Big Finish: Doctor Who - Short Trips: BLUE BOXES Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who - Short Trips: BLUE BOXES Review

Matthew Kresal calls the Third Doctor and Liz Shaw...

The Short Trips range has proven to be one of the most intriguing to come out of Big Finish. One where new storytellers can get their first bite of Doctor Who, or for more experienced writers to tell stories that don't quite fit into the other ranges. The latest release, Blue Boxes, falls into the former category with a neat tale for the Third Doctor and Liz Shaw.

Set later on in Season 7 based on a particular reference, the debut story from Erin Horáková takes full advantage of the Earthbound format of the early Third Doctor era. With UNIT's phone lines suffering inundation by strange prank calls, Liz Shaw gets a bored Doctor involved. It leads them into the world of Phreaking, the telephonic equivalent of hacking with the titular devices (which makes it surprising no one had connected it to Doctor Who before). A world that sends them down a trail involving a strange death and a potential menace.

Listening to Blue Boxes, it's hard not to be impressed with Horáková's writing. She creates a whole little world for the story to take place in, one that's for a large part outside of the usual UNIT family of the era, including Emily, a young scientist and phreaker who gets to be star-struck by Liz's presence. Horáková also offers the listener (via the characters) a crash course in the world of Phreaking along the way, doing so in a way that makes this seemingly obscure field immensely accessible and intriguing. All of which is no mean feat given the 33 minutes running time of the story.

In some ways, Blue Boxes is a tale larger in scope than your usual Short Trips. It's full of incident, jumping from scene to scene, and with the feeling that the listener might only be getting snatches of the story. It's something that leaves this short fiction piece with the feeling of at once quite pacey but also slightly rushed, like the days when serials would receive a trim for their home video release. That said, I would love to hear Horáková get a chance to write a Season 7 based tale for The Third Doctor Adventures as she captures the feel of the season so well.

Blue Boxes also benefits from the high standards set for the Short Trips range. Mark Reynolds's reading is superb, capturing the pace and atmosphere of the prose while also offering a good take on Pertwee as the Third Doctor in particular. Richard Fox's sound design and music round off the story and its enhanced audiobook format rather nicely, complimenting both the writing and the narration.

All told, Blue Boxes is another solid entry in the Big Finish Short Trips range. More than that, it's hopefully the Doctor Who debut of a strong new talent. One that this reviewer would very much like to be let loose writing a full-cast Third Doctor Adventure. Because if it's even half as good as this, it would be a treat.

Doctor Who - Short Trips: Blue Boxes is available to purchase now from the Big Finish website.

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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