Time once again for Big Finishing Move. If you’re new here, this is where I get to review Doctor Who audio dramas from Big Finish and let you know if they are worth your hard earned dollars. Today we’re focusing on the second installment of the Fourth Doctor Adventures for the year, Doctor Who: White Ghosts.
TARDIS Team: Fourth Doctor and Leela
The Doctor and Leela haven’t spoken to each other for days because their disagreement about their last adventure (covered in last month’s The King of Sontar) has caused a wedge to form between the two. The Doctor has been reflecting on his role as mentor and guide, while Leela, in an attempt to please him and pass the time, has taken to reading books, in particular a book of fables. After a little heart to heart conversation, they patch things up and decide to move forward, just in time to notice there is a missile headed straight for them. Seems that the Time Lords aren’t done messing with the Doctor yet.
Narrowly escaping the missile, the Doctor plots a course for the missile’s intended target, a tiny little planet cloaked in what seems like perpetual darkness. The Doctor wants to make sure there isn’t anybody in need of rescue, but of course there is. The duo finds a group of scientists who end up saving the Doctor and Leela from killer plants known as White Ghosts who grow like crazy in the light of the Doctor’s lantern. Unable to evacuate before the missile’s arrival, they find the missile was sent not to destroy them but to bathe the entire planet in light. It is now a race against time to try and get off the planet before the plants or the secrets the science expedition get them killed.
What really struck me about this story is how much it felt like it felt like Seventh Doctor story in terms of the plot, structure, and the rather dark (no pun intended) resolution . Everything is plans within plans. This isn’t a knock on the story; in fact I found it rather refreshing. Tom Baker shines in this one. The script allows him to bounce between the clown and the commander with every turn of a phrase and Baker runs with that for all he’s worth.
Leela is given plenty to do as well. She has a whole bunch of fables fresh in her head which curiously relate to the events around her, often with even greater acuteness than she intends. We also get to crawl inside Leela’s head during one of the attacks, giving us some perspective on how her brain operates in battle. The section runs a bit long, but it is an interesting thing to add to this story.
The base-under-siege plot is a staple of Doctor Who, but White Ghosts ratchets up the tension while throwing enough curve balls to keep the whole affair feeling fresh and exciting. Nothing is wasted here, everything said and done has weight and meaning. I’m stopping myself from going deeper into the plot as I really don’t want to spoil one bit of this one. If I do have one criticism, it is that sometimes we don’t have time enough for the dread of what is going to happen to completely settle in before it is topped by something worse happening. This is, of course, a very minor complaint. The supporting cast all do a fine job, and Farscape fans will enjoy hearing Virginia Hey in her very first part of Doctor Who media ever. With a clever script by Alan Barnes that was supremely executed by the cast, White Ghosts is a great entry to the Fourth Doctor Adventures, so don’t do yourself the disservice of not picking it up.
Purchase Doctor Who: White Ghosts Here:
Remember to check out our own little audio drama here by the name of Infinite Variations, and be sure to be back here for next time when we tackle:
Check out my previous reviews of Doctor Who releases from Big Finish: