In Review: Big Finish: THE NINTH DOCTOR CHRONICLES

Four new stories from the Ninth Doctor’s era

Synopsis: Four new stories from the Ninth Doctor’s era, performed by Nicholas Briggs. Featuring Bruno Langley as Adam Mitchell and Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler.

Review: These adventures see the 9th Doctor contend with the deadly remnants of the Last Great Time War, as well as the evils of capitalism and a doomed love story across another dimension. Although his portrayal of 9 is goofier and lighter than Christopher Eccleston‘s, there are moments when Nicholas Briggs turns up the intensity and knocks it out of the park. The stories are well written with plenty of tension, and Bruno Langley and Camille Coduri make very welcome returns to the world of Who.

The Bleeding Heart” by Kevin Scott has the Doctor on a neutral planet where a peace is being brokered between two opposing sides. However an enigmatic force causes harmless beings to murder others in the name of “healing their pain”. The Doctor and a cynical news anchor named Adriana investigate and discover that a tear in interstitial space called The Compassion is causing the inhabitants of that world to kill eachother. The Doctor recognises it as something left over from the Time War and prepares to seal it, only for Adriana to make the ultimate sacrifice and do it herself.

This adventure had many of the themes of the Russell T Davies 9th Doctor era, such as the first murderer being a peaceful cleric as well as the idea that anyone can be a hero. Adriana comes off as quite cynical and short tempered throughout the episode but she ends up making a difference as she had always wanted to do. The Doctor is brave and ready to give his life to save the universe, much like he did in the episode Father’s Day. This play also felt a bit like the Slitheen two parter in that anyone (and everyone) could be a potential threat.

The Window on the Moor” by Una McCormack opens with the famous writer Emily Bronte seeing visions of a city made of glass. The Doctor and Rose arrive in the city and discover a civil war is raging between the noble Duke Alexandro and his evil uncle Julius. The Doctor is captured and imprisoned while Rose and Alexandro find their way to Emily Bronte‘s dimension. The Time Lord meets Alexandro’s bride, Ada, who it is revealed looks exactly like Emily Bronte. Apparently Julius is after a device in Alexandro’s possession that will enable his army to travel between worlds and conquer them. Alexandro tricks Julius and seals himself, his uncle and his uncle’s army in another dimension never to return.

This outing felt very much like an 8th Doctor adventure with its gothic elements of the wicked uncle and the doomed romance between Ada and Alexandro. Rose Tyler is well written in this adventure. Her cleverness and compassion are very true to Billie Piper’s portrayal of her in the show. The Doctor seems a little out of character when he allows himself to be captured by a guard who has previously hit him. The villain in this episode, Julius, comes off as very genre savvy which is ultimately subverted when Alexandro tricks him at the adventure’s climax.

The Other Side” by Scott Handcock features Adam Mitchell, played in the show by Bruno Langley. In this adventure a temporal tsunami knocks the TARDIS off course to land in Birmingham 2012, in a deserted cinema. A window to the past separates the Doctor from his companions, and Rose and Adam must work out how to retrieve him from the past. A deadly face off with the Bygone Horde ends with Rose and the Doctor reunited and Adam having proved his worth as a member of team TARDIS.

There is an excellent buildup of tension in this story with first the Doctor then Rose being flung into the past. Adam is very well written, with his defeatist realism well contrasted with Rose’s passion and bravery and belief in the Doctor. The villains in this adventure put me in mind of the Gelth, being the ghosts of many races who perished in the Time War. There was a sweet moment when the Doctor revealed he had waited 28 years for Rose and it was nice to see Adam be portrayed as a useful ally. Very good was the moment at the end when the Doctor described Adam as “Just a tiny bit fantastic.”

Retail Therapy” by James Goss is a story set on Earth, on the Powell estate, where Jackie Tyler has been selling “Glubby Glubs” to the other residents. The Doctor investigates but quickly falls under the aliens’ power. Meanwhile Jackie receives a summons to the Glubby Glub headquarters where the evil Tycho Fairbank attempts to corrupt her. The Doctor reverses the aliens’ effects on the ordinary people and all is put back to normal.

This was an excellent episode that really captured the essence of the Russell T Davies 9th Doctor era. Camille Coduri is brilliant as Jackie Tyler, from her real and relatable to desire to give Rose a better life to her clever manipulation of Tycho Fairbank at the adventure’s climax. This story is genuinely scary, with the Doctor almost instantly succumbing to the aliens’ power and the TARDIS itself being drained of energy. There are some very sweet and humourous moments like when Jackie says Rose can be proud of her even though she doesn’t fly a spaceship and when the Doctor puts the Internet on Rose’s phone before saying “It’ll never catch on.” The evils of capitalism and what it does to people are nicely explored here, as is the heroism of ordinary people that is a major theme of the RTD era.

Overall, these were four great stories that I would definitely buy and recommend to others.

8.8
Big Finish: THE NINTH DOCTOR CHRONICLES
  • Stories
    8.5
  • Voice Acting
    8.0
  • Audio Production
    9.5
  • Art Work
    9.0
2 Comments on this post.
  • BS
    11 May 2017 at 10:48 pm -

    Didn’t know that the 9th Doctor had ‘issues’ with Rose’s mom, Jackie Tyler or vice versa.

    It would’ve been nice if Christopher Eccleston had actually voiced the series.
    His 9th Doctor should’ve had a Season 2.

    • Ian Cullen
      11 May 2017 at 11:06 pm -

      Sadly I doubt we’ll ever get Christopher Eccleston to return to anything as Doctor Who.He left the show because he butted heads with the creative team. Which is a terrible shame because I agree with you. He would have had a great season two had it ever happened.

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