Doctor Who: Storm Warning [Big Finish]

Storm Warning - Big FinishStorm Warning, which was produced back in 2000, is notable because it was the first Doctor Who Big Finish production to feature Paul McGann in the lead role, and thus basically the first “latest adventure” of the Doctor that the audio production company released.  It was the start of a four-part “season” of 8th Doctor adventures, and introduced his first Big Finish companion, Charlotte Pollard, played by India Fisher.

Storm Warning takes place on the R101, which I’ve since discovered was a real-life British rigid airship (ie a dirigible) that crashed in 1930 on its first overseas voyage, with greater loss of life than on the Hindenburg.  The audio drama creates a bunch of fictional (presumably) reasons for this disaster, which include a time-traveling pterodactyl and an alien race with an extremely rigid caste system.  It’s a fun tale with a decent companion introduction and a few surprises, although there are some weak spots.

These weak spots include one character with a very strange sounding South African accent (but then, I’m not South African, so what do I know?) and another character who meets his untimely end when he decides to treat a dinosaur as a pet.  But the weakest overall the opening episode or so (out of four), as it starts with the Doctor traveling alone, and thus relies on the Doctor talking to himself a lot to explain everything that is going on.  Really, this is the sort of storytelling that an audio-only story should do everything to avoid.

But once the Doctor and Charley (as she is known), the story picks up.  It gets particularly amusing when the Doctor decides the best way to get along with the suspicious British officials aboard the airship is to pretend to be a German industrial spy.  The drama also features a character called Lord Tamworth who one assumes will turn out to be the villain of the piece, but ends up being much more interesting and even complex.  As I was listening to it, I was thinking that this is the most interesting “Guest Performance” I’d heard from Big Finish so far (admittedly I’d only heard four others at that point).  After I was done, I checked out the cast list and saw that he was played by none other than Gareth Thomas, who was the eponymous lead of Blake’s 7 for the first two seasons.

The story ends with the audio-conjured image of the Doctor riding on the back of a flying dinosaur with a new companion that he harbors a strange secret from – sort of anticipating some of the craziness that we’d see on TV with Matt Smith in the leading role, many years later.

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