Big Finish: Doctor Who: Once and Future: The Martian Invasion of Planetoid 50, Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who: Once and Future: The Martian Invasion of Planetoid 50, Review

"The Martian Invasion of Planetoid 50," the fifth entry in Big Finish's tribute series celebrating the 60th anniversary of "Doctor Who," merges an array of characters across the show's vast timeline, but does it concoct a narrative that entices and satisfies?

With the story now half-told, "Once and Future" calls upon the Tenth Doctor, portrayed by the much-loved David Tennant, to steer the helm of this adventure. This chapter cleverly intersects with the universe of H.G. Wells, invoking the imagery and thematic elements of "The War of the Worlds," while intricately entwining Michelle Gomez's deliciously wicked Missy and the Paternoster Gang into the fray.

The narrative embarks with an homage to the series' origins, featuring the First Doctor, embodied by Stephen Noonan, landing in a version of London that has succumbed to the Martian onslaught. Noonan's rendition is more than mere mimicry; it’s a substantial presence that adds gravitas to the unfolding drama. Jessamy Moore, portrayed by Hannah Geneisus, serves as our conduit to this altered Earth, her journalistic endeavors leading her to join the remnants of the resistance.

As the Tenth Doctor enters, the pace intensifies. Tennant's energetic portrayal is a natural counterbalance to Noonan's classical take, and it's a tad disheartening when the torch is passed. Yet, the story does not allow for dwelling, as the presence of Missy and the Paternoster Gang propel the action forward with vigour and a dash of humor.

The confrontations between Tennant's exuberant Doctor and Gomez's cynically playful Missy are particularly scintillating. They are a pair of conversational pugilists, each delivering verbal volleys with precision and wit. The Paternoster Gang—Jenny (Catrin Stewart), Vastra (Neve McIntosh), and Strax (Dan Starkey)—add layers of intrigue and humor, with Jenny succumbing to Missy's influence and Vastra held captive, her loyalty leveraged against her wife's safety. Strax, as The Artilleryman, injects humor and heart, notably with a nod to David Essex.

Jonathan Barnes, known for his work on Big Finish's "Sherlock Holmes" series, weaves his affection for "The War of the Worlds" into this narrative, cleverly acknowledging the story's many adaptations with a wink. The Martian invasion is vividly reimagined here, replete with stalking tripods and the ominous spread of the red weed.

As the story progresses, it offers a more substantial contribution to the overarching series arc. Revelations unfold that are too good to spoil, aligning this installment firmly with the greater narrative. It's divulged that the Doctor's attire and sonic screwdriver morph along with his fluctuating state, underscoring the notion that the Doctor is a complex space/time event, a concept that broadens the character's mythos.

"The Martian Invasion of Planetoid 50" stands out within the "Once and Future" series, striking a balance between a well-crafted homage to literary classics and the eccentricities of "Doctor Who." It's a testament to the richness of the Whovian universe that such diverse elements can coalesce into a cohesive and entertaining tale. This chapter not only offers a reunion of beloved characters but also drives the central mystery forward, ensuring that listeners remain engaged and eager for what the next installment may unveil.

Doctor Who: Once and Future: The Martian Invasion of Planetoid 50 is available to purchase from the Big Finish website.

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