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Big Finish Celebrates Itself

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 24 February 2020
Rating:   8

This big production is for celebrating 20 years of Big Finish. It brings together all the Big Finish Doctors, those currently living and three voiced by actors other than the original. It has six individual stories, each with a different Doctor, plus guest performances from various Big Finish creations, such as Counter Measures. There is a story arc through them all, but all can be heard without reference to each other, and the story arc really does not become important until disc 5. It begins with Doctor 8 plus River Song and Benny Summerfield in Lies in Ruins. This Doctor 8 is the war-weary Doctor, sad, introverted, nearly ready for his transformation into the War Doctor. The story itself has the two archaeologists have a sort of who has the bigger trowel face off. It also goes for the contemporary Doctor Who trope of the female adventurer (two in this case) who is just so much better and smarter than that bumbling idiot The Doctor. It does have something of a surprise payoff late in the story. Next is The Split Infinitive. Here, Doctor 7 and Ace join up with Counter Measures again in a rollicking adventure involving split timelines and getting them to converge. It's quite fun. The third story is The Sacrifice of Jo Grant. This is my favorite of the six. Here, we have Jo Jones, back consulting for UNIT and working with Kate Lethbridge and Osgood. Jo gets a message from the past - she died in the 1970s saving the world. The resolution of the seeming contradiction involves time distortions, of course, and Doctor 3 confronting sensibilities of the 2000s. Next is the weakest of the six, Relative Time, featuring the Doctor's daughter, Jennie (played by Doctor's daughter Georgia Tenant) meeting Doctor 5 (played by Doctor's daughter's father Peter Davison). The story seems made mostly to get these two together. We get the return of clever woman/stupid Doctor, this time boosted to 11, plus a meeting with the split personality Time Lord, introduced as The Eleven with Doctor 8, but here reduced to The Nine. It has the kind of "none of it really happened" and "you won't remember it" ending that is too convenient. Doctor 6 goes next in The Avenues of Possibility. Here, Doctor 6 travels with Charlie Pollard and they meet once again the intrepid D.I. Menzies. This one was originally intended to involve Jago and Litefoot, but Trevor Baxter's death required a quick rewrite involving novelist and early creator of the idea of a police force Henry Fielding and his brother John. The story is standard "we have to shut off one time line to preserve the real one" writing. Last is Collision Course, another clever converging Time Lines story with Romana and Leela both remembering travelling to the same planet with Doctor 4 at different times, although maybe they weren't, or maybe it didn't happen. The ending is a truly Big Finish, getting Doctors 1-8, plus 10, to put everything right. The through line in all this is a plot by The Sirens of Time, thus taking this set of stories back to the Big Finish story that started it all. The whole thing is a real treat for fans of Big Finish.

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