And the second season of Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor adventures continues on the positive note set by the last story with another two-part adventure, Phantoms of the Deep, written by Jonathan Morris. The story once again features Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Mary Tamm as the First Romana, and John Leeson as the Second K9 (although he also played the first one).
This time around, the action is set on a deep sea submarine, a setting the series had not really explored (although the TV adventure Cold War aired just couple of weeks prior to this one’s release). The story has the Doctor, Romana, and K9 meeting up with some deep sea explorers as they encounter an alien influence in the Mariana Trench. The adventure that follows is fairly conventional, but full some wild flights of imagination that are suitable for audio. This includes super-intelligent sea life and a century old midshipman and some floaty ghosty-lights that only certain people can see. I can imagine that 1970’s Doctor Who would have been game to give all this a go, but it certainly would have been terrible.
The production we have instead is a strong one. Good audio drama needs to work with its limitations to carry a listener into a story–Big Finish usually accomplishes this, but not always–in this case though, they have. Tom Baker really sounds like he could be his 40+ year old self. I can hear a few cracks in the voices of Mary Tamm and John Leeson that betray the passage of the years, but generally they are both really good as well. The main guest star is Alice Krige, who is known to sci-fi buffs as the Borg Queen from Star Trek: First Contact and the last episode of Voyager, so that’s fun too.
This second series of Fourth Doctor adventures has been a bit of a mixed bag. I liked this adventure and the previous one, The Justice of Jalxar…so it’s been on an upswing lately. The next (and last) two stories in the series are a two parter which feature the Daleks (who I often don’t like) and also seem to follow on The Sands of Life (which I didn’t like). So I’m a bit concerned about that. But we’ll see!