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Thursday, September 10, 2015

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Adventures Vol. 1



Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 1 (Big Finish Audio)
Reviewed By Jesse Kiefer

Written By: Justin Richards and Andy Lane

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Sound Design: Peter Doggart & Russell McGee

Music: Jamie Robertson & Nicholas Briggs

Cover Art: Tom Webster

Number of Discs: 5

Duration: 300' approx.

Available at BigFinish.com

Listen to the trailer.


"A group of ruthless homicidal war criminals running amok in this little planet of your? No... no that's not good at all."


It’s clear I have a hard time saying “no” to a good Big Finish box set but this set especially captured my attention for many reasons. The most controversial reason being… they recast the Third Doctor. I listened to the trailers as soon as they were released and I wondered just how well this would play out. I waffled back and forth on whether I should wait this one out or at least buy a download copy, as you can see my impatience and curiosity won out in the end. I had to see how this turned out. I feel like Big Finish was taking a big chance with this release. Surely they were testing the waters to see if recasting the early doctors, who are no longer with us, was viable and whether audiences would respond favorably to such a thing.

You knew that eventually they would need to attempt something like this as our beloved actors who remain of the Classic series do not magically get younger each year. Some will argue that you should leave well enough alone but I think it’s lovely that Katy Manning and Richard Franklin got an opportunity to have another story with the Character of their (Third) Doctor you knew with them all on board this would be as faithful a telling as possible. Sooo?... How’d they do? Read on! Read on!


The Recast-

Tim Treloar pulled double duty in the role of the Third Doctor and the role of Narrator. I’ve read that folks felt the narration was a bit unnecessary and I was prepared to feel the same way but to be honest there were very few times where I felt the Narrator’s parts were redundant. While I do not prefer narration in my Big Finish Audios each time the Narrator was employed in these stories it usually served to speed along bits of the story where they needed time to pass a little more quickly. For an era of Doctor Who stories that tended to stretch out over 6+ parts the narration did seem to serve the story and was not used to try to cover a recast. That said I was not initially thrilled to hear that these stories would feature a narrator as that’s often how the Companion Chronicles have to be told.  What really intrigued me about this set was that finally we had a Third Doctor set that was not purely relegated to the Companion Chronicles range so I didn’t want it to sound like a companion chronicle story. I wish they had not resorted to narration on this first time out, but if they had to at least they used it as needed.

Tim Treloar
While there are small instances where the Treloar’s Doctor voice seemed to slip, overall he was very convincing as the Doctor and I found very little fault with his portrayal. I hope that this is merely the first of many stories where Tim voices the Doctor. I hope they leave the narration to a minimum but that’s my preference and does not reflect the quality of Treloar’s ability to Narrate he did a wonderful job.

Now onto the stories themselves!...


A Prisoners of the Lake- (by Justin Richards)

The Solicit from Big Finish Reads: “Captain Mike Yates is investigating the disappearance of artefacts from an archaeological site deep below Dunstanton Lake. It’s hardly a job for UNIT. But when the team discover a mysterious ancient structure buried deep underwater, all that changes.

When chief archaeologist Freda Mattingly ventures inside, she soon realises that her skills do not begin to equip her to deal with what she finds. As an ancient menace begins to stir the Doctor, Jo Grant and Mike Yates must dive down to the lake bed and discover the secrets hidden there. Secrets that could mean the end of all life on Earth…”

This set was like box sets of the past where it basically consisted of a single Doctor but 2 separate but fully realized stories (full stories meaning they were quite in the style of the Doctor Who Main Range where each story spanned 4 parts and a full 2 hours).

Prisoners of the Lake was a fun story to start things off and really helped to capture the vibe of the box set as well as pulling us deftly back into the Era. I was surprised to see Nicholas Briggs with a Music Credit on this set and the music in this set is pretty strikingly appropriate to the TV era.

This story reminded me quite a bit of The Sea Devils because of most the action occurring underwater but really that’s where the similarity ended. They wove a tale that was full of interesting elements all out of sync which is very familiar of the time. UNIT has their take on things, the civilian force has their way of handling things, The Doctor and his team have their plan, and of course the alien element has motivations both apparent and hidden to be revealed slowly. As with any good UNIT era story none of these elements work together until the do and it was a fun nostalgic ride watching it all unfold in classic form.

While the Brigadier’s absence or at least his distance in such a story was impossible not to feel they did not pretend that Lethbridge-Stewart was not important or an element that could be simply ignored. Unfortunately it’s hard not to find yourself outside the story for a moment when you realize oh yeah… they recast the Pertwee part but not the Nicholas Courtney part… but they endeavored admirably and it did not stall the story overly much. I particularly enjoyed this story, while I think it still has room to grow this story was nearly perfect.

My only gripes on this one are that sometimes the incidental music seemed a bit loud and a few redundant narration bits neither of which were overly detrimental so much as slightly distracting.

4 out of 5


The Havoc of Empires- (by Andy Lane)

“I think we should move back behind the TARDIS whoever is in there might not appreciate our being here.”

For this story the Solicit from Big Finish reads:

“The Doctor and Jo take Mike Yates on his first trip in the TARDIS, but instead of the historical cricket match they were aiming for they end up on a futuristic space station in the middle of a diplomatic crisis that might escalate into galactic war.

The alien leader of the Chalnoth Hegemony is marrying the human Director of the Teklarn Incorporation, but there are forces that will stop at nothing to disrupt the ceremony. The Doctor is accused of murder while explosions occur across the station, and only Jo Grant, pretending to be a security consultant, can save the day.
But then, there’s the Eels to consider…”

This story is set right after the Time Lords rescinded the Doctor’s exile on Earth and starts with Jo Grant And Mike Yates excitedly going on a trip in the TARDIS as a date of sorts. On screen we were only ever aware of one attempt at Grant and Yates going out, so this story shows a little more clearly how poorly matched they were. The “date” makes for an interesting set up where Jo, Mike, and the Doctor wind up taking a trip in the TARDIS and end up in (of course) the entirely wrong time and place on a space station quite far away. 

Jo takes the lead in this story as she pretends to be a security consultant and puts the Doctor in an interesting role where now he has to (at least appear to) follow her lead. 

The use of the Narrator didn’t seem as necessary in this story and actually confused me at one point where I didn’t know if it was Narration or in fact the Doctor speaking. I understand that the Narrator is a trick to appease those who might be a little miffed at a recast but for audio purposes if you are going to use a Narrator that is also playing a character role the script has to be careful not to place these two parts to closely together or needs to require a voice that’s maybe pitched differently?

It was fun and interesting to see this strange “marriage as a peace treaty on a space station” story unfold with the Doctor, Yates, and Jo who all take very different tracts to try to solve problems in this tale while ultimately being wedding crashers.There were some very interesting character development moments and it was nice to see Jo taking on a role where she uses many of the skills she’s developed in her time at UNIT. This one was a fun story but maybe not as interesting and gripping to me as the first story in the set was but still a worthy companion piece and very well done.

4 out of 5


Final Thoughts on this Box Set:

It was a good time, I’m glad I dropped the coin on it despite my hesitations. At the risk of repeating myself I must say that Tim Treloar did a great job of capturing the Third Doctor and indeed, as many cast members commented in the behind the scenes interviews, there are a good many times where the similarities are uncanny. He’s not doing a straight impersonation of the Doctor but does a nice job of capturing the character which would not be an easy thing to do and it really says something about Tim’s performance and likewise Nicholas Brigg’s job as director on this set.

My complaints about incidental music being a bit loud and the Narrator sometimes being confusing next to his dual role of the Doctor are very small complaints which might not even bother another listener so it’s easy for me to say this set was a 4 out of 5 stars and may be one of my favorite early Doctor sets. The Third Doctor had a pretty long and storied Tenure but even then these stories found interesting new story angles and conflicts which still fit rather neatly in the body of work that is pre-existing.  I do hope they keep Tim around and I do hope they continue to make more stories for the Third Doctor in a similar vein as these.

Agree? Disagree? Should they be recasting Doctor’s like this? Do you prefer a recast like this or do you prefer it when Frazier Hines or an already established Companion voices the role better? Tell me in the comments below or send us e-mail to letters (@) grawlixpodcast.com!

4 Stars



Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 1 (Big Finish Audio Play)
Reviewed by Jesse Kiefer on Sep 10, 2015
Rating: 4Another Big Finish Box Set Review! This time 'Doctor Who: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield Volume 2 - The Triumph of Sutehk'.

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