Synopsis: The TARDIS is gone. Stranded in one time and place, the Doctor, Liv and Helen seek refuge in Baker Street. But the house has changed — they now have neighbors –- not all of them welcoming. And someone has a dire warning for the future.
The Doctor and friends face their greatest challenge yet — living one day after another in 2020 London.
Review: Doctor Who: Stranded 1 contains four stories by Matt Fitton, John Dorney, Lisa McMullin, and David K Barnes. Listeners are treated to character-driven setup tales that kick off what promises to be an exciting new arc. In the process, Big Finish introduces great new characters and brings back surprising favorites.
Before I discuss the actual narrative, I have to address the elephant in the room. These stories were recorded in 2019, but they’re set in 2020. As such, there’s a surreal quality to the proceedings. The characters are not experiencing the pandemic and not engaging in any social distancing. It’s one of those occasions when we’re reminded that Doctor Who takes place in a fictional universe.
Mind you, I’m glad The Doctor and company weren’t facing COVID-19, as the Doctor’s sense of existential disconnection would’ve been even more pronounced. His guilt at placing his friends in harm’s way without access to his usual resources would’ve been even more overpowering. He needed to be surrounded by friends old and new in a more stable context in order to face his inescapably linear fate.
That linear fate is laced with domestic and otherworldly threats, and I absolutely adored how the Doctor, who is so obviously a pegasus, fought against becoming a pack mule. It didn’t help that the defunding of UNIT was incorporated into Big Finish continuity, because the Doctor felt the contrast with that earlier exile keenly.
It did help that The Curator made his inimitable presence known at the edges of the story. It was obvious that this later iteration of The Doctor loved his earlier companions quite tenderly, even if he couldn’t openly express his feelings. It also helped that new friend, Tania Bell, was able to offer unforeseen solace that allowed for surprising character interactions.
The regulars are, as ever, brilliant. For purposes of this story line, I have to include the wonderful Tom Baker among the regulars. Having him in the mix in this new context cements the scope and legacy of Doctor Who in a way no other casting could’ve done.
For her part, Rebecca Root represents Doctor Who just as perfectly, and I hope Tania stays with The Doctor and his friends after they get the Tardis up and running again.
There’s a third actor I’m genuinely sorry I can’t mention, as even that mention constitutes a spoiler. Have no fear, though, I’ll bring him up in my review of Doctor Who: Stranded 2.
Doctor Who: Stranded 1 is an excellent start to new adventures for the Eighth Doctor. I’m sorry the second box set isn’t coming out next month.
- You can get your own copy of Doctor Who: Stranded 1 here
- Audio Production10