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 the first episode of a set of linked adventures called Shadow of the Daleks, featuring the Fifth Doctor as played by Peter Davison.
(Daily Doctor Who #132)
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.
Aimed at the Body
Line: Doctor Who – The Monthly Adventures #269A
Length: 36 minutes
Buying Price: The full Shadow of the Daleks volume 1, of which this is the first episode of four, is $12.99. There is a follow-on second volume of Shadow of the Daleks, which is also $12.99.
Comments: Aimed at the Body draws its name from the cricketing tactics of the real life British team captain Douglas Jardine, who is–sort of–a character in this story. The story starts right in the middle of things with Jardine in the Australian outback, accompanied by his new lady-love, Flora, and Flora’s mother Mrs. Calderwood. The trio are lost, with their guide having disappeared on them while carrying their water, and tensions are high. Jardine is already bitter and angry with Australians in general, due to what is seen as his unsportsmanlike behavior in instructing his bowlers to aim right at their opponents’ bodies–something that Jardine simply sees as a necessary strategy for winning. Into all this comes the friendly and helpful presence of the Doctor.
But the situation is stranger than it first appears. The topography around them is rapidly changing, and the missing guide is found having been apparently aged to death. Oddest of all, when Douglas Jardine lets down his guard and really lets loose about crushing the enemey in cricket, his voice morphs into an angry, metallic screeching noise…
Aimed at the Body turns out to be a standalone story in the sense that things are wrapped up with the immediate set of characters and setting, but it concludes with the Doctor being none-the-wiser as to what is really going on, but determined to use the TARDIS to track down how the Daleks are interfering with time in order to find out. Some of the story moves along a little quicker than one would like, with certain elements being underdeveloped, but it works when one considers that it’s all continuing over there rest of the two volumes of Shadow of the Daleks.
This sampler ends with previews of those stories, where it appears that each episode has the Doctor landing in different surreal environment meeting characters who resemble the same three (and are played by the same actors) that the Doctor meets here. With that in mind, I’m okay with the lack of depth in this story–it all ends up serving as a great set up for what I hope is satisfactory continuation of the mystery.
Does it tempt me to get more? Yes! Shadow of the Daleks seems to be a pretty intriguing concept, and Peter Davison’s ever solid-presence anchors this trippy mystery story. I’d be fully excited to listen to both the rest of this set, and to Volume 2, to find out what exactly is going on.