That’s right, I said, “An EARTHly Child.” (Some mild spoilers follow.)
Thirty years on from the Daleks’ invasion of Earth [twenty years since their defeat], the scars still haven’t healed. The survivors inhabit a world thrown back two hundred years, a world crop shortage and civil unrest. A world where the brightest and best of its young people are drawn to the xenophobic Earth United group. A world sliding into a new Dark Age, believes Susan Campbell, widow of one of the heroes of the Occupation. A world in need of alien intervention. A world in need of hope. But as Susan takes drastic action to secure the planet’s future, she’s oblivious to the fact that her student son, Alex, ensnared by Earth United, is in need of alien intervention, too. Or so Alex’s great-grandfather thinks…
In order to secure alien aid for Earth’s recovery, Susan Campbell takes it upon herself to send a general distress call into outer space. Her intentions were good, but unfortunately her message was received by a seemingly benevolent race in search of slave labor. Susan’s own alien heritage is unknown to the public at large, and her son Alex is completely human (one heart). Fortunately, her message was also received by her grandfather. He came to help, but when his alien nature is revealed, his great-grandsons, a member of the isolationist group “The Watch” which is an outgrowth of the United Earth movement, turns against and betrays him.
I was kind of hoping for a confrontation between Susan and the Doctor concerning the fact that he basically abandoned her on a war-torn future Earth, but this story takes place after The Five Doctors in Susan’s timeline (she mentions the last time they met, in The Dark Tower) and she has evidently long since forgiven him. She does inquire which incarnation he’s up to now, and when he tells her the eighth she admonishes that he’s “just throwing them away!” Other than that, the reunion scene they do have is much more satisfying than that in The Five Doctors and the eventual reconciliation between the Doctor and Alex was also quite well done.
The disc also features an interview with father and son Paul and Jake McGann (the Doctor and Alex) in which Paul McGann reveals that, prior to the production of this episode, he hadn’t known the Doctor even had a granddaughter. Also, he apparently didn’t find out until the interview itself that Susan had been played by his co-star Carol Ann Ford on television.
There are two other related audio dramas written by Marc Platt (the author of An Earthly Child) and starring Carol Ann Ford currently available. The first is Quinnis, part of “The Companion Chronicles” series, which tells the tale of the last adventure shared by Susan and the First Doctor before they settled in London in 1963. The second is titled “Relative Dimensions” but has been described by the author as being so much a sequel to An Earthly Child as it is the next logical step. I’ve ordered both of these adventures and plan to review them here in this forum, but overseas shipments are being held up in customs so it might take several weeks.