Doctors and Dragons is the latest Doctor Who Short Trip from Big Finish. It provides a fun roll of the dice in the manner of a classic role play game. But on audio. With the Seventh Doctor and Ace.
RPG games have been around for many, many years with Dungeons and Dragons one of the longest and most iconic. Originally making its first appearance in 1974, D&D took off in the mid-eighties. Recently, it has had something of a renaissance. Given how many references it has enjoyed in recent television shows, one wonders why D&D and RPG hasn’t made an appearance in the worlds of Doctor Who. But fans of both no longer need to worry because this latest addition to the Short-Trips range answers the question of what would happen if Doctor Who met Dungeons and Dragons.
Written by Alfie Shaw
Writer Alfie Shaw has made the right decision to include the Seventh Doctor. On screen, he was the most duplicitous of all. Content to play many games at once. Never afraid to use people as his pawns in his game of intergalactic chess.
Presumably Shaw is a D&D player because he makes its influences clear from very early on. If you are a player of D&D like myself, then you’ll get a real kick out of it. Shaw puts a great emphasise on the importance of numbers in the game, with higher numbers being positive and lower numbers spelling trouble. Shaw makes sure that the story doesn’t just appeal to players of the game but listeners who don’t know D&D will follow the story with ease. Hopefully they’ll come out of the end of it wondering what D&D is actually all about. Maybe they’ll even pick up some dice themselves.
Shaw really understands the McCoy Doctor, skilled at playing any type of game. Here is no different as he plays a desperate gamble with the character of Reya. Another successful move is telling the story and its many enjoyable twists and turns, through that character. Like many a D&D player, you don’t know what kind of world you’re going to be thrown into and neither does Reya as she navigates the game, set out by the Doctor and Ace.
The idea for the villain was enjoyable too, the Seventh Doctor always had a thing for bringing down gods and this story is no different. In a few lines of description and dialogue, Shaw shows the Seventh Doctor, and those who might see this as their first foray into his era, what kind of character he is.
Narrated by Sophie Aldred
As usual, Sophie Aldred is amazing. She has a way of telling a story that keeps you engrossed and tells this story like an experienced Dungeon Master, weaving plot threads so that the listener and player doesn’t know where they are going. Her take on McCoy is great, hearing a full on Scottish-accent might be a little jarring at first but you soon get used to it and it very quickly becomes the Doctor we all know and love. Aldred is more than comfortable as Ace too, making her instantly lovable from the first word. It is always glorious to hear the various actors slipping back into their old characters and that has been a continuing key to the success of Big Finish.
Doctors and Dragons is another successful entry to the Doctor Who mythology and lately, it seems like Big Finish can do no wrong. The script from Alfie Shaw is excellent, making sure that the rules for RPG’s are a vital part of the story and keeping the references light and fun enough so that hardened D&D players, newcomers or people who have no interest in it can still enjoy this tale. Lisa Bowerman does a great job as Director, meshing the script, performance, music and sound design together brilliantly to give the listener a great idea for the ‘feel’ of Dungeons and Dragons. Plus Sophie Aldred is sublime as usual!
It is just a shame that this play isn’t longer. It screams to be explored fully in a four-part story with a bigger cast and landscape. But for now, this is another great example of how experimental Big Finish can be with their storytelling.
Reya always knew she was different. Only she could see the numbers that govern the universe. When her sister is poisoned, Reya quests for the substance that can save her. The blood of the last dragon. The one thing that stands in her way is a strange little man called the Doctor. He’s refusing to let her kill the dragon, even though it will save her sister.
Defeat the Doctor, kill the dragon, save her sister. What could be simpler?
- Narrator: Sophie Aldred.
- Cover Artist: Mark Plastow.
- Director: Lisa Bowerman.
- Executive Producer: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs.
- Music: Richard Fox @ FoxYason Studios.
- Producer: Alfie Shaw.
- Script Editor: Alfie Shaw.
- Sound Designer: Richard Fox @ FoxYason Studios
- Writer: Alfie Shaw.