The TARDIS experiences problems in flight, and lands at the earliest opportunity so the Doctor can try to effect repairs. The scanner shows that the TARDIS has landed in medieval England, complete with a mythical hunter who stalks the locals “when their time comes.” If that isn’t strange enough, evidence of energy weapons and robotics are barely hidden from view as well. The locals are instantly suspicious of the time travelers, especially when the Doctor decides to take up the cause of freeing them from the terror that stalks the land. But the Doctor and Peri are in too deep before they discover that it isn’t land, and it’s not inhabited by locals… and that the hunter is among the least of their problems.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Howard Gossington (Gurth), John Banks (Herne the Hunter), Beth Chalmers (Althya), Jamie Parker (Wulfric), Derek Carlyle (Siward)
Notes: Leviathan was written by the late Brian Finch (1936-2007), who had a strong connection with Colin Baker’s career – he was a frequent writer of The Brothers, the early 1970s prime time soap which Baker joined as its chief villain halfway through the series’ run. (Baker’s stint as unscrupulous banker Paul Merroney was his claim to fame prior to Doctor Who.) Leviathan was originally submitted for season 22, not the cancelled season 23, but Finch’s son, also a writer, pitched the script to Big Finish just as they were about to wrap production on the planned Lost Stories releases, leading to the mysterious lack of announcements about which titles were forthcoming in that range.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A pleasant surprise in the Lost Stories range, Leviathan is a story about which I knew nothing prior to hearing it, which makes it the exception rather than the rule. And it turns out that Leviathan fits in very well with the ethos of Colin Baker’s era – a solid attempt at high-concept science fiction with a distinctly British twist in the form of its setting. As most of the cast and behind-the-scenes talent involved with Leviathan readily admits in the bonus interview tracks, Leviathan actually benefitted from having to wait to be produced by Big Finish instead of the budget-addled mid-1980s BBC.
The cast really seems to relish the densely-packed and occasionally (and intentionally) misleading script. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a very heavily reworked version of a script which was originally very visual. One can only imagine that the original TV scripts were probably written with lavish location filming, a la the first season of Blackadder, in mind; it’s just as likely that the end result on Doctor Who’s strangled mid-1980s budget would have been disappointing. The adaptation carries with it some mild modernization, in the form of mild expletives (i.e. “what the hell is that?”) that wouldn’t be out of place in the revived series, but does sound a little odd when it’s coming from Peri.
The extras are very interesting this time around, focusing on the unlikely last-minute addition of Leviathan to the Lost Stories lineup, and the major rewriting that Paul Finch had to do to bring the story into line with a less visual medium than TV. With the heartfelt admission that Leviathan finally gave Paul a shared writing credit with his late father, the bonus interviews have a storyline and an emotional arc of their own – two stories for the price of one, really. Highly recommended.