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[REVIEW] BIG FINISH PRODUCTIONS’ ‘DOCTOR WHO: THE ANNIHILATORS’ IS A SUPER-SIZED ROMP

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Doctor Who: The Annihilators

Starring: Tim Treloar, Daisy Ashford, Jon Culshaw, Michael Troughton, and Frazer Hines
Written & Directed by: Nicholas Briggs

“There is definitely something very peculiar happening in Lewgate!”

Starting with a seemingly ordinary automobile accident and culminating into a standoff between two warring alien races, Doctor Who: The Annihilators is a hefty and deftly produced combination slice of 70s Doctor Who and procedural police mysteries. It’s two TARDIS teams and double the serial length in Doctor Who: The Annihilators! A recent release in the Third Doctor Adventures Range from Big Finish Productions.

A police officer has died near the Lewgate Docks. Now something odd permeates the water — something green, glowing, and foul-smelling. This prompts someone in the constabulary to secretly call in U.N.I.T. and their “Scientific Advisors,” The Third Doctor and Dr. Liz Shaw. The Third Doctor (an instantly charming and energetic Tim Treloar) has problems all his own. Namely gravimetric and time distortions he’s detected while trying to restore his console into his TARDIS control room. There is also the matter of the other Doctor, Michael Troughton making his Second Doctor debut, running about with an older Jamie McCrimmon!

Taking cues from more extended Season 7 serials like Inferno and The Ambassadors of Death, writer/director Nicholas Briggs makes this a proper time investment in seven parts. However, unlike those serials, The Annihilators features little to no “stretching for time.” This means that the entire runtime is packed with either action, charm, or forward momentum. Sometimes all three at once!

On the one hand, Doctor Who: The Annihilators is a tremendous example of how good Big Finish’s current Third Doctor Adventures range is. Anchored by Treloar’s uncanny take on Jon Pertwee, and supported further by Daisy Ashford and Jon Culshaw’s wonderful embodiment of Third Doctor companions Liz Shaw and The Brigadier, The Annihilators instantly transports listeners back to The Third Doctor Era. Briggs’ script and direction translate all the tonal texture and production value of those episodes into audio. There are burly action set-pieces, led by U.N.I.T. soldiers. Ray guns! And even an extended sequence with Bessie! The Third Doctor’s beloved roadster! All of which are packed gracefully into a constantly driving extra-length “episode” order—one devoid of the sort of “filler” that plagued Season 7 classics.

Simultaneously, Doctor Who: The Annihilators serves as a tremendous teaser of Big Finish Productions’ incoming “regeneration” of their Second Doctor Adventures range! Briggs deftly combines with the main story, dovetailing the story into an unexpected multi-Doctor story. While The Doctor, Liz, and The Brig investigate the Lewgate Docks, The Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon (a warm and funny Frazer Hines) have their concurrent narrative to contend with. Not only does this allow the “new” Second Doctor ample opportunity to introduce himself. But it allows Jamie, Liz, and The Brig (and The Doctors) some wonderful chances at interactions. Briggs and the actors play up accordingly in shining vignettes throughout each of the seven parts of the whole.

Ultimately, Doctor Who: The Annihilators stands as a tremendous “annual”-like experience. One that provides fans of The Third Doctor Adventures range with a substantially fun extra-length serial while also presenting a new, immensely interesting take on the Second Doctor and Jamie. Both are currently on the cusp of brand new adventures through Big Finish Productions.

Doctor Who: The Annihilators from The Third Doctors Adventures is available now from Big Finish Productions.

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DOCTOR WHO: THE ANNIHILATORS

9.4

Sparkling Doctor/Companion Banter

10.0/10

Wonderful, Period-Accurate Sonic Texture & Scoring

9.0/10

Commanding Performances from Both Doctors (And Their Companions)

10.0/10

Fun, Constantly Rising Stakes

9.0/10

Extra (But Never Extraneous) Length of Story

9.0/10
Justin Partridge
justin@betweenthepanels.com
Lover of table top RPGs, prog rock, and anything with Walton Goggins in it. Find his other blathering at THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
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