Big Finish release 164 - Gods and Monsters by Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes, directed by Ken Bentley.
Carrying straight on from the end of Black and White the four companions travel back in time to rescue the Doctor from a deadly trap sprung by one of his oldest enemies. The Seventh Doctor has a reputation as a master manipulator, someone who always has a plan and manoeuvres people into position like a chess grandmaster. But maybe this time he has gone to far, or has even been outplayed?
I still think of myself as a relative newcomer to Big Finish and, indeed, to great chunks of classic Doctor Who which I am watching for the first time. So I am only just finding out about about some of the key creators behind the scenes. Alan Barnes is someone I only encountered recently in a rather marvellous set of short documentaries called Stripped for Action about the history of Doctor Who comics which you can watch on youtube. He has edited both Doctor Who Magazine and the Judge Dredd Megazine in the past and is now a script editor and writer for Big Finish. If the Seventh Doctor is the fictional manipulator then Alan Barnes is the real thing, the mastermind behind the scenes who has been building up this story for some time. Clues have been left about different coloured Tardises, certain items of power, names and even the history and fate of some of the Doctor's companions.
Barnes and Maddox bring this altogether beautifully in Gods and Monsters. This is a battle on an epic scale and one that the Doctor may only be a pawn in rather than the King. I can't say much more about the plot without spoilers but the production itself is excellent. All the performances are great, and I particularly enjoyed Philip Olivier as Hex who has become a rather reluctant companion who doesn't really trust the Doctor. The music and the sound design are very good and I was delighted to hear the classic noise of the Tardis door mechanism towards the end of the story.
The finale is particularly moving although I found the short coda added after the end music rather detracted from the emotional impact of the ending for me. All in all an impressive production and a fantastic bit of slow build story telling by Alan Barnes. 4 out of 5 magical hammers.
Next will be some Fifth Doctor trouble in The Burning Prince.