For a while now, I’ve been posting reactions to big “meaty” arcs such as The Eighth Doctor Adventures, Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition and The Collected War Doctor. Some of the stories I plan to listen to in the near future, though, are either one-off adventures or three story arcs. I thought it would be easier on the indexer (Hi, Bob!) if I started one “catch-all” thread and maintain the index in the initial post myself. I invite others to contribute to this discussion as well, and it doesn’t have to be strictly Doctor Who, either; anything from Big Finish will qualify. I’m going to start in a couple of days) with…

The Company of Friends - (Eighth Doctor)
  Benny's Story - p1
  Fitz's Story - p1
  Izzy's Story - p2
  Mary's Story - p2

The Transposition Trilogy
  The Defectors - (Seventh Doctor and Jo Grant) - p2
  Last of the Cyberman - (Sixth Doctor, Jamie and Zoe) - p2, 15
  The Secret History - (Fifth Doctor, Stephen and Vicki) - p2

The Masters Trilogy
  And You Will Obey Me - (Fifth Doctor and old Master) - p3
  Vampire of the Mind - (Sixth Doctor and new Master) - p3, 15
  The Two Masters - (Seventh Doctor and both Masters) - p4

Doctor Who "Bonus Releases"
  Her Final Flight - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
  Cryptobiosis - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
  Return of the Daleks - (Seventh Doctor) - p5
  Return to the Web Planet - (Fifth Doctor and Nyssa) - p5
  Trial of the Valeyard - (Sixth Doctor) - p3

Doctor Who - Novel Adaptations
  Love & War
  Original Sin
  Cold Fusion

Sixth Doctor Reunited with Peri
  The Widow's Assassin - p4, 14
  Masters of Earth
 The Rani Elite

Eighth Doctor and Mary Shelley
  The Silver Turk - p5
  The Witch from the Well - p7
  Army of Death - p7

The Third Doctor Adventures
  Prisoners of the Lake - p5
  The Havoc of the Empires - p5

The Tenth Doctor Adventures (Vol. 2)
  Infamy of the Zaross - p6
  The Sword of the Chevalier - p6
  Cold Vengeance - p6

Companion Chronicles
   4.12. Solitaire - (Charlotte Pollard vs. The Celestial Toymaker) - p12

Miscelaneous Numeric
    51. The Wormery – (Sixth Doctor) - p7
    57. Arrangements for War – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8
    60. Medicinal Purposes – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8, 12
    65. The Juggernauts – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
    68. Catch 1872 – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
    73. Thicker Than Water – (Sixth Doctor, Mel & Evelyn) - p9
    75. Scaredy Cat – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C'rizz) - p9
    77. Other Lives – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p9
    78. Pier Pressure – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p9
    80. Time Works – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p9
    83. Something Inside – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’Rizz) - p9
    84. The Nowhere Place – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p9
    86. The Reaping – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
    90. Year of the Pig – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
    88. Memory Lane – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p10
    94. I.D. – (Sixth Doctor) - p10
    97. The Wishing Beast – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p10
  100. 100 – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p11
  101. Absolution – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p10
  103. The Girl Who Never Was – (Eighth Doctor & Charley) - p11
  107. The Haunting of Thomas Brewster – (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p12
  108. Assassin in the Limelight – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p11
  110. The Boy That Time Forgot – (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p12
  113. Time Reef – (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p12
  123. The Company of Friends – (Eighth Doctor & Benny, Fitz, Izzy. Mary) - p1-2
  140. A Death in the Family – (Seventh Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
  143. The Crimes of Thomas Brewster – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
  144. The Feast of Axos – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
  145. Industrial Evolution – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
  149. Robophobia  – (Seventh Doctor & Liv Chenka) - p2
  150. Recorded Time & Other Stories (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p13
  153. The Silver Turk – (Eighth Doctor & Mary Shelley) - p5
  154. The Witch from the Well – (Eigth Doctor & Mary Shelley) - p7
  155. Army of Death – (Eigth Doctor & Mary Shelley) - p7
  156. The Curse of Davros – (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p13
  157. The Fourth Wall – (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p13
  158. Wirrn Isle – (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p13
  166. The Acheron Pulse – (Sixth Doctor) - p13
  169. The Wrong Doctors - (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p3, 14
  170. Spaceport Fear - (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p15
  171. The Seeds of War - (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p15
  178. 1963: Fanfare for the Commonmen - (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p14
  179. 1963: The Space Race - (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p14
  180. 1963: The Assassination Games - (Seventh Doctor & Ace) - p14
  182. Antidote to Oblivion - (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p14
  183. The Brood of Erys - (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p14
  184. The Scavenger - (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p14
  188. Breaking Bubbles & Other Stories - (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p13
  192. The Widow's Assassin - (Sixth Doctor reunited with Peri) - p4, 14
  193. Masters of Earth - (Sixth Doctor reunited with Peri) - p15
  194. The Rani Elite - (Sixth Doctor reunited with Peri) - p15
  198. The Defectors - (Seventh Doctor & Jo) - p2
  199. Last of the Cybermen - (Sixth Doctor, Jamie & Zoe) - p2
  200. The Secret History - (Fifth Doctor, Stephen & Vicki) - p2
  204. Criss-Cross - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
  205. Planet of the Rani - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
  206. Shield of the Jotunn - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
  211. And You Will Obey Me - (Fifth Doctor & Old Master) - p3
  212. Vampire of the Mind - (Sixth Doctor & New Master) - p3
  213. The Two Masters - (Seventh Doctor & both Masters) - p4
  218. Order of the Daleks - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
  219. Absolute Power - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
  220. Quicksilver - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
  225. Vortex Ice / Cortex Fire - (Sixth Doctor & Flip) 
  231. The Behemoth - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
  232. The Middle - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
  233. Static - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
  xxx. 

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MASTERS OF EARTH:

“The year is 2163. Ten years since the Daleks invaded the Earth. One year until the Doctor, in his first incarnation, will help bring the occupation to an end. But for now, their reign of terror goes on.

“The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Peri to Scotland – enslaved, like everywhere else on the planet. But there are rumors of Dalek-free islands off its coast. Places where resistors and refuseniks are coming together, gathering arms and armor, preparing to strike back against the enemy.

“When the Doctor falls in with an unlikely group of freedom fighters making that dangerous journey to Orkney, he finds himself trapped – but not only by the Daleks, their robotized henchmen and their human collaborators.

“By history. Because history shows that for another year, resistance is useless...

“The rebellion must fail – and as a Time Lord, the Doctor can do nothing to help.”

COMMENTARY: That intro pretty much sums it up. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but the conflict itself is pretty straightforward. Here’s what the director and writer had to say.

DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Nicholas Briggs:

“Scipt editor Alan Barnes knew the trap he was laying for me. A story set during the Dalek invasion of Earth, slythers, transpolar discs and human ‘replicants’. He knew I’d take the bait. He carefully guided Mark Wright and Cavan Scott through the process of lacing the story with yet more delicious ingredients. How could I resist?

“We had a lovely time recording it. Particularly heartening was Nicola Bryant’s attention to detail when it came to the portrayal of Peri. She arrived at the studio with a number of great rewrites, by her partner Nev Fountain, fighting Peri’s corner relentlessly, and naturally the end result is all the better for it. I am greatly indebted to her and Nev. Lovely people.

“And then Martin Montague came along to do some superb sound design. He also had many contributions beyond simple sound design, successfully suggesting better ways for scenes to work, reworking the scene structure and so on. All this is part of the collaborative process I enjoy, working with truly creative people.

“I would like to offer an apology to those who correctly brought to our attention that the story refers to ‘the Orkneys’, when the correct term is ‘the Orkney Islands’. However, after some research we discovered that ‘Orkneys’, although wholly incorrect, is in common usage, often by inhabitants of the islands themselves. One of those irritating little facts we felt sure would permeate even the 22nd Century.”

WRITER’S NOTES by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott:

“Daleks.

“A word that strikes terror into the hearts of billions around the galaxy. Unless you’re a writer of Doctor Who audio dramas, when that single word in the subject header of an e-mail is cause for joy and celebration. After a couple of years exploring the galaxy with the crew of the Liberator, script editor Alan Barnes was seconding us back to the Doctor Who range with the chance to write a Dalek story.

“And the brief he outlined was far too delicious to resist—not only were we being tasked with writing a new Dalek story, it was a Dalek story that was to be set just prior to the events of the TV story ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth.’

“There’s something about ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth,’ something a little bit special. In 1964, Doctor Who is a show riding high, fueled by the success of the original Dalek story and a first season of imaginative, exciting television, produced by a visionary and performed by that wonderful original cast. And now Doctor Who had the confidence to dive into its own continuity to produce and adventure that was bigger than anything they’d attempted before.

“The results, 50 years on (the release of ‘Masters of earth’ in November 2014 neatly marks ‘Invasion’s’ half century) are still stunningly good. In planning ‘Masters of Earth’, we hoped to pay tribute to ‘Invasion of Earth’s’ epic vision, while also telling a personal, character-driven story about a group of people through together against a backdrop of terrible conflict. With Robomen, of course. It just wouldn’t have been right without Robomen.

“‘Masters of Earth’ is also something of a homecoming for us. We began our Big Finish Doctor Who career with the Sixth Doctor, writing the somewhat grisly (in retrospect) Project: Twilight back in 2001. Many years later, it’s been a delight to reacquaint ourselves with Colin Baker’s brilliant interpretation of the doctor, as energetic, erudite and loveably bombastic as ever. How will he cope as his past literally catches up with him, facing an arch-enemy that he has to think twice about fighting?

“If there’s one thing the Doctor knows only too well at this point in history, the Daleks are the Masters of Earth…”

THE RANI ELITE:

“The TARDIS arrives in the CAGE – not a trap, but the College of Advanced Galactic Education, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in colonized space.

“Not a trap. Or is it?

“The Doctor’s here to receive an honorary degree in Moral Philosophy. But there’s something rotten at the heart of the Medical Facility. Someone is operating on the students. Someone without a conscience. Someone with access to a Sidelian Brain Scanner – a technology that hasn’t been invented yet.

“That someone is the ruthless Time Lord scientist known as the Rani – in her new incarnation. But will the Doctor and Peri recognize the Rani’s hand before her trap is sprung?”

COMMENTARY:

The Doctor has met the Rani twice before on TV: his Sixth incarnation in “The Mark of the Rani,” and his Seventh in “Time and the Rani.” Kate O’Mara played the part both times. In “The Rani Elite,” the role is assayed by Siobhan Redmond. (For more about Kate O’Mara’s behind-the-scenes involvement in this story, see the writer’s and producer’s notes below.) Because she has regenerated, we know the Sixth Doctor is meeting her out of order.

Suspicious of the degree in “Moral Philosophy” he is to receive, the Doctor arrives one day early. When he discovers the Rani is behind it, she accuses him of arriving, not one day early, but one incarnation early. She says that she was expecting “the little with the hat and the umbrella” while the Doctor puts his fingers in his ears (as I imagine) and says, “Lah-lah-lah-lah-lah!”

It turns out the Rani is transferring the minds of her privileged and elderly alien clientele (the “elite” of the title) into the bodies of the youngest and most gifted students on the campus. Her clients didn’t know that in advance, but once they found out they were in healthy young bodies, they didn’t object much. The problem is, over the course of a couple of days, the bodies grow older to match the age of the minds inside them.

Peri also become one of the Rani’s victims. Siobhan Redmond gives a good performance as the Rani, but also impressive is Nicola Bryant's performance as Peri realizes that she about to have her mind stolen… again. Everything works out in the end, and Peri even receives an honorary degree in Botany when the Doctor receives his. The story fades out as the Doctor begins to deliver his 9apparently quite lengthy) acceptance speech. My question is this: Where has Peri been since then?

This story came out in December 2014, and Peri hasn’t been seen since. The next time the Doctor appears he will gain a new companion (Constance), but unless that one explains what happened to Peri, I have no idea what has happened to her since. It will be a while before I get to that one, though. Next up I’m going to skip ahead to a couple of Sixth Doctor adventures with Melanie Bush.

PRODUCER’S NOTES by David Richardson:

“It all began with an e-mail from Kate O’Mara’s agent, asking if we’d be interested in doing a story featuring the Rani. I passed it to Alan and Nick, and the result was a resounding ’Yes—please chat to Pip and Jane Baker about permissions’. I did. They gave an enthusiastic yes. And it all got under way.

“We were just weeks away from recording, having already started work on this trilogy, when it became clear that Kate might not be well enough for the proposed dates. A few days later, the very sad news came through that she has passed away. Such a terrible loss to the industry and her friends—and what amazing memories she leaves us all with, when one looks back over her brilliant career.

“For a short time, we wondered how to proceed. Until a very kind e-mail came through from Kate’s agent, saying how much she had loved the character, and had hoped we would proceed with a different actor as a new incarnation of the Rani.

“Siobhan Redmond was my suggestion, and one that was embraced by Nick, Alan and Ken. Siobhan has starred in lots of things I love, beautifully portraying roles that stay in the memory. I’ve seen her play characters who are not particularly likeable in themselves, and make them utterly captivating—surely a great trait for anyone playing the Rani. She had appeared just a few months earlier in Revenge of the Swarm, and was lovely and charming and just got what we do at Big Finish. So we offered her the job, and she is of course brilliant, giving her own take on the Rani just as all the actors who have played the Doctor or the Master have.

“I hope she returns for more.”

WRITER’S NOTES by Justin Richards:

“My starting point for ‘The Rani Elite’ was brains. She might be a chemist by qualification, but both the Rani’s previous encounters with the Doctor have seen her working, one way or another, on brains. I say ‘previous’, but of course when this story takes place, the events of “Time and the Rani” are yet to occur for the Doctor. But with a new incarnation of the Rani, we know they’ve already happened for her.

“The script—originally titled ‘Gifted and Talented’—was written assuming that Kate O’Mara would once again play the part. Sadly, of course, that was not to be. But with her blessings and the Doctor Who magic of regeneration, the story went ahead. Rewrites are always difficult, and doubly so given the circumstances. Script editor Alan Barnes and I spent some time discussing what we would need to change, but in fact the final adventure remained very close to what I had already written.

“There was some scope for playing with the fact that the Rani knows what will happen to the Sixth doctor—that she will ultimately defeat him whatever happens here. There was also the chance to simplify a few things. For example, in the earlier drafts, the Rani is once more in disguise. But with a new appearance, this became redundant which makes for a more straightforward plot—both mine and the Rani’s.

“The biggest question, however, as I set about making the changes, was who could possibly take the place of Kate O’Mara? In Siobhan Redmond Big Finish have found a worthy successor. Like a new doctor, the character remains largely the same in terms of her motivation and outlook, her morals—or lack of them—and objectives. But at the same time, Siobhan brings her own unique talents and interpretation to the role. Accompanied by the equally rich talents of Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, the result, I’m sure you will agree, is stunning”

SPACEPORT FEAR:

“Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where the tribes of Business and Economy have been at war for all of four hundred years...

“Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where a terrible creature called the Wailer prowls the corridors around the Control Tower, looking to eat the unwary...

“Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where there is one Arrival: a battered blue Police Box containing the time-travelling Doctor and his companion, Mel...

“Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where there are no Departures. Ever.”

COMMENTARY: As I mentioned recently, “The Wrong Doctors” (#169) is one of my favorite Sixth Doctor stories… in any medium. Big Finish audios are released in sets of three, but I wasn’t in any hurry to listen to the next two (of which “Spaceport Fear” is #170) because there was nothing “special” about them (such as being, potentially, the first meeting between the Sixth Doctor and Mel). Mel has never been one of my favorite companions, anyway, and this is what I would classify as a “common” episode.

There is one thing about this story that stands out in my mind. Communication is severely restricted on this space station with the one exception being video games played on handheld devices. It is possible to post a high score so as to compete with others. The only way the Doctor and Mel have to communicate with each other is to continually score high in the game and send coded messages when they log their user name.

At one point, the Doctor logged “MINDY OUR HEAD” and Mel didn’t know what he was trying to say. The next thing she knows, there is an explosion and the Doctor enters saying, “Mind your head!” and apologizing for putting the space in the wrong place. Here is what the writer and director had to say about it.

DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Barnaby Edwards:

“It was the English poet and literary critic Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) who first proposed the idea that there are only seven kinds of plot. He was making a specific point about narrative conflict devices which drive a story, but posterity has corrupted his idea into the hoary old lie that there are only seven kinds of story in the world: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage ad return; comedy; tragedy; rebirth.

“‘Spaceport Fear’ is not merely one of these magnificent seven—it’s all of them! It’s refreshing to direct such a wide-ranging tale, but also daunting: you need to assemble a cast who are as happy with the tragedy as they are serious about the comedy. Here. I ‘licked out’ massively.
Ronald Pickup and the rest of the gang make this story what it is and I thank them deeply for it.

“Finally, I do like a story which adheres to Quiller-Couch’s other great literary maxim: ‘Murder your darlings’.

WRITER’S NOTES by William Gallagher:

“Originally, I proposed a tale that was so great you can hear it done better by Matt Fitton and Nicholas Briggs next month: my idea was preposterously close to a story they had already finished. But there was a difference: mine had a brief mention of a spaceport and Alan Barnes pointed out that there’s not been a Big Finish set on one of those.

“That setting gave me everything. I could have a confined space yet also make it enormous, I could have epic journeys across dangerous areas and I could set it in pitch blackness. Listening to it now, you can hear the darkness. I have no idea how they did that.

“And I’ve no idea how they got Ronald Pickup to play Elder Bones. At the end of the recording, he thanked me for writing such a good part. I know he was just being nice, but I’m having that. You can’t take that away from me now.

“I love that my name goes on this: Alan came up with a fountain of ideas, my wife Angela Gallagher came up with the title, and I’ll never tell that it wasn’t me, all me.”

Earlier this week I wrote: “[The Rani Elite] came out in December 2014, and Peri hasn’t been seen since. The next time the Doctor appears he will gain a new companion (Constance), but unless that one explains what happened to Peri, I have no idea what has happened to her since.” I was going to write to Big Finish about Peri, but I wanted to wait until I had the opportunity to hear the next release in sequence in case it explained, but I didn’t have to because someone else did it for me. Apparently Nick Briggs has been discussing Peri recently on the BF podcast, but in the latest issue of Vortex he answered in print: “…yes, of course Peri will be back, Stories are being written as we speak.”

THE SEEDS OF WAR:

“Humanity is emerging from a long, exhausting war. Against an enemy so powerful, so implacable, it seemed unstoppable – right up until the moment it stopped.

“Now, despite its ‘victory’, the human race is on its knees. The Doctor and Mel join its struggle for survival to try to ensure it has a future.

“A race against time takes them from the Great Tower of Kalsos to the Reliquaries of Earth. In an epic journey across the ten systems, their fates are intertwined with one family. The Tevelers are to feel the effects of war more than most…

“The Doctor has a plan. Mel is sure he can save the day. But something is lurking. Watching. Waiting. A presence the Doctor knows of old. But just how far does its influence pervade?”

“The Eminence awaits…”

COMMENTARY: I learned a couple of things from the CD extras. First, although this story marks the first actual appearance of the Eminence, it’s actually the sequel to a story that hadn’t, at the time, been written. (It has since turned up as a Fourth Doctor adventure.) Second, Colin Baker mentioned that, according to the script notes, this adventure takes place some 20 years after “The Terror of the Vervoids”, meaning that the Sixth Doctor and Mel travelled together for much longer than I thought. No, that can’t be, though, now that I think about it, because Mel wasn’t 20 years older that she was in “Vervoids” when she travelled with the Seventh Doctor. Never mind.

DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Barnaby Edwards:

“In The Art of War, the legendary military treatise written around the turn of the 6th century BC by the Chinese general Sun Tzu, we find the following observation: ‘All warfare is based on deception.’

“In ‘The Seeds of War’, that adage has never been truer. Matt Fitton and Nicholas Briggs have come up with a story of Pyric victory, personal betrayal and preternatural villainy. Theirs is a grim future peopled with complicated heroes, which means you need to find lightness where you can, but also to play the tragedy to the hilt.

“Achieving the correct tone and pacing for this kind of story can be extremely tricky, which is why I’m endlessly grateful to the cast for being so dashed brilliant. Every character, including the Doctor and Mel, goes on an emotional journey in this story and it was a joy having actors who were prepared to go—and capable of going—that extra distance.

“A final word should go to Andy Hardwick, who has excelled himself in the sound design and music for this story. His is the world and everything that’s in t.”

WRITER’S NOTES by Matt Fitton:

“After a rollercoaster few months chock-full of so many new opportunities, this story gave me a fresh set of firsts.

“First: the privilege of developing a storyline by Nick Briggs, taking his synopsis and fleshing it out into a full-blown script. Being a Briggs plot, the hard work of creating the dramatic rhythm was already done: everything slotted together perfectly! ‘The Seeds of War’ became the chance to write a story I’d never have written myself. A great big action-packed space epic. And another take on the Sixth Doctor and Mel, very different versions from those in ‘The Wrong Doctors’. Here they’re friends, long-standing fellow travelers. A lovely dynamic to play with—but does Mel know the doctor as well as she thinks…?

“Another first was the opportunity to work with Barnaby Edwards—lovely chap and marvelous director. And to see his fabled big book of contrasts at work—just look at that cast! (Including the dream-team of Beth and Banks, who I now want in everything I write.)

“One more first. The Eminence. You’ll be hearing more from it sooner or later. Or maybe sooner and later. But, as the Doctor says, that’s another story…”

I enjoyed this a lot. I like the idea of mis-matched Doctor/Companion combos, and it's a good story that makes good use of Cybercontinuity.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

THE LAST OF THE CYBERMEN:

“It's been ten years since the final assault on Telos, the last act of the Great Cyber War. Thanks to the Glittergun, humanity prevailed – and the half-machine Cybermen were utterly obliterated.

“Out on the furthest fringes of the galaxy, however, they left their mark – in the form of a giant Cyber-head, hundreds of feet high. A monument? A memorial? A tomb? The Doctor, the Cybermen's most indefatigable adversary, sets out to investigate... but he fails to return to his TARDIS. Leaving the Ship, his two companions – brave Highlander Jamie MacCrimmon, and super-intelligent Zoe Heriot – find a stranger in the Doctor's place. A stranger in a coat of many colours, who insists that he's the Doctor – transposed in time and space with one of his former selves...

“But why here? Why now? Has the universe really seen the last of the Cybermen..?”

There is a scene from “The Three Doctors” in which the Second Doctor is shown running from… something… before he’s “snatched” for the crossover. This story opens with what I think is that same scene, observed by Jamie and Zoe from the TARDIS some 500 feet away. Except this time, there is a flash and the Second Doctor is replaced by the Sixth. He convinces Zoe who he is in short order, but Jamie is skeptical. The two remain humorously antagonistic toward each other throughout.

Jamie reckons it was the Sixth Doctor that the Second Doctor was running from, but soon a Cyberman comes running up from the same direction. The Doctor and Jamie become separated from Zoe, and she encounters the Cyberman. He is a rather strange Cyberman, who says “please” and “thank you” and speaks in terms of kindness. Turns out he was a soldier in the Cyber War and was rescued by his mates in the midst of being converted. The only thing left to have been transferred was his mind, but it was too late to save the rest of him. His nickname is “Lanky.”

“Oh, I get it!” exclaims Zoe. “Because you’re so tall!”

“No,” replies Lanky, somewhat confused. “Because I’m from Lancashire.”

The outstanding geographical feature of the area is a 500 foot tall Cyberman head atop a mountain. It is not a Cyber-tomb, however; it is some sort of citadel. Lanky is with a group from a museum on an expedition. He takes Zoe back to camp, and she is soon reunited with the Doctor and Zoe. The Doctor doesn’t remember any of this from his earlier incarnation, and speculates that none of it would have happened if his two selves had not been transposed.

Inside the citadel is an apparently inactive Cyber-Planner which the leader of the expedition, a woman named Zennox, wishes to use for her own purposes. The rest of the party are Captain Frank, who served with Lanky in the Cyber War, and Findel, a young man very nearly as intelligent as Zoe. It is Zennox’s plan to use Findel’s mind to reactivate the Cyber-Planner, but he’s not too keen on the idea. After meeting Zoe, however, Zennox changes her mind and decides to use Zoe’s mind to reactivate the Cyber-planner. In the meantime, Zoe and Findel really hit it off and become good friends.

When Zennox succeeds in her plan to reactivate the Cyber-Planner, it sends a beacon across time summoning an additional 10,000 Cybermen to the site of the last battle of the Great Cyber War, which affect the outcome and change history. The Doctor, and Jamie go back in time 10 years to the last battle of the war. (Zoe’s consciousness is already there.) It is at this point the plot gets really complicated as the action shifts to two different times. At one point, even one of the characters says, “Damn, this is confusing!” This is the kind of story that makes more sense the second time through. I’ve only listened to it once, but I’m going to give it a shot.

Just as “The Defectors” highlighted the differences between the Third Doctor and the Seventh, so too does “The Last of the Cyberman” highlight the differences between the Second Doctor and the Sixth. The Sixth theorizes that the Second sussed out the situation and determined that, without his help, Zennox and her party would never be able to access the Cyber-Controller. Because he was still on the run from the Time Lords at this point (this story takes place between “The Space Pirates” and “The War Games”), the Second Doctor decided to beat a hasty retreat.

When the Sixth Doctor was transposed in the Second’s place, however, he changed the course of events. The Sixth Doctor now holds himself very much responsible for changing the course of history and decides to summon the Time Lords and turn himself in. The bombardment, though, causes him to lose the device needed to send the signal. He and Jamie soon meet up with Captain Frank and Lanky. Lanky, it turns out, has not undergone partial conversion, but has simply donned Cyber armor to infiltrate the enemy’s ranks. 10 years in the future, Frank and Lanky revealed that they’ve known who the Doctor was all along, and pretending to be a partially-converted Cyberman was all part of an elaborate plan to allow the Doctor and Jamie to succeed in the past.

The only way they can succeed however, is for Zoe to draw the Cybermen back from there attack on Earth so that they can be ambushed. The only problem is that Zoe will have to stay in control of the Cybermen at ground zero and be destroyed herself in the process. Suddenly another mind pushes her out of control. It is Findel from 10 years in the future, willing to sacrifice himself in her place.

After the dust settles, the Doctor and Zoe deduce that it was a signal sent by the Sixth Doctor through the telepathic circuits of the TARDIS which led the Second Doctor there in the first place, but that still doesn’t explain who caused the two Doctors to be transposed in time in the first place or why. The Sixth Doctor tells Jamie and Zoe of the Second Doctor’s trial and what will happen to them afterwards. As the Sixth Doctor begins to disappear, the two contemplate leaving the Doctor before they are drawn into the War Games.

Another good story.  I liked the fact that the "vampire" in this wasn't inherently "bad", as such.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

VAMPIRE OF THE MIND:

“Somewhere off the South Coast of England, there’s a lonely island. On that island stands a solitary castle, long since abandoned – haunted, they say. But the truth is, that castle houses something far worse than mere ghosts.

“The castle is what lies at the end of a trail followed by the Doctor in search of several missing scientists – all of them connected to the top secret Dominus Institute and its elusive CEO, Sir Andrew Gobernar…

“But the Doctor will soon discover that he’s the one being haunted, by a ghost from his past… or perhaps, his future.”

The Sixth Doctor arrives in 2016 to visit his old friend Professor Threadstone only to discover the Professor is currently missing. The Doctor is reacquainted with the Professor’s daughter, Heather, only a child when last he saw her but now a doctor herself. The elder Threadstone is one of several distinguished scientists who have gone missing lately. The only thing they have in common is that that all have done work for the highly secretive Dominus Institute. The Doctor and Heather have little luck infiltrating the facilities, so they decide to apply for a grant. (One of the stipulating for accepting the grant is that all work must be done one site.) They both apply, but to the Doctor’s consternation, his is rejected. He accompanies Heather as her “assistant.”

The Dominus Institute is in a castle on an island, a castle which was once used to imprison the Master. The Doctor confronts the Leader of the institute, Gobenar, as being the Master, but he is mistaken. The master isn’t too far away, though, and has, in fact, engineered the entire situation just to attract the Doctor’s attention. (The Master isn’t particular about which Doctor; he simply reasons if he started something in that locale at this time one of the Doctor’s incarnations or another was bound to notice.

The Master is in the throes of regeneration trauma. His TARDIS needs repair and he can’r rmrmber how to do it. One of the schemes he set in motion decades ago while imprisoned there was to lure and trap a mind leech. The mind leech has been trapped there for decades with no mind to feed on. Leeching off one another’s mind is natural for those of its own race, but damaging to humans. By the time the Master returned, the mind leech was nearly insane, easily susceptible to the Master’s manipulation.

By the time the Doctor arrived, the island was populated by “the walking dead,” or “blanks”: the missing scientists drained of their minds. The Master’s plan is to drain the Doctor’s mind, then use the facility’s resources to transfer the Doctor’s memories to himself in order to fix his TARDIS and be on his way. The Doctor sacrifices his short-term memory to restore the blanks and defeat the Master. There is no apparent link between “Vampire of the Mind” and “And You Will Obey Me” other than that the Old Master shows up in the last scene and kills a random (?) villager.

“I enjoyed this a lot. I like the idea of mis-matched Doctor/Companion combos, and it's a good story that makes good use of Cybercontinuity.”

“The Last of the Cybermen” is the middle part of a loose “trilogy” of mis-matched Doctor/Companion combos, between “The Defectors” (Seventh Doctor and Jo Grant) and “The Secret History” (Fifth Doctor, Stephen and Vicki).

“Another good story. I liked the fact that the "vampire" in this wasn't inherently "bad", as such.”

“Vampire od the Mind” is another middle story between ones featuring the Fifth Doctor and the “old Master” and Seventh Doctor and “both” Masters.

Now back to the Time War…

IN THE GARDEN OF DEATH:

“In a prison camp like no other, the Most Dangerous Man in the Universe is held in isolation. The rest of the inmates have no memory of who they were or what they might have done. No memory even of their captors. Until the interrogations begin.”

COMMENTARY: It’s been a week since I listened to this one, but I didn’t have time to write it up before I went offline. The main cast find themselves in prison with no memory who they are. It’s a common trope in science fiction, but enjoyable if well done, and this one is. They have all been fitted with personal memory dampeners, but the Twelve’s is interfering with her neural inhibitor. The actor who originated the role of the Eleven had a distinct voice for each personality, and was adept at switching between and among them at high speed, even without the use of audio trickery. I’m not sure this new actress has that many voices. I count maybe three. The Twelve really is “good,” though. I think I forgot to mention that captain Tamasan (from set one) is back, but has regenerated.

WRITER’S NOTES – Guy Adams

“The Doctor, with no memory of who he is, looks at the force field around him, the gun posts, the lethal jungle, wall after wall, security measure after security measure, and he comes to a decision: he must be the most evil man in the universe to need such measures to keep him under control.

“Or, of course, one of the most dangerous.

“Prisoner of war stories are always interesting. Grim tales of endurance and fortitude, of being boiled down to one’s essentials. You learn a lot about someone’s character when they’re under extreme duress, you find the truth at the heart of them. In these stories of frequent moral complexity, I rather liked the idea of that.

“Also, how could I resist that nobody can ever truly forget a Dalek?

“I hope you enjoy your time in the heat, in the jungle, be glad you get to leave.”

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