Big Finish Review: Doctor Who - Daughter of the Gods

Big Finish Review: Doctor Who - Daughter of the Gods

Fifty-four years after her introduction in the serial The Myth Makers (and her departure from the show immediately afterward in The Daleks’ Master Plan), Katarina, handmaiden of Troy, returns to Doctor Who in Daughter of the Gods. It doesn’t stop there, however: Daleks and two Doctors appear together in this quasi-celebratory release from Big Finish Productions.

Daughter of the Gods is written by David K Barnes and directed by Lisa Bowerman. The four-part story is available exclusively from the Big Finish website until general release on January 1st 2020. Here's the synopsis...

When Zoe reattaches an old piece of equipment to the TARDIS console, she, Jamie and the Doctor are very lucky to avoid a collision.

But the place they find themselves in may be even more dangerous - because there they encounter another Doctor, a space pilot named Steven... and a young woman called Katarina who really shouldn’t be there....

The Review

Daughter of the Gods depicts a previously unexplored multi-Doctor pairing, introduces a recast Katarina, and adds a planet-destroying fleet of Daleks for good measure. All of this takes places within a four-part story that acts as a release celebrating twenty years of Doctor Who at Big Finish. The task placed before David K Barnes is momentous, but does he deliver?

Part one only hints at the conflagration to come, proving a mostly conventional tale for the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, who experience a disturbance in the time vortex, land on a planet and become embroiled in a local conflict: all solid ingredients for an enjoyable tale. But then, Katarina, Steven and the First Doctor appear, and the story becomes considerably more complicated, the stakes being raised from mundane to world-ending.

Is it a First Doctor or Second Doctor story? Definitely the latter, considering the perspective is that of the Second Doctor’s crew, the Second Doctor-era credits, and Zoe as narrator. That is, however, until part two begins – and the action decidedly shifts to follow the First Doctor, Steven and Katarina in the midst of their stay on the planet Urbinia. From there, Barnes mixes things up and gives both teams a role in the course of events.

Katarina is the focus of the piece, which gives her special attention after an all-too-brief stint on television. As a princess’ handmaiden originally from Troy, she is out of her depth within the TARDIS, still adhering closely to her conviction that the TARDIS is a temple, and that she has died and is on the way to the afterlife. Ajjaz Awad excels with the emotional layers added to that character, and indeed is given more to do when it comes to interacting with Doctors and companions rather than directly influencing the plot.

Peter Purves’ First and Frazer Hines’ Second Doctors provide commendable recreations of the original actors’ performances (and the meeting of their two characters is great), while Zoe, Jamie and Steven add humour and pathos to the ensemble.

The Dalek assault of the planet is made all the more menacing and dangerous as only hints to their presence are initially given (indeed, after their emergence, they are sidelined and become a one-note threat – intentionally so). Instead, Barnes develops both groups of TARDIS travellers in their separate adventures prior to embroiling both in the Dalek invasion plot. By doing this, he highlights the everyday lives of these two sets of characters who so often are only shown in the midst of peril.

Extras

Behind the scenes, producer David Richardson calls Daughter of the Gods Doctor Who’s five-year anniversary, explains the celebratory nature of the story, and relishes being able to bring back the fondly-remembered Katarina. Each actor thoroughly enjoys the good company of the rest.

In addition to the trailer for this month’s The Home Guard, fifteen minutes of musical score are included to enjoy. Tom Webster’s cover art deserves a mention simply for its fabulous colour design and aesthetically pleasing arranging of elements.

The Early Adventures range excels at capturing the feel of a past era, and here we have two eras recreated at once. David K Barnes melds a layered, continuity-heavy plot with a faithful reinterpretation of a classic companion in the latest (but also the first) multi-Doctor tale in Doctor Who.

Read our review of Doctor WhoThe Home Guard.

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