As you know, in our Classic Who watch, we have just reached the end of the Fourth Doctor with Season 18. However, we are not going to let go of old teeth and curls just yet, as Big Finish Productions has, over the years, produced several audio dramas featuring the Fourth Doctor, so we can still get a lot more Tom Baker goodness when we do miss this particular Doctor, such as the Fourth Doctor “Lost Stories” and the currently ongoing series, “The Fourth Doctor Adventures”. However, we will be starting off with the Fourth Doctor’s “Lost Stories” and then move on to the first season of “The Fourth Doctor Adventures”.
“The Lost Stories” Big Finish range was an interesting one as they were able to get stories that were ideas or already had treatments for but never got made into a serial. Also, most of these were taken from Classic Who.
The Fourth Doctor “Lost Stories” box set includes “The Foe from the Future”, a Robert Banks Stewart story that was adapted by John Dorney; and “The Valley of Death”, a Philip Hinchcliffe idea that was adapted by Jonathan Morris.
“The Foe from the Future” was originally supposed to conclude Season 14, but was unfortunately scrapped due to the fact that Banks-Stewart was suddenly called away to help out with a troubled BBC soap opera. On the other hand, “The Valley of Death” was based on the fact that Hinchcliffe had wanted to set a “Doctor Who” story in the Amazon, but the idea never really caught on.
So, from what I can surmise, these two stories, which feature Leela (Louise Jameson) as the companion, takes place before Season 15.
Both of these stories are great to listen to, and it honestly makes you wonder as to how it would have looked like if it was shown on the small screen in the ’70s. Aside from this, both Tom Baker and Jameson are both at the height of their powers as the Fourth Doctor and Leela, even though Jameson’s voice is understandably different from her voice back when she was filming “Doctor Who”.
The instrumentation and the sound effects are also superb, in only the way that Big Finish does it.
However, even though I am more partial to adventure stories in the jungle, over all, I think that “The Foe from the Future” was the superior audio drama as I felt that the latter half of “The Valley of Death” wasn’t as good as its first half.
This box set is definitely worth a buy, so you can go ahead and support Big Finish, or you can listen to it for free on Spotify.
Now, before we talk more about these two stories, please be warned that there will be spoilers beyond this point!
If you are new to Big Finish or the Fourth Doctor’s Big Finish audio dramas, I highly recommend that you start with “The Foe from the Future”. This is because Baker sounds EXACTLY like he did in the ’70s, which, I think, is just amazing. However, I do think that it took some time for him to find his Fourth Doctor voice again, which is why there was a disconnect for me with the first story of the Big Finish “Fourth Doctor Adventures” range, as he didn’t really sound like the Fourth Doctor we all know and love.
Aside from that, the story that Banks-Stewart thought of was just amazing and was so much fun to listen to. This is the one that I would have liked to have seen on the small screen, and I think that it would have been the perfect conclusion to a season that I hold very near and dear to my heart.
Here, we also get to see more of the student-teacher relationship that Leela and the Doctor had with each other, with Leela always calling out all the ridiculous things he does and says. Also, it looks like they are closer here than they were in Season 15!
I will never stop singing my praises of Jameson’s work both on or off screen, as she always exceeds expectations in every single performance of Leela that she does, and her performances in this box set is no exception.
All of that, plus an excellent score and an excellent cast made this audio drama one that no one will ever forget any time soon.
HInchcliffe’s “The Valley of Death” started out interesting and well done. I loved the fact that the beginning part in the jungle was just a flashback, and the first half of the story dazzled and sparkled with the storytelling, the dialogue, and the narrative itself. I also have a soft spot for a la “Indiana Jones” stories as well, so it was just natural that I was ecstatic over having a “Doctor Who” story be an adventure throughout the Amazon jungle.
However, once they moved the entire narrative back to London, it became the usual run of the mill alien invasion story.
However, I did love the fact that Leela declared that the sonic screwdriver was the best weapon of them all and how she and the Doctor managed to fool everyone that they were the clone versions of themselves.
I think that “The Valley of Death” is also sort of a love letter to the Hinchcliffe era as it had false gods, a place surrounded by mystery, aliens intent on invading mankind, clones and androids. r showed mercy to his enemies as he always does.
All in all, the Fourth Doctor Lost Stories is DEFINITELY worth a buy, and I would suggest to listen to these first before any other Big Finish Fourth Doctor story. These are excellent stories with great music, and a great casts that you cannot go wrong with.
What did you think of the stories in this box set? Would you have liked to see them on the small screen? Which story did you prefer? Let me know what you think in the comments below!