The Doctor Who: The Early Adventures range from Big Finish continues with Entanglement. This new story stars Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves, continuing the adventures of the First Doctor, Vicki and Steven. Entanglement marks the third release in the fifth series of the range.
Reviewed by Rhonda Lancaster
Entanglement begins with an intriguing set up as the Doctor, Vicki, and Steven literally drop onto Sedgwick College in Cambridge, England. As the TARDIS perches on top of an ancient spire, they see two undergraduates who’ve made the mistake of Night Crawling onto the roof. A mysterious force has caused the students to become suddenly violent against each other.
Separated from the TARDIS, Vicki and Steven think the disappearance of the college’s provost and the unexplained eruptions of violence deserve investigating. However, the Doctor dismisses the mysteries with a flippant “People disappear and fight all the time” before accusing them of being wary because of too much time travelling with him. When the undergraduates heckle the Doctor during his visiting lecture, he decides perhaps they should address the mysteries. (It’s interesting too that this iteration of the Doctor was almost reluctant to give the lecture at all, unlike the later iterations that would thrill to be a lecturer.)
The Master of Sedgwick, Sir Isaiah Hardy, has disappeared without explanation, and an election for his replacement is now taking place. The Doctor focuses his suspicions on the front runner, Professor Charles Lewis (played by Philip Fox), who has a camera far advanced of the current year. Additionally, the campus Proctors are behaving in odd ways that make are TARDIS crew question whether there is more at stake than simply the control of an educational institution.
Writers Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky deserve praise for capturing the atmosphere of the First Doctor’s era as well as the voices of William Hartnell’s Doctor and his companions. Lisa Bowerman’s direction keeps the story clipping along and the episode cliffhangers put each of the main cast in enough peril that the listener stays tuned for the resolution.
Starring Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves
Maureen O’Brien successfully ups her pitch to sound like her 1960’s self as Vicki. It’s nice, however, to hear her natural, deeper voice as she also narrates the connective tissue between scenes. Peter Purves’s voice is reminiscent of his time as Steven, especially in the scene where he suddenly becomes violent. Giving his mimicry the old college try, he manages the speed and cadence of William Hartnell, but, unfortunately, never quite convinces as the Doctor. His pitch is an octave too high and his delivery slightly more breathless than firm and grumbling, resulting in a slightly cartoonish characterisation. The secondary cast are delightful, especially Mark Edel-Hunt and Sam Woolf, as the two scholars who become drop-in companions for this episode, Guy and Kim, respectively.
With a central mystery that challenges the listener to assemble the clues along with the cast, Entanglement successfully captures the First Doctor era. It features a Doctor less enamoured with getting all the attention and willing to let his companions help with finding answers. The voice cast is a joy to hear as they carry the audience through the investigation, and the storyline never fails to throw another twist at the listener.
Cambridge, England, the mid 1930s. When the Doctor, Steven and Vicki get separated from the TARDIS they are forced to spend some time amongst the ancient spires of Sedgwick College. The college is mid-way through a leadership crisis following the unexplained disappearance of the Master of Sedgwick, Sir Isaiah Hardy. An election for his replacement is now taking place.
But is that all that’s happening in this seemingly peaceful location? The Proctors are behaving in mysterious ways and the students are prone to bursts of unexplained violence. When one of his companions also vanishes, the Doctor realises that there’s more at stake here than control of an educational establishment. A dark plan is underway – one that threatens the entire future of humanity itself!
Written By: Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky.
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman.
Maureen O’Brien (Vicki / Narrator), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor / The Doctor / Narrator), Mark Edel-Hunt (Guy), Sam Woolf (Kim), Philip Fox (Professor Charles Lewis), Richard Braine (Professor Linus Woolf), John Rowe (Sir Isiah Hardy). Other parts played by members of the cast.