Greetings to all and welcome to Big Finishing Move, the little shack I’ve cobbled together somewhere on the side of the Information Superhighway serving up fresh piping-hot reviews of Big Finish audio releases.
Today’s special is a rather large meal as we are looking at Colin Baker’s sixth Doctor’s regeneration story in the aptly named “The Sixth Doctor – The Last Adventure.” While other media have displayed their ideas of the Sixth Doctor’s final days would’ve been but this project has an air of legitimacy as it is the first of these to include Colin Baker’s involvement. I won’t get into all of it here as it has been covered so well in a dozen other places and it would take over the article but the rather unceremonious way Baker and his version of the Doctor were shuffled of the show is a bit of a sore spot with fans as well as the people involved and Big Finish has finally stepped in to try and deliver the final nail in the coffin and put the matter to rest.
While I’ll dive right into the review in a second, I wanted to take moment to acknowledge someone who should have been a part of this story, the late, great, Maggie Stables. Stables, who played Professor Evelyn Smythe was the first companion Big Finish ever created and grew to be a fan favorite and is held by many (myself included) as the quintessential companion for the Sixth Doctor. So much of Big Finish and Doctor Who would not be the same without Stables’ contributions as Professor Smythe. Her death in 2014 robbed us of the role she would have played in this story and one cannot listen to this story and not feel her absence. That is why I have decided to dedicate this review in her honor, because Stables deserved to be a part of this as much as anyone.
On with the review!
TARDIS Team: The Sixth Doctor, Constance Clarke, Charlotte “Charley” Pollard, Philippa “Flip” Jackson, and Melanie Bush
We’re going to do things a little different this time folks, while there is an overarching story-line going on here it is broken up into stand-alone tales from different sections of the Sixth Doctor’s timeline. Therefore I will be briefly addressing each tale before looking at the whole.
The End of the Line
The Doctor and new companion Constance Clarke are out cruising all of space and time like you do when they land in a mysterious fog near some train tracks. taking a look around the pair find others trapped in the fog including multiple versions of a dead guy named Dave. Reality is starting to bleed and the multiverse is converging which is as bad as that sounds, can the Doctor figure out who is responsible and how to stop them in time?
This is the first release to feature Miranda Raison as the Doctor’s new companion, Constance Clarke. Raison, who has appeared in many Big Finish productions before also has the “distinction” of starring as Tallulah in the much despised Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks story from David Tennant’s run. This is the weakest story as I feel it drags on a bit too long and as we don’t have any back story on Constance and she doesn’t have all that much to do makes it hard to connect with her an become invested in her plight.
The Red House
The Doctor and Charley land in a world populated by werewolves. Not wanting to be part of this nutritious breakfast the pair try to hightail it out of there but then Charley is caught and sent to the mysterious Red House ran by the even more mysterious Doctor Pain. Can the Doctor uncover the secrets of these werewolves and the Red House before disaster befalls them all?
I’ve never been a fan a the whole Charley traveling with the Sixth Doctor thing since it needlessly complicates things and because Paul McGann and India Fisher are so fantastically great together that the pairing of her with anybody else is a bit of a disappointment to me. I love the hell out of Charley (and fully intend to review her solo series at some point if Big Finish can hold off on all these huge must listen releases) and she and the Sixth Doctor are a delight in this. This one is more than a little silly and the Doctor doesn’t do much in the whole saving the day thing, but it is so charmingly done that I can’t see anyone being upset over it.
Off we pop to Victorian London with the Doctor and Flip out to check out the theater and since this is Doctor Who when it comes to the theater in Victorian times the addition of the combination of Henry Gordon Jago and his best friend Professor George Litefoot is an easy bet. Seems the good Professor has some strange bodies in his morgue that are baffling him meanwhile Jago has hit a bit of luck with a rich actor/director renting out his theater for the entire month. Not surprisingly, all these events are are connected to the Doctor as the Valeyard (the Sixth Doctor’s one truly unique big bad) finally makes his presence in events fully known.
The best of the three so far. Colin Baker gets a chance to show all sides of his Doctor, Flip saves the day in a way that is so cheesy and so perfectly Who that you can’t help but smile, and Jago and Litefoot, well they’re Jago and Litefoot already,what more do you want?! The Valeyard is extremely creepy in this, once you fully understand what he’s doing and the way he’s choosing to go about it you can’t help realize just how sick and twisted it is. I can’t imagine any long standing classic Doctor Who fan not having a strong reaction to those scenes. A good solid listening experience
The Brink of Death
Ever get that feeling that a possible future version of yourself is out to ruin your life and grab supreme power for themselves? All in the days work for the Doctor. The fruits off all the Valeyard’s schemes come to bear fruit. We all know how this story ends, Colin has now officially handed the reigns over to the Umbrella Man Sylvester McCoy (better late then never I guess), but it doesn’t feel right to say any more than I have about it.
Listen for yourself and take a moment to thank Big Finish and Colin for all they’ve done. True, Colin isn’t retiring and there will be more Sixth Doctor stories to come, but we know know how it ended and the next chapter began, and that is a special thing to be treasured.
The good thing about this release is that while the premise of doing a proper sendoff for Colin Baker’s version of the Doctor is something for the hardcore Who/Big Finish fans it also is a great launching point for newcomers to both to be introduced to the Sixth Doctor. this release might as well be call the Sixth Doctor Sampler Pack because that’s what it is. If you find nothing in this release to your liking, then the Sixth Doctor is not for you my friend, you best try something else. This is a must have for serious fans for and a good starter for newbies. Bottom line, worth your time and dime.
Purchase Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor – The Last Adventure Here:
In the mood for even more audio stuff for them ears? Well, as it happens we just may have something for you. We here at One of Us have our own audio drama series Infinite Variations, and we are also proud to host the spin-off from The Intergalactic Nemesis, the one and only Salt!
Phantasmagoria, The Fearmonger, The Light At The End, The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, Storm Warning, Blood of the Daleks, The Chimes of Midnight, Seasons of Fear, The King of Sontar, White Ghosts, Dark Eyes II, The Crooked Man, Project: Twilight, The Evil One, The Harvest, The Last Of The Colophon, The Council Of Nicaea, Destroy The Infinite, Afterlife, The Abandoned, Zygon Hunt, Revenge Of The Swarm, Philip Hinchcliffe Presents Box Set, Dark Eyes 3, Mask of Tragedy, The Fourth Doctor By Gareth Roberts, The Exxilions, The Darkness of Glass, Dark Eyes IV, Requiem for the Rocket Men, Signs And Wonders, Death Match, Suburban Hell, The Burning Prince, The Cloisters of Terror, The Acheron Pulse, The Fate of Krelos, The Shadow Heart, Return to Telos