I.D.: Something has gone horribly wrong among a spacefaring human community. “Scandroids” have systematically eliminated anyone with the knowledge to shut them down, and the populace lives in fear at the machines’ mercy – at least until the Doctor arrives to tip the balance back in the favor of the humans. But the Doctor’s own arrival may have set the scandroids’ mysterious, murderous plans into high gear – and somewhere, among the humans, is one person who knows more about those plans than they’re saying.
Urgent Calls: The Doctor contacts a telephone operator, who he claims has contracted a potentially fatal disease. Through repeated calls, he discovers that one side-effect of this illness has been a run of the most extraordinary luck, and his newfound friend is eager to share that with him, but once she learns that she’s talking to an alien, she seems to develop a few hang-ups about her benefactor.
I.D. Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Sara Griffiths (Claudia Bridge), Gyles Brandreth (Doctor Marriott), Helen Atkinson Wood (Ms. Tevez), David Dobson (Scandroids), Kerry Skinner (Lake), Joe Thompson (Gabe Stillinger), Natasha Pyne (Denise Stillinger)
Urgent Calls Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Kate Brown (Lauren), David Dobson (D.J.), Kerry Skinner (Connie)
Timeline: it is unknown if this takes place before or after the Doctor’s travels with Evelyn, so we’re left with “between The Trial Of A Time Lord and Time And The Rani“.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: The first in a series of experimental 2007 releases combining a three-part story with a one-part story, I.D. is a nice case of a tale that would’ve been stretched out too thinly at four parts. Urgent Calls, on the other hand, promises to set up a running story that other Doctors will have to deal with in one-part adventures spread across several subsequent releases. Aside from the new cover design, one certainly can’t accuse Big Finish of not trying to freshen things up a bit.
I.D. is a humans-under-siege story that works best with Colin Baker’s Doctor, as it gives him ample opportunity to rail indignantly against the plight of the (apparent) protagonists, and an opportunity to go off even more when he discovers that even in the face of disaster, human foibles are still very much part of the problem. It’s tailor made to the sixth Doctor’s strengths, and Baker plays it to the hilt. The rest of the cast is also very good, and even though it’s meant to be one of the story’s darker moments, I found myself chuckling a bit at the scene where one character wants to know what economic gain he can acquire from reporting that a scandroid has just killed his mother – chuckling knowingly, I might add, because one can imagine something not unlike that happening in the here and now.
Urgent Calls is a nifty little one-off that almost winds up being a two-hander play between Baker and Kate Brown, taking place largely over a series of telephone conversations. I was almost disappointed when other characters put in an appearance, though it is necessary to keep the story on track, simply because I was enjoying the rapport between the two lead actors. There’s also a hint of a gentle flirtation directed at the Doctor, which isn’t something one would ever imagine happening with his sixth incarnation, until you keep in mind that, like the listener, Lauren can only hear the Doctor and not see him, and has conjured up her own mental image that almost certainly doesn’t include an outfit that wouldn’t be out of place at a fairground. (Just like we probably aren’t imagining Colin Baker playing the part as he is now, for that matter.) Big Finish has tries numerous times to do stories, down through the years, that only work in the audio medium, and this is one of the cleverest takes on that notion.
I’ll admit to having been a bit disoriented at the sight, well, sound of a companion-less sixth Doctor, when the audio stories have given us Evelyn Smythe and a pitch-perfect reading of Frobisher, but after hearing it, I.D.‘s sense of isolation is heightened without a time-traveling sidekick, and Urgent Calls simply would’ve left no room for a companion character, so it’s all rather nicely put together.