Alright, it’s February and Big Finish have released their first Classic Doctor set of the new year after January’s pre-1989 Doctor Who releases were limited to the Audio Novel and the Short Trips release earlier this month.Okay so The First Doctor Adventures: The Demon Song was initially solicited for release in January, but it was pushed back to February probably due to production delays or time for editing.If you can’t help, I’m stalling.The Demon Song and The Incherton Incident make up this set are sadly stories that don’t actually have much connection, just being a two-part story and four-part story that have the same TARDIS team which is thee First Doctor and Dodo, played by Stephen Noonan and Lauren Cornelius, so as such it’s going to be a bit difficult to give the set an overall score, especially since both stories are vastly in terms of what they are attempting to do.The first feels very modern while the second is one that takes more lengths to imitate the style of a story you would have seen in the 1960s, which makes the lack of connection between the stories feel even more stark as each story serves a very different purpose.
With each of the Big Finish Doctor Who ranges moving to box sets it means that yearly listeners will be getting sets with the First and Second Doctors, both of whom have been limited in recent years. Nicholas Briggs has emphasised the desire to make this a fresh start by using new TARDIS teams, exploring new eras, and going against the grain of the previous Early Adventures and Companion Chronicles in stopping the tradition of previous companion actors also voicing the Doctor and recasting both the First and Second Doctors. Michael Troughton will be taking over the role of the Second Doctor (already previewed in The Annihilators), however, instead of continuing with David Bradley as the exclusive First Doctor, a complete recast with Stephen Noonan taking the role was announced with The Outlaws and The Miniaturist (collected under the title The Outlaws). This marketing decision makes it a little confusing to discuss the story vs the collection so this review will be discussing elements of both overall without heavy spoilers. This set also expands upon a previously unused portion of the First Doctor’s timeline set immediately after The Savages so the companion is Dodo Chaplet, here reprised by Lauren Cornelius, which makes an interesting dynamic as here Big Finish have created a pitch to writers to combine two versions of her character. Dodo being a character who was written differently in essentially every serial, Big Finish have given Cornelius a mix of her portrayal in The Massacre and The Gunfighters which makes her proactive and takes away the British RP allowing a slightly toned down version of the accent Jackie Lane used in The Massacre. There is only one plot point which has Dodo falling for the Monk’s story about trying to be Robin Hood in The Outlaws.
It is always a special day when Big Finish Productions revives a range previously thought ended. The Lost Stories easily come to mind over the past few years having two series of previously unseen stories released over the last three years, and after another near two year break The Early Adventures returns for a seventh series of two releases celebrating the William Hartnell era of the show. This year also perhaps went in a different direction in connecting both stories as a sequel and a prequel to 1960s stories, the first giving the audience an idea of what happened to Susan immediately after The Dalek Invasion of Earth while the other shows just how the Doctor acquired the Holy Ghanta seen in The Abominable Snowmen. Like Series 6 of The Early Adventures each story is told at different ends of the First Doctor’s life, the first being right near the beginning of his travels while the second being right near the end with his last regular TARDIS team, both focusing deeply on the companions and their time with the Doctor and just what it means to be a companion in these early days of Doctor Who and how that role has changed over the years.
The first release is After the Daleksby Roland Moore and is odd for a release in that it doesn’t feature the Doctor. Set in the immediate aftermath of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, just as the TARDIS has dematerialised and Susan has dropped her key to the TARDIS. As the title implies it’s all about how humanity can pick up the pieces after the Dalek forces have all been defeated, and despite having a Dalek emblazoned on the cover, they don’t actually play an active role in the plot. The entire story is focused directly on humanity and what the Daleks have left behind: Susan is finding her equilibrium in the decision that her grandfather made for her, Jenny Chaplin has found her robotised brother and is attempting to save his life, and David is trying to get some sort of government. The Daleks are a threat which could always be coming back and there is a single Dalek left alive, immobilised, planning and scheming to find a way to retake the Earth.