Okay, because this came out all of a day ago I'm trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible but I do mention some plot details so anyone wanting to go into this Tenth Doctor Adventures box set totally unspoilt should look away now (and also for the next two evenings and then I'll go back to rambling about old stuff the statute of limitations has expired on).
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures 2.1:
Infamy of the Zaross
written by John Dorney
Its bloody weird listening to this and getting a genuine nostalgia rush for 2006. If nothing else that's a measure of success in itself. The moment Jackie sighs and greets the Doctor with “Hello, trouble.” I knew this was going to at least be a comfortable, familiar listen.
Is that a criticism? It sort of sounds like one and if there's one thing that concerns me about this box set is that the writing team is practically a list of Big Finish's current old faithfuls: John Dorney, Guy Adams and Matt Fitton. To be clear, I like all these guys and I've no reason to think their stories will be anything but good however I would like to see some more experimentation. Big Finish listeners are a pretty captive audience, after all.
Anyway, plot wise we're in familiar RTD-era territory: there's an alien invasion going on with a satirical twist. Its not a twist I'm too fond of as its about “Millennial fame culture”, a subject that rather tends to get an overly critical reception. There's also what should be a touching moment of Rose telling a young woman that whatever she does she'll always be special which would be a great sentiment if it didn't come from a character who has always been presented as the best of the best as far as the Doctor and the fan base is concerned.
There's a lot to love here despite those criticisms. The alien invasion is led by a set of brilliantly observed office manager types whose every line of dialogue is comedy gold. Jackie gets a rather more sympathetic portrayal here than she did for a lot of her two series on the show though for those craving an authentic RTD nostalgia buzz I assure you there is an Awful Mother elsewhere in the story so tick that one off the list. Actually, if you thought that Jackie running around with a big gun at the end of series four was out of character then John Dorney has you covered as he perfectly works out a scenario for Jackie to do exactly that again but funnier and with more exploration of character.
You know, listening to this I think that either I underestimated Camille Codouri's skills or Russel T. Davies did because she's fantastic.
All in all its not Earth-shatteringly innovative but it is an excellent distillation of the RTD era, especially his season openers. Here's hoping that distillation continues and we get something a little more involved for the next two stories.