I decided to give “The First Doctor Adventures” series a discussion of its own rather than fold it into “Miscellaneous Big Finish Audios” because I’ll likely continue following this series. What makes “The First Doctor Adventures” interesting (to me, anyway) is that it stars the same actors who played William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, William Russel and Jacqueline Hill in “An Adventure in Time and Space” as The Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara respectively.
1.1 The Destination Wars
1.2 The Great White Hurricane
David Bradley (The Doctor)
Claudia Grant (Susan)
Jamie Glover (Ian Chesterton)
Jemma Powell (Barabara Wright)
THE DESTINATIONS WARS (by Matt Fitton):
“The TARDIS arrives in a gleaming utopia in the Space Year 2003. Has the Doctor truly brought Ian and Barbara home, to glimpse their future? The world owes much to its legendary Inventor, and Susan finds herself face to face with the great benefactor. But soon, the time travelers are in a world at war and the Doctor must confront his past.”
COMMENTARY: The initial set contains only two stories, but both are two-parters. In keeping with the tradition of the early years of the show, one is science fiction, the other is historical. Furthermore, the historical is a “pure” historical in that it is set in Earth’s past with no aliens or fantastic elements.
At first, the party think they have arrived on Earth in the year 2003, but the Doctor is not fooled (nor are the listeners, as the world is quite futuristic). The key is that they are told it is “Space Year” 2003, it being two millennia since colonists departed Earth for the planet they call “Destination.” Destination is ruled by a man who refers to himself as “The Inventor,” but the Doctor and Susan know him by another name.
The Inventor is a member of the Doctor’s own race, and I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to reveal that he is actually The Master (played by James Dreyfus). The Master has been stranded on destination without his TARDIS, and his persona “The Inventor” often disappears from public view for years at a time. What is really happening is that he is stepping out of time into a sort of null field in which time passes at a different rate so that he can “travel into the future” to see the effects of his machinations on Destinations culture. Now that The Doctor has arrived, though, he intends to steals The doctor’s TARDIS and leave him stranded. Although the Doctor and the Master have known each other their entire lives, we (obviously) never got to see the Master interact with the First (or the Second) Doctor… until now.
WRITER’S NOTES: “The First Doctor’s era is magical. The beginning of a TV show like no other, setting in motion a legacy that will run for decades. I first discovered the TARDIS crew through my uncle’s battered old Target books. Here, the Doctor cut a crotchety, alien figure, evocative drawings scattered through the books underlining this impression.
“Back before VHS and DVD, I had only the briefest encounter with William Hartnell’s on-screen portrayal via occasional repeats on BBC2. Then, I met a version of ‘the original’ alongside his later selves in ‘The Five Doctors’ – as played by Richard Hurdall.
“Soon after, I was finally able to watch those surviving 1960s episodes in full, on home media, and it struck me how funny and mischievous the First Doctor turned out to be. Yes, he loses patience with his human friends, but always had a twinkle that made a generation adore him.
“The First Doctor returned again and again: in annuals, in Virgin Missing Adventures and BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures. In comic strip form – from TV Action to the pages of DWM. Really, there have alwayts been many different version of Doctor Who. It just depends on when you joined the ride. And here’s the chance to meet another.”
One thing that was fun about “An Adventure in time and Space” is seeing the actors made up and wearing period clothes and hairstyles. You don’t get that on audio, so it’s really up to the actors to convey, not just “Susan” (for example), but Carole Ann Ford as Susan. For the most part I think they do a pretty good job (it’s always clear as to who is speaking), while still managing to interject a little of themselves into their performances as well.
As usual, the Big Finish production department does a wonderful job on the covers (on which the actors are in costume). The flip side of each booklet shows the same photo in black and white. For the “extras” disc, they took the photo for the box itself and did a mock-up as if it were a 1960s era LP. Neat!
THE GREAT WHITE HURRICANE (by Guy Adams):
“Rival gangs turn streets into battlegrounds, and the Doctor and his friends are caught in the crossfire. They find themselves separated, and lost in the cold. As the hunt for a fugitive turns ever more desperate, a blizzard descends. The snow keeps falling. And soon it will prove as deadly as any weapon...
COMMENTARY: The beauty (one of the beauties) of Doctor Who is that it’s educational. Oftentimes I have learned of one historical fact or another, and this story is a prime example. I didn’t even know there was a “Great White Hurricane of 1888”!
WRITER’S NOTES: “The first series of Doctor Who comes at us through the snow and fog of 16 mil film recordings. Worlds writ large thanks to imaginations and performances that belied the parochial squares of theatrical flats and set dressing. Fearless drama beinging alien worlds, prehistoric caves, thirteenth century China and France in the grip of bloody revolution, all on a budget bolstered by miracles.
“When it came to picking a subject for my pure historical – and what a thrill those words were – I wanted a landscape as epic and brave and challenging as those that had thrilled me onscreen. For years I’d wanted to write about the Great White Hurricane of 1888, when the East coast of America was beaten with icy winds and the snows piled high. The impossible happened: New York City, that indestructible, unstoppable metropolis, was brought to a standstill. That was a place where the truly epic could be found.
“But it’s not just about the landscape. It’s about the people you find there. Doctor Who has always triumphed when it’s been about humans facing adversity. The hurricane also gave me an environment where suffering, peril and the very real possibility of death would bring out the best and worst in humanity, and that’s what all the best stories are about.”
I'd never heard of it , either.
It has its own Wiki (plus many other results using a Google search).