The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) is back, and all you need to know is the action continues from the finale of the previous set of four boxsets, Doom Coalition. At the end of that series, the Doctor and companion Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) were about to set out on a quest for missing (possibly dead) companion Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan), last seen in the company of Time Lord villain The Eleven (Mark Bonnar). Cue action, music and the first four stories in the new range, Ravenous.
Writer John Dorney penned the first two stories, which stall the hunt for Helen with a visit to World War II in Their Finest Hour, followed by an offbeat tale, How To Make A Killing In Time Travel.
First up we get a full-cast Churchill story, with Ian McNeice bemused by meeting Liv, who has little idea who he is. There are super-weapons and plenty of aerial action on the edge of the Battle of Britain. A great tale and a good use of Churchill.
The second story has a great range of characters populating the Scapegrace space station, with Christopher Ryan (The Young Ones) as security lead Macy, and the wonderfully named Cornelius Morningstar (Roger May) as the Doctor needs to shut down some time travel experiments blocking the search for Helen. Event escalate but all the way through there’s a vein of dry humour played out by Christopher Ryan.
Matt Fitton wrote the final two stories, World Of Damnation and Sweet Salvation. In this two-part tale, not only do the Doctor and Liv find Helen and The Eleven, but the Doctor also gets reunited with a foe from a past adventure – The Kandyman, played by Nicholas Rowe. The Kandyman suffers from none of the visual problems he had when show as a Bertia Bassett sweet monster in the seventh Doctor story The Happiness Patrol, and here he is sinister and menacing, just as he should be. It’s a dark pair of stories, examining manipulation of society, very topical at the moment. There’s also plenty of intrigue and a great performance by Pippa Bennett-Warner (who has delivered some good performances in several recent Big Finish releases).
As a set, Ravenous 1 doesn’t quite tread the path fans might have expected. The first two stories could almost have been presented at another stage in the eighth Doctor’s career, whereas the final two rush through any sense of a quest for Helen, and really focus on getting The Eleven back into play and pointing at the big bad for the rest of the series – The Ravenous itself. Nevertheless it’s four enjoyable stories, with Liv Chenka fast becoming a TARDIS favourite.