(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow!)
The current season of The Lost Stories reaches its climactic conclusion with this, a story originally created for the Second Doctor. For a variety of reasons, it never reached the screen, which is too bad, because it would have made for a dandy adventure. Luckily, it still works fairly well here on audio.
The story features Jamie (Frazer Hines), Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and the Doctor (here voiced by Hines, doing his usual excellent job channeling Patrick Troughton), arriving at a research station. There they encounter a xenobotanist (David Warner, who acted alongside Troughton in The Omen), and the station’s commander, an alien from Rosa Damascena named Rugosa (Clive Wood). Naturally not all is as it appears, and it’s up to the Doctor and crew to save the day.
I’ve complained before, most notably in my review of “The Masters of Luxor”, that I’m not a big fan of stories that contain an excess of narration. That wasn’t a problem here, thankfully. Yes, there is quite a bit, but not as much as in something like “The Masters of Luxor”, and with four actors filling out the cast, it means you don’t hear nearly as many repeated voices as with some of the other Lost Stories or, very often, the Companion Chronicles, though it is worth noting that for some odd reason Padbury voices a male character through much of the story. Why the character wasn’t simply rewritten as female is beyond me.
There’s lot to enjoy here. The overall story is essentially a metaphor about drugs, with a station full of what I’m going to enjoy referring to as Lotus-Eaters. There’s also the usual story of the Doctor fighting back against tyranny and a would-be dictator who seems hell-bent on conquest.
I must also give special attention to the performances, most notably by Hines and Warner. Hines really is amazingly good as the Doctor. If Big Finish ever wanted to do proper, full-cast Second Doctor stories, and I feel they should, then having Hines continue to voice the character would be a great idea. As for David Warner, well, really the guy can do no wrong, and I’m very pleased that Big Finish continues to use him as often as they do. In fact, we’re next going to hear him alongside the Fourth Doctor and Romana in next year’s series of Fourth Doctor audios. Now that I’m really looking forward to!
Complaints about this story? Not any, really, aside from the odd choice to have Padbury voice a male character when a simple change of pronoun would have made that a lot less weird. She does well with the role (though her best work for Big Finish remains an earlier lost story known as “The Prison in Space), but either changing the character’s gender or having one of the male actors voice him would have made more sense.
That aside, if you’re looking for a story that does an excellent job of channeling the “feel” of the Second Doctor’s storylines and is also entertaining in its own right, you can’t go far wrong with this one, which can be picked up for pretty cheaply.
This is the end of the current series of Lost Stories. In September of next year, we’ll start off the last four of the line with the First Doctor story, “The Dark Planet”!
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