The Doctor and Melanie arrive at the National Foundation for Scientific Research just prior to a public ceremony marking the Foundation’s 100th anniversary. Mel’s eccentric uncle, John Hallam, is not just a member of the Foundation but actually lives on the grounds. During the ceremony, involving the burial of a time capsule, it is discovered that something else has already been buried there. When the Doctor and Hallam examine the object, it causes an explosion in another one of the Foundation’s laboratories – one where a rather bored Melanie is reading through Hallam’s records of their family history. Melanie is missing when the Doctor and Hallam try to come to her aid, and the Doctor strongly suspects that the mysterious object has catapulted her back in time. He also thinks that her time journey may have been directed by her thoughts at the time, so the TARDIS homes in on the sprawling Hallam estate in 1782. That leaves only a few rather significant problems: in Melanie’s timeline, six months have passed since her arrival, and in that time, she has been heavily drugged by a family doctor who feels that her ramblings about being from the future are a sign of dementia. Worse yet, with no sign of rescue from that future, Mel has started to believe that she is who her ancestor, Henry Hallam, tells her she is: his future wife, and therefore her own ancestor.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Melanie), Derek Benfield (John Hallam), Keith Drinkel (Henry Hallam), Jillie Meers (Mrs. McGregor), Michael Chance (Dr. Wallace), Ian Fairbairn (Professor David Munro), Rhiannon Meades (Rachel)
Timeline: after The Juggernauts and before Time And The Rani
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Catch-1782 is an intensely interesting, well-plotted time paradox story with some excellent casting and fine attention to period detail. And it’s also a story with a near-fatal flaw: the second half of the story hinges on the suspense that Melanie may have to remain in 1782 to become part of her own family’s history. Which is a great idea for a cliffhanger or two, except that almost anyone who’s actually interested enough in Doctor Who to be listening to these audios knows that there really is no suspense there: Melanie does continue her time travels with the Doctor, and the proof is in the fact that she’s with the Doctor when he regenerates into his seventh incarnation. It kills the suspense, but at least getting from point A to point B, which is certain to free Mel up from this time paradox, is an interesting journey.
Catch-1782, ironically, touches very briefly on some of the family issues raised by a TV episode that aired around the same time, Aliens Of London. But remember that the key words here are “very briefly” – Hallam wonders what kind of madman his niece has been traveling with, but then gets far too swept up in the quest to find and rescue her to question it much more. Actually, the thought occurred to me that, given the period-piece production values quite evident in another recent TV episode, The Unquiet Dead, Catch-1782 would’ve made an excellent adventure, in somewhat compressed form, for the ninth Doctor and Rose.
Overall, a nice entry from Big Finish’s very effective policy of finding writers who, if not new to Doctor Who, are at least new to the Doctor’s audio adventures.