The Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler are back! David Tennant returns to helm another three stories for Big Finish, this time with Billie Piper as Rose by his side. Today, I’ll be reviewing the first of the three new stories, Infamy of The Zaross by John Dorney.
When Jackie Tyler takes an away day to visit her old friend Marge in Norwich, she finds her holiday immediately interrupted in the worst way possible – an alien invasion! The infamous Zaross have come to take over the Earth.
Or have they? After Jackie calls in the Doctor and Rose to deal with the menace, it soon becomes clear that this is a very unusual invasion indeed.
The Doctor is about to uncover one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the galaxy. And if he can’t stop it an awful lot of people are going to die.
Don’t you just love the lighthearted overall feel of Series 2? After the first series of the revival, it was almost like the writers became a lot more comfortable and were able to have a lot more fun with some of the stories. There were darker episodes sure, like The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, but even they had time for some David Tennant goofiness. It seems as if Infamy of The Zaross is no exception; in the pre-title sequence alone we get some under appreciated staff and a rather meta opening. John Dorney really manages to take you back to 2006 within the first minute of the story.
It’s not only Rose Tyler that’s returning this time, but there’s also Jackie. One of the best characters from the RTD era. This isn’t Camille’s first outing with Big Finish though, she’s already played Jackie in the Ninth Doctor Chronicles story Retail Therapy and in The Many Lives of Captain Jack’s Wednesdays For Beginners, and she was phenomenal in both. We also get to meet one of Jackie’s friends, Marge; who is quite frankly hysterically awful at being a friend. It almost plays like a sitcom and I love it.
One of my biggest apprehensions with this new series of Tenth Doctor Adventures when I first heart the trailer was honestly how much Billie Piper sounded like the Rose we knew. There was something in the trailer that, to me, just seemed off. Thankfully though, when Rose (and the Doctor) appear out of thin air, Billie’s voice sounds so much more like Rose from 2006 that I anticipated, and it is a huge relief.
When the Zaross do invade, (those warthoggy things on the cover) it’s rather… unconventional. I suppose not every alien invasion can be as successful as a Dalek or Cyberman effort. After all, they’ve had millennia of practice; and the Zaross, well they’re sort of… new to this.
Considering how lighthearted a lot of the story has been up to the halfway mark, Dorney manages to pen a beautiful little piece of a scene when Jackie, through no fault of her own, ends up being in space. Her reaction is somewhat akin to Wilf’s in The End of Time, but is so much more… well, Jackie. It’s great to give an amazing actress like Camille these chances to flex her acting muscles.
There’s a brilliantly original twist in Infamy of the Zaross which really resonates with me, due to my interests outside of Doctor Who (if I told you what it was, it would really spoil the twist), but the Doctor manages to come up with a stellar alternative title for this story (again, if I told you it, it would ruin the surprise).
What I love about Infamy of The Zaross is that, at it’s core, it’s Doctor Who and The Space Kardashians. Albeit, a slightly different take on the Kardashians, but the whole idea of fame and fortune being leverage for control is utilised really well.
The conclusion of this story is brilliantly built up to, and there’s a harsh reality to the business that the Zaross crave to be a part of. Whilst the resolution to the story is over somewhat quickly, I really enjoyed the journey there; and that’s the most important thing.
The very end of the story is really poignant, and Rose and Jackie get a beautiful tender moment between mother and daughter. Then there’s the allusion to a a certain organisation that kept creeping up in Series 2, really cementing this story firmly in that era.
Overall, Infamy of The Zaross is the perfect story for any fans of Series 2 of Doctor Who. David and Billie are both on top form, Camille’s portrayal of Jackie is once again stellar, John Dorney has managed to write a superbly authentic feeling script for the era with an interesting new threat, and Norwich is now on the map of Doctor Who fans the world over. This is how you should kickstart a new trilogy of Tenth Doctor Adventures.
Should you want to purchase Infamy of The Zaross, it’s currently available as a single release from Big Finish for £10.99 on CD or an £8.99 download which you can purchase here.
Alternatively, you could buy The Tenth Doctor Adventures Series 2 Box Set featuring all three stories for £35 on CD or £25 on download which you can purchase here.