Big Finish certainly knew to celebrate Doctor Who‘s 59th anniversary, dropping the latest in the Ninth Doctor Adventures range: Hidden Depths. With quite an interesting sounding mix of stories, it was sure to be quite a listen. This time round, the Ninth Doctor comes face-to-face with Sea Devils, travels to a German spa in the 19th century, and reunites with some of his old friends. So, let’s get right into it…
The Seas of Titan by Lizbeth Miles
The Ninth Doctor visits Titan, one of the moons of Saturn, and joins a mission examining its seas. However, humans aren’t the only race on Titan; many thousands of years ago, the Sea Devils landed on the moon. And there is the traditional tension that you would get between humans and reptilia. With the question is posed – what would this entail for the Sea Devils if the humans aimed to take Titan’s natural resources?
Though somewhat of an expect-able route for a Sea Devils story, it is rather interesting to see it told with this particular Doctor. It avoids the same hopeful warmth as the Eleventh or with the determined attempts to hold UNIT to account as the Third did. Instead, we get to see the experience from the Ninth, having not long come out of the scars of the Last Great Time War. He’s trying to make peace as usual… but there’s a different feeling to it.
As the Doctor investigates reptiles in a remnant-built ship, we also learn about the species. With new technological advances, the moon’s value as a refueling stop has decreased. Scientist Diana Hendry, voiced by Sasha Behar, works out of mankind’s sole surviving colony on Titan. Sasha gives a lovely turn as a guest performer, and the Sea Devil voices are quite the treat. (Though it is worth saying that the story craftily does acknowledge that ‘Sea Devil’ is not the right kind of term for the creatures, and switches rather smoothly to Reptilia Sapiens.)
We won’t say too much more, but as an opener for Hidden Depths – The Seas of Titan certainly does have some hidden depths, and as a fairly fast-paced escapade, eventually comes to a nice conclusion.
Lay Down Your Arms by Lisa McMullin
Lay Down Your Arms is an audio story that is hilarious, jam-packed with action, and intense— all you can expect in a Ninth Doctor audio adventure. Lisa McMullin has written a story you won’t forget. It has a very interesting concept. It is also elevated by some guest cameos throughout the narrative.
In the 19th century, Bertha Kinzky (played by Kate Sissons) meets the mysterious Herr Schmidt. Or Mr. Smith, you might say… With a nice turn, Hidden Depths delves into a bit of history, taking on the real-life figure of Bertha and putting her on a crazy and mad alien foray. The Doctor being undercover in this period to discover what’s going on, gives Nine a refreshing showing.
On TV, we never really got to see Eccleston show The Doctor in such a careful alias-utilising perspective directly. (Now, though, we can imagine that somewhere in Clive’s shed in Rose, there is a little folder of notes about ‘Herr Schmidt’.)
Another pacy story, Lay Down Your Arms gets a lot done. With a really compelling villain, and Bertha playing off of Nine wonderfully – well, it’s a real Big Finish highlight.
And just with you might think it’s over – the ending has the Ninth Doctor revisiting someone from the story. A nice epilogue of sorts that gives listeners a bit of perspective on how life goes for them after the alien encounter.
Flatpack by John Dorney
Flatpack brings back two familiar friends — Liv Chenka (companion to the Seventh and Eighth Doctors) and Tania Bell (companion to the Eighth Doctor). Written by John Dorney— who has written some wonderful stories over the years, including some of the Eighth Doctor series: Stranded – he comes in swinging once more.
Set in a DIY shop — you might wonder initially how Flatpack is going to work. However, it isn’t an ordinary shop… as all the employees wear masks to hide their faces. And amidst the setting, some really nice character-work comes out to play. All three leads get a lot to work with. And they do it a superb job.
One particularly interesting moment, in my opinion, comes with the numerous amount of TARDISes (Tardises? Tardi? Oh, who knows…) in the display cabinets at the shop.
It is really hard to say much about what it means for Liv and Tania to encounter a future incarnation of the Doctor they once knew. But in a certain way, this plays into how other Big Finish stories recently featuring the two have panned out. It seems like a bit of a mad romp on paper, but it’s honestly a very compelling story with quite a bit of heart. A wonderful concluding story to Hidden Depths.