In the wake of the whole COVID-19 pandemic, Big Finish–most famous for their original licensed Doctor Who audios–began to release a variety of projects for free on a weekly basis. Some of these are “proper” Doctor Who adventures, some are licensed from other sources, and others are completely original. I have been taking advantage of these, as I’ve written about here and elsewhere. This time around we’re looking at a one-part story that was part of a collection of Sixth Doctor stories called Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories. This one of the Other Stories, it seems.
(Daily Doctor Who #112)
Big Finish has been pretty generous with all this free product, but the question is how successful each sampler is at tempting me to buy the full release.
An Eye For Murder
Line: Doctor Who–the Monthly Adventures (#188) / The Sixth Doctor Collection
Length: 39 minutes
Buying Price: The full Breaking Bubbles collection of four stories goes for $12.99A full set of four stories (including this one) costs $4.55
Comments: An Eye for Murder is an interesting animal in the world of Doctor Who–almost a complete “historical” adventure, focusing on the Doctor and Peri investigating a poison pen scandal at a woman’s college in 1939. Similar to some of the earliest Doctor Who adventures, there seems to be almost no science fiction elements to the story at all for a good length of its run-time. It’s only toward that an advanced but experimental invisibility technology is introduced into the story that story hesitantly moves into more fantastic territory. And only because the technology is so destructive to the user that we get any of the horror-themes that are usually associated with this franchise. Before that, it all reads like something we might read in an Agatha Christie short story.
But as a mystery, the story is quite a let-down. The set-up is good, with a well-developed setting and a handy group of suspects. But the way the mystery plays out is disappointing. There is a half-hearted effort at misdirection, but ultimately the culprit is simply announced by the victim–she just seemed to know who it was, and finally gets around to telling everyone (and they get around to listening). Her motivations turn out to be that she was threatening the victim’s family in order to force her to surrender her invisibility technology–which doesn’t explain at all why she would write a series of poison pen letters (letters which repeatedly attack, abuse or slander the recipient). The whole thing seems to be a set up for the climactic scene in which the perpetrator gets to die in a horrifying manner because she is using the dangerously unstable invisibility technology.
This is all too bad because before all this unsatisfying denouement, the story was quite fun to listen to. There is good dialogue by writer Una McCormack, and a funny situation is set-up in which Peri (Nicola Bryant) is mistaken for a famous crime author, and the Doctor (Colin Baker) for her typist. “Good grief, the revolution’s finally begun,” says one character at this piece of news. I found these initial bits of plot and characterization to be a really well done–it makes the story’s later failings all the more disappointing.
Does it tempt me to get more? Sadly, no. I mean, I’d happily listen to more. Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are one of Big Finish’s really successful combinations. But if I was going to spend the money, I’d probably choose something I hadn’t already listened to 25% of before.