The TARDIS arrives in Devon, 1977, near the grounds of an estate called the Grange. The Doctor’s arrival coincides with the latest in a series of unexplainable appearances of highwaymen from the past, terrorizing the locals. With all of the apparitions centering around the Grange, the Doctor decides to pay the lord of the manor a visit, only to find an uncooperative butler (named Butler) covering for the enigmatic Lord Jalnik. Suspecting that Jalnik is exploiting a weakness in the time vortex, the Doctor continues his investigation despite Jalnik offering some deadly deterrents. With a local girl named Charlotte in tow, the Doctor and Leela follow Jalnik’s trail of mystery to Devon in the distant future, finding the human race on the edge of extinction. The last of the human race regards Jalnik as a savior for his mad plan to open an escape route to the past. The Doctor realizes that Jalnik is also the cause of their predicament, and that he intends to move up the timetable for humanity’s extinction to the 20th century.
Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Paul Freeman (Jalnik), Louise Brealey (Charlotte), John Green (Butler), Blake Ritson (Instructor Shibac), Mark Goldthorp (Constable Burrows), Philip Pope (Father Harpin), Jaimi Barbakoff (Supreme Councillor Geflo), Dan Starkey (Historiographer Osin), Camilla Power (Councillor Kostal)
Notes: The Foe From The Future was commissioned an written for a six-episode slot in season 14, but was deemed impossible to produce with the budget constraints on hand. Elements of the story were reused in a completely new replacement script written in a rush by script editor Robert Holmes, which became the all-time fan favorite The Talons Of Weng-Chiang. Guest star Paul Freeman has also dabbled in forces beyond his control as Belloq in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, while Dan Starkey’s Doctor Who resume includes numerous Sontaran roles in both the new TV series and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Much like Valley Of Death, Foe From The Future is how I wish all of the Tom Baker Big Finish audios were: full-blooded, full-length adventures that feel and sound like the appropriate epoch in the series’ history. Foe takes me back to the beginning of my obsession with Doctor Who, pitched perfectly with both seriousness and silliness.
I’m a bit of a minority in that I’ve never been one of the fans who rate Weng-Chiang up there with the all-time greats; I’m more likely to confer that status upon its immediate predecessor, The Robots Of Death. The notion that Foe could’ve been prouced for TV in Weng-Chiang‘s slot is an intriguing one, though the scope of the story is such that I can see where Foe, on TV, might not have become the universally loved classic that Weng-Chiang has become.
Key to Foe‘s success as an audio story is the cast, and Paul Freeman and John Green clearly relish their roles as Foe‘s chief evildoers. It’s a fine line to walk to make a lot of noise about destroying the world without going blatantly over the top, and Freeman manages to walk that tightrope through much of the story. Butler is a delightfully sinister character who goes mad as the story progresses, after starting out with a name befitting his job description. Sherlock’s Louise Brealey anchors the other end of the main cast as the Doctor and Leela’s chief human ally.
Leela may well be the chief beneficiary of the Baker-era Lost Stories releases, as she’s frankly getting more to say and do that’s “in character” for her primitive-but-noble code of honor than the TV series ever gave her. There’s a point in the story where we’re led to believe that Leela has gone to her death, but she returns, magnificent and indomitable and in a way that almost fits Xena: Warrior Princess better than it does Doctor Who, and yet it works because it’s Leela. While Tom Baker is busy being Tom Baker in these releases, it’s Louise Jameson who’s really getting to shine.
The Foe From The Future could’ve been an incredible TV adventure, though its end-of-the-season slot in the schedule probably would’ve made it a very budget-addled TV adventure. In a way, it’s better for it to have waited for Big Finish, rather than the BBC, to bring it to life. This one’s a must-listen for those wanting that mid ’70s Baker-era vibe back.