Big Finish: Doctor Who - DAUGHTER OF THE GODS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who - DAUGHTER OF THE GODS Review

Matthew Kresal reviews a real treat for any fan of 1960s Doctor Who.

There are many things to be said about the Big Finish Doctor Who audios. They are, for example, at once faithful to various eras of Classic Who while also expanding upon them. The Companion Chronicles and now Early Adventures ranges have been prime examples of that, with the most recent release in the latter being a particularly good example of just what the company does at its best.

Released in November 2019, Daughter of the Gods from writer David K Barnes brings together two different eras of 1960s Doctor Who. When Zoe Heriot reconnects a piece of equipment in the TARDIS, it sends the Second Doctor and companions to a crash landing on the planet Urbania that threatens to leave them permanently marooned. To make matters worse, the city they find themselves in is under siege by the Daleks, with all the chaos that regularly ensues. As if that wasn't enough, there's another Doctor on the scene with his companion Steven Taylor...and a girl named Katarina, who really shouldn't be there. It's one heck of a premise and one that Barnes takes full advantage of across the four episodes.

As that description (and indeed the cover art) may suggest, this is a multi-Doctor story. But, and this is entirely to Barnes' credit, it's a different kind of one than you're likely expecting. Taking advantage of the serial format, and having two different eras of the series cast to play with, the first half takes listeners to the same cliffhanger, albeit from different points of view. The first episode shows us events from the perspective of the Second Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe. The next part, meanwhile, offers the perspective of the First Doctor, Steven, and Katarina. Rather than stretching out what might be a thin narrative, doing so offers up the chance to see two very different TARDIS crews in action and sets the stage beautifully for the second half.

The second half is where Barnes gets to the heart of the matter. If you know your Classic Who (and if you're reading this review, I'll wager that you do), you might be wondering how its Katarina features in the story at all. After all, she is the shortest-lived companion in the show's history, if you'll pardon the expression, having appeared in only five episodes across both The Mythmakers and The Daleks Master Plan. How it is that she's there and, by extension, the First Doctor and the Daleks, turns out be the pivot on which the story turns. What to do about the situation ultimately puts two very different Doctors face to face with a moral dilemma of the highest order, one with no simple solution, either.

Thinking over the story after hearing it, it's remarkable just how much is in those four episodes. Two Doctors, three companions, and the Daleks all in the same serial would be bounty enough, one might think. Yet, in the midst of it all, Barnes finds time to tell an emotionally captivating story, drawing up one of the series' biggest stories and one of its most underserved lead characters to do so. Let it never be said that Katarina didn't get a chance to shine because, by the time the final episode concludes, she has done so in spades. It is to the credit of both the writer and Big Finish that this story works so incredibly well.

All of which are bolstered by the cast. The returning trio of actors from the respective TV eras (Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury from the Second Doctor era alongside Peter Purves from the First Doctor era) proves once again to be more than up to reprising their 1960s roles. More than that, they have the chance to fill in as narrators and for their Doctors. One of the big thrills of this story is hearing the two of them play off each other as their respective Doctors. One of the joys of this release is hearing Hines and Purves playing off each other as their Doctors in their scenes together as well as the instances where Padbury's Zoe works alongside Purves' space pilot Steven. The three of them together very much add to the flavor of the piece.

Joining them is Ajjaz Awad as Katarina, taking over from Adrienne Hill, who passed away in 1997. Awad, who earlier in 2019 appeared in the David Bradley fronted First Doctor Adventures Volume 3, proves an excellent choice for the role, wonderfully playing the innocence of a young woman taken from ancient Troy into the far future. She also brings a great sense of dignity to the character, especially in the final episode, when her ultimate fate comes to the fore. It's a fine performance, and it seems a shame that, due to how the two TV stories Katarina appears in dovetail together that it's doubtful we'll see Awad returning to the role in the future. Even so, fans can savor her performance here in all its glory.

The result of all that is a most intriguing and enjoyable listen. From Barnes script that combines two eras of the sixties with a strong emotional undercurrent to the cast, it's everything that a great Big Finish story should be. More than that, Daughter of the Gods feels like the fifth-anniversary story we never got on TV back in 1968 realized on audio a half-century later.

And this reviewer can think of no higher compliment than that.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places. 

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