This is another 50th anniversary audio adventure, this one detailing the Doctor and Susan’s flight from Gallifrey. This material has been covered before (in comics and novels), but this one is designed to dovetail with the scene of the first Doctor stealing the TARDIS in “The Name of the Doctor”. In point of fact, this adventure was written and recorded in 2011 and had been in the can for two years. When “The Name of the Doctor” aired and “The Beginning” didn’t quite mesh with it, Big Finish went to the BBC to ask permission to incorporate certain aspects into the already finished audio. The BBC granted permission, and Big Finish recorded some pick-up lines of dialogue and redid the cover of the CD packaging to incorporate the look of the undisguised TARDIS as shown on the television episode.
The story is told from Susan’s point of view and also features a third character, Quadrigger Stoyn. (A “quadrigger” is a kind of technician.) Stoyn was at work decommissioning the TARDIS when the Doctor stole it and found himself an unwilling stowaway. Carole Ann Ford’s voice is hardly that of a 16 year old, but it hardly matters because this story is being told at a later date, possibly quite some time later. She does do a passible impression of William Hartnell, however. This story is the first of a planned trilogy which will deal with Quadrigger Stoyn meeting the Doctor at various times.
The story deals with the Doctor and Susan’s first trip to Earth, a planet which intrigued her because it is the only one she knew of which can be preceded by the definite article “the” (as in “The Earth”). [This was before they encountered the Sensorites, obviously.] When they arrive, in primeval prehistory, they encounter the Archeons, a race of beings trying to order and cultivate particular kinds of lifeforms. The Doctor, believing that life should be allowed to develop on its own, objects to this course of action, but Stoyn allies himself with the aliens in hope that they return him to Gallifrey.
The story is okay, but I would have preferred more backstory dealing with why the Doctor and Susan were fleeing Gallifrey in the first place. Frankly, I enjoyed the trilogy dealing with the Eighth Doctor and Susan (“An Earthly Child,” “Quinnis” and “Relative Dimensions”) more than I did the first part of this one. As a 50th anniversary offering, it fell kind of flat with me.
I wonder if "why the Doctor left Gallifrey" is something they either think should be kept secret to preserve some mystery, or if they want to "save" it to be used on the show, if it's ever revealed.
That's what he said in"The War Games". I think there've been hints over the years that there may've been more to it than that, although I'm not sure.
The one thing you get from listening to “The Beginning” is that neither the Doctor nor Susan have ever left Gallifrey before. The Doctor works the TARDIS’ controls, but Susan gets the impression the TARDIS itself seems to helping. The TARDIS reminds me of a “Mother Box” from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World: a sentient computer that forms a bond with its user. Yes, they were bored, but sure there must have been some catalyst that prompted them to steal a TARDIS and become fugitives.