In fitting style The Wrong Doctors, Big Finish’s version of Melanie Bush’s first adventure with the Sixth Doctor, is as mind bogglingly fascinating as her first out of sync encounter with him in The Trial of a Time Lord.
Don’t worry, it’s a class act the whole way through but that doesn’t mean to say that writer Matt Fitton is going to make things easy on the audience. Here we have a story with the version of Mel and the Sixth Doctor that we saw departing at the end of The Trial of a Time Lord, we also have another version of the Sixth Doctor who has recently lost Evelyn and is now ready to face his destiny in the form of Mel. Throw into that already complicated mix another version of Mel as she lives out her normal life at Peas Pottage oblivious to the wonders that await her with the Doctor.
Are you keeping up? Good, good, because that’s more or less about as easy as things get for the listener. The Wrong Doctors keeps hitting you at a fair pace and if you’re not one for wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey Doctor Who then this will definitely not be your cup of free radicals and tannins. The Doctor-to-Doctor encounters are worth every headache or nosebleed that this tale offers you however, finally having the rough, gruff and dangerous to know early Sixth Doctor meeting his mellow, mature and compassionate older self is akin to Jekyll meeting Hyde or Angel meeting Angelus.
Whilst the two are definitely the same character, the differences of time and life changing experiences, not to mention a few good friends along the way have improved Baker’s Doctor no end and Big Finish wastes no time in emphasising that here. Having spoken in numerous documentaries about how he was to mellow the Sixth Doctor over time; it’s wonderful to let Colin Baker loose here to show listeners and fans just how much his version of the Doctor has changed in the twenty-nine years since he first tried on his multicoloured jacket. And that’s another fan pleasing extra that this tale offers, some tying up of small loose ends. The Doctor’s changing jacket from patchwork dilettante to morning on Necros blue, the Sixth Doctor’s chronological timeline placement between meeting Mel and Evelyn is tied up here, it’s a full circle journey bringing the television series’ and Big Finish’s entire Sixth Doctor back catalogue together into a neater pattern.
Speaking of Mel, Bonnie Langford is back with a bang here and boy did we not realise how much we miss her. Langford’s performance as older Mel and new Mel again helps to mark out the differences that Big Finish has bought to the Sixth Doctor’s world. Her rapport, ingenuity and big brain show us exactly why the Doctor fell for her in the first place. Hopefully we’ll have more than just three adventures with her in the future.
All of these performances are wrapped up in a fun and engrossing story that could be taken from the brain of Steven Moffat himself, with a great new concept called cauterized time, characters meeting each other in order for them to meet each other later and a rather nasty group of business consultants.
But while the story will play out in the background, it’s the Sixth Doctor and Mel that you’ll be eagerly listening to. Nicholas Briggs has employed a wonderful technique for telling the two Doctors apart during their time “on screen” together, see if you can spot what it is. Colin Baker brings yet another depth to his turn as the Doctor, Langford gives us a fitting introduction, Clara Oswald style, to Mel and in the most fitting of endings, we learn that we haven’t even truly begun yet!
The Wrong Doctors is available on CD or via download from www.bigfinish.com now.