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Doctor Who: The Early Adventures 6.2 “Daughter of the Gods” Review

Daughter of the Gods is an ambitious story from Big Finish and I think this story offers a wide appeal to any classic Who fans fitting as it is as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of Big Finish.  Two Tardis teams are brought together for this story which for good measure includes a dead companion.

The story puts in the mix one of the most interest generating elements of Doctor Who: the Daleks with references to the epic 12-part classic Who story “The Dalek Masterplan” and also presents a grave moral dilemma.

The Clown and the Crotchety Old Man 

I really love the idea of celebrating the early years of Doctor Who by bringing together the first two incarnations the Doctor. It’s a well-used idea pinched from the success of  “The Three Doctors” and “The Five Doctors” The abrasive nature of the 1st Doctor and the bluster of the 2nd Doctor here gives ample opportunity for comedy as well as drama between two very different incarnations. The 2nd Doctor can be quite childlike at times, acting the fool but I enjoyed that he was quite thoughtful and initial frightened by the initial collision. This isn’t a Doctor yet who has become used to bumping into his former selves.

The 2nd Doctor is played by Frazer Hines who also plays his character Jamie McCrimmon and whilst Frazer gets certain 2nd Doctor mannerisms spot on I did find myself distracted at times when it didn’t sound quite right. Peter Purves is much more successful playing the 1st Doctor though as well as Steven Taylor though conquering the brash tones of his Doctor.

“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 most recent Doctor is the one to see his predecessor first and that is a great hook creating an air of mystery. Writer David K Barnes creates an interesting idea, a reminder, that the 1st Doctor is logically younger than the 2nd Doctor. I suppose we have always taken the 1st Doctor’s appearance as a crotchety old man to heart and the scene where he discusses with Steven Taylor meeting with pals, going to parties and having a jolly good time is a prod in our consciousness that he isn’t always as responsible as he should be. The contrast with Steven’s devotion to duty working at the spaceport and the Doctor’s nonchalance of it reveals a wilful streak of selfishness in the 1st Doctor reminiscent of a younger man.

Daughter of the Gods from Big Finish
Daughter of the Gods from Big Finish

The volatile first meeting of the 1st and 2nd Doctor with the former furious at the 2nd Doctor for the calamity caused by the collision and refusing to believe Katarina’s eventual fate also shows a dangerous impetuousness. His later accusation of the 2nd Doctor as some kind of traitor does feel shocking, unexpected. Given what I’ve seen on TV I don’t know if I fully believe this stance entirely but it is a subjective opinion.

The 1st Doctor gave up his precious granddaughter Susan which hurt him (although her future wasn’t being dead but a chance to live a normal life). Here there will not be an opportunity for him to see Katarina again. His attitude, however, allows an interesting contrast with the 2nd Doctor who has a greater perception of the future, fixed events and the repercussions if things stay as they are.

Katarina being alive is an unlikely theme but this story meshes ancient belief and destiny in a thought-provoking way. The idea, in a “Turn Left” way, that one small action diverts predestined events and creates an alternative future. Katarina must always be the sweet but doomed handmaiden companion of the 1st Doctor. Known more as the first companion to die her tenure was only a few episodes in the tv series ( now mostly missing ) so her impact then was probably less than it would be where she was a companion today.

The fact that the production team of the time saw a limitation in writing for an ancient historical character and abandoned her to a deadly fate might make you think that there is nothing new to explore. However, this is a welcome opportunity to explore a what-if scenario. Ajjaz Awad does a nice job to portray convincingly Katarina’s devotion in her beliefs and trust of the Doctor. I think it is quite hard to give Katarina huge depth as a character but the storey succeeds because of the affection that her other companions have for her and how they react.

Splitting the characters up

David K Barnes writes the companions well successfully capturing their essence. Zoe Heriot, for me, is probably the least sympathetic but she works well paired with the 2nd Doctor and then Steven as their shared intelligence enables them to work together against the Daleks. Zoe gets impatient with Jamie’s lack of technological knowledge so the pairing of Jamie McCrimmon and Katarina works well. Both characters being from the past share a natural affinity but also are different enough to create interest. Where Jamie attempts to take charge, Katarina matches him in courage. Jamie uses the evidence of his eyes to judge situations and is quite logical. There is instinctive chivalry and protectiveness within him which is allowed to come out with Katarina but is absent around Zoe.

L–R: David Richardson, Laura Elphinstone, Frazer Hines, Peter Purves, Ajjaz Awad, David K Barnes and Wendy Padbury
L–R: David Richardson, Laura Elphinstone, Frazer Hines, Peter Purves, Ajjaz Awad, David K Barnes and Wendy Padbury. The cast of Daughter of the Gods

Katarina

I enjoyed Katarina’s slightly different relationships with each of the Doctors. The 1st Doctor takes a scholarly interest in trying to educate Katarina in the differences between science and belief. However, he appreciates he will not be entirely successful. Katarina believes the Doctor a god and although at times is persuaded that the Doctor is mortal and that she is alive the realisation doesn’t last. She isn’t unintelligent but will always be a product of her time with her interpretation of the invasion of the Daleks as a punishment from the gods. Katarina clings to her beliefs to help her understand the world she is flung into.

Ancient Greeks did believe in multiple gods and it is understandable that as she fears for her soul all she wants to do is be assisted to reach “her place of perfection” The later discussion where the 2nd Doctor patiently, sorrowfully explains what the future should be to Katarina reflects a mature understanding of how he feels the remorse of her death. The 2nd Doctor requires forgiveness from Katarina but also knows her passing will prevent the deaths of countless other millions. The moment where she decides her fate does break your heart.

A God may choose many faces” Katarina

Boo hiss villains

I greatly enjoyed hearing two separate perspectives of the same event then the story merged into the fallout and a battle for survival against the Daleks. As a listener its satisfying to be privy to knowledge before the characters. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Daleks in audio as they have a presence that works far better visually. Never the less they are suitably menacing in the story.  The Daleks are particularly dangerous and ruthless due to the success of the time destructor in this reality and merrily go about killing various inhabitants of Kouria city. There are also characters who sacrifice their lives within the story which highlights how important it is to set events back to where they should be.

My Highlights

The 1st Doctor eating toast and behaving badly

The Dalek’s first transmission to Kouria City and the governor

The 2nd Doctor’s conversation with Katarina.

For those of you drawn in by the emotional heart of this story, there is much to enjoy 8.5/10

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