In Review: Big Finish: Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 02

Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 02 continued to prove that there is no dividing line between the Classic and New eras of Doctor Who.

Synopsis: A brand new boxset of four adventures, featuring monsters from the new series of Doctor Who!

Night of the Vashta Nerada by John Dorney

Funworld was set to be the happiest planet in the galaxy. A planet of joy, of euphoria, of laughter and delight. Except construction was marred by reports of a predator and then, a few days before opening, all communication ceased.

Owner Georgia Donnelly is desperate to open the resort and has hired Amanda Steele’s crew to find out what happened on the planet. They’re the best. But even they might not be up to the task.

Joined by the Doctor and being picked off one by one, they slowly start to realise that something terrifying lurks in the shadows.

Empire of the Racnoss by Scott Handcock

When a distress call rips the TARDIS from the Vortex, dragging it back through time, it arrives in the midst of a conflict between Gallifrey and an ancient foe.

The Doctor, as ever, wants to help, but in returning a wounded combatant home, he becomes further and further entangled in a web of deceit and recrimination. A web spun by an eight-legged Empress and her minions…

The Empire of the Racnoss is at war, and wherever he stands, the Doctor is on the wrong side.

The Carrionite Curse by Simon Guerrier

Katy Bell returns to her Midlands home to find strange goings-on at the buskers fair. A witch trial in the 1980s. A bonfire ready to be lit…

Luckily, a colourful visitor is already investigating, and the local vicar, Katy’s dad, is versed in tales of the macabre. Terrifying forces are on the loose, and the town hall holds a secret. There is black magic in the Black Country, and the Doctor has the name of his enemy on the tip of his tongue…

Something wicked this way comes.

Day of the Vashta Nerada by Matt Fitton

As the Time War rages, Cardinal Ollistra of Gallifrey seeks to create ever more dangerous weapons to deploy against the enemy.

When the Doctor stumbles across Synthesis Station, he discovers that the Time Lords have sponsored a project to weaponise already-lethal creatures. But in doing so, Eva Morrison and her team have unwittingly used a colony of Vashta Nerada with a very unfortunate history of humanoid contact.

The Doctor finds himself leading a desperate race for survival, in which the shadows may be the least of their worries…

Review: Unlike Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 01, which contained stand-alone stories, the second volume contained two linked tales to bookend the set. As I want to address the connected Vashta Nerada stories together, I’ll discuss the stand-alone stories first.

Empire of the Racnoss” by Scott Handcock was essentially Game of Thrones with time travel and cannibalistic giant spiders. It was also the story I’d wanted “The Runaway Bride” to be. Back story and world building are far more important to me than watching a potentially neat new alien species drown in proverbial Christmas punch. Moreover, Handcock handed Adjoa Andoh a marvelous performance showcase as The Racnoss Empress. Finally, the story really brought home how the Time Lords and their enemies get stuck in the same destructive patterns.

“The Carrionite Curse” by Simon Guerrier worked precisely because The Carrionites were “New Monsters,” who lacked scope in the overall Doctor Who universe. Guerrier dealt with that by linking the witches to the Sixth Doctor through a paradox fueled by their connection to the Tenth Doctor. This allowed Colin Baker to confront his incarnation’s darkness and insecurities much more effectively than he was able to do during his on screen tenure.

Through with the meat and potatoes, I want to discuss the appetizer and dessert, which shared the same insidious, shadowy flavor — the Vashta Nerada. I always thought the Vashta Nerada were very Hinchcliffean creatures. In “Night of the Vashta Nerada,” writer John Dorney proved like-minded. Dorney put the Fourth Doctor through his paces, and Tom Baker rose to the challenge. Baker conveyed the Doctor’s dismay, tinged with despair, excellently as he realized there would be no victory.

The story was perfect thematic and logistical foreshadowing for “Day of the Vashta Nerada” by Matt Fitton. The same colony of Vashta Nerada introduced during the Fourth Doctor’s tragic adventure on Funworld was used for Time War research and development, and The Eighth Doctor took it as well as you would imagine. Listeners will draw a straight line between “Day of the Vashta Nerada” and the webisode “The Night of The Doctor.” Paul McGann conveyed the Eighth Doctor’s barely contained existential horror, rage, and weariness wonderfully. Jacqueline Pearce returned as Cardinal Ollistra to superbly spar with her unlikely comrade-in-arms, foreshadowing his regeneration into The War Doctor.

Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 02 continued to prove that there is no dividing line between the Classic and New eras of Doctor Who.

  • You can purchase Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 02 here

Written By: John Dorney, Scott Handcock, Simon Guerrier, Matt Fitton

Directed By: Barnaby Edwards


Tom Baker (The Doctor), Peter Davison (The Doctor), Colin Baker (The Doctor), Paul McGann (The Doctor), Adjoa Andoh (Racnoss Empress), Nigel Planer (Old Racnoss Emperor/ Herrax), Andrew French (Racnoss Consort), Lisa Kay (Alayna), Pam Ferris (Amanda Steele), Lorelei King (Georgia Donnelly), Emma Lowndes (Phelan), Matt Devitt (Bennetto), Maya Sondhi (Katy Bell), Andrée Bernard (Mary Sissinghurst), Adèle Anderson (Eileen Nelthorpe), Michael Fenton-Stevens (Rev Douglas Bell), Jacqueline Pearce (Ollistra), Jan Ravens (Dr Eva Morrison), Himesh Patel (Biotech Dendry), Tim Wallers (Commander Roxita/ Security Chief Raldon). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Big Finish: Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume 02
  • Story
  • Performances
  • Audio Production

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
    No Comment

    Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 24 other subscribers

    Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!