‘THE FOE FROM THE FUTURE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Foe with the Fourth Doctor and Leela
For Timelord 007, who is a huge Tom Baker fan.
I enjoyed ‘The Fourth Doctor Box Set’ of ‘Doctor Who’ audios from Big Finish very much.
I purchased this ‘Doctor Who’ box set in April 2013 to celebrate the Tom Baker era of the TV series for its 50th anniversary. It’s amazing to look back on how much I celebrated each era of ‘Doctor Who’ for its 50th year.
Back in 2011, I was delighted to hear that Tom Baker was returning to do some Big Finish audio adventures of ‘Doctor Who’ as the Fourth Doctor. I hadn’t realised that there would also be a box set of audio adventures starring the Fourth Doctor and Leela, especially as a part of ‘The Lost Stories’ range.
This was really exciting since we would get to hear two original ‘Doctor Who’ stories that were meant for television. Not only that, but they would be full-length adventures with Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor compared to the shorter CD releases of ‘The Fourth Doctor Adventures’ that were being made by Big Finish.
‘The Fourth Doctor Box Set’ is a 6-disc CD box set. The two stories featured in this box set are as follows. They are ‘The Foe From The Future’, a six-parter on 3 discs and ‘The Valley of Death’, a four-parter on 2 discs. There’s also a bonus disc featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew.
I’ve had the CD box set cover of ‘The Fourth Doctor Box Set’ signed by the lovely Louise Jameson at the ‘Timey Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton, November 2014. I was delighted to hear Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as the Fourth Doctor and Leela again. This box set is full of Tom Baker stuff for its fans.
Like I said, the first story of this CD box set, ‘The Foe From The Future’, is an epic six-part adventure. The story is spread across the first three discs of ‘The Fourth Doctor Box Set’. It’s a thrilling adventure from the mind of writer Robert Banks Stewart. This is probably my favourite tale from the CD box-set.
Robert Banks Stewart wrote the two classic Tom Baker stories called ‘Terror of the Zygons’ and ‘The Seeds of Doom’. ‘The Foe From The Future’ was meant to be the season finale for Tom Baker’s third season (Season 14). But eventually, the story, ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’, became the season finale.
Many years later, Big Finish decided to adapt ‘The Foe From The Future’ from its original TV scripts into an audio drama. With consent and agreement from Robert Banks Stewart, John Dorney adapted the story in audio. John Dorney is a fitting choice since he took on the challenge with great enthusiasm.
John Dorney had a challenge on his hands as it turned out ‘Episode Six’ was never written. Robert Banks Stewart only completed the first five episodes. So ‘Episode Six’ is entirely written by John Dorney. John made the conscious decision to set this tale directly before ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’.
‘The Foe From The Future’ is a story set in the contemporary society of 1977. The Doctor and Leela come to the village of Staffham in Devon, England. Something odd is going on, as the village is being haunted by the goings-on of a strange mansion within the heart of the countryside. It gets out of hand.
Determined to solve the mysterious apparitions of highwaymen and claviers appearing out of thin air, the Doctor and Leela get caught in a web of events since Earth’s history is being unravelled. Can the Doctor and Leela stop the cannibalistic menace of Professor Jalnik before the whole of time is run out?
The story’s influence is very much in the style of Robert Banks Stewart. The contemporary atmosphere is evident and the action-packed aspects are very well-handled. There’s also the familiar element of nasty, horrific and brutal violence throughout the story, which put me in mind of ‘The Seeds of Doom’.
There are also the time-travel elements that are very well-handled and this story would have predated the Steven Moffat era. Some of this ‘Doctor Who’ story is also set in the year 4000 as well as in the year 1977. This was really interesting, since the Doctor’s been to that year in ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’.
When I was at the ‘Timey Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton, November 2014, I met Tom Baker. Meeting Tom was a thrill and very awe-inspiring. I had the opportunity to watch him during his interview panel at the convention in the morning and I got to ask Tom a question about ‘jelly babies’ during that panel.
I also had a photo shoot with Tom Baker and told him how nice it was to meet him. Tom replied to me “It’s nice to be met!” which was a pretty amazing moment and one I won’t forget. I was pretty in awe of Tom Baker and didn’t really know what to say, but I’m glad I had a photo with the ‘Doctor Who’ legend.
Tom Baker is excellent as the Doctor in this audio adventure. Both Robert Banks Stewart and John Dorney have got Tom’s Doctor absolutely right. Tom is clearly relishing the lines that he’s been given. He’s full of energy in this one, especially during a crisis when he tries to stop Jalnik and his experiments.
The Doctor knows that something is wrong, especially when he and Leela go to visit Jalnik and when they find mysterious apparitions of ghosts appearing. The Doctor remembers Earth in the year 4000 and he knows it’s not how he remembers it. I liked the confrontation scenes the Doctor had with Jalnik.
I’ve also met Louise Jameson at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. Louise organised the ‘Timey Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton where I met Tom Baker. Louise is a very lovely lady and wonderful to meet. I told Louise how I really like her as Leela in this six-part story. There are wonderful moments with Leela.
I told Louise that my favourite scene with Leela was when she was reading ‘Hamlet’ in the TARDIS. Some of the lines are amusing when she comments on Shakespeare’s name. Louise liked my comments about my favourite scene with Leela. She was pleased I enjoyed ‘The Foe From The Future’.
Leela gets involved in a lot of the story’s action, due to her warrior spirit and feisty nature. She gets locked up in a prison cell by Constable Burrows during ‘Episode Two’ and I liked it when Leela gets annoyed with Burrow’s pedantic manner. Leela soon promises to avenge Burrows after he gets killed.
The Doctor almost loses Leela when she gets sucked into the time vortex. But she manages to survive when she uses the Doctor’s scarf. Leela rides on a Pantophagen alien and gets to have her own story in ‘Episode Six’ before she reunites with the Doctor. I like the references made to past tales with Leela.
Paul Freeman guest stars as Professor Jalnik. I’ve seen Paul in episodes of ‘Monarch of the Glen’ during Series 4 and Series 5. Jalnik is a pretty horrible cannibal who lives in the manor house of The Grange in the village of Staffham. He’s a human-hybrid from the future with a face half-human and half-insect.
Louise Brealey guest stars as Charlotte ‘from the village’. Louise gives a lovely performance as Charlotte as she turns out to be a rather nice character. Charlotte gets whisked off on an adventure with the Doctor and Leela, but she is pretty out of her depth when discovering the strange goings-on.
Blake Ritson guest stars as Instructor Shibac. I’ve seen Blake in two Jane Austen TV productions including ‘Mansfield Park’ with Billie Piper and the 2009 version of ‘Emma’. Shibac is from the future. He is quite good-natured, unaware of Jalnik’s evil plans and soon helps the Doctor, Leela and Charlotte.
The guest cast also includes John Green as Butler, Mark Goldthorp as Constable Burrows and Philip Pope as Father Harpin; There’s Jaimi Barbakoff as Supreme Councillor Geflo, Dan Starkey (who plays the Sontarans for TV and audio) as Historiographer Osin and lovely Camilla Power as Councillor Kostal.
The monsters of this tale are the insect-like Pantophagen. I don’t know how they would have been done for TV, but looking from the CD covers of the story they seem to come from ‘The War of the Worlds’. They’re powerful insectoids living in the time vortex and attacked Earth’s cities in the year 4000.
The Panthophagen are the cause for Jalnik’s condition. Jalnik believes that they are sentient, whereas the Doctor doesn’t. The Pantophagen cause havoc when used for Jalnik’s invasion plans in 1977. The Doctor has to stop the Pantophagen invading as he uses the humans’ ‘ghost machine’ from the future.
I like the three individual CD covers for ‘The Foe From The Future’. However I wish, as I do for many Big Finish audio box sets, that the four-part stories and the six-part stories weren’t divided into single discs. It would be really easy to lose one of these discs and they should be put together as a 3-disc set.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of each of the 3 discs for ‘The Foe From The Future’, there are some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. These interviews are with Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Paul Freeman, Louise Brealey, writer John Dorney, director Ken Bentley, etc.
‘The Foe From The Future’ is an exciting, action-packed ‘Doctor Who’ adventure filled the Fourth Doctor and Leela. It’s a shame that this never got made into a TV story, but I’m glad Big Finish have made it with great performances from Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Paul Freeman, Louise Brealey, etc.
‘The Foe From The Future’ rating – 9/10
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