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Doctor Who: Relative DimensionsDetermined to make amends for the Christmas that he ruined for her in 2009 – the Christmas that made her decide to leave the TARDIS – the Doctor offers to provide Lucie with a more relaxed Yuletide holiday, taking her to Earth’s future to celebrate with his family for a change. Susan Campbell, still helping to rebuild the Earth and raising her son Alex, is surprised to see the TARDIS show up on schedule. For his part, Alex is still coming to grips with the fact that his mother is an “alien,” and his great-grandfather travels through time and space in a police box. As Lucie dives headfirst into preparations for a perfect Christmas, Susan’s fears about Alex’s future come to the surface: she’s worried that he’ll want to travel with the Doctor instead of staying on Earth to take part in the reconstruction effort. And deep in the TARDIS, something dating back to Susan’s travels with the first Doctor is about to crash the party.

Order this CDwritten by Marc Platt
directed by Barnaby Edwards
music by Jamie Robertson

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Campbell), Jake McGann (Alex Campbell)

Notes: The airborne fish creature that inhabits Susan’s old room in the TARDIS was picked up – in its infant form – by a much younger Susan in the Big Finish Companion Chronicles story Quinnis, which is set even before An Unearthly Child. The Doctor apparently keeps his former comapnions’ rooms “on file” in the depths of the TARDIS, and many of them are name-checked – though interestingly, the names mentioned include only former television companions rather than any companions who have appeared only in Big Finish audios (with the exception of the recently-departed Tamsin).

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: With the Christmas-themed (but dark and melodramatic) Death In Blackpool, Big Finish appropriated the new TV series’ “annual Christmas special” tradition, and with Relative Dimensions that tradition becomes as valid a part of Big Finish lore as it is part of the television revival.

There’s a slight problem: those who missed out on the 2009 subscriber freebie story An Earthly Child are likely to be utterly lost here. It’s not that Relative Dimensions refers back to it much, but it served as the point of introduction for Alex, the Doctor’s great-grandson (once again played very well by Jake McGann). His decisions and motivations stem directly from what we learned about him in An Earthly Child, almost as if Big Finish forgot that it was the previous year’s giveaway story.

There are other tenuous links as well, such as the mentions of Susan’s travels with the first Doctor in the Companion Chronicles story Quinnis. This reference is really added for flavor more than anything, and there’s nothing in the Quinnis reference that’s mission-critical – we just hear that Susan went there once.

One thing Relative Dimensions does share with Death In Blackpool is its melodramatic tone, though here it’s kept to a low, sub-soap-opera boil; most of the melodrama here comes from the usual “family tension” sources of drama that plague anybody’s Christmas preparations and get-togethers, Time Lord or otherwise. Susan is worried that the Doctor will tempt Alex away to travel in the TARDIS, while the Doctor is concerned that so very little Gallifreyan blood courses through Alex’s veins. And Lucie fusses over dinner while everyone else worries about just getting along – a typical family Christmas.

This may well be Carole Ann Ford’s strongest Big Finish audio yet; the continued exploration of Susan after life with the Doctor is fascinating, and Big Finish seems to have a better handle on it than the BBC Books novels of the late ’90s did.

And on one final note: a special Christmas episode with fish that fly through the air instead of swimming through water? Did Big Finish coordinate this with the BBC?