Hot on the heels of September’s release, All Hands On Deck is another tale set at the eve of the Time War, featuring the Eighth Doctor as he seeks to ensure one of his companion’s safety.
While A Heart On Both Sides featured the Doctor incognito, the former TARDIS traveller he visits in this story is one whom we presume would recognise him regardless of his appearance – his granddaughter Susan.
Now Susan has some track record at Big Finish, with Carole Ann Ford having reprised her role towards the end of the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller stories. Writer Eddie Robson does not address these events directly, but instead visits her at a point after them, where she cuts a rather lonely figure; a resident of 22nd century London, Susan Campbell helps to protect her adoptive home in the aftermath of the second Dalek invasion by trying to make salvaged Dalek technology work for humanity. It places her in a very Doctorly role which seems rather appropriate, as Susan is far from the teenager the Doctor left behind both in age and hard-earned experience.
Having Susan live at the former Coal Hill School was a lovely touch (presumably the old building survived the Academy status indignities grafted onto it for Class), and it offered the opportunity for a few lovely remembrances and some insights into her time there as a student.
For spoilers’ sake we will gloss over the details, but suffice to say that there are a couple of fascinating and amusing dilemmas presented before the tale reveals its hand. We felt brilliantly teased with the mysteries as they developed, and when it got down to business, the story grappled with a pivotal question that fans have been wondering since the new series returned – and delivered an answer with appropriate gusto… as well as surely begging for more.
We have enjoyed both of these Short Trips, curtain raisers for the new ‘The Eighth Doctor – The Time War’ series which also kicks off this month, and cannot help but wonder if we might be treated to a few more at some point, as there are plenty of other friends and companions from the Doctor’s travels who the war must have impacted