REVIEW: BREAKING BUBBLES AND OTHER STORIES (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: COLIN BAKER, NICOLA BRYANT, JEMMA CHURCHILL, ANDY SECOMBE, ALLISON MCKENZIE, JANET HENFREY, PHIL MULRYNE, JOHNNY GIBBON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Big Finish occasionally release a collection of individual audios in a set of four, making two CDs in total. Breaking Bubbles is one such release and consists of four adventures with the Sixth Doctor and Peri. There is no overall linking theme to the set apart from adventure and entertainment. It also allows some new writers to get exposure to the main Doctor Who range.
L.M. Myles – known amongst fans for the Verity Podcast and Chicks Dig Time Lords – wrote the title story, her first audio drama for Big Finish. Events move along at pace as the Doctor and Peri explore the gardens of a deposed Empress (Churchill) and find that there is more than one layer of illusion and deception. Unusually for a Doctor Who story, the ending isn’t framed in terms of combat and defeat but compassion and emotional growth. This is a welcome change of style.
Mark Ravenhill is the author of Of Chaos Time The, which has the Doctor experiencing time in the wrong order as he tries to stop the misuse of time technology in war. After the first few lines, the style of storytelling becomes clear and works really well. Ravenhill is more known for his adaptations of Bertolt Brecht and being a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company; on the strength of this story he should also be writing more for Doctor Who.
Una McCormack, best-selling author of the Star Trek story The Fall: The Crimson Shadow, pens the third tale, An Eye for Murder. This is set on the eve of World War II in an all-female Cambridge college. The college is populated with a range of complex characters and into this is added an alien artefact with abilities that could change the outcome of the war. Peri takes centre stage with the Doctor relegated to being her assistant, which adds to the interest in the way McCormack tells this story.
Nev Fountain, a regular writer for Big Finish, ends the collection with The Curious Incident of the Doctor in the Night-Time. Not only is this a great take on the Mark Haddon story, and features one of the cast of the stage-play (Gibbon), but also includes garden gnomes. Lots of them. Anyone familiar with Nev Fountain’s work will know that this mix can only result in half-an-hour’s great entertainment and poignancy. They will not be disappointed.
Breaking Bubbles is that rarity of multi-story releases where every single story is strong in its own right and all four bear listening to more than once. This set would suit anybody who doesn’t normally collect the main range or who would like to hear the Sixth Doctor and Peri in great form.