Doctor WhoMusic/Audio

Doctor Who: Stranded 4 by Lisa McMullin, Matt Fitton, John Dorney and Roy Gill (CD story review).

Crossed Lines by Matt Fitton

If you like your Doctor with added timey-wimey and esoteric hoo-ha this will get you salivating. As the Doctor (Paul McGann) tries to influence young Robin’s life choices and put right what once went wrong he takes a journey backwards along the timeline. Robin (Joel James Davison) and his father are leaving on a train to Edinburgh to start a new life. The Doctor thinks this might be a critical point in Robin’s life as he leaves behind his recently made friends. Trusting himself to the vagaries of the British Railway system the Doctor finds that there is no such thing as a simple decision and time is catching up with everyone.

His companion in the tricky TARDIS, Helen (Hattie Morahan) gets into a scrape with Tania (Rebecca Root). Meanwhile, Liv (Nicola Walker) and current day Tania have to navigate the trickiness of new memories and the physical sickness they induce. Liv knows just who to see at the Undercroft but he’s not who’s she’s expecting.

Something is out there and its hungry there may in fact be little time left to make a change.

Get Andy by Lisa McMullin

Realising that those jolly fixed points are in flux the team decide to attempt a daring rescue. Poor police officer Sergeant Andy Davidson (Tom Price) is caught up in the impossible time streams that continue to plague reality. As the team criss-cross those streams, there is bound to be fallout.

Andy takes centre stage for his story of an unexpected journey with a very unexpected companion. When the Doctor attempts rescue there is another unforeseen happening as it seems time has few more tricks to play on the TARDIS companions.

The Keys Of Baker Street by Roy Gill

There’s no place like home and currently there are no other choices as 107 Baker Street is the only remaining place to be. As the team climb closer to the attic, they each discover moments of memory caught within the rooms, offering a small insight into their own lives and how they might move forward. It’s time to put the truth out there.

As differences are resolved and time starts to move in a more orderly manner we can reflect on how much has changed for Liv, Helen, Tania and Andy. The Doctor helps slot the final puzzle into place

Best Year Ever by John Dorney

‘When one story ends…’

Until reality is reset they must face up to the real 2020. ‘How bad can it be?’

With resolution comes acceptance and now the TARDIS team must accept that 2020 is a year like no other. As we follow the residents of 107 through the year, we find out how reality has stabilised and face up to the changes and losses.

It’s such a heart-breaking clever story that manages to sum up feeling and experience of the pandemic in a drama that deals with loss, changed memories and new relationships. It’s an incredible feat and left me weeping.

Some of these adventures are more introspective than others. Even the ones where lots happen there is time for contemplation and they do reflect the stop-start nature that is own existence has been recently. Most critically they convey how every person matters. They are not just statistics or a picture of a heart on a wall of remembrance; they have lived and in some cases should have lived longer. The intricate web of time that has been slashed by the paradox in this series of stories is very much a metaphor for own memories of lives destroyed or curtailed by the virus. When the series commenced it wasn’t planned this way, unless they had a crystal ball, but has evolved and by the time we get to journey’s end every moment is pin sharp particularly in the episode Best year Ever.

The team into the TARDIS are particularly good and we never feel anyone is sitting on their hands waiting to be included. The relationship between Liv and Tania is a three tissue affair and beautifully played by Nicola Walker and Rebecca Root. Tom Price’s Andy is often seen as the comedy insert but in ‘Get Andy’ we can hear Price in a masterclass of confusion and sadness when he realises that crossing of timelines means saving a version of him but not necessarily him. Helen, as played by Hattie Morahan, is the mother of the TARDIS, willingly ensuring her ducklings get home. Then there is the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, who continues to breathe life into a character that didn’t really grab me in the original TV movie. His move into canon thanks to ‘The Night Of The Doctor’ has cemented him as a fan favourite.

The extras after each episode give the writers and production team an opportunity to expand on how each story was developed. It’s a fascinating insight into the creative process and how through the four episodes to reach its final conclusion. The script editors John Dorney and Matt Fitton have done an amazing job with the writers marrying it all together in what is a massive undertaking. It gives us everything we want from our ‘Doctor Who’ and no monsters are necessary.

When the actors start talking it is also interesting especially when you get someone like Jeremy Clyde who plays Tony. He has had an amazing life and just a little bit of it is included here including his appearance in 1960s ‘Batman’ story ‘The Cat’s Meow’ and ‘The Bat’s Know Tow’. I can see this turning into memoirs if it hasn’t already.

It’s bittersweet to reach the end of this run of stories. Stranded seems to be the zeitgeist of the last two years. We’ve had such a peculiar time and it doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to normal, new or otherwise. I’ve been lucky to re-listen to the whole of the four series and they continue to intrigue and challenge and offer up new twists and interpretations. The writers and production team have poured out a huge cup of idea tea, spilling over like the sea of time into our waiting laps. It’s more than generous and so much more value than any streaming service.

Sue Davies

April 2022

(pub: Big Finish, 2022. 4 CDs 304 minutes 4 stories. CD/download: Price: £24.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-171-5. Download: Price: £19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-172-2

cast: Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, Hattie Morahan, Rebecca Root, Tom Price, Avita Jay, Colin Baker, Jeremy Clyde, Alan Cox, Joel James Davison, Clive Wood and Amina Zia

check out website: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/doctor-who-stranded-4-2172 

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