All franchises have their quintessentially bad character. Whether it’s Wesley Crusher, Jar Jar, or Metatron, there is one single figure held up on a pedestal above all others, as a symbol for everything wrong with the show. Adric was unfortunately one such character, only fondly remembered for his death in Earthshock, and regarded as a detriment to many early 80s serials. Within less than an hour A Full Life changes all of this. It isn't just a good Adric story, but a near total redemption for the character.
The tale here is one of reflection, with Adric thinking back on his life. From his early years on Alzarius to his journey with the Doctor, we learn more about his inner thoughts and experiences, focusing upon one untold story in particular. A story which, as it goes on, takes a rather stunning turn for the unexpected.
While unfortunately very little can be divulged about the tale itself without spoiling events, it proves to be one of those few outings capable of covering just about everything with next to nothing. As it is purely delivered via Matthew Waterhouse's narration, the actor needs to cover a wide array of characters, emotions and events, all of which he delivers spectacularly. There is a great deal of weight to his voice when he speak of his past adventures, easily shifting from fond sentimentality, to regret, to horror at the drop of a hat. Combined with the personable nature of the dialogue, and a good deal of self-awareness on Joseph Lidster’s part, there’s an odd sense of realism to it even as it recounts impossible events.
The actual structure of the script is extremely tightly woven about events, and rarely stays on any subject long enough to wear out its welcome. We see enough of the Doctor to know it is his Fourth incarnation before it moves on, we see enough of the threat to know its terror, and then the tale keeps going. It doesn’t, easy as it would have been to do so, drag out events or try to carry itself purely on nostalgia or its unique nature. Because of this, there’s the sense of a much greater tale being recounted, fitted into a much smaller timeframe thanks to the narration. Yet, it does this without ever making the audience feel as if they have lost out on something.
A Full Life exemplifies everything brilliant Doctor Who can accomplish through Big Finish. Mark this down as an essential purchase for 2016, you will find few short stories better than this one in the years to come.
DOCTOR WHO: A FULL LIFE / DIRECTOR: LISA BOWERMAN / WRITER: JOSEPH LIDSTER / STARRING: MATTHEW WATERHOUSE / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (FROM BIG FINISH), OCTOBER 31ST (GENERAL SALE)