Reviewed: Big Finish’s Doctor Who The Early Adventures – The Outliers

How do you imagine Doctor Who audio drama? Do the characters look exactly the same in your head as they did on the TV? Do you imagine sets and costumes as they would have been? The Outliers by Simon Guerrier wonderfully evokes and recreates the style of a mid-Sixties Troughton adventure; taking great care to imagine how the story would have been produced, had it been created for television for Season 4. Not that I knew this until I listened to the extras.

It has never occurred to me to imagine any Big Finish story featuring a 60s TARDIS team in black and white. In my head, they are always in full colour, Jamie in a bright red kilt, Polly in a pink dress. These characters are so full of emotion that they deserve to be in colour, if only in my head. The Second Doctor’s shabby chic is crying out to be viewed in colour. It shows the true versatility of audio, the same story can be viewed so differently by two people and yet both enjoy it.

The latest Early Adventure once again brings together the amazing TARDIS team of the Second Doctor, Ben, Polly, and Jamie. This time, the TARDIS lands them in an underground street flooded with water. There is something lurking in the depths, but the human colonists are too concerned with their bottom line to worry about missing people. Everyone seems to think that the disappearances are statistically representative and nothing to worry about.

This story achieves many great things, one of my favourites being splitting up the regulars in an interesting way. Normally in one of these stories, Ben and Polly go off in one direction while Jamie and the Doctor bumble off in another. However, for an all too short amount of time, we have the Doctor with Ben and Jamie with Polly. This irregular mixture is used to great effect and made me realise how little Ben and the Doctor had had their own scenes together previously. This also gives Frazer Hines a brief period where he doesn’t have to immediately switch between the Doctor and Jamie.

Ably directed by Lisa Bowerman the adventure goes from strength to strength. It begins with the Doctor swanning in like he owns the place, pretending to be an examiner from Earth. It’s not long before he is found out and the TARDIS team are forced to work for the overbearing bureaucrats that run the place. It is wonderful to see the companions having to take on relatively normal jobs. We often hear about their employment, but Ben rarely gets a change to be a sailor and there are very few times when Polly gets to show her understanding of computers.

I don’t want to spoil any of the plot so I shall try to talk about this next bit vaguely. There is a point where the story really shifts gears and we experience some of the characters’ dreams. This was my favourite section of the story, but it was over very quickly. I felt that there was much more that could have been done with this as it was very captivating.

If you are yet to hear any of the Early Adventures, then this is a great place to start.

Doctor Who The Early Adventures: The Outliers is available to buy now on CD or Download from the Big Finish site for £14.99 and £10.99 respectively.