The Third Doctor Adventures Vol. 1
by Justin Richards and Andy Lane
Starring Katy Manning, Richard Franklin and Tim Treloar
Just a few short weeks after killing off The Sixth Doctor, Big Finish have done what seemed impossible and brought The Third Doctor back to life.
Recasting Jon Pertwee was always going to be a risky venture, and it’s one that Big Finish must have thought long and hard about. And they surely wouldn’t have gone ahead without believing that they had found exactly the right actor for the job. We’re thrilled, and very pleasantly surprised, to report that this doctoring of The Doctor has proved to be a thoroughly successful experiment – Tim Treloar IS the Doctor.
While Treloar doesn’t nail Pertwee completely 100% of the time, there are an awful lot of occasions when he does. Rather teasingly, the first outing in this set, Prisoners of the Lake, opens with a lengthy prologue featuring Mike Yates on a solo mission. When Treloar finally does put in his first appearance it takes a little getting used to – but before you know it the UNIT team are all together investigating mysterious goings on at a scientific research base, The Third Doctor is locking horns with pompous official types, and we’ve been sucked back to the Seventies – having to consistently remind ourselves that this isn’t footage from a genuinely long-lost, hitherto unknown adventure.
The only thing that occasionally jars is when Treloar suddenly interrupts the action with narration in his own voice. We understand why Big Finish chose to go down this road – to claim that technically The Third Doctor is simply being ‘voiced’ by a narrator rather than being fully recast, but that’s really just silly semantics. Treloar’s Doctor is easily impressive enough to stand on his own – the narration element could quite happily be dropped from future releases.
Prisoners of the Lake is a very traditional script from Justin Richards. Aside from a novel setting, a majority of the plot elements are trusty sci-fi clichés, but we don’t mind – we’re having so much fun listening to old friends that a more involved plot could have easily been distracted from by the glorious ‘reunion’.
The Havoc of Empires by Andy Lane takes The Doctor and Jo off-world, with Mike Yates in tow, for a space opera spectacular that perfectly echoes The Third Doctor’s Tardis travels. Opposing races, a peace treaty, mysterious sabotage and a good dollop of whodunit combine to create a thriller that’s fresh and exciting with an air of nostalgia at the same time. And Lane provides a strong and interestingly different role for Jo Grant – giving Katy Manning a particular chance to shine.
This release may well divide the audience – it’s all going to boil down to whether or not people are comfortable with major parts being recast. We weren’t sure, but we’ve been won over by this frankly extraordinary trip back in time. We see no reason why The Third Doctor Adventures can’t become an on-going series – on the strength of Treloar’s performance here we’d like to see monthly releases. And we never thought we’d say it, but go ahead and recast The Master and The Brigadier – an era we had thought time-locked forever has become active again and suddenly anything seems possible.
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
Thanks to Big Finish
Review by Richard Unwin