The ‘Short Trips’ range has gone from strength to strength in recent years. More and more Doctors and companions are getting their own little adventures penned from some of Doctor Who’s brightest lights and some great newcomers. And ‘The Darkened Earth’ is no different.
The Doctor and Constance arrive on the most dangerous place on Earth, in one of its most dangerous times. At constant risk of discovery, the pair realise that something dangerous is lurking outside, something darker than the dark. And it is hungry…
Constance Clarke was first introduced in 2015’s main range story ‘Criss-Cross’ and quickly became a fan favourite companion from Big Finish. Having recently wrapped up work on a successful trilogy in the monthly series, Constance has been absent for 2018 so far. ‘The Darkened Earth’ serves has a reminder of how great she is and whets our appetite for her return hopefully in the near future.
The presence of Mrs Clarke is helped along by some great writing from John Pritchard and the fantastic performance from actress Miranda Raison, who works so brilliantly with Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. While Baker isn’t around for this story, Raison proves she is more than up for the narration duties of this range. Something about her voice is so smooth that it lends itself to the narration aspect perfectly.
Listening to her voicing Constance while also narrating means it’s sometimes hard to tell where Constance ends. But regardless Raison excels at both roles. Hopefully Big Finish will give us some more short stories for Constance very soon.
The script comes from John Pritchard, whose story ‘The Iron Maid’ was a particular highlight in the strong ‘The Second Doctor: Volume 2’ companion chronicles set. ‘The Darkened Earth’ is of the same quality not just because it works as a monster runaround, but because of some of the other themes he chooses to include. Constance Clarke was a woman in war, having worked as a Wren, so Pritchard uses this fact to give us some insight into Constance’s sense of right and wrong. The script from Pritchard forces her to rethink all this. He touches upon the horrors of war just enough to get the point across and to let the listener ponder on the questions it raises.
Creepy & Effective
Looking past the war questions, there is a monster for the Doctor and Constance to fight. And what a creepy creation it is! It seems to flutter around in the dark, looking for light to consume. But it is the sound design which really makes this monster shine. The noises it makes are unsettling without becoming uncomfortable to listen to. It keeps you on edge but not so much that you need to switch it off, which is just the right balance.
‘The Darkened Earth’ is another successful release for Big Finish and the Short Trips range. It boasts some excellent writing from John Pritchard, someone who it would be great to see a Main Range release from at some point. He has proved he is more than capable of handling any TARDIS team they throw at him. Lisa Bowerman is once again on direction duty, but it goes without saying that she is one of Big Finish’s best stars and directors. Something about her skills as a director gets the best out of the actors in her stories. They are never a dull listen!
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Release #43 is a Sixth Doctor and Mrs Constance Clarke story
Mrs Constance Clarke has faced perils on many planets, but now she finds herself in the most dangerous place on Earth. A place like home, yet terrifyingly different, where ordinary decent folk might hand her over to a dreadful fate. And as night falls, she and the Doctor realise that something is on the prowl outside, a creature darker than the dark. And hungry…
Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: John Pritchard
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Miranda Raison (Narrator)