When the TARDIS lands on an island off Singapore during the Japanese invasion of 1942, the Second Doctor and his companions (Jamie, Ben and Polly) are found by a group of British soldiers, among them being a certain Private James Jackson, who just happens to be Ben’s father. But they’re not the only visitors to the island, as a mysterious cloaked alien is hunting them down one by one and consuming their fears, leading to the question of how you can fight an enemy that can sense your fear and feeds on it?
As it stands, this is a great entry in Big Finish’s Early Adventures series, allowing us to have more insight into the dynamic between Patrick Troughton’s Doctor and his trio of companions since there weren’t that many stories with all four leads at the centre, with currently only two (just) surviving stories. We get to see more of their relationship and how they work well as a team, and even though having three companions can be too much, it is fun to see their humorous interactions. It’s great seeing both Frazer Hines and Anneke Wills back and both still capture the spirit of their characters. With both Patrick Troughton and Michael Craze sadly no longer with us, the shoes of the Doctor and Ben Jackson needed to be filled; Frazer Hines does a solid impression of Troughton, as does Elliot Chapman with Ben, and both do it in a way that doesn’t disrespect the original actors or their legacy.
The story is also solidly well-written by Justin Richards, having the tone and feel of the ‘60s era of the show where it had a dark, ominous mood, and you certainly have that here. Our characters spend their time, for the most part, in a decrepit hotel, and even though it’s just audio, you get the claustrophobic atmosphere, which also calls back the brilliant 2011 story The God Complex. The Forsaken itself is an intriguing and sinister monster and its powers of sensing another person’s fear and then dispatching him by draining his fear provides many menacing moments. It’s like as if Richards is delving into playground games to provoke fear like Steven Moffat did in the modern series, like trying not to blink or trying to hold your breath. In the story, Ben comes across his dad, but this storyline never properly develops and it would’ve been great if this plot strand were expanded, as it would’ve added to the story’s heightened stakes.
The Forsaken is a solid story that perfectly captures the essence of the ‘60s stories, providing many chilling moments, a dark atmosphere and a great central villain. Some characters and plot strands could’ve been developed more or fleshed out, but it’s definitely worth a listen as it does a great job of honouring Patrick Troughton, his Doctor, and his legacy.
DOCTOR WHO: THE FORSAKEN / DIRECTOR: LISA BOWERMAN / AUTHOR: JUSTIN RICHARDS / STARRING: FRAZER HINES, ANNEKE WILLS, ELLIOT CHAPMAN, BEN NEATON, MICHAEL JIBSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW