Thursday, 18 February 2016


The Fifth Doctor trilogy kicks it into high gear with the second installment, delivering a very different wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey tale.

But an enjoyable timey-wimey story mind though! While the genre has been almost used to death in the Steven Moffat era, often just the same scenario with a couple of tweaks here and there, Aquitaine manages to dive into the same pool, but from a different angle and spends most of its time relaxing in a  different part of the pool.

Near a black hole, the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan quickly meet robot butler Hargreaves, a very enjoyable character as the plot begins. Before I continue, let me just say that like Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding, I adore Hargreaves and wouldn’t mind him returning one day. Matthew Cottle does a spectacular job bringing him to life and his interactions with all of the characters are fun to listen to.

Unfortunately, other than Harry Myers’ Dr. Sergei Akunin (or Sergei Kravenhoff as I like to call him), nobody really stands out. I’m not going to name the character in question (let’s call them X), but Akunin feels very discount X in a lot of scenes, but that’s alright because Myers puts in a strong performance. It also helps (in Akunin’s case) that the plot doesn’t spend too much time on him This works against the other characters though as you kind of want to know more about them, if only so you can sympathize with their plight.

But real brilliance is the plot. Aquitaine definitely feels like an improvement from The Waters of Amsterdam, which in of itself was a great trilogy opener. Aquitaine though, while sounding like a really silly title for a story, stands out as one of the best Fifth Doctor stories Big Finish has ever produced. This is because Peter Davison stories are normally very back-to-basics in style whilst Sylvester McCoy is the timey-wimey Doctor with his complicated plots and overarching arcs. But Aquitaine, like Creatures of Beauty and The Eternal Summer proves that adding timey-wimey to a Fifth Doctor story can prove to be an enormous success and that’s what happened here.

I can’t fault any of the main cast, but I will say I enjoyed how Simon Barnard & Paul Morris managed to give all three characters something important and interesting to do. One of the problems Fifth Doctor stories occasionally run into is having too many characters and not knowing what to do with them. Aquitaine expertly sidesteps this issue, choosing to integrate the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan into different parts of the plot and allowing the audience to play connect-the-dots. It’s a strategy that works well with this story and I can easily picture Big Finish reusing this format in the future.

Rating this story: 9/10. Next month’s The Peterloo Massacre could go one of two ways: It could either destroy a powerful Aquitaine in terms of storytelling, or it can end up being massacred by its predecessor. Time will tell.

Doctor Who: Aquitaine is available on Big Finish's website HERE.
Note: If you liked this review, please like and share it. If you’re interested in getting into Big Finish or want suggestions on which stories are great, check out my ranking of them HERE

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