It’s been too long since we’ve had a main range audio outing with the Seventh Doctor. Thankfully, Big Finish will be delivering a straight run of Sylvester stories through to December, starting with ‘Red Planets’.
‘Red Planets’ is a return to form for the McCoy audio era with the dark quality of early Big Finish stories. However, it has all the trappings of a more modern Doctor Who outing. The last time we saw the Seventh Doctor in a main range story, he and Ace reunited with Mel for ongoing adventures. Una McCormack takes the writing reins for the new TARDIS trio.
Unusually for the more playful and satirical Seventh Doctor era, ‘Red Planets’ is a very matter-of-fact script. It’s not as dark or experimental as, say, ‘Flip Flop‘ but it does deal with alternate histories and doesn’t hold back in its commentary.
The story is told in two distinct subplots. Ace is alone, possibly stranded or deliberately left behind, while Mel and The Doctor are off travelling. Ace is stuck in the past while the others arrive in 2017. It’s charming to see the Doctor trusts Ace on her own so much that he doesn’t even worry. What does worry him, however, is the elaborate celebrations going on around them. For reasons that fly in the face of history: socialism reigns and the human race is heading to Mars too soon.
Una McCormack pens this very pacy adventure that exquisitely unravels the plot over the runtime. It’s a familiar concept but this offers enough unique ideas to keep you invested in what’s going on. The story is performed and written in such a way that the future and fate of our lead trio is left in the balance. We’re dealing with alternate history so all bets are off for continuity with the TV series. Throw in the mission to Mars and this becomes a real nail biter. Right up to the last line, this story delivers.
Director Jamie Anderson does an excellent job at balancing all disparate elements of this script. The music by Joe Kraemer is gorgeous and helps elevate the atmosphere. The cast, especially the guest players, are in top form. The rapport between Aldred, McCoy and Langford is so good you can absolutely see why Big Finish chose to reunite Mel with the team.
‘Red Planets’ stands apart from most alternate reality stories and distinguishes itself from most Seventh Dotor story with a relative lack of comedy. The result makes for a memorable outing. The entire cast are on top form and the post-production accentuates what’s already there. Add in that powerful cover image and you’ve got a cohesive and powerful production.
This title was released in August 2018. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2018, and on general sale after this date.
London, 2017. Except… it isn’t. Berlin, 1961. But it isn’t that either. Not really. Not in the timeline the Doctor knows. Something is very wrong.
While Ace tries to save the life of a wounded British spy, Mel and the Doctor must get to grips with the modern day socialist Republic of Mokoshia. For Mel it feels strangely familiar and ‘right’, which makes the Doctor feel even more uneasy.
Soon, a message from a dark and blood-soaked distant future is on its way… But the Doctor will have to act fast to stop this timeline becoming reality.
And with Ace stranded in an alternate 1961, will saving the Earth end her existence?
Written By: Una McCormack
Directed By: Jamie Anderson
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Matt Barber (Tom Elliot), Elliot Levey (Colonel Marsden), Genevieve Gaunt (Anna / Commander of Phobos Mission), Max Bollinger (Sokolov), Chris Dale (Mission Control / Voice of Map / George / Television Announcer). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer Nicholas Briggs
Script Editor Guy Adams
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs