In Review: Big Finish: Doctor Who: The English Way of Death

“People try to kill me at least twice a day, generally. I only mind when they succeed.”

Synopsis: The Doctor, Romana and K9 arrive in 1930s London to return some overdue library books. They plan to take a rest after their recent adventures, but Romana detects a distress signal from the future and the Doctor is attacked by a suffocating green mist.

Review: “The English Way of Death” is the second of two stories in The Fourth Doctor By Gareth Roberts, Volume 1 (Limited Collector’s Edition) box set. I can see why it and “The Romance of Crime” were paired together. Both stories feature maniacal aliens utilizing possession to free themselves from imprisonment, necessitating heroic sacrifices by K9, while witty dialogue is uttered throughout. In “The English Way of Death,” one of the Fourth Doctor’s retorts could just as easily have been applied to his brave little service dog: “People try to kill me at least twice a day, generally. I only mind when they succeed.”

Overall, I enjoyed “The English Way of Death” more than “The Romance of Crime.” “The Unicorn and the Wasp” meets Shaun of the Dead mash-up was my cup of tea. I’ve always preferred the historical yarns to the straight up space adventures on Doctor Who. The resulting juxtaposition of narrative elements just makes me happy. For instance, the alien time corridor the characters encounter is accessed through an out-of-the-way beach bathing hut.

As ever, the performances were top notch. It was a particular treat hearing John Leeson pull double duty, while K9 was possessed, which harkened back to his introduction during “The Invisible Enemy.”

Written By: Gareth Roberts, adapted by John Dorney

Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Terrence Hardiman (Stackhouse), Derek Carlyle (Orlick), Richard Braine (Percy Closed), Abigail McKern (Felicia), Annabel Mullion (Julia), Mark Bonnar (Porteus), Tim Bentinck (Colonel Radlett), Andrew Bone (Woodrow), Jane Slavin (Harriet)

9.5
Big Finish: Doctor Who: The English Way of Death
  • Story, Script, Performances
  • Made me wish K9 was back on the show.
  • Story
    9
  • Script
    9
  • Performances
    10
  • Audio Production
    10

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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