Her Final Flight

Doctor Who: Her Final FlightA diversion in the time vortex throws the TARDIS off course, toward a rough landing on a distant backwater world. The Doctor steps out of the doors and almost immediately blacks out. When he comes to, he is stunned to find that he is being tended to by Peri, who he hasn’t seen since the ill-timed intervention of the Time Lords whisked him away for his trial and left her helpless – 19 years ago in her personal history. She escaped her situation and obtained a spacecraft, but it crash-landed here months ago. She also claims that the Doctor was found unconscious after falling off of a mountain ledge. To make matters worse, the TARDIS has been confiscated by the local religious leader, who has placed it in the village temple and claims it is the vessel of the villagers’ goddess. When the Doctor finally gains access to that temple – normally denied to those not instructed in the local faith – he’s horrified to see that the TARDIS’ outer shell has been critically damaged, leaking chronon radiation and causing deadly time distortions. The only way the Doctor may be able to save this society – and Peri – is to give up his travels and set the TARDIS to self-destruct…assuming the villagers will let him.

written by Julian Shortman
directed by Gary Russell
music by David Darlington
chants composed by Julian Shortman

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Steven Bugdale (The Agent), Jonathan Owen (Hamiyun), Heather Tracy (Rashaa), Conrad Westmaas (Damus)

Choir: St. James’s Singers

Timeline: after Mindwarp and before Time and the Rani

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Doctor WhoReview: An interesting departure from the norm, this is Big Finish’s annual “subscriber-only” CD (a la The Maltese Penguin), released as a single CD in December 2004 alongside the final Paul McGann “season” story, The Next Life. And where McGann’s story is a six-part epic, this is a mere two-parter (though two longer-than-usual parts, clocking in at around 38 minutes each – or, to put it in perspective, just seven minutes short of the running time of an average installment of the new series starring Christopher Eccleston). And there’s something appealing about that brevity. I’ve criticized Big Finish’s writers for padding things a bit too much from time to time, though whether by design or by judicious script-editing, Her Final Flight has just enough story for two episodes, and fills them both nicely.

Doctor Who: Her Final FlightThe listener gets manipulated a lot in this story, right down to a bit of a red herring near the end, but that’s okay – the Doctor’s being manipulated too, though we just don’t know by whom or why. The tantalizing premise that the sixth Doctor might run into an older, wiser, more independent Peri years later was most promising – given that both Big Finish and Colin Baker tend to place that Doctor’s adventures in the character’s more mellowed-out, post-Trial Of A Time Lord phase, this could’ve been an interesting reboot of their relationship, which was miserably handled by the writers of the TV series. (If a TV episode came up short, the writers or script editor almost inevitably inserted an argument scene between the two that led one to question why they were traveling together at all.) A most interesting idea. Baker and Nicola Bryant seemed to relish the opportunity as well, if their performances are anything to judge by; another cast member to listen for is Conrad Westmaas, who plays TARDIS traveler C’rizz in the eighth Doctor stories.

Oh, and this story triggered another memory for me as well – a Doctor Who comic book, scripted by Colin Baker himself, which also tells the story of the sixth Doctor encountering Peri many years later. Without giving the game away, I’ll just say that the comic and this audio story don’t necessarily conflict with each other. They don’t conflict with each other at all, in fact.