White Ghosts takes the Fourth Doctor and Leela into far darker territory than they’ve been in their any of their recent adventures.
Arriving on a planet that is hostile to most life and shrouded in darkness, the TARDIS crew soon come across a scientific research team with a hidden agenda behind their own work, one that may very well threaten all life in the Universe.
With series one of The Fourth Doctor Adventures, Big Finish rode high on the elation of finally snagging Tom Baker to return as the Fourth Doctor full time, the second series had a far stronger structure but maintained a ‘fun factor’ throughout reminiscent of the Graham Williams era. With the third series, Big Finish have taken the Doctor and Leela down a far darker path, where stories offer more sympathetic enemies and moral questions . White Ghosts reflects this chosen path well and offers the listener a hard-to-answer question: when does progress cost humanity?
[pullquote align=right]Big Finish take the Doctor and Leela down a dark path with stories that offer sympathetic enemies and moral questions… White Ghosts reflects this path.[/pullquote]The survey team installed on the planet have taken to modifying their very own DNA, with disastrous consequences for both the Doctor and Leela, but this leads to a well written finale where the Doctor makes a very difficult, and very cold, choice. It’s always thrilling when the good Doctor that we know and love has to make a hard decision and Alan Barnes, Doctor Who supremo that he is, manages to both unsettle the listener and have them understand the choices that have been made.
Perhaps most interesting in White Ghosts is the development of Leela. During her time in the original television run of Doctor Who, her character was very much a case of ‘say it as you see it’, with little progression from savage to one of the Doctor’s “Children of Time”. Here, we are offered a Leela that is learning and growing, one that has not only begun to understand the benefit of the Doctor’s tutelage but also thrive on it. She takes knowledge that she has learned from the Time Lord and from the books she has read and puts it to practical use during the story. This leads to a wonderful scene where the listener is offered a window into Leela’s mind as she fights. To understand her drive, her style and her base instincts help tremendously to build her as a new and fresh version of Leela, one that can be understood and viewed as far more than just a simple savage.
Overall, White Ghosts is a very sombre affair, although it contains hostile plants, this is a far away from the likes of The Seeds of Doom as humanly possible. Alan Barnes has taken the base under siege structure from Doctor Who and managed to add a new layer to it that captures the wonder of The Fourth Doctor Adventures.
White Ghosts is available from www.bigfinish.com now on CD or via download.