AUDIO REVIEW: THE WORLDS OF DOCTOR WHO / AUTHOR: JUSTIN RICHARDS, JONATHAN MORRIS, NICK WALLACE / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: COLIN BAKER, LOUISE JAMESON, LALLA WARD, DAPHNE ASHBROOK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Big Finish released its first Doctor Who audio Sirens of Time in July 1999. To mark the 15th anniversary of this event it has produced a four-CD story sequence called The Worlds of Doctor Who. The concept is that various parts of the expanded Big Finish Doctor Who universe each provides the setting for stories linked by a single villain.
First up, the immensely popular Jago & Litefoot appear in the Justin Richards story Mind Games. This gives us a quick swirl of Victorian London before telling the tale of the mysterious mesmerist Mr Rees. Being Jago & Litefoot, Mr Rees is a performer at the Henry Gordon Jago’s New Regency Theatre and we learn of a mystical musical box and learn the connection between dark events on the streets of London.
The action jumps to the 1960s and the early days of the more recent Counter Measures team in another Justin Richards story, The Reesinger Process. Here a brother and sister are using the sinister Reesinger Process to exert influence over a wide range of people (in a plot with some similarities to the 2013 release The Assassination Games) all to locate a certain place they played as children. Can Dr Rachel Jensen and the rest of the team find a way to protect themselves from the forces at play? What secrets will they learn from an old recording?
Next stop is the modern day and a Jonathan Morris story The Screaming Skull. Not only does this link to the now resting Companion Chronicles range with Jonathan’s two Vault stories, but also allows for the two characters Matheson and Sato, last seen incarcerated for life, to be rehabilitated in case Big Finish ever has need for them again. This is does with Mike Yates for good measure. The story is full on and the most immediate of the set of four, with extra aliens thrown into the mix to keep the listener gripped. There is also the device left in the Vault by department C-19 to contend with.
The set rounds up in the present day in a story that continues from The Screaming Skull but includes the Gallifrey spin-off by using Romana II and Leela. To add to the mix we also have the Sixth Doctor! The mystery of Mr Rees is explained and the true nature of his threat is exposed. To defeat him, the Doctor and his allies must explore deep into the inner nature of Mr Rees himself. Although interesting this story had, perhaps, a lot to do in concluding the set and was in some ways less than the sum of its parts.
As a set of four this is, however, more than the sum of its constituents with the threads from Mind Games playing through to the ending in a way that builds a bigger story without diminishing the individual adventures. The listener gets several slices of Big Finish and even if some are unfamiliar, all entertain. Using Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor fits well – he has, in Big Finish tales, had Jago and Litefoot as companions and the connections across the four stories add to the enjoyment.
Once more Big Finish has turned its hand to something a bit different and made it work with some style. Roll on the next 15 years and more!