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Reviewed: Big Finish’s Classic Doctors New Monsters Volume 4 – Broken Memories

The fourth volume of Big Finish’s Classic Doctors New Monsters takes the range to a new level, this time solely focusing on three Steven Moffat creations. They’re so unique in different ways, they don’t disappoint. And isn’t it a funny coincidence that the anthology was released a few days before the exciting announcement of Moffat returning to write an episode for Season 1 (or as I prefer to call it, Series 14)?

(Before I resume, I’d like to make it clear that I won’t be mentioning any spoilers, as Moffat himself highlighted countless times.)

Kicking off the boxset is Invasion of the Body Stealers, by Jonathan Morris, which features the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (played here by Sadie Miller) going up against the Harmony Shoal – alien brains who steal bodies, quite literally. After three Lost Stories and Once and Future: Past Lives, we are finally treated to a Season 13 story with the beloved TARDIS duo, as they visit a crashed spaceship on the colony world of Systalzyn. The script has plenty of thrilling moments with vibes of a B-movie, delivering a straightforward plot and inserting nostalgic references where possible. I was pleasantly surprised when the titular villains were announced for this boxset, having waited years for their arc to be explored further on audio. And it brilliantly justifies their appearances in The Husbands of River Song and The Return of Doctor Mysterio, without disrupting continuity.

In The Queen of Clocks, by Jacqueline Rayner, the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) find a castle under siege by the Clockwork Droids on Guyenne. It’s a sharp contrast to their debut in The Girl in the Fireplace, done in the best way possible, with perhaps a hint of Deep Breath. Having produced the Purity arc and written the funny musical Doctor Who and the Pirates, Rayner excels at crafting the script with distinctive characterisation and storytelling. Although I won’t go into detail, you’ll find yourself feeling very emotional towards the end. Utterly heartbreaking, yet magnificent.

And last, but definitely not least, The Silent Priest/The Silent City, by David K Barnes, form a loose two-parter with the Eighth (Paul McGann) and Seventh (Sylvester McCoy) Doctors having an early encounter with the Silence (voiced by Nicholas Briggs) in Sunset City. Told in non-linear order, it’s a terrifying thriller that goes all wibbly wobbly, timey wimey. As Briggs pointed out in the interviews, we don’t actually know who voiced the villains in the TV episodes, with many viewers thinking that it was him. And yet, his Silent voice (no pun intended) is so uncanny, you really can’t tell the difference. So easy to forget what the genetically engineered monsters are capable of, since The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon and their Big Finish debut in UNIT: Silenced. What an epic way to bring the boxset to a close!

Overall, Broken Memories is the best anthology in the Classic Doctors New Monsters range so far, certainly giving this listener some wonderful memories. Such strong, nuanced depictions of Moffat’s creations, this is one definitive starting point. If there were to be a fifth volume, I hope they’ll solely focus on monsters from Russell T Davies’ first era as showrunner. Maybe the Ood, Slitheen, and Krillitanes meeting the First (Stephen Noonan), Second (Michael Troughton), Third (Tim Treloar), and Fifth (Peter Davison) Doctors? Well, let’s see where they could fit in when necessary.

Broken Memories is available now from Big Finish.

Andrew Hsieh

Aspiring screenwriter with Asperger's syndrome, and lifelong Whovian since (shortly after) Christopher Eccleston's reign, Andrew has written and co-edited short story anthologies for Divergent Wordsmiths. Plus, he lives near Bannerman Road.

Reviewed: Big Finish’s Classic Doctors New Monsters Volume 4 – Broken Memories

by Andrew Hsieh time to read: 2 min
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