‘Shadow Of Death’ is the second on a series of 50th Anniversary stories, ‘Destiny Of The Doctor’, produced by Big Finish for AudioGo. This time the Second Doctor appears in an out of this world tale. Frazer Hines, who was companion Jamie McCrimmon, and guest actress Evie Dawnay tell the story very well and, of course, Frazer does a wonderful Second Doctor which gives more depth to this companion’s tale.
In yet another emergency landing, the Doctor, Jamie and the recently joined clever girl Zoe Heriot find themselves on a planet in the vicinity of a pulsar star. Its curious physical effect on the planet means the travellers are subjected to strange forces when they attempt to land and leave the TARDIS.
Near an abandoned city, there is a scientific outpost where companions meet a group of scientists who have come to study this extraordinary phenomenon and to find out what happened to the original occupants of the ancient city. Immediately, the travellers are under suspicion as there have been unexplained deaths of members of the team. As the Doctor seeks to reassure the team leader and investigate the real cause, he is faced with the prospect of his own companions falling foul of the shadow of death.
Writer Simon Guerrier has attempted to recreate a classic story from the era complete with its claustrophobic sense of doom and fear. Of course, the author has had much practise in these, producing memorable stories for the Big Finish range of ‘Companion Chronicles’ and monthly adventures. Here he has shaved the plot back to the basic black and white, identifying for us the appeal of these adventures. Fraser Hines convinces the audience that the clown and wise man, the Second Doctor, is in the room and we are told an engaging and suspenseful story harking back to a simpler time. These days, as ‘Doctor Who’ rushes to its conclusion within 45 minutes, cramming everything into its top heavy trifle, this story reminds us that we can enjoy a less stressful time and still get our just desserts.
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that as this story is linked to the future in a very real way and the ultimate episode will I assume attempt to wrap up all the links it lays down along the way. I just hope it manages to retain the charm of the original and not trample all over it as it seems to be doing recently.
(pub: Big Finish/Audio Go. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: £10.20 (UK), Download: £3.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-47131-168-0)
cast: Frazer Hines and Evie Dawnay
check out website: www.bigfinish.com