After the dust has settled from all of the exciting Big Finish main range adventures in 2012, we’re treated to one last story or to be more exact, four little stories that make up a bigger whole. 1001 Nights borrows from Arab legend and fits folklore and excitement into Doctor Who.
Finding herself at the mercy of a mysterious Sultan, Nyssa must recount tales of her and the Doctor’s adventures in order to keep the imprisoned Time Lord alive and to facilitate her own ticket out of a sticky situation. But things are not as they seem, as Nyssa regales those around her with stories of the far future and of impossible places, the Doctor discovers that there’s alien technology at work and a facade that has lasted many years is about to be uncovered.
Following on from successes with short story tales such as 2009’s The Company of Friends and 2010’s The Demons of Red Lodge, Big Finish have once again provided a quadrilogy of smaller adventures for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa to play with. The big difference this time around is that these smaller stories make up a larger tale and one that pays off very nicely in episode four.
Steeped with atmosphere perfect for listening on a cold and dark winter night, 1001 Nights is one of the richer Big Finish plays of 2012 with four very strong individual stories that help to link things together. 1001 Nights first episode takes the Doctor and Nyssa to a prison in the farthest reaches of space for the TARDIS team to discover a prisoner and jailer with quite a unique situation to overcome, it’s rather raw and rather clever and certainly something new in the Whoniverse.
Episode two is a Doctor Who style take on The Exorcist and is certainly the most unsettling and frightening of the short stories, try listening to the possessed Nyssa without squirming just a little bit. Episode three is where the adventure lulls ever so slightly, it’s not that it’s badly written but more that it seems to be edited in such a way that it’s quite difficult to keep up with what’s going on. In such a short window to develop substantial characters, the first half of 1001 Nights does this excellently; with episode three we’re given a host of characters and a good setting with some strong ideas, all for those ideas to be touched on and resolved so quickly that it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve been given the edited highlights of the tale. Rounding off the story arc in episode four, we’re given a net explanation of what’s happening and a major identity crisis for the Fifth Doctor to overcome.
But of course he does and of course, he deals in compassion like no one else can. It’s fitting that with four stories that focus so heavily on greed and possession we get to see just how much the Doctor has none of these bad qualities.
1001 nights marks a fitting end to a fitting year and is strongly recommended as one for your collection – it’s available from www.bigfinish.com on CD or via download now.