Published on February 16th, 2011 | by Meredith Burdett
The Four Doctors
For the past few years, Big Finish has rewarded loyal subscribers of their Doctor Who range by giving them a free play. Weâ€™ve had some real belters that have been sent out, free of charge, as a thank you from the audio kings. But itâ€™s fair to say that none have excited Doctor Who fans as much as the anticipation of Big Finishâ€™s latest offering, The Four Doctors.
Available to subscribers only, this very special play sees not just one but (as the title gives away) four of the Doctorâ€™s incarnations taking on the Daleks and what an adventure it is.
Letâ€™s get one thing out of the way first of all; this is not an adventure with Doctors five, six, seven and eight all meeting up and fighting together and squabbling along the way. This is something far more subtle and far more effective. As the story unfolds, the Fifth Doctor is on Stella Curios investigating time leakage when the Eighth Doctor turns up and covertly assists him from the next room. Â When the Daleks force their way in, the two Doctorâ€™s manage to set up a time loop trap spanning between their intermittent incarnations, ensuring that the Daleks will meet the Sixth and Seventh Doctors along the way.
This leads to a very different approach in a Doctor Who story, the various Doctorâ€™s and their different personalities shine throughout and highlight the acting abilities of Davison, Baker, McCoy and McGann. The Fifth Doctorâ€™s curiosity, the Sixth Doctorâ€™s soulful reflection on life, the Seventh Doctorâ€™s interfering and the Eighth Doctorâ€™s spontaneity, all are showcased here to ensure events unfold in the right way.
On initial listening, you may find that much of the dialogue if this piece flows over you as you plough through the adventure to get the meat of the piece. But joy of this story is not the bigger picture, itâ€™s not about the Daleks new plan or waiting for the moment the Doctorâ€™s are all gathered in the same room. Itâ€™s essentially four very different but interlinked short stories for you to digest. Each one well paced and beautifully executed. One moment, the seventh Doctor is facing off Daleks with Michael Faraday in one of the faster paced scenes of the story. Suddenly, we have a wonderful monologue from Colin Baker as he looks out onto a Dalek battlefield. Juxtaposing these incarnations against each other is not robbing the listener of anything but adding more dramatic weight to an excellent story.
Parts of The Four Doctors may pass you by on initial listening partly due to your excitement but thatâ€™s okay because itâ€™s a story that deserves repeat listening to truly appreciate it. Gone are the days of grouping together different incarnations of the Doctor, itâ€™s a bit too tongue in cheek to provide a serious drama. It can work in 8 minute sketches such as Time Crash but if you want to have a multi Doctor story and give the most powerful dialogue that you can to the lead actors, then this is the way to do it.