"The TARDIS is gone. Stranded in one time and place, the Doctor, Liv and Helen seek refuge in Baker Street. But the house has changed: they now have neighbours – not all of them welcoming. And someone has a dire warning for the future. The Doctor and friends face their greatest challenge yet: living one day after another, in 2020 London."

These sets go into production years in advance of release... plotting, scripting, even recording. It will be interesting to see if they were able to incorporate anything in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic at the last minute.

PICTURED: Tania, the Curator, Helen, the Doctor, Liv, Andy and Mr. Bird.

1,1 - Lost Property - p1

1.2 - Wild Animals - p1

1.3 - Must-See TV - p1

1.4 - Divine Intervention - p1 (3)

2,1 - Dead Time - p1

2.2 - UNIT Dating - p1

2.3 - Baker Street Irregulars - p1

2.4 - The Long Way Round - p1 (3)

3.1 - Patience - p1

3.2 - Twisted Folklore - p2

3.3 - Snow - p3

3.4 - What Just Happened? - p3

4,1 - Crossed Lines- p4

4.2 - Get Andy

4.3 - The Keys of Baker Street

4.4 - Best Year Ever

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"After crashing in 2020 London, the TARDIS crew has found the future of the universe altered and the human race doomed. As the Doctor tries desperately to unravel the paradox, all roads lead back to Baker Street, and the greatest test of all..."

CROSSED LINES:

"The Doctor interrupts a pivotal journey for young Robin, while Tania and Helen are caught up in events past and present. As the timeline dissolves and the Void encroaches, the Doctor’s friends ask the Curator for help. But he is not the man he was."

"Stranded" is one of my favorite series but let me tell you: it's not easy easy getting back into after a five-month hiatus. "Crossed Lines" immediately follows "What Just Happened?" and is as much the conclusion of Stranded 3 as it is the beginning of Stranded 4. I don't know if I could even begin to summarize it without listening to it a couple more times. This time the Curator is played not by Tom Baker, but by Colin Baker. Writer Matt Fitton drops several hints as to why the change, but who knows? At one point, Helen (who is familiar with the concept of regeneration) asks the Curator if that is the case. He responds, "There is only one Curator, I assure you... although his appearance is somewhat fluid"... whatever that means. The Doctor might say the same thing about himself.

Stranded 1 was recorded in 2019, and was released and takes place in 2020, yet there is no lockdown, no pandemic. In a universe where Earth can be invaded by Daleks then simply "forget," without explanation, a few years later, I don't really have a problem if a Doctor Who audio set in 2020 doesn't reflect reality, but this episode provides a plausible explanation as to what that is.

GET ANDY:

"The Doctor resolves to make a difference and save one life in particular. But someone else is making a beeline for Sergeant Andy Davidson. Mr Bird has something to prove, and he will go to any extreme to do it."

The last time we saw Andy, he was trapped on a spaceship headed on a collision course with a space station. The Doctor's intention is to rescue Andy before it crashes. [The last time we saw Lucie Miller she was in a similar situation. I don't think the option of saving her is off the table, but he hasn't done it yet. Just sayin'.] Anyway, no sooner does the Doctor depart in the TARDIS than Andy arrives at the door. "Did you miss me?" He has no idea. He was rescued by Mr. Bird. Upon further examination, it is revealed that the Doctor arrived on the spaceship but Andy wasn't there. Then he was trapped (because reasons) and the ship crashed, killing the Doctor with no hope of regeneration. shortly after that, Andy begins to fade away.

Then another knock comes on the door. It's Andy again. "Did you miss me?" But this version of Andy has no memory of having been there a few minutes earlier, nor of having been rescued by the Doctor, either. What's happening is timelines are overwriting themselves. Andy is wearing a portable time travel device given to him by Mr. Bird, but it's unreliable. In fact, it's so damaged it can only return Andy to the scene of the crash. What Liv and Helen must do is convince Andy to go back to the crashing ship, but when Mr. Bird comes to save him, refuse to go. Bur what if the Doctor doesn't come in the new timeline? Well, Andy needs to convince Mr. Bird to stay with "just in case." This is one of those plots that kind of difficult to follow the first time through, but I'm sure it will all make perfect sense on subsequent re-listens. 

THE KEYS OF BAKER STREET

"Homing in on the root of the problem, the Doctor attempts a risky solution – and disaster strikes. Soon, 107 Baker Street is all that’s left of reality, as the residents climb the floors to face their destiny."

Stranded is somewhat difficult to follow and even more difficult to summarize (especially considering I waited two days after listening to it). Two posts back, I mentioned there is a explanation as to why there is no COVID pandemic in 2020 London. The reason drives the story: the timeline they have been living since the first set is not the "true" one. That is why, just this once, the doctor decided it is safe to go back and change the past to prevent this alternate timeline. His plan doesn't work, so he decides to change the future instead. It's like, instead of going back to the past to kill Hitler as a child, teaching him to paint instead. Everything is returned to pandemic-normal at the end of this episode, which has me wondering what the final episode is going to be about. 

There are two plot-specific things I should mention. 107 Baker Street has been used by four consecutive Doctors (Five through Eight) over the course of more than 100 years. First, as the flat collapses, the main characters experience "echoes" of past scenes. Second, many details of the Curator's existence are revealed. There is at least one additional to the two we have seen, one described as "all bow tie and elbows." 

"Everything is returned to pandemic-normal at the end of this episode, which has me wondering what the final episode is going to be about."

BEST YEAR EVER:

"What happens if the world is actually fixed? There are times when even the Doctor cannot help. And whatever the outcome, Liv and Tania have a decision to make."

As I mentioned that week, the end of episode three (or episode 15, actually) sees the Doctor and company returned to 2020... the real one this time. But the TARDIS is still "stranded," so this episode is the Doctor and all his companions in lockdown in London in 2020. If that sounds boring to you, just imagine all the different personalities stuck in the same flat together for a year. The episode takes us up to the 2021 New Year. The TARDIS is now fit for travel again, and decisions have to be made. Who will stay and who will go? 

Early on in Big Finish's history, the Sixth Doctor was traveling with Evelyn. A sequel to one of their stories was set a year later, when Evelyn had married one of the guest characters. That proved to be a self-limiting story because every story in which the Sixth Doctor traveled with Evelyn had to be sandwiched in a time frame which would allow her to be married and settled a year later. And Maggie Staples continued to play Evelyn for another decade! It was this situation, I am convinced, that convinced Big Finish not to specifically link their stories together in such a way that there was no "wiggle room" for future stories to be told. 

SPOILERS: Throughout the course of Stranded, Liv and Tania have become a couple. Liv wants to continue her travels with the Doctor, but Tania is from the 21st century and wants to stay home. She's welcome to come with them on the TARDIS, of course, but she's determined to see the pandemic through. Liv decides to go and Tania decides to stay, BUT... no sooner does the TARDIS dematerialize than it rematerializes and Liv decides to stay. Tania knows that Liv and the Doctor have been gone for more than a few seconds, but the story doesn't nail down exactly how long. This resolution leaves the Doctor and Liv open to continue to have any number of adventures going forward, but still giving the series the happy ending it deserves. END SPOILERS

For a while now, the Eighth Doctor's adventures have been told in four sets of four stories each, i.e., 16 episodes. Speaking of "going forward," it is mentioned in the disc's "extras" that this is the end of the Eighth Doctor's adventures in this format. I don't know what's to come, but I intend to continue to follow the Eighth Doctor in any case. I'm sure it's no secret, but I ordered a big "lump" of adventures a while ago, and I only get to read BF's Vortex magazine when a pre-order ships, which is far less frequently than it once was. Also, I haven't poked around BF's site since my last big order, so who knows what announcements I've missed? If I'm going to get caught up any time soon, I will need to start listening to more than one episode per week. 

Jeff, in the Far future:  "I don't want to go, there are Big Finish stories I haven't listened to yet!"

Jeff of Earth-J said:

If I'm going to get caught up any time soon, I will need to start listening to more than one episode per week. 

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