We’re nearly at the end of the Fourth Doctor’s fifth series of Big Finish adventures; there’s only a two parter left. The Pursuit of History is the first story in this two parter, but will it be a pursuit that goes down in the history books, or will it… not? (These are hard okay?)
On a brisk winter’s morning in 1850s Yorkshire, Cuthbert, head of the intergalactic business known as ‘The Conglomerate’ prepares to hijack a very special train.
In the far future, his assistant, Mr Dorrick is awoken by howling alarms. There is a problem with the Quantum Gateway.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor, Romana and K9 detect strange distortions in the Vortex, an energy stream coming from a strange creature called a Laan.
The threads of a plan centuries in the making are coming together. But who is behind this plan? And can anyone possibly escape when history is against them?
Us Yorkshire folk are great aren’t we? We’ll do anything to make a quick quid apparently, especially in the 1850’s and especially when there’s a special train involved. It’s very special. Special.
Whilst the Yorkshiremen are busy waiting for their special train, Romana and K9 are investigating the depths of the TARDIS, searching for an avian life form that the Doctor refuses to talk about. The avian does mention the Brigadier, so he’s obviously been in the TARDIS a while. Within the first nine minutes, you really do get a sense as to just how nonsensical the Fourth Doctor’s era really is. This script by Nicholas Briggs really fits in.
Not everything can be silly though, as there’s something shooting through the vortex that shouldn’t be, and the Doctor’s TARDIS seems to be about to collide with it. If, like me, you’re unfamiliar with the Fourth Doctor’s adventures with Big Finish (I only just started with this series really, but I intend to catch up) then the inclusion of the Laan might be somewhat jarring. I know enough about them from the cover of War Against The Laan that I can visualise them though. Big white space whales.
The Doctor and K9 seemingly lose Romana though, as she might be sailing through the vortex, unprotected. That can’t be good. Luckily for the lost Romana, the Doctor will be with her in ‘a pigs whisper’. According to the internet, a pigs whisper is ever so slightly longer than a jiffy. Don’t say that GallifreyArchive isn’t educational as well as informative!
Our favourite scarf-wearing Time Lord and his tin dog are seemingly dragged to Yorkshire in 1859 (How can anyone be dragged to Yorkshire? Dragged makes it seem involuntary) on the search for their lost companion. The Doctor however, has found himself on a train with a familiar face nearby…
Meanwhile, Romana is busy attempting to assist a group of aliens that sounded a lot like Richmond from The IT Crowd (if you’ve never watched the show, I recommend you do, it’s full of geeky humour).
Back in Yorkshire, the Yorkshirefolk have collected some special stones, and it’s up to the Doctor (with some… ‘help’ from K9) to stop Cuthbert from using the special stones in some sort of dastardly plan.
As cliffhangers go, the cliffhanger to the first episode isn’t the best, as it’s essentially a totally empty threat that you know won’t come to fruition, which is a shame because some of Nick Briggs’ cliffhangers have been real doozy’s. Never thought I’d write doozy on the site.
The second episode opens with Cuthbert shortchanging the Yorkshiremen in regards to their payment. One thing you should know about folk from Yorkshire; we don’t enjoy being conned and we can get very irate. The wrath of a Yorkshireman almost doesn’t bare thinking about.
It seems as if The Pursuit of History and next months Casualties of Time are sequels to The Sands of Life, War Against the Laan, The Dalek Contract and The Final Phase. Big Finish sure knows how to make you listen to one story and make you want to buy another five.
The Laan reminds me somewhat of the Star Whale from The Beast Below as they’re both whale like creatures that are being exploited for one reason or another. What is it with alien races and humanity exploiting space whale creatures? Maybe they’re related, who knows?
We learn about ‘The Conglomerate’ in a scene that is obviously a rather brilliant parody of the Monty Python ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ sketch. It takes real confidence and tenacity to even think about attempting a scene like this; luckily with this being in the Fourth Doctors era, it really pays off. Even if Tom Baker isn’t your favourite Doctor, you have to agree that the years with him on the show were certainly unique.
The Doctor’s TARDIS is in a bad way; and I don’t mean a bad way in terms of the standard TARDIS, I mean for the Doctor’s TARDIS, the TARDIS is in a bad way. So you know it’s bad. Very bad. It seems as if the Time Lord is trying his best to solve about three problems at once, it’s a shame he can’t be in three places at once; can he?
One thing I absolutely love about Romana is just how headstrong, intelligent and determined she is. One of the perks of having a Time Lady travel in the TARDIS with the Doctor is that they can be separated, and both of them can be equally intellectually brilliant without one another. It’s just as well really, as Romana is alone and it’s her brain that is keeping her alive.
The concluding moments of The Pursuit of History are a great set up to next months story, which will end the fifth series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish. Cuthbert is a real threat. Shame that his name isn’t. The Doctor also seems to know that Cuthbert is a colossal threat, as he resorts to violence to make an easy escape, as well as reminding you about Rule 1. Personally, I can’t wait for next months payoff.
Should you want to purchase The Pursuit of History, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £10.99 on CD or a £8.99 download which you can purchase here.