Howdy-ho good neighbors and welcome back to Big Finishing Move, where I take a look at the Doctor Who audio dramas produced by Big Finish and let you know if they are worth your hard-earned nickels and dimes. Today’s edition will focus on a two-part adventure featuring the Eighth Doctor.
Soon after Big Finish convinced Paul McGann to reprise his role as the Eighth Doctor, the light bulb flashed on over their collective heads and the company realized the huge opportunity they had with his participation. The Eighth Doctor’s era was this large gaping hole in Doctor Who ripe with potential. The fans were hungry for more adventures and the writers could do almost anything they wanted as there were not any continuity issues with the classic series to get in their way. In this fertile ground, the stories known as the Eighth Doctor Adventures were born.
These stories presented opportunities to introduce new characters and pit them against classic threats. The writers had already achieved great success with the creation of Charley Pollard, but it was decided that a new companion would accompany the Doctor for this series. Enter one Lucie Miller, a less-than-enthusiastic TARDIS traveler from the mid-2000s. Of course, our heroes needed to face off against a compelling threat. Who better to vex the Eighth Doctor in the inaugural outing of his own series than his most famous adversaries? Thus, the series opened with a two-parter, Blood of the Daleks.
TARDIS Team: The Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller
The first thing you’ll notice while listening to Blood of the Daleks is how much the Doctor and Lucie don’t get along. With Charley, there had been an almost immediate connection between him and the Doctor. Conversely, Lucie is dropped into the TARDIS for reasons beyond her own understanding and begins to annoy the hell out of the Doctor without delay. Violating someone’s home is certainly not the best way to start a new relationship and the Doctor is rightfully pissed about the situation. He promptly tries to drop Lucie off back where she belongs in 2006, but the Time Lords, ever the pushy jerks, have put a barrier up preventing the Doctor from returning Lucie. Instead, the pair is dropped into the post-apocalyptic world of Red Rocket Rising.
Between Lucie’s cagey approach to everything and landing on a planet that has well and truly been through hell, the Doctor decides to forgo his usual “let’s check this out” bit and tries to get off the planet. Before he can though, three people running from an angry mob crash their car right into the TARDIS. Leaping into action to save them from the wreckage, the Doctor and Lucie find themselves split up from each other and the TARDIS and in way over their heads. Without giving too much away, somebody is trying to pull a Davros here on Red Rocket Rising, and the whole planet is paying for that sin.
What makes this title work is that none of the characters know the entirety of the situation at the same time. It is set up to keep every character off balance and forces them to react based on the limited information they have. Through those actions, a deeper sense of character is discovered. We get to see what makes all of the characters tick, and not all of it is pleasant, even in the case of the Doctor himself. This isn’t a happy story, this is a tale of desperation and having people and situations forced on you. Even when the day is saved, the clever Whovian may discover a little hint at the ultimate fate of the people of Red Rocket Rising, and it isn’t pretty.
While everyone is on their A-game on this one, the standout performance goes to Sheridan Smith as Lucie Miller without question. Smith has to balance her character between two extremes, as Lucie has to be both irritating and endearing at the same time. She gets to show several sides of the character during the course of this story. Smith starts by playing her as a brash child, but as the story peels away the layers we see a deeper and more caring person underneath. The story required Smith to be able to play foil and partner to McGann’s Doctor from word one, and she pulls it off beautifully.
This tale is a bleak and sordid one, so anybody seeking for a lighthearted romp should definitely look elsewhere. However, if you’re up for a challenging and grim tale, look no further than this story. This tale is one I’ve often found myself revisiting, and I always find something new to impress me. What I noticed this time is how well writer Steve Lyons added important details into what you at first think are throwaway lines, only to expose the significance of the information later on in moments of revelation. This is a story that rewards you for paying attention.
Purchase Doctor Who: Blood Of The Daleks Parts 1 & 2 Here:
Don’t forget that Big Finish isn’t the only game in town when it comes to audio dramas. One Of Us has its own audio drama, headed by our leaders Brian Salisbury and Christopher Lawrence Cox, called Infinite Variations. For next time, just in time for the holidays, grab some hot cocoa and hold on tight, because we’ll be covering:
Check out previous Big Finishing Move reviews here: