Greetings to all, and welcome back to my series, Big Finishing Move. This is the feature in which I get to go over the Doctor Who drama releases of audio powerhouse, Big Finish, and let you know if I think they are worth your money and time. Today we’re back to the Fourth Doctor and the third installment of his third series for Big Finish, entitled The Crooked Man. So grab your scarves and bags of Jelly Babies and let’s go!
TARDIS Team: Fourth Doctor and Leela
The Doctor and Leela have come to a sleepy seaside town and end up investigating a series of grisly murders. The Doctor soon realizes there is more going on in this town than anyone realizes. Something nasty has bled through the corners of our imaginations. Something deadly. The Doctor must figure out what is going on and how it all ties in to the Corbett family.
If that doesn’t sound like an exciting set-up I don’t know what does!
Once again we have a story that I think would only have improved had it been expanded to two parts. There are moments of great atmosphere and dread, but the unease is never allowed to fully set in as we have to get to the next plot point. Both the angry mob and the Crooked Man are serious and interesting threats, but time is short so they end up robbing each other of the spotlight and you don’t get to spend as much time with either as one would like.
As spot on and fantastic as Tom Baker is here, flipping the switch between serious and silly as only he can, the true standout here is Neil Stuke as the titular Crooked Man. Stuke doesn’t have a whole bunch of lines, but the ones he does packs a punch and stick with you. Once you fully understand who and what the Crooked Man is, then the real horror sets in. This guy is pure nightmare fuel. I don’t get frightened by Doctor Who baddies, but make them dark and terrible enough, and they will unsettle me a little. That is precisely what Stuke has done with the Crooked Man.
One thing that disappointed me was how little Louise Jameson had to do in this story. A deeper examination of her character and how she has developed since teaming with the Doctor has been a extremely enjoyable part of the last two stories, but here she is back to playing the basic companion role. Leela doesn’t feel tacked on or superfluous, she is right there in the thick of as much as everyone else, but given the last two stories she does feel a little underused.
What it all boils down to here is we have another solid entry in this season. The writers seem to have finally honed in on what works in a Doctor and Leela story. The commentary on the constant availability of new media in the digital age and how we choose to digest or disregard it is timely and cleverly executed. This is without a doubt the best and most consistent the Fourth Doctor Adventures have ever been. Each new entry makes me all the more excited for the next.
Purchase Doctor Who: The Crooked Man Here:
Keep in mind good lords and ladies of the internet that Big Finish isn’t the only game in town when it comes to audio dramas. If you haven’t checked out One Of Us’ own audio series, Infinite Variations, you should do yourself a favor and fix that.
For next time, things are going to get a little bloody as we sink our teeth into:
Check out my previous reviews of Doctor Who releases from Big Finish: