Big Finish recorded Shadow of the Sun entirely in lockdown, and released it as well — something for which they should be congratulated. It’s a Fourth Doctor tale, with Leela and K9 in the TARDIS as it lands on a luxury star-liner. For once the only threat is conversation over canapés and cocktails — what could go wrong?
No fun in the Shadow of the Sun
After another TARDIS mishap, the Doctor, Leela and K9 explore their latest landing point. Aided by the over friendly autopilot (Barnaby Edwards) they find a cocktail party. Robert Valentine’s script contrasts the Doctor with Leela. Small talk is not one of Leela’s life skills covers it nicely.
We soon realise all is not well with the ship; while the first officer tries to control events, his captain is mostly at a loss. Regardless, the ship is headed for the sun and certain destruction. Of course, the Doctor and Leela seek to warn everybody, but nobody cares. The passengers’ focus is refreshments and the words of Dr Suleiman Zorn (Paul Herzberg); inevitable incineration is dismissed out of hand.
While the Doctor determines just what is happening, we have the standard mix of corridors, threats to life, a 2001 inspired moment and more cocktails. The Doctor does gain one ally — Lady Malina Rigel-Smythe (Fenella Woolgar), but still they keep approaching the sun. Can the Doctor triumph in every adventure? Is it too late? The joy is finding out. This is very enjoyable indeed.
The resolution is spot on and the story captures some of the flavour of our time, pointing out some of the flaws of popular opinion. Inevitably, Shadow of the Sun will be remembered for its lockdown creation, which is a shame. The effort to record a full-cast drama and take it through post-production in lockdown, is no small thing, but this is also a decent story. Originally intended for release in 2024 (and we’d like to know just how many more Tom Baker stories are recorded!), the good news is we can listen to it now.
Tom Baker, Louise Jameson and John Leeson all sound as though they recorded in studio and the usual quality cover and sound design / music make this is as professional a release as any. Our only complaint is it might have been interesting to tell this tale over a longer format and to give Leela and K9 something more substantial to do in an otherwise linear story.
Doctor Who: Shadow of the Sun is available now from the Big Finish website.