Chris Swanson reviews the recent Doctor Who Big Finish release, The Highest Science.
Big Finish got its start in the Doctor Who world through the Bernice Summerfield stories. These stories, originally published as novels by Virgin, impressed the BBC enough that they granted Big Finish the Doctor Who audio license. So with that history it is very appropriate to have the company’s second proper adaptation of a New Adventures novel. In this case, we have “The Highest Science”, based on the novel by Gareth Roberts. And even though the result isn’t quite as great as “Love and War” was, it’s still quite good.
The story features the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), and Bernice (Lisa Bowerman), arriving on an alien world. They’ve gone in search of something the Doctor calls the Highest Science (oh, hey, they said the title in the thing! Though that may just be a Fortean flicker). While there, they run into Chelonians, humans, an intergalactic criminal, and a rather delusional young man who believes a song is talking to him.
So standard New Adventures stuff, really.
There was a great deal I liked in this story. The acting was, of course, superb. It’s a great shame that McCoy and Bowerman don’t get to act across each other more often, since they are very good together, though between this and the New Adventures Boxed Set earlier this year, Big Finish seems to be trying to rectify the oversight. I wanted to like the Chelonians a bit more; they were ok, but only that. And while Daniel Brocklebank does the best he can with Sheldukher, he’s held back somewhat by the fact that the character is a bit meh.
As to the story…much like the Chelonians, I wanted to like it more than I did. It felt a bit rushed and compressed, which I suppose is understandable given that novels tend to pace things a bit differently than audio stories. In particular, the rather confused young man with delusions of godhood and the 812’s got something of a short shrift. It might have been better to leave them out entirely and focus instead on the Chelonians and Sheldukher.
That said, this wasn’t at all a bad story, and if you’re looking for an in point with Big Finish (and especially if you want a story that isn’t overly continuity-heavy), then this is a great place to start!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Chris Swanson is a writer and blogger from Phoenix, Arizona. Read more from Chris on his blog, and follow him on Twitter.