This is the second release of what I think is Big Finish’s rationalisation of the 4th Doctor, and for that matter the rest of the Doctor ranges. This is for me is made more confusing as there are I believe still the standard 4th Doctor releases being put out by Big Finish, so are these in addition too, or four extra releases within the same range within the calendar year. It’s all a tad confusing. The main and more important thing about all of this, is for the listener it means we get even more wonderful, delightful, and downright scrumptious Tom Baker and his wonderful sassy, and cheeky vocal tones to take me back to my childhood days when Doctor number 4 was the one I mainly remember growing up with (although I am old enough to remember Jon as the more flamboyant and outrageous one as well). Big Finish have bought us four, one hour helping of Tom, and Leela and their finest, with some cracking supporting cast. All these stories feel as though I missed them in the seventies and eighties, but, I know full well that I haven’t.
We open with a second world war adventure, with the Doctor and Leela, believing they have landed on London, it however soon becomes apparent that they are actually right in the middle of Nazi plot to train spies, and what is more they also have an unwanted “experiment” that is slowly but surely taking out these prospective wannabe spies. Piecing it altogether of course is what our time traveling genius does naturally. If nothing else the episode reminds us that the core values of Who are that of respect, patience and tolerance of all people, and that, regardless of what we think violence never solves any problem or situation. This is never more true and the sentiment never more real, in the one line that Tom delivers at the end of this story. It is a wonderfully entertaining episode that sets us up for more, the additional extras that are bestowed on us as always are excellent making this release a cut above. Oh but, it flies by so quick, and we are on to our second tale.
Bad Penny stars the late Keith Barron (Duty Free fame, if you are from the UK), Keith plays Tulip, but the older incarnation, as we meet in the first instance the young Tulip, a rather cantankerous hotelier, a man, who is more like Basil Fawlty than the proverbial host that you would want in a person of this position. However when he gets a call from the VIP suite of the hotel offering investment in this failing business, he is rather confused, as he was not aware of a VIP suite. The Doctor and Leela, are sent to the CrossKeys Hotel, due to a rip in the time continuum, The Doctor and Leela check in to see what the rift is all about. More over, what are two versions of the same man, doing in the same place and time. Second outing, in this boxed set, and this is totally classic Tom and Leela territory. It is also a lovely epitaph to a great British character actor in the shape of Keith, who, does a fantastic job as the older Tulip, a much more cynical and ruthless version of Tulip the younger. I think what is enjoyable is the writing of this episode Dan Starkey more commonly found as a Sontaron, has written exceptionally well, and, you can tell he has nailed the nuisances of Tom and Louise partnership bringing out all those things we love about the 4th Doctor. This is hour very well spent.
Kill The Doctor, where we bring together the Doctor, Leela and of course Sutekh that wandering death bringing, and altogether twisted Egyptian style maniac of death and destruction. Sutekh first came to the public’s encounter in The Pyramids of Mars (4th Doctor adventure). Big Finish over the years have bought the evil genius to the audio masses with other Doctors and story lines. The most recent from my own recollection is 7th Doctor and Bernice Summerfield in the excellent box set. However, here we once again acquaint Sutekh with Doctor 4 and Leela. Sutekh is complex Who villain so I have decided to hand over to tardis wiki http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Sutekh to explain more in depth of this particular nasty. There is something deeply comforting about established enemies and old Doctors, like a nice cup of tea and roaring fire. The simple things sometimes are the best, however, if you don’t inject a little modernisation into the relationship then it gets stale. Adams who has written the last two episodes of this box set, has bought an evil maniac and also given a refresh, whilst maintaining the established normality we would expect.
The Age of Sutekh arrives as our final outing for Tom and Louise and also a conclusion to the story of Kill the Doctor. The story picks up where Sutekh every vengeful. The themes that have always been very present with Doctor Who are now very obvious. The Doctor working with the police is trying to make them understand the dangers of this new false god, and a society that is blindly being led to oblivion by essentially a dictator. Leela on the other hand is helping the homeless, gain some sort of normality in their lives, and perhaps even enjoy a meal for once, without the fear of hunger. She rallies the troops as it where. The final concluding episode is good, fast paced, and yet holds the amusement of Tom quips and overall sarcasim. It’s this one thing that holds his performance as the Doctor that I think most people enjoy, he plays it tongue in cheek, even, given the bigger picture of this story. The conclusion of this is that it has been a better than before boxed set, and all it does for me as a child whom grew up with Tom’s reign on TV is a wanting for more. These stories are very special they re-awaken the care free days, when life seemed simpler and we had three TV channels, less choice, and what we had we were either grateful for or was of a higher standard, hence it’s longevity now. Perhaps this is the reason that Big Finish and the output they put out is so welcome, although there is a lot of nostalgia in here, and all the releases, it proves one thing more than ever, they are past masters at putting out content that is well written, performed, and excellently produced. It also gives us the chance of re-living with what could of been, and for that these are worth there weight in gold.