Doctor Who Review: Storm Warning (2001)

BF016
(Click for Big Finish website)

Basics:
Doctor: Eighth (Paul McGann)
Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher)
Written by: Alan Barnes
Released: January 2001
Release Number: 16

Need to Know:
The Eighth Doctor was introduced in the 1996 TV movie, a backdoor pilot for American audiences. It was the first attempt to revive the series since the 1989 cancellation of the original series. Sadly, it failed and Doctor Who was off of the airwaves until 2005’s new series, featuring the Ninth Doctor, premiered. But the Eighth Doctor didn’t just languish, forgotten, in the in-between.

Like the Seventh Doctor, during the so-called Wilderness Years, the Eighth led new adventures in novel form. But in 2001, Big Finish brought Paul McGann back to the title role in a series of brand-new audio adventures, featuring a new companion, new enemies, and a new arrangement of the classic Doctor Who theme music.

Now, into adventure!

Review:
Paul McGann settles quickly into the role of the Eighth Doctor, making bold pronouncements and delivering lines with gusto. As enjoyable as novel adventures are, there’s nothing like hearing the man himself saying instantly classic lines, like the great speech he delivers towards the end of the first part of this story. The Eighth Doctor isn’t the sinister Seventh, the bombastic Sixth, or the tame Fifth. He’s a joyful adventurer, a Byronic poet, and shameless name-dropper. Plus, in audio form, McGann doesn’t have to wear that terrible wig.

India Fisher makes her debut as companion Charlotte “Charley” Pollard in this adventure too. I may have mentioned this in the past, but I’ve always preferred companions who aren’t the usual “modern-day girl” and Charley is a perfect example of a past-era companion who works for me. She’s an “Edwardian adventuress,” but as the story begins she’s just a stewardess on the airship R101. Seeing the evolution of the character from wannabe adventurer to time-travelling companion is a hell of a journey and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

The story itself is a pitch-perfect way to start a new series of Doctor Who. There’s time-travelling shenanigans, deadly villains, time-eating pteranodons, and Edwardian airships. It’s a cool distillation of the Jules Verne-in-the-future sensibilities that the TV movie gave to the Eighth Doctor. This story also gets bonus point for dealing with the idea of a paradox better than some episodes of the TV series. Its a great stand-alone serial, but it also introduces myth-arc elements that will carry into future Eight/Charley adventures.

Should I Buy It?
If my review hasn’t been clear, yes. Storm Warning is a great introduction, a great story, but most of all, it’s a great adventure!

I give it five vortisaurs out of five!

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