Big Finish has decided to change up the way they deliver the Companion Chronicles range; by releasing box sets focussing on the earliest Doctors. This week, Big Finish brought out a box set comprising of four stories from the Second Doctor’s era. Today, we review the second story of four, The Story of Extinction!
Civilisations rise and fall – and few planets have seen this happen more often than Amyrndaa. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria join a survey team to find out why on the planet where everything is suited to creating life, nothing lives for long…
I do love it when a story has a pre-title sequence in Big Finish audios; I’m not sure why, but I just do. The music that opened this episode was so dainty and floral in a way (I’m not sure how music can be considered floral, but it just seemed like that’s how I should describe it) that it really highlighted how tranquil and still Doctor Who can be. Of course we all know, it won’t last.
Jamie is seemingly again the star of the show; which isn’t a bad thing at all, I rather like Jamie. The TARDIS gang, consisting of the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are soon greeted on Amryndaa by aliens bringing welcome packs. What sinister beings they are. It seems that Amryndaa is the destination of an archaeological dig (I did wonder if there’s either a certain Bernice Summerfield or a River Song may be present, I must admit) and the Doctor with his expertise is more than welcome.
For the second time in as many stories in this release, Jamie gets a nice tender scene with a fellow companion, this time Victoria, as he asks her if she will help him learn to read. It’s a shame that the TV series didn’t really have the time or the idea to focus more on the regular cast instead of the monster of the week, as these moments between the companions really make you fall in love with them all over again.
The revelation that this planet populates a beastie is hardly a surprise; an adventure where the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria visit a planet which is being analysed by archeologists and nothing happens would both be a highly unlikely and rather dull story. The monsters that are seemingly hiding on Amryndaa are so sinister sounding that the Doctor decides to keep Jamie and Victoria safe in the TARDIS. I love it when the Doctor remembers to his companions safety the upmost importance.
The cliffhanger of the first episode of The Story of Extinction wasn’t really that much of a surprise; the Doctor has many, many rules for his companions, and there’s one rule that each companion seems to frequently ignore…
The second episode opens up exactly where the first left off and answers most of the questions that the previous cliffhanger asked. I think that if I had had a break in between listening to the first and the second episode, it would have felt like much more of a payoff; however, if you listen to the whole story in one sitting like I did, I think you may find it ever so slightly lacklustre.
It’s strange to imagine that in a story set between 1967-1968 that would feature a concept that is basically an eReader, yet thanks to Big Finish producing stories in that time period today, it’s much easier to use these concepts in the stories, allowing for a greater breadth of content.
At it’s essence, The Story of Extinction is basically the Second Doctor era does ‘Alien’, which is both brilliant to hear and even more brilliant to imagine. Whilst the Doctor and his team begin to try and work out who can control the parchment, we get a great line from Jamie which just reminds you how out of his comfort zone he is. “They were talking to someone called Di Agnostics. Funny how you can be galaxies and galaxies from Britain, and still run into a Welshman.” Ian Atkins may have just written my favourite line from Jamie ever. Well done.
Yet again, it’s interesting how the writer of this Companion Chronicle, Ian Atkins, uses both companions to tell the same story. In The Age of Extinction, it seems that Jamie is telling the story in the present, whereas Victoria is telling it from the future, looking back at past events. It’s a really interesting concept, as Jamie can provide instant analysis of a situation, and Victoria is there to provide hindsight.
One character that I’ve purposefully not mentioned up until this point is Celci, a ‘Face’. In the future, a Face is a person that is looked at, kind of like a celebrity or a person of influence, but they have a counter on a mask which shows them how many people are looking at them. It’s a really interesting and rather dark concept, that I felt deserves a story by itself as it’s so complex and different. I hope Ian Atkins gets a chance to write more about Faces.
I said earlier in the review that The Story of Extinction is very much like Alien, and my comparison is further justified when the parchment begins to act a lot like the Face-huggers…
The revelation of the cause of the extinction is so blindingly obvious, that I have to admit I almost kicked myself for not working it out sooner. The saying ‘You can’t see the wood for the trees’ has never been more relevant to me whilst listening to a Big Finish production.
Overall, The Story of Extinction is a great story with lots of really interesting concepts, most of which I feel like should be explored further in the future. The Story of Extinction proves that not all story’s have an ending that is as fair as it should be. Luckily, we end the story with Victoria in a beautiful moment of reflection, which really is the icing on the cake. God I love things that are somewhat bittersweet.
Should you want to purchase The Second Doctor Volume One, it’s currently available as a four disc box set for £20.00 or as a download from Big Finish for £15.00 which you can purchase here.