I remember when the Sixth Doctor began traveling with Constance Clarke. It seemed like a really good jumping on point to me, however I was still a ways away from completing my Eighth Doctor collection, a priority at the time. Constance’s first adventure with the Doctor was “Criss-Cross” (Sep 2015), but her first actual appearance was the month before, part of “The Last Adventure” box set, which I did listen to. With my Eighth Doctor collection now long since complete, I am finally prepared to move forward with the Sixth Doctor and Constance. Here’s a look at what’s ahead…

204. Criss-Cross - p1
205. Planet of the Rani - p1
206. Shield of the Jötunn - p1
218. Order of the Daleks - p1
219. Absolute Power - p1
220. Quicksilver - p2
225. Vortex Ice / Cortex Fire - p2
231. The Behemoth - p2
232. The Middle - p2
233. Static - p2
238. The Lure of the Nomad - p2
239. Iron Bright - p3
240. Hour of the Cybermen - p3
246. The Hunting Ground - p3
253. Memories of a Tyrant - p
254. Emissary of the Daleks - p
255. Harry Houdini's War - p
259. Blood on Santa's Claw - p

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IRON BRIGHT: After Mathew Sharpe, the Doctor travels by himself for a time. this is another historical, but not a "pure" historical. Did you know that the Thames Tunnel in London was built in 1828, or that the architects were father and son engineers Marc and Isambard-Kingdom Brunel? I do now. Historically, the tunnels was plagued by flooding, and the younger Brunel was swept away in one of them. He survived, but afterwards he went off to make is own reputation in Bristol and never worked with his father again. "Iron Bright" tells the story behind that story.

Basically, the tunnels is being hounted by "ghosts," actually inter-dimensional tourists. the problem is, not only are the gateways unstable, but they are funneling pollution from the just slightly pre-Industrial Revolution back into the other dimension, which is killing its inhabitants.

The Sixth Doctor name-drops a "Brunel" in "The Two Doctors", implying that they've met.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

IRON BRIGHT: After Mathew Sharpe, the Doctor travels by himself for a time. this is another historical, but not a "pure" historical. Did you know that the Thames Tunnel in London was built in 1828, or that the architects were father and son engineers Marc and Isambard-Kingdom Brunel? I do now. Historically, the tunnels was plagued by flooding, and the younger Brunel was swept away in one of them. He survived, but afterwards he went off to make is own reputation in Bristol and never worked with his father again. "Iron Bright" tells the story behind that story.

Basically, the tunnels is being hounted by "ghosts," actually inter-dimensional tourists. the problem is, not only are the gateways unstable, but they are funneling pollution from the just slightly pre-Industrial Revolution back into the other dimension, which is killing its inhabitants.

Also (according to the special features), he had the business card of one of the Brunels in one of the "Rani" episodes.

This episode was meant to evoke an RTD TV episode (specifically "The Unquiet Dead"). Would have been difficult to do this one effectively (what with the Doctor being washed away by an underground flood at one point, etc.) on TV.

HOUR OF THE CYBERMEN: Still traveling alone, the Doctor encounters the cybermen for the first time since "Attack of the Cybermen" on TV. This time, their schtick includes some sort dehidration process which can be used against individuals (facilitating the conversion process) or entire cities (causing drought). The Doctor's allies this time around are a woman who has undergone partial cyber-conversion, and a young man he has met before (althought I'm not certain where. (Whether on TV or audio, if I've see/heard it, I've forgotten.) the Sixth Doctor works well trveling solo (i.e., sans companion); I'm not sure that could be said for every Doctor.

THE HUNTING GROUND: Still traveling alone, the Doctor arrives in present day Iceland where he becomes the chief suspect in a murder mystery. He may not have a companion per se, but Inspector Yrsa Kristjansdottir fills that function as his chief ally (once he convinces her of his innocence). The role Yrsa plays is reminiscent of DI Menzies, another Sixth Doctor audio companion I've mentioned from time to time. Yrsa doesn't become his companion at the end of this one, but the door is left open for further adventures.

MEMORIES OF A TYRANT: I've been looking forward to this one for a long time: looking forward to its being released, looking forward to buying it, looking forward to listening to it, looking forward to changing the title of this discussion to "The Sixth Doctor, Constance. Flip and Peri." TV's "Trial of a Time Lord" season really muddied up the fate of Peri Brown, my favorite of the Sixth Doctor's companions. "Peri and the Piscon Paradox" (2011) revealed something of her fate beyond what was shown on TV, then the trilogy of "The Widow's Assassin," "Masters of Earth" and "The Rani Elite" (2014) reunited them, but it took all three episodes for them to resolve their differences. I've waited six years to find out what happens next. Unfortunately, this latest trilogy is set in their past (i.e., pre-trial). 

Beyond that disappointment, "Memories of a Tyrant" really is a good story. the action is set on the Memory Farm, a state-of-the-art space station where the specialty is the harvesting and analysis of hidden memories. Circumstantial evidence (he was found, amnesiac, abord the royal escape shuttle) seems to indicate that one old man, Garius Moro, may have been a tyrant responsible for planet-wide genocide some years ago. He cannot be made to recall anything about his former life although, when he meets Peri for the first time, he does seem to remember her

When his memories are uncovered, they seem to be those of a cook from the royal kitchen who fled in the shuttle when the regime fell. Or are those just false memories planter atop his real persona? through a series of events, the tyrants memories end up in the Doctor's mind. there are many twists and turns throughout this one but, in the end [<b>SPOILER</b>], it's still left unrevealed whether the old man is really the cook or the tyrant, and the theme becomes whether or not it's ethical to punish someone for crimes he doesn't remember committing, if, in fact, he even did commit them in the first place. [END SPOILER]

I should probably have posted this to "Miscellaneous Big Finish Audios," but I've already updated the index at the top of the post and am too lazy to move it.

EMISSARY OF THE DALEKS: I admit to being disappointed that this trilogy of Peri stories was set in the "past" (always a relative term), but they do fulfill the promise that this particular Doctor/companion relationship never achieved on TV. the action is set on the isolated planet Omnia. Omnia is the sole planet in orbit of its sun, which is so distant from other systems that stars are barely visible in the sky. Omnia is occupied by Dalek forces, but there are relatively few Daleks actually in sight. Beyond that, it's a fairly standard Dalek adventure. They rule though a native "emissary" whose son is the rebel leader. Good but not great. 

HARRY HOUDINI'S WAR: Having been something of a fan of Harry Houdini in my younger years, I had been looking forward to this episode. However, although more-or-less self-contained, this is not the first time the Doctor met Harry, and I feel as if I'm missing something. If fact, Houdini has encountered the Doctor several times before, in multiple incarnations. At one point, one of the characters asks, "Which Doctor?" to which Colin Baker quips, "You're supposed to say, 'Doctor who?'" I got a chuckle out of that metatextual joke.

Houdini's been mentioned several times in the TV series.

More info here.

BLOOD ON SANTA'S CLAW: Doctor Who has a long tradition of Christmas-themed episodes stretching back (arguably) as far as 1965 on TV ("The Daleks' Master Plan") and 2002 on audio ("The Chimes of Midnight"). "Blood on Santa's Claw" is a collection of four standalone stories, starting with...

Blood on Santa's Claw - The Doctor, Peri and Joe land on the planet Naxios where they discover the murdered body of Santa Claus (or at least someone dressed as Santa Claus). Joe's last name was mentioned but I didn't catch it. Peri is adamant that Joe is not the Doctor's companion, but rather her partner. It is mentioned that he joined the TARDIS crew in 1985, and has been traveling with them for three months. I'm assuming Joe is from a prose novel. 

Several generations ago, all religions fell on all Earth colonies. Whereas one may think that's a good thing, it had some negative consequences as so many people's self-worth was based on their religious beliefs. It thereafter became mandatory that all people believe in something. (One belief system mentioned was comics books, which is where I think I'd fall in that society.) On Naxios, there are two confliction "religions": one based on animals in a particular series of children's book (The Chronicles of Narnia, I think...?), and the other based on the works of William Shakespeare. Whenever a conflict arises, Earth dispatches a "Santa Claus" to settle the dispute, but this is the third one sent, the third one murdered.

Actually, this story has more to do with Shakespeare than it does Christmas, but it's a serious (if comical) look at all religions. 

The Baby Awakes - The Doctor, Peri and Joe pay a visit to the Ishtar Institute, which has taken the concept of "designer babies" to a whole new level. It is the kind of story, more science-fantasy than science-fiction, which works so well in the Doctor Who universe. what happens At this institute is that prospective parents each donate a sample of genetic material which is combined and placed in a kind of robot which is then able to mimic what a child of theirs would look like and how it would behave in a variety of scenarios at any age from birth to 18 years old.

For example, the parents may what to see what their five year old child would be like on a trip to the beach, or as a teenager at Christmas. It is often the behavior of the child at Christmas which determines whether or not they wish to go ahead with that genetic mix and have the child. All of the parents are given a "safeword" to end a particular scenario, and it is often the Christmas scenario which causes parents to reject a particular genetic mix. (Apart from the title, the "Christmas" link is tenuous.) After a mix is rejected, is is supposed to be humanely destroyed, but the story begins when the Doctor and company encounter one forcibly serving as a soldier in a war.

Posing as prospective parents, Peri and Joe go to the institute. As events play out, the rejected child sold to become a soldier confronts her "mother" and "sister." The reason this particular child was rejected was because she sang off-key in a simulated Christmas program when she was "five years old." 

Chilling stuff.

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