The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller: Volume One.

Audio Barring anniversary and special releases, of all the Big Finish Doctors, Eighth has had the most linear of release schedules rarely offering missing adventures at least in audio form. Although the era which follows on from the original Lucie Miller series and the Time War boxes have been released in parallel lately there hasn't been much in the way of trying to shoehorn stories into old gaps and even then they've been added retrospectively, as per the Mary Shelley trilogy. Now here we are with four new proper Lucie Miller adventures, wedged in after Human Resources and as I'm having it, before all the various Short Trips. While it was nice to have Sheridan reading a couple of those, there's nothing quite like hearing the bantz between her and Paul McGann, clearly enjoying each other's company both as characters and actors. The "VOLUME ONE" on the front cover implies more boxes are planned and that's excellent news. If it's good enough for Adric to have a host of new stories set before his demise, it's certainly good enough for Lucie Bleeding Miller.

The Dalek Trap

For Lucie's first show back, Nick Briggs offers us a Companion Chronicles style Doctor-lite episode of the kind which can only happen on audio because he doesn't speak for most of it. Returning to the role after six or seven years, Sheridan takes full advantage of the airtime to re-introduce the character at the moment when she'd broken through the shields of the more cantankerous Eighth from that first series leading to a return of the more adventurous man from the start of his Big Finish years. After stanning Charley for years, it took me a month or three to warm to Lucie back then, but now I can see how a character who originally seemed constructed to fit the Ace/Sam/Izzie/Rose formula has a more chaotic, relatable energy than those guys.  The story itself feels like a  purposefully formulaic mix of amnesia, being trapped inside a black hole and Daleks saying unusual things, lots of gracenotes (sorry) of the period.  Will the Darkness be revealed as the "big bad" of the boxset or something being set up for later in Eighth's timeline?  There are few things scarier than a known unknown.

The Revolution Game

God, this is refreshing.  Although both the ongoing boxes and The Time War contain stand alone episodes, they're always within the structure of a much wider story or lead in to one another, whereas this is a return to first principles, the Doctor and his plus one landing on planets and overthrowing governments.  Much as they did with the first few Baker series, there's been a real effort here to capture the feel of the original audios, with their quick pace, cinematic "visuals" and giant personalities.  Paul sounds like his in his element too, not having to deal with the baggage of a much older version of his character, a man who's seen too much (although of course if you count the books and comics as coming before the audios, he's already been around for a bit!).  Alice Cavender's play is in stark contrast with Kerblam!  Where that TV adventure ended with the status quo, the giant corporation still intact, here there's no question that the conglomerate ruling half the galaxy will go down, their infrastructural importance be damned.

The House on the Edge of Chaos

"***** ***** ** *****!" I shouted in the street on hearing the twist in Eddie Robson's superb little run around, but it's such a spoiler for this and another classic audio so you'll have to make do with asterisks. Another authentic episode which even without the mid-story cliffhanger from the olden days would fit perfectly in the tea time Sunday slot on BBC7. The Doctor and Lucie randomly find themselves on a colony world in which the cast of La R├Ęgle du Jeu live within an ever growing Winchester Mystery House, terraforming by house expansion. With strong themes about the arbitrary nature of the class system and how some justify their positions by explaining that it's the best way of keeping order, like The Revolution Game it coincidentally glances towards the upheavals in British life almost to second, something Doctor Who has always had a facility for. Some project business: Roger Vanisttart, whose last Big Finish credit was in a range of roles in Dead London which opened the second season of the "With Lucie Miller" stories, returns as the reclusive colony leader, just the sort of Roger Vanisttart role that Roger Vanisttart was born to play.

Island of the Fendahl

Definitive. With Alan Barnes writing and Nick Briggs directing, the Eighth Doctor equivalent of getting The Blues Brothers together, this had the potential to be something special and sure enough it's not just the perfect way to end this boxed set, but one of the best of this incarnations stories period. A Hinchcliffian remodel for The Wicker Man in the Whoniverse, with a police officer venturing from the mainland to isolated rock filled with cultists worshipping an ancient power this is also a prequel/sequel to a classic Who story, draws together threads from the rest of the boxed set and suggests a new bunch of unseen adventures for these two, it's catnip for a completist. Of special note: for various reasons two sets of characters are lost in a set of underground tunnels and through sound design alone we completely appreciate that they're in different areas but walking similar paths and criss crossing one another, cutting across the audio space in a chilling way. More please.

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