And so we find ourselves at the beginning of the second series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. Already, we might add. Because it seems like only a few blinks ago since Big Finish announced that Tom Baker had finally agreed to reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor under their production label. The first year saw twist and turns, a return to Nerva beacon, Tom Baker versus the Daleks, the Master and Louise Jameson as the ever wonderful Leela.
But when the Fourth Doctor first returned, we would have been happy if it had just been Tom Baker talking to himself in character for fifty minutes whereas now, we have greater expectations.
The Auntie Matter has a lot of quotas to meet, the difficult second album syndrome, so to speak, but fear not because it starts the series off in style. Is that down to Baker’s performance, is it because Mary Tamm returns as Romana mark one or is it because Jonathan Morris is a brilliant writer? The answer, dear reader is all three.
Staying at a townhouse in 1920’s London whilst K-9 and the TARDIS send the black guardian on a merry goose chase, the Doctor and Romana encounter trouble. The Doctor locates an alien presence in the quiet countryside and Romana encounters a fob called Reginald, who seems to have a trademark floppy tongue. The two Time Lords soon find themselves in separate trouble all leading in the same direction and Morris leads this drama of errors, so to speak, at an exciting pace.
Rather than emulating a proper mid seventies Doctor Who story, Morris seems to have moved in a sideways direction with his story echoing something more alike to the brainchild of a Gareth Roberts story from the Virgin New Adventure range in the nineties more than anything else. This is an interesting story with a tongue-in-cheek-nature that at times can be downright serious and threatening. A rather nasty old hag, the eponymous Auntie is accompanied by her lackey Granville, – a shoot first, shoot again character. Their pairing is both sinister and slightly ridiculous. It should come as no surprise, then, to spot the parallels with an Avengers episode, with the glorious British class system coming heavily into play. In a rather lovely scene when the Doctor is caught in a situation with Mabel the maid he tells her, by spelling the letters out, that they have to r-u-n, her witty and relevant reply being, ‘and that spells?’, it’s a small detail of the British class system of the time but it lends a tremendous weight to the tale.
Mary Tamm gets the full five stars for her performance here as well; she’s droll, intelligent, intuitive and forthright. She’s a joy to listen to and her verbal sparring with Tom Baker is as fresh now as it was back in the 1970’s. In fact Tom Baker really seems to up his game in this adventure, Tamm’s presence seems to induce a rather more sophisticated and loveable side to his Fourth doctor.
The second series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures gets off to a tremendous start this year and with the return of K-9 to look forward to in the next story; it seems that things are only going to get better.
The Auntie Matter is available on CD or via download now from www.bigfinish.com .