Klein’s Story: The Doctor is curious as to how Klein went from the future to Colditz Castle, the first time he encountered her. He learns of an alternate Doctor’s grisly fate, and the very precise guidance of a young man named Johann Schmidt in helping Klein learn how to control the fallen Doctor’s TARDIS. And Klein learns, to her alarm, that the Doctor has been pulling the strings of her life all along.
Survival Of The Fittest: The Doctor and Klein arrive on a planet whose native insect population, the Vrill, has been decimated by chemical weapons. The time travelers split up, with Klein following the trail of clues back to the mercenary humans who prey upon this planet’s populace, while the Doctor discovers that even chasing the humans away may not stave off the insects’ doom due to the tightly-regimented nature of their society. But in sparring with the genocidal humans, who claim to be eradicating pests in advance to make much-needed space for a human colony, Klein has a revelation about the nature of many of the perils that the Doctor faces… and decides to take the TARDIS for herself.
Survival Of The Fittest Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Tracey Childs (Elizabeth Klein), Adrian Bower (Steffen), Hannah Smith (Rose), Evie Dawnay (Lilly), Mark Donovan (Jackson), Alex Mallinson (The Carrion)
Klein’s Story Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Tracey Childs (Elizabeth Klein), Rupert Wickham (Faber), Paul McGann (Johann Schmidt)
Notes: Klein’s Story is a single-part story which tries to reconcile various loose ends left dangling in Klein’s first audio appearance, Colditz (2001). In Survival Of The Fittest, the Vrill race communicates by smell, which may be a sly reference to the decidedly outside-of-accepted-canon charity spoof The Curse Of Fatal Death (1999), in which an alternate ninth Doctor played by Rowan Atkinson had to communicate via the “carefully modulated breaking of wind”. There’s no indication that this story involves any such summoning of the posterior winds. This was the finish Big Finish release to pair a three-part story with a single-part secondary story, and the only occasion upon which the single-part story presented before the “main feature” in the CD track order.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Survival Of The Fittest is an interesting tale, but it may be all the more fascinating for its meta-text. Klein’s betrayal at the end of the story comes about because she recognizes that the Doctor’s future is filled with fascism. In whatever form or upon whatever world it arises, the Doctor fights fascism in form or another with alarming frequency. The analogies have seldom been subtle (see the Daleks, all the way back to their earliest appearance, or Genesis Of The Daleks, in which the BBC costume department issues Nyder with an Iron Cross before revoking it without explanation halfway through the six-parter). And even bringing Doctor Who into the modern age hasn’t shaken off this odd compulsion: Colditz, the story which introduced Klein in 2001, was referenced in the following seventh Doctor story, The Rapture, in which Ace said she was sick of dealing with Nazis. Which she should be – Ace was menaced by Nazis in audio form (Colditz), in the New Adventures novels (Timewyrm: Exodus), and all of these media have provided modern descendants of fascism, or self-appointed would-be Nazis, for the Doctor and Ace to fight (The Happiness Patrol, The Fearmonger, the list goes on…). And the ultimate expression of the Doctor as an anti-hero, a process started on TV and completed in print, was the seventh Doctor taking on an “ends-justify-the-means” attitude.
Is Doctor Who obsessed with Naziism? Perhaps. The modern television series can’t even let it go, though enough time has passed that they’re ready to joke about it by making wisecracks about Hitler in the closet (Let’s Kill Hitler) and a feel-good-but-light-headed tribute to the British war effort (Victory Of The Daleks). But perhaps this is a topic that Doctor Who was fated to tackle, over and over, simply because of when the series concept was born. Doctor Who premiered on television fewer than 20 years after the end of World War II. Numerous major figures in the show’s history are inextricably linked to WWII: Patrick Troughton commanding a gunboat. Jon Pertwee washing out of the Navy. Dalek creator Terry Nation being narrowly missed by a German bomb when he was a baby in a crib. Such experiences among those tasked with creating or interpreting the Doctor’s adventures cannot help but inform the fabric from which the entire series is woven, in any medium.
With time and distance, it’s become safe to seek the humor in the topic. In fewer than fifty years, Doctor Who had gone from cautionary tales about trying to genetically engineer a master race (The Daleks and their entire storyline) to Rory flattening the Fuhrer with a mean right hook (Let’s Kill Hitler again). With almost-impossibly-ahead-of-their-time stories such as The Fearmonger‘s warning about ultra-right-wing political talk radio idealogues stirring up familiar old us-vs.-them sentiments that sow the seeds of fascism by way of racism, however, maybe Doctor Who should never stop fighting the fascists. Wherever and whenever they arise.
Klein’s Story serves as a somewhat talky epilogue to Colditz, closing off all of that story’s sequel-ready loopholes and dangling threads, and featuring a surprise appearance by Paul McGann as a mysterious, long-haired young man named Johann Schmidt, popping up out of nowhere in German-occupied Britain with an almost suspicious amount of knowledge about the workings of the TARDIS. This in itself raises some really interesting questions about regeneration: since Klein’s Story gives us an alternate regeneration from the seventh Doctor to the eighth (though still by means of automatic weapons fire), does this mean that the Doctor’s future selves, their appearances and their personalities, are genetically encoded from birth? In other words, in whatever universe or timeline, is Sylvester McCoy always going to regenerate into Paul McGann, no matter what? How much sway do external influences (such as, for example, spectrox toxaemia greatly affecting the fifth Doctor’s regeneration into his sixth self) have on the process, if any?
Klein’s Story provides no answers to these questions, but they’re at least interesting to ponder.