September 2018’s Big Finish Doctor Who main range release is The Dispossessed. Written by Mark Morris, it’s a gripping seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) tale, with both Mel (Bonnie Langford) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) as companions. What makes this particularly enjoyable are both the setting and the characters, all of which feel well-conceived and innovative.
It can be reduced down to some basic elements. A villain in the form of Arkallax (Nick Ellsworth) with unusual powers and lord of a world forever night. There’s another force in the form of Isobel (Stirling Gallacher) and people caught up in events beyond their control (two young people on the edge of society, Jan (Anna Mitcham) and Ruck (Morgan Watkins)). Each of these is written and performed to bring out the most of each as the Doctor and friends wander an alien landscape with more than a hint of menace and horror.
The setting is both alien and, in some ways, fantastical. For a change Ace and Mel wander off together, giving us very contrasting reactions to a world that makes less sense the more it is explored. There are many elements that could, with different emphasis, make this a dark horror, instead it’s about a strange, cruel world in which real people are drawn and attempt to make sense of the surreal.
There are comedy moments, as well as drama, plus some twists (of course). It’s all very well done, memorable and a nice turn of style. Every single performer (under the direction of Jamie Anderson) delivers with real skill, and the characters could easily be revisited in future releases. Add to this the music and sound design of Joe Kraemer and Josh Arkelian and this story could easily find a home in season 26 of the original show.
The Dispossessed is a long overdue return to the range for writer Mark Morris (whose most recent release was Moonflesh in 2014). Let’s hope we hear more from him again, and sooner!