The latest Doctor Who Early Adventures story from Big Finish is The Outliers, a second Doctor story with Frazer Hines voicing both the Doctor and Jamie, with Anneke Wills as Polly and Elliot Chapman as Ben Jackson. This set of actors is now well established as a group and it’s yet another polished performance, directed by Lisa Bowerman and even though supported by only a few others, still fills like a big story, even if it is set in a rather claustrophobic story of underground dwellings, floods, alien life and corporate greed.
Writer Simon Guerrier has captured both the feel of the time (aided by some great sound work and music from Toby Hrycek-Robinson) and given some more modern motivations to the antagonists. There are some familiar ideas, with the Doctor pretending to be a government inspector, a threat hidden in the shadows and the basest of human motives, leading the listener (not for the first time) to wonder in the end who the real enemies are. Jamie and Ben get to be heroic while Polly gets to infiltrate the inner workings of the human organisation. Simon Guerrier builds his plot carefully while allowing for plenty of character and several well worked scenes of underworld exploration.
As the story progresses, the new characters develop into well-rounded forms. The most obvious villain of the piece is Richard Tipple (Alistair Petrie) but he is not as one-dimensional as he first appears, nor is his assistant Chatura Sharma (Matilda Zeigler). Chatura is torn between loyalty, her own success and desiring to do ‘the right thing’. As is often the case it takes the arrival of the TARDIS crew for her to realise just what that right thing is.
At its heart the story does echo the classic Star Trek story The Devil in the Dark [silicon alien creatures called Horta on a mine planet] but its focus is spread evenly between alien threat and human failings.
It’s another solid release in a range fast becoming as essential as the monthly releases.