The Players: The Seventh Doctor, Mel Bush
The Rani, Ikona, Beyus, Faroon, Sarn, Urak, Lanisha
The Setting: The planet Lakertya
The calendar year brings Big Finish fans a new set of releases in various ranges. Whether it's the extended length Companion Chronicle story, "big Sixie" beginning the first trilogy of main range Doctor Who stories, Blake's 7 Full Cast audio, Pathfinder, and Avengers (the last three listed starting this year). However what I want to take a closer look at is the third season of the Fourth Doctor Adventures.
There are some exciting things to look forward to in this year's adventures with the Fourth Doctor and Leela. First, we get to find out how the Doctor fell under the influence of The Eminence, a character we first met two years ago with the Sixth Doctor and Mel in the story "The Seeds of War" by Matt Fitton and Nick Briggs, and then met again in the third Dark Eyes 2 story "Time Horizon" by Matt Fitton. Then, we get to experience actress turned writer, Louise Jameson, crack at writing a Doctor Who story, "The Abandoned." Finally, but yet more intriguingly, there's Leela. I don't merely mean having an Amazon-ish woman parading around in short skimpy clothing (although that's not a negative), but it's having Leela's character being further developed.
Originally, when Leela was introduced to Doctor Who, the back story was "the education of a savage," which drew parallels to the musical "My Fair Lady" with the Doctor being Professor Higgins (which might make Ace's calling the Doctor, Professor, making more sense...possibly) and Leela portraying the Eliza Doolittle character. Yet, after the beginning of "Talons of Wieng-Chiang," Doctor Who really doesn't delve back into the original backstory. Happily the first story in this third season, King of Sontar, we are reunited with Leela's backstory, as we find her learning to read. This continues in the third story, The Crooked Man, both stories written by the talented John Dorney. Then came the story entitled, The Evil One, which I had high hopes for, hoping it would explain the mountain with Tom Baker's face (fourth Doctor), why the computer/god Xoanon has part of the Doctor's personality, voice, and the reasoning for it being bipolar, introduction to how the two groups, the Sevateem (survey team) and the Tesh, became divided from one another. Oh and why the Doctor is considered and called, let me think....oh yeah, THE EVIL ONE!
***Possible Spoilers to BF's The Evil One***
Perhaps it is my fault and assuming (generally it is the fault of the assumer) that these questions would get answered by Big Finish. I mean it's not like Big Finish fills in gaps or furthers continuity, using classic Doctor Who stories or anything like that. So when the Fourth Doctor isn't The Evil One, it kind of became a let down and perhaps when I began not enjoying this audio. The bright side of this story is it does further the Leela's back story, using the beginning moments we meet Leela and the rest of the Sevateem on "The Face of Evil." After listening to the Big Finish release, I found I didn't like it. So a week later I decided to watch the classic story, The Face of Evil, then followed that immediately with The Evil One...and still didn't like it.
As I've thought about my dislike (not hate though) for this episode, I wanted to think about the Fourth Doctor episodes I did like. Because I'm list oriented, I wrote down the following list:
The Wrath of Iceni
The Justice of Jalxar
The King of Sontar
The Crooked Man
Oddly and unknowingly until I checked it out, all of these episodes have been written by John Dorney. Now these aren't the only ones I liked, but these are the ones I like the best, and find that they have definite relisten value. In the end, isn't that what we want with Big Finish too besides filling or adding to continuity, is the ability to relisten to these audios that we have paid for with our hard earned money?