AUDIO REVIEW: Doctor Who – The Fourth Doctor Adventures S3 Ep7 The Abandoned

The Abandoned is the most experimental story in the Fourth Doctor range since its inception. The stories in previous seasons have been straight forward Doctor Who storylines told tightly over a two episode limit. The Abandoned truly does push the range further out into the more fantastical territory that can be found in abundance in Big Finish’s main range.

This story is also notable for having been co-written by Louise Jameson (Leela) and Nigel Fairs, the latter of which has written many Companion Chronicle releases in the past to feature the character of Leela. As you can expect, Leela is written very strongly but not all the attention goes to her as Tom Baker gets some extraordinary scenes for his Doctor, revealing a lot more about the character’s childhood than we have previously been made privy too. Indeed The Abandoned drops some fascinating revelations about the history of our main characters and the TARDIS.

Surprising details aside, The Abandoned is by no means a straightforward Doctor Who tale. The landscape of the story shifts between that of reality and fantasy in such as way which may make this a little harder for a casual audio drama listener. This story commands your attention to make sure you soak up all of its details and mysteries.

At times you feel like you are listening to an episode of Sapphire and Steel, as the entities of imagination, known simply as One, Two and Three do have a fondness for reciting nursery rhymes in a somewhat creepy fashion.

The TARDIS is unusually sentient in this adventure, actually replying to the Doctor during numerous conversations although no actual words are used. I am not sure the majority of fans would appreciate this approach as although we see this happen in The Doctor’s Wife, becoming an interactive character this early in the chronology somewhat damages the mystique of the ship.

The cast is excellent with Baker and Jameson once again on top form as the Doctor and Leela. Since returning to audio the two actors have found new ways to explore their characters’ relationship to one another in much more emotional depth than we ever got to see on television. That is the beauty of audio drama; you can focus a lot more on the character development in addition to telling a very good story.

Mandi Symonds, Andy Snowball and Nigel Fairs give great performances as all three of the Imagination entities but it is to Stephanie Cole that the distinction as highlight of the production must go to. Her performance as wronged Marianna is both sinister and full of pathos. I will not spoil any of the revelations but this character is a new and intriguing addition to Doctor Who lore.

As writing debuts go this is a highly original first entry into Big Finish particularly when it comes from so prominent an original member of the show’s cast. I applaud the writing team for treading unfamiliar ground on a first story and I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Rating: 4/5

Source: Big Finish
GS Blogger: Matt Davis @DecadentGent

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