Terror Firma has a lot to live up to. In an interesting way, both stories have an odd similarity. Remembrance is regarded as a precursor to the revival series, being more action packed and having clear influence on what was to come. In the same way, I feel Terror Firma and the way it drops surprisingly big moments and twists out of seemingly nowhere has influenced Big Finish in terms of how they’re willing to take big risky plot developments. It’s very easy to think of Big Finish as something slightly irrelevant, a side project in which random adventures happen that don’t mean anything, but Terror Firma makes it clear this is not the case.
Your enjoyment of Terror Firma very much depends on if you like the aforementioned big risky moment. Personally, in the moment I really liked it, and all of this story, but at the same time I can’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed by the ending of it all. All these great story moments are set up, these really interesting cliffhangers and ideas, but it feels like they didn’t go far enough. It’s as if the writer just lost interest and moved on to other things.
It all makes the entire story feel as though you’ve been teased with something truly amazing, but had it just dangled far enough that you can’t quite get it. I have nearly all of my Big Finish listening experiences documented on this website, so I can’t be sure when I say this but I feel as though modern Big Finish would be less likely to toy with these ideas, but if they did they’d fully commit and get something really unique and great with them.
But as I say, for 3 of the 4 parts of this story I was really invested. In particular, the conversations between the Doctor and Davros are a highlight, this would be their only confrontation until only last year’s Time War 4 boxset. Davros is a special villain. Usually Doctor Who’s rogues gallery can feel overused, but despite how much of a guaranteed seller he may be, Davros is rarely used. Only when a truly interesting idea comes up is he touched upon, and that’s what happens here.
Paul McGann and Terry Molloy are fantastic together, especially the returning Molloy who gets to play around with a new side of Davros that I really wish/hope we do get to see more of at some point. Everyone else is solid as well, notably I think Samson and Gemma are two interesting new characters that I most certainly wouldn’t be against popping back up in the future at some point.
This being the transition from an arc based formula for the Eighth Doctor to more episodic releases, there’s definitely a lot of pressure to keep people listening and let them know it’s worth sticking with this TARDIS team. To I’m sure the surprise of absolutely no one, sticking with McGann and co. is of course a no brainer, Terror Firma is the Dalek story the Eighth Doctor deserves and desperately needed. I believe this is only the 4th time he’s gone up against a returning villain, not counting the Time Lords, and this is the one that finally gives fans what they wanted: a true classic release that makes sure this Doctor gets his chance to shine against the villains he never could on screen.
Terror Firma is at times a one trick pony, but what a trick it is. With excellent pacing, atmosphere and performances it engrosses it’s listener in seconds and doesn’t let go thus proving the quality of the main range even when they aren’t the hot new Doctor Who canon anymore. As far as “don’t leave yet, we’re just getting started” stories go, this is a doozy. Man, 2005 was a great time to be a Doctor Who fan.
Terror Firma is available as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com