With the fourth series of The Early Adventures under their belt, Big Finish’s first three series’ of the range had been a little bit hit and miss for me. But with The Night Witches, this fourth series has been brilliant and has told some of the best Second Doctor stories ever written.
The Morton Legacy is the third release in this strong series and continues the trend of great storytelling. But it doesn’t feel as powerful as the previous two tales and that is a bit of a shame because, while it is good, it isn’t as good as it could have been.
Ben and Polly are hoping to return to London in the sixties and when the TARDIS lands in their home-city, the pair are understandably excited. But when they leave the TARDIS, they discover that it is London, but not in the 60s. As Polly puts it, they have landed in the 1860s. Deciding the make the best of the best of their predicament, the gang decide to take a look around, after-all, it isn’t everyday one gets to travel in time! After some exploration, the TARDIS crew decide to return to their ship. But the TARDIS is gone…
This isn’t something that has happened before, people always seemed to take interest in the TARDIS, the machine had been stolen on a number of occassions, most notably in this era, in The Evil of the Daleks. But all this leads into a story that takes the crew to a mysterious museum and throws them into a mystery surrounding a strange necklace.
Justin Richards gives us a story that is the perfect example of what a Doctor Who story should be. There are no politics, no other agendas, just a good mystery and some interesting characters. Ignoring the main cast for the moment, what really elevates The Morton Legacy is its guest cast.
David Sibley is brilliant as Josiah Morton, the excentric museum owner who manages to win the listeners over. But it is Ewan Bailey who is the best guest star here, he has to play duel roles as both Blazzard and Copeland, the two criminals who help propel the story. He is so brilliant that when I was listening, I thought they were played by two different actors. His voices were completely different for the two characters and unless you knew he played both characters, you’d do what I did and believe they were two different actors.
The regular cast are on fine form, something that we have come to expect from these releases. Anneke Wills as usual is brilliant as both Polly and the story’s narrator. Elliot Chapman is still fantastic as Ben Jackson. He has really become Michael Craze and you really wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two!
Frazer Hines gets a lot more to do in this story than he had done in the previous two. Not only does he have to pull double duty as the Second Doctor and Jamie but he also has to deal with Jamie’s romantic interest in Morton’s daughter Jemma. While it is nice to hear Jamie falling for yet another lass, nothing really gets developed with it and as a result, there is no emotional punch when the pair have to part.
The Morton Legacy does however have some fantastic pacing, feeling exactly like a 60s story. In some ways, it feels nice that this series hasn’t all been high-octane action stories. The Morton Legacy also manages to be more well thought out and boasts some brilliant characters and some nice development between the regulars. I like the hints that there is something going on beneath the surface with Ben and Polly, something which was never given much thought on the television. And the story has a great twist at the end.
While The Morton Legacy can’t say it is as action packed as the previous stories this series, it seems happier to be a quieter affair and is a great truimph for author Justin Richards and Big Finish. It is nice that we get to see the continued adventures of the sixties thanks to these brilliant talents.