I can honestly say that I never thought anyone would ever tell this story. The fact that Big Finish and Paul Magrs did it alone was just a bit surprising, but to have done such a good job of it, that’s another matter. But what they did I will not say. You’ll have to listen because if I tell you, there’d be no point.
The Boy that Time Forgot picks up after the events of The Haunting of Thomas Brewster, which in itself was a great ride, but the fun did stop with that story.
The Doctor and Nyssa find themselves without the TARDIS and have called together a few brilliant minds in England to try to help them get back to it, but naturally it all goes wrong and they end up in pre-historic Earth.
The TARDIS has always been the best tool in Doctor Who story telling. It allows the character to end up where the adventure is. Sometimes, however, the Doctor is on his own and heed to find other means of travel, but even though the TARDIS is absent it is still very much the tool it was before in moving the story along.
It’s quite refreshing in a way to see the Fifth Doctor without his trusted friend, it very much reminds me of the Fourth’s Doctor first season. It’s times like this when you get to see the genius that is the Doctor. Rather then use his trusted tool he is forced to come up with an alterative plan with basically nothing more then his head and the things around him.
Peter Davison was always a good Doctor during his TV era, he was very entertaining and engaging in the role, but he is always the first to mention that humor was not allowed in his era. This is another time that really makes the Big Finish plays worthwhile. While they try to stick to the true nature of each era they can bend the rules a bit and add what was missing. Peter gets a few good, if not subtle, jokes in this story as well as many others, and you get that true sense of his humorous side. He is brilliant in interviews and they always made me think that his Doctor could have been that much better, and with these audios I can see that I was right; Peter was right too.
Nyssa also gets a subtle update in these plays. No longer the easily frightened screamer from the past, she is now a stronger more updated version of herself. This update is welcome change from the ear piercing shrieks of horror we used to get. She is the Nyssa that we should have seen on TV when Tegan left. Had Tegan never come back, we may have had more “Doctor-and-single-companion” stories, similar to how Caves of Androzani worked.
These are just some of the elements that make The Boy that Time Forgot such a successful story. At least one of the other reasons would have to be Andrew Sachs in the role of The Scorpion King. With a massive background in the audio medium Andrew is right at home in the recording box (as it were) and his skill can easily be felt through the performance of his character. His performance as The Scorpion King could not be more different from his previous portrayal of Skagra in the audio version of Shada. Some actors get caught in a trap of playing the same type of person for every character, which naturally limits you enjoyment of a story, be it video or audio, but Mr. Sachs can certainly never be accused of this.
Perhaps this is also due to the writer Paul Magrs. He really has written some beautiful plays for the Doctor Who range and this one is no exception. It has the proper updated feel mixed with the 1960’s era of the show while still fitting in perfectly into the Davison era of the 1980’s. It deals with the continuing theme of consequences in the Doctor’s life, as well as cause and effect issues with messing with time. It has characters that really come to life – and it has monsters. Got to have those, right?
I usually tend to listen to these stories in the car during my ride into work. They make the trip far more enjoyable and help to keep my mind off of the mind numbingly long ride that I have. As much as I would like to, I never get to finish a story on the ride in. Often I have to finish it on the ride home, or even the next day, but today I wanted to continue to sit there. I wanted to hear the full story before I went into work. That is the sign of what a good script Paul Magrs has given us.
Like I said – I never thought this story would ever work, nor did I ever think it would see the light of day. I was wrong.
You have to hear it to believe it.
The Boy Who Time Forgot is now available from the Big Finish website.