Even sickness can’t stop Big Finishing Move for long! That’s right folks, through the power of antibiotics and my strong desire to review Doctor Who audio dramas, I’m back once again to let you know what is what in the world of Big Finish. Today on the docket, we find The Doctor, Ace, and Hex (sort of) dealing with the tragedy and loss in Afterlife.
Before we begin, there is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now but it kept slipping my mind, and given the subject matter of this story does seem appropriate. In May of this year, Big Finish lost one of its best and brightest, Mr. Paul Spragg. His dedication behind the scenes over the last five years or so helped make some of the best work Big Finish has ever done happen. Every Big Finish fan owes Mr. Spragg a debt and I respectfully dedicate this review to him.
TARDIS Team: Seventh Doctor, Ace, Hex, and introducing Hector Thomas
Our story picks up almost directly after the end of Gods and Monsters (a story we’ll be getting to, I assure you). The Doctor had made a rather elaborate play at one of his most powerful and dangerous foes, and it pretty much blew up in his face. Oh yeah, and – mild spoiler here – Hex… he, uh… kinda… sorta… died.
Ace is handling this about as well as one would expect, which is to say poorly. Her rage is fueled not only by the loss of her best friend in the universe, but by the role the Doctor played in it and his seemingly obliviousness and callousness towards the whole situation. The Doctor wants to drive forward and get back to work. Unlike many of his other incarnations, the Seventh Doctor isn’t known for long periods of melancholy and mourning. He pushes through things, he keeps going, that’s his way. Ace isn’t having any of it. It isn’t good enough or acceptable this time. She demands that the Doctor go visit Hex’s only known living relative, his grandmother, and take responsibility for his actions.
The Doctor and Ace head to Liverpool, where the former goes visit Hex’s grandma and take her to a vigil he has set up for Hex. Ace sees a chance to get away from the Doctor for a bit and clear her head when she comes across a woman in need. Saving the woman from some thugs, Ace is taken to her home to meet her family when the thugs attack again along with their boss, Hector Thomas, a man that looks exactly like Hex. Who is Hector Thomas and just what is going on? You’ll just have to pick up the story to find out!
If there is any weak point to this story, it is that the villains are kind of bullshit. This is by design, as you couldn’t have the real big bads show up or develop these new foes very much because then you would have to take time away from all the interesting stuff going on with our main cast. They do their part well, I just wish they didn’t feel so uninteresting.
While every actor in here does an exemplary job, special attention must be paid to the main cast. Sophie Aldred has to bounce through so many emotional states throughout the piece and not a one of them rings false for even a fraction of a second. Philip Olivier does a masterful job making Hector Thomas his own person instead of just a Hex clone. Finally, Sylvester McCoy has a chance to explore sides of his Doctor rarely seen or heard. He has to play the Doctor as small, lost, and hurt throughout most of the story only to let loose with a darkened pitiless rage as he delivers a “tell your boss I’m coming for ’em, and hell’s riding with me” speech to the bad guys as he dispatches them that literally gave me a bit of a chill.
I adore this story. I give everybody from writer Matt Fitton, director Ken Bentley, and the entire cast, both supporting as well as our leads, a standing ovation. Expertly written, paced, produced and performed. While the story is full of little bits for long time fans, it is totally accessible for new listeners as well and serves as a great jumping on point as a new trio of stories starring the Doctor, Ace, and Hector Thomas is set to come out starting next month. This story has me so jazzed to see what happens next that we will be covering those stories as they are released. Go pick this one up people, you’ll be glad you did.
Purchase Doctor Who: Afterlife Here:
Remember good readers, we here at One of Us have our own audio drama series Infinite Variations, which rules. In addition to this show, One of Us is now home to Jason Neulander’s spin-off series from The Intergalactic Nemesis entitled Salt. All this goodness for your ear holes, what is not to love?!
As for me, I’ll back later this month with:
Until then, happy listening!
Check out my previous reviews: