Now THAT’S how you convert a set of old Doctor Who novels into something amazing.
Sitting down to enjoy the fevered delights contained in the Gareth Roberts box set from Big Finish, two dramatizations of 1990’s Virgin Doctor Who novels by the man himself; this reviewer was both excited as well as apprehensive. Although the previous audio adaptations of several Seventh Doctor novels in the past few years had been solid offerings with high production values, they had not been as enjoyable on a personal level as one may have hoped the transition from prose to audio leaving something to be desired.
However, that is not the case here. These conversions are wonderfully crafted, beautifully acted out, masterfully directed and wonderfully authentic to not only the books they are based on but also the era that they are emulating.
Make no mistake, this is not one of the Big Finish releases that you can choose to ignore, several important things happen all at once to please casual listeners and Doctor Who fans alike. These stories are not grossly overcomplicated or loaded with terms only science fiction fans could grasp; these stories are perfect for a casual Sunday afternoon listen. Anyone could jump on board and follow the story, there’s fun for all to be had.
But you’re not skimming over this review as a casual listener, more than likely you’ve thrown your attention our way to find out whether you should put the pedal to the medal and spend your hard earned wages on these releases. To settle your mind, let me iterate one vital point, Tom Baker and Lalla Ward perform together as the Doctor and Romana in these stories. Hoe have we all skimmed over this landmark event. Big Finish have reached into the ashes of yesteryear and bought back together the two performers in Doctor Who history who perhaps have had the very worst experience with one another on and off the show. They’ve barely mentioned one another in thirty years in public but somehow, magically, Big Finish have succeeded where broadcasting corporations and DVD companies have failed (I’m paraphrasing Davros but you get the point).
Hearing these two together again, albeit under a slightly different dynamic, is one of the last missing pieces of Doctor Who coming back together, proving that the power of the show will never, ever truly die. Of course, their relationship is slightly different. The mutual respect is still there, two burningly intelligent characters both in fantasy and reality sparking off one another but of course; the flirting and mutual attraction has gone, lost in the ether of love burned out long ago. But that’s no bad thing; we have two of Gallifrey’s finest back together again, that is important.
Both The Romance of Crime and The English Way of Death bring their source material joyously to life, casting is spot on and most importantly, the atmosphere from the original prose is both present and powerful. For older fans of Doctor Who, these are stories worth repeating, the nostalgia factor they leave you with for the heady days of the Virgin Missing Adventures is worth the price of the admission ticket. For those newer to the world of Doctor Who, this is another great stepping on point; the adventures here are fun, adventurous, bold, rich and very, very funny. The Fourth Doctor dealing with idiotic Ogrons will have you in stiches.
This reviewer cannot recommend these two stories highly enough. If you’re still reading this then please, do yourself a favour: put down these words, journey over to your nearest Big Finish retailer,
purchase these adventures, listen to them and then thank us for the recommendation later. You won’t regret it.
The Romance of Crime and The English Way of Death are available on CD or via download to purchase at www.bigfinish.com. You can also buy them as part of a deluxe box set with a wealth of special features.