As the post-War Games Second Doctor continues to work for the Time Lords, he’s reunited with his former travelling companion – the hairy-legged highlander James Robert McCrimmon.
Across three 2-part stories, the pair take on missions for the Time Lords including an undercover visit to a health resort and a planet shrouded in darkness.
Jamie McCrimmon’s reintroduction to the Doctor’s world is deftly told by range producer Mark Wright. However, it’s not the first time in extended Doctor Who media that the character has appeared in a life after travelling with the Doctor – it’s not even the first time on Big Finish – and this story cleverly acknowledges that fact.
The story begins as Jamie lies unwell, incarcerated in the gaol of Edinburgh Castle. It’s 1776, but his fevered dreams take him all over – from travels with the Doctor, to being “mad old Jamie” and even the Laird of McCrimmon. He’s tended to by the kindly Elen but is under the care of Dr James Breck.
Meanwhile, the Doctor arrives in the city with his Time Lord handler in tow. Soon, he’s investigating a spate of murders with Raven watching on…
With multiple threads, Jamie is a tale which demands a second listen to fully appreciate. It certainly puts Frazer Hines through his paces, playing multiple iterations of his character. In the guest cast, Daisy Ashford’s Elen is worlds away from her other Big Finish role, while Alec Newman impresses as the strait-laced Dr Breck.
The Green Man
Set sometime later, after the pair have completed various missions for Raven, Jamie and the Doctor demand a rest. She acquiesces, sending them undercover at an exclusive, if very empty, health resort. The Grove on Florestus Prime as where the super-rich head for rehabilitation, but there’s a missing Time Lord to locate before they can relax.
Paul F Verhoeven’s tale takes inspiration from ‘Rear Window’, with an incapacitated Doctor spying on a fellow resident – the Green Man of the title.
With Nigel Havers guesting as the entertaining Overseer Fuller, The Grove’s Chief of Medicine, this is a fun little thriller which delivers a surprising twist. It also provides plenty of opportunity for comedic interactions between our two heroes.
We particularly enjoyed the montage of previous missions at the start, which also served to place their impossible appearance from last year’s Third Doctor tale ‘The Annihilators’.
The final story in the set surrounds the fate of the planet Ninevah. A human colony, it becomes the target of an alien invasion – covered in darkness due to a space bound superweapon, the colonists find themselves at the mercy of the ‘squids’.
When the Doctor and Jamie arrive, the find themselves stuck in the middle of the conflict with no idea of what their mission is.
Bob Ayres’ story is compelling, with the time travellers granted sight (of sorts) due to the clever application of technology. There’s more going on here than initially appears, and its surprisingly complex and satisfying for a two-part tale – in fact, the premise could have easily worked across a four-parter.
Again, there’s a hardworking guest cast performing multiple roles, with plenty of involving action sequences.
Frazer Hines’ Jamie was such a staple of the Second Doctor’s tenure on television, joining the show in Troughton’s second tale, that they feel like a natural fit. That said, the instances of them together without other companions were rare, so it’s fun to explore the dynamic too. We were already enjoying Michael Troughton’s take on the Doctor but reuniting them adds another dimension – like slotting in a puzzle piece. Together, there’s palpable chemistry – that’s something ‘The Green Man’ delivers on particularly.
Of course, there’s a third regular in this new line-up: Raven. Emma Noakes continues to shine as the Doctor’s devious spymaster, who’s just the right side of over-the-top. We also got further hints to her character and personality here, with a few chinks in the armour.
Tonally, these three stories are all quite different. From the historical-set, multi-layered structure of ‘Jamie’, to the comedic notes of ‘The Green Man’ and the darker, action movie style of ‘The Shroud’, it proves there’s ample scope for this double act. The set ends on a promise of further adventures, which we’re very much looking forward to.
Doctor Who: The Second Doctor Adventures – James Robert McCrimmon is available on CD and download from Big Finish.