Wednesday, 2 June 2021


Before I get on with the review of the very exciting new release The Ninth Doctor Adventures, I thought I'd step back and review some of the releases in the Short Trips series I've enjoyed lately, including two adventures for the Ninth Doctor from prior to Eccleston's return to the role.


First we go back to series nine of Short Trips, from 2019, for the first appearance of the Ninth Doctor in the range. Written by Selim Ulug, who joined Big Finish's roster of writers on the strength of his winning entry in the Paul Spraggs Memorial Story Competition, it's one of those stories designed to plug a hole in the canon. Back in "Rose," we saw a picture of the Ninth Doctor with the Daniels family, who'd mysteriously not travelled out on the Titanic and lost their lives in 1912."Battle Scars" tells that story, with the Doctor arriving almost literally on the Daniels' doorstep, injured and insensible. 

We find the Doctor very soon after the Time War and his regeneration, possibly right afterwards. It could easily have been nothing more than a fanwanky gap-filler, and while there's nothing wrong with that, it's far more. There are elements of this, of course, with the Doctor even picking up his "Fantastic!" catch phrase, but it's fundamentally an exploration of the futility of war, the damage it causes to an individual and others in their lives, and the difficulty of moving on. There's an extraterrestrial influence as well, but that's just colour. Young Connie, the pseudo-companion for the story, is the standout character. Like all BF's Ninth Doctor stories until Eccleston returned, this is narrated by Nick Briggs, who gives as solid a reading as we've come to expect. His Ninth Doctor is sometimes dead on, sometimes a bit parodic, but overall one of the better stand-in Doctors. Altogether, an excellent trip.

Placement: Very soon after The Day of the Doctor.


Onto series ten from 2020, and we have another Ninth Doctor story, this one by Amy Veeres. This one tidies up some trailing continuity threads from "Rose" as well, looking at why the Doctor was at Krakatoa just before it erupted (both Krakatoa and the Titanic have been visited by so many iterations of the Doctor and other time travellers it's amazing there's room for any actual historical people at either event). However, it's mostly a standalone story which sees the Doctor tidying up after the Time War and trying to prevent a young scientist from being remembered as a terrible war criminal. Althea Bryce actually ends up being a quasi-companion character, and while it's all wrapped up in a neat paradox, it's a fairly strong character piece.

Placement: Not long after "Battle Scars," with both thematically linked by having the Doctor clean up old Time War weapons. Authorial intent puts the final scene with Rose just after "The Long Game."


Stepping back from the revived series is this Second Doctor story from the tenth run of shorts, a charming little story of fin de siecle filmmaking. It's 1908 and the Doctor and Jamie have arrived in gay Paris, stumbling into the life of one Celine Tessier. Naturally, anyone from such a fine and storied lineage is a boon to any story and it's long overdue that a Tessier is the centre of a Doctor Who adventure. More tragic events lead on from the first meeting, in a gentle but affecting story by Angus Dunican. Cinematic pioneer George Melies also has a major role in the story, and it outdoes "Her Own Bootstraps" by having an entirely different Doctor follow up on events in the epilogue.

Placement: The Doctor is travelling with only Jamie and no lady companion, so presumably between Fury from the Deep and The Wheel in Space, unless it's much later on in the "Season 6-B" era.


Finally we have the last story from series ten, Eugenie Pusenjak's winning entry in last year's Paul Spragg Memorial contest. It's a high concept science fiction story which sees the Tenth Doctor arrive on the planet Skaz, where speaking costs money. Pusenjak takes this seemingly simple concept and explores its every repurcussion. The primary character Aymius finds himself under arrest, having to recount the events of the story under interrogation, but rapidly running out of funds to do so. While he tries to keep things concise and not waste words, if his account runs dry he will be automatically silenced by a tongue chip, a catastrophic result in his situation.

It's an ingenious conceit that allegorises how the voices of the poor are ignored while those of the rich and powerful are always heard. It's a thoughtful but pacey story which sees the Doctor as the instigator of change but doesn't pretend that he has overturned the status quo himself. Jacob Dudman, the main man when it comes to 21st century Doctors for BF, gives a strong and spirited reading of an excellent story.

Placement: Could pretty much happen anywhere when the Tenth Doctor is travelling alone, but dialogue hints it might be shortly before "Smith and Jones" since the Doctor mentions an adventure with Benjamin Franklin in both.

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