All these years later and the legacy of Tom Baker and his Fourth Doctor continues to live on, especially in Big Finish. This set is the first part of Tom Baker’s seventh audio series, and this time he’s joined by companions Leela and occasionally K9, taking on old enemies like the Voc Sandminer Robots from 1977’s Robots of Death, and new enemies like the hungry Night-Mind and the mysterious Mr. Shift. The first two stories are standalone adventures while the last two are an epic two-part finale, and these stories do an excellent job of putting our main characters within situations where you are not entirely certain about which direction it’s going to take and if they’ll get out of it unscathed.
The first story by Andrew Smith, The Sons of Kaldor, is a semi-sequel to Robots of Death that sees the Fourth Doctor and Leela once again coming face to face with the Voc Sandminer Robots of Kaldor once again, but this time realising they might not be the threat they are facing, and this story does a brilliant job of putting unique spin on the Voc Robots. Before, they were pretty much mind-controlled slaves of a madman, but this time, we start to see them develop and evolve into something entirely different, and at times, seems almost reminiscent of 2008’s Planet of the Ood as it makes us question who are the real enemies. David Llewellyn’s The Crowmarsh Experiment is an interesting psychological horror where Leela finds herself within this dream world, and throughout the story, she’s constantly questioning about whether or not the world she’s in is real or not, and questioning her own identity in the process. It’s a fascinating story that sees Leela being pushed to the limit, and it allows Louise Jameson to explore new depths to take her.
John Dorney’s two-part finale, The Mind Runners/The Demon Rises, is a fantastic story that starts out almost like a murder mystery, but as it keeps going on, the story keeps changing and it becomes something else by the end. There are a lot of twists and turns with many different monsters thrown in, and when you think you have your mind set on who the real enemy is, the story surprises you with another. The various narrative changes do become a little bit too much as it goes on, but the tension and dread is still present throughout, and its use of monsters is both creative and effective. This set continues to establish and develop the dynamic between the Fourth Doctor and Leela, and you can see how much Leela has grown and learned so much from the Doctor since her introduction in 1977’s The Mind of Evil. Louise Jameson is still excellent as the “savage” companion, while the legendary Tom Baker still firmly establishes why he’s this reviewer’s favourite Doctor to date.
Overall, this is a really entertaining box set for any Doctor Who fan with excellent stories and both Tom Baker and Louise Jameson still terrific together after all these years. This set kind of leaves some plot threads open that might possibly get answered in the second volume of this set, but if that last half is just as good as this, then this series will be a great one for an already great Doctor.
DOCTOR WHO: THE FOURTH DOCTOR ADVENTURES – SERIES 7 PART 1 / DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS BRIGGS / WRITER: JOHN DORNEY, DAVID LLEWELLYN, ANDREW SMITH / STARRING: TOM BAKER, LOUISE JAMESON, JOHN LEESON, MARTHA COPE, OLIVER DIMSDALE, TOBY HADOKE, ANDY SECOMBE / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW