Big Finish Review – Doctor Who – “The Fourth Wall”


(special thanks to Big Finish for providing me with a review copy!)

We been spendin' most our lives livin' in a troper's paradise...

Business is bad for intergalactic media mogul Augustus Scullop, whose Trans-Gal empire is on the rocks. But, having retreated to his own private planet, Transmission, Scullop is about to gamble his fortune on a new show, made with an entirely new technology. And the name of that show… is Laser.

Back in the real world, far from the realms of small screen sci-fi fantasies about monsters and aliens, the Doctor is interested only in watching Test Match cricket… but finds himself drawn into Scullop’s world when his new travelling companion, Flip, is snatched from inside the TARDIS.

So, while the Doctor uncovers the terrible secret of Trans-Gal’s new tech, Flip battles to survive in a barren wilderness ruled over by the indestructible Lord Krarn and his pig-like servants, the Warmongers. And the name of that wilderness… is ‘Stevenage’.

Starring: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Julian Wadham (Augustus Scullop), Yasmin Bannerman (Dr Helen Shepherd), Hywel Morgan (Nick Kenton/Jack Laser), Martin Hutson (Matthew Howland/Lord Krarn), Tilly Gaunt (Olivia Sayle/Jancey), Kim Wall (Chimbly/Head Warmonger), Henry Devas (Junior/Warmonger)

There’s a website I love visiting on a regular basis. It’s called tvtropes.org and it’s full of all sorts of interesting things, many of which apply to this audio. We have Show Within a Show, Bond One-Liner, Card-Carrying Villain, Dangerously Genre Savvy, Contractual Immortality, Fourth Wall Observer, Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, Large Ham, and probably at least a dozen more I didn’t spot. Yes, ladies and gentleman, what we have here is a trope-fest, and one that spoofs Doctor Who just as much as it does everything else.

This was an excellent audio; truly one of the best I’ve heard so far. It helps that I’m fairly well versed in these various tropes, so that I was able to laugh at them, but I think even people who, you know, have lives, might enjoy this one. It really is very entertaining.

I must give my usual kudos to Colin Baker for proving yet again that he wasn’t the reason he got fired from the series back in the day. I must also give extra-special recognition to writer John Dorney for managing to pull-off such a feat as this and pull it off so very well. I also loved the return of the time-space visualizer from “The Chase”.

In fact, the only complaint that I have centers around Flip. Part way through episode one, she leaves the story. This is very odd to me. If you’re trying to establish a new, long-term companion for the Doctor, you don’t do so by having them wander off in the middle of their second proper story. Had this been done a few stories down the line, I think it might have worked better. AS it stands, I’m left with a feeling that it was an opportunity wasted for her character.

That complaint aside this was a winning story and one that I very highly recommend!

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