Spaceport Fear drops the Doctor and Mel right into the middle of the action this month with no need to have listened to the previous story in order to know what’s going on.
Whilst that may seem like a simple fact that’s not worth mentioning, it is in fact a rather interesting move for Big Finish and from writer William Gallagher. Normally, a Big finish Doctor trilogy will have a small linking theme or concept that brings the trilogy together but instead, and quite rightly so given the complicated timeline that Mel occupies with the Sixth Doctor, Spaceport Fear takes place at some point in the Doctor and Mel’s future history rather than following on directly from the previous story The Wrong Doctors. This helps to give the adventure a fresher and less hindered approach, rather than long exposition having to be used in order to explain at what point the audience is jumping on with Mel and her wibbly wobbly dating problem, we’re offered a simple and effective story- no muss, no fuss.
But more importantly, does Spaceport Fear live up to its promise that the title offers to deliver? Well there are certainly elements of fear aboard this station, we’ll give it that. Long settled space travellers that have found themselves trapped at the station have split into different tribes, Business and Economy. Both are scared of each other and both want a victory in their ongoing feud but how will they settle their differences if no one gets to meet?
Therein lays the problem and one, which over four episodes, takes a long time to explain. Spaceport Fear is laden with wonderful flourishes, the sound design is of fantastic quality with every announcement or opening door or echo helping to realise the large and dark environment that the Doctor and Mel find themselves in. The Sixth Doctor is more heroic in this story, echoing his later incarnations that we’re so used to on television these days. He runs and quips and at one point even rescues Mel using a Smartphone device. Making use of the audio format as best as is possible, there are scenes set in complete darkness which helps the cast to better describe their surroundings and to build the tension for the listener and to create an eerie introduction for the creature that everyone’s so scared of, the Wailer. A creature with a scream that you won’t want to listen to when you’re in the dark yourself and that certainly builds expectations that Spaceport Fear will have you sleeping with the light on.
But by the time we get to episode three, the ‘fear’ of the story is replaced with more action and fewer scares. In fact the Wailer certainly becomes less fearsome each time we encounter it and by the end of the story, there’s little left to be scared of. However, we are left with an interesting story of betrayal and double crossing which is played out well for a suitable conclusion.
Spaceport Fear is a title that may lead you to believe that you’re entering into a tale of horror but in fact you’re going to be listening to a solid thriller that likes to unsettle you from time to time.
Spaceport Fear is available from www.bigfinish.com now.