After a successful string of Seventh Doctor stories, December’s monthly adventure from Big Finish belongs to the Sixth Doctor. Titled ‘The Hunting Ground‘, this story is set in Iceland and is written by the talented A K Benedict.
‘The Hunting Ground‘ is a fantastic title to follow on the heels of the Thirteenth Doctors recently aired ‘It Takes You Away‘. It’s not because the concepts are similar but because of the Scandinavian setting and the heavy dose of atmosphere. Thankfully this title we’re about to look at is much less divisive. In fact, it’s strong from start to finish.
There’s a great mystery at the centre of this story and it begins with the companionless Doctor as the prime suspect. Of course he didn’t do it and it, but being the Sixth Doctor we can rest assured that he will boldly put his nose in the thick of it until matters are solved.
Atmosphere vs. The Doctor
Steve Foxon is easily one of the best sound designers Big Finish has and his talents should not go unrecognised here. His ability to balance moody, cold, tones against the Sixth Doctor’s comical yammering, is excellent. The crisp air and nature are always looming but the production is not weighed down by it. The music is also beautiful and haunting. It wouldn’t go amiss in David Fincher’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘. Now picture The Sixth Doctor showing up in that movie and it not being the lesser for it. A great achievement. Director John Ainsworth has walked a fine line but with incredible results.
A.K. Benedict has delivered a script that is both humorous and mysterious. It boasts, an Iceland with Elf and troll police, aliens and dialogue that is funny but still advances the plot. Only in Doctor Who can fans have all this! Only with Big Finish can the production and script work unanimously time and time again.
A script can fail without the right cast though and Amy Beth Hayes as Yrsa is perfect. She plays it all straight and as genuine as Eve Myles would, for instance. Her disbelief with the Sixth Doctor is thoroughly enjoyable as we witness her coming to terms with his reality. We often get characters in disbelief of the Doctor and their circumstances, however, Hayes’ performance paired with her chemistry with Colin Baker, is authentic and believable.
Hayes isn’t the only great cast though. Each and every actor brings what’s needed to their part to make it the best audio adventure that they can. Richard Reed as the Constable manages to make a comic relief role both funny and earnest. You can believe this man is making friends with a machine (which will go unnamed in this review). Priceless! It must be great on the script page but for bringing it to life so well Reed deserves a special mention.
Colin Baker, as goes without saying, is everything Big Finish fans want here. Though he isn’t visible we still get that sparkle in his eye.
This has been a spectacular year for the monthly adventures and ‘The Hunting Ground‘ is another excellent release. There’s mystery, comedy, outstanding performances, wonderful sound production and music. This story could never have been done successfully on television in the 1980’s, maybe not even now. Thankfully, here on audio, it works exquisitely. For a story told in audio format, it is very visual and succeeds in all it puts forth. Doctor Who fans will not want to miss this.
The Doctor arrives in present day Iceland and receives a frosty reception from Inspector Yrsa Kristjansdottir when he becomes the chief suspect in a murder enquiry. But the Doctor knows that the real killer is of extraterrestrial origin.
Joining forces with Yrsa, the Doctor goes in pursuit of a ruthless alien that is hunting humans for sport. Yrsa unearths a dark conspiracy which reaches back into her own past.
Determined to expose the truth and prevent further deaths, the Doctor and Yrsa soon find themselves running for their lives, prey on the hunting ground.
Written By: A K Benedict.
Directed By: John Ainsworth.
Colin Baker (The Doctor), Amy Beth Hayes (Yrsa Kristjansdottir), Michael Griffiths (The Hunter / Kristjan), Harriet Collings (Frida), Margaret Ashley (Ingrid), Malcolm James (Sigdor), Richard Reed (Constable), Joe Jameson (Left Marfick / Receptionist), Will Hislop (Right Marfick / Pathologist). Other parts played by members of the cast.