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Scavenger with the Sixth Doctor and Flip
Could this be the end of Flip’s time in the TARDIS?
This four-part adventure by William Gallagher is the third and last story to be featured in the second trilogy of Sixth Doctor/Flip audios by Big Finish, starring Colin Baker and Lisa Greenwood. I wish I could say this adventure was exciting even though it gave a dramatic pay-off to Flip’s character at the very end.
But I found ‘Scavenger’ to be quite underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it does have an emotional cliff-hanger ending when Colin’s Doctor is listening to Flip’s recorded message. But I struggled to get into the outer-space stuff that put me mind of the movie ‘Gravity’ when I was listening to this audio.
If you like this story, that’s fine. It just wasn’t my cup of tea and I feel that Andrew Smith’s ‘The Brood of Erys’ was an impressive story compared to William Gallagher’s ‘Scavenger’. This story ended up being like ‘Spaceport Fear’ with the Sixth Doctor and Mel, which I found uninspiring too. 😐
William Gallagher has written for the Sixth Doctor and Flip before since he penned ‘Wirrn Isle’ in the previous Sixth Doctor/Flip trilogy by Big Finish. I enjoyed that story very much. William Gallagher also penned the audio story ‘Doing Time’ in ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ anthology.
I purchased ‘Scavenger’ as a download via Big Finish which I listened to on one of my tablets. The experience of listening to ‘Scavenger’ as a download was a pleasant one, but like I said, it was a struggle to get into the story, especially when jumping forth in outer space to planet Earth at points.
The story takes place on Thursday the 28th of May 2071. The Doctor and Flip are on the Nelson Mandela International Space Station where they witness the Anglo-Indian Salvage 2 rocket launched. The rocket’s mission is to clean up space and remove a century of man-made junk from Earth’s orbit.
The Doctor and Flip are soon joined by an astronaut filmmaker called Jyoti Cutler and they witness the disaster that unfolds where Salvage 2 encounters something it’s not been programmed to deal with. Something not of human manufacture! It happens to be an alien satellite known as Scavenger.
Soon, the Doctor and Flip become separated from each other. The Doctor tries to unravel a 500-year old tragedy concerning Scavenger whilst fighting to save Flip’s life. But the odds are stacked against him as millions will die if he fails. Can he save everybody as well as Flip from dying in this adventure?
I like the India connections featured in this story and how there still seems to be a clash between British and Indian relations when attending to the Salvage 2 rocket launch. You could argue Big Finish was tackling ‘Doctor Who’ stories set in India before the new TV series was doing it. Intriguing!
The character interactions and dramas being played out have to be heard carefully, which again was a struggle for me as I often got confused with the outer space stuff and how Flip and Jyoti coped with being astronauts in outer space. It did put me in mind of ‘The Jupiter Conjunction’ somewhat. 😐
Colin Baker, as ever, delivers a great performance as the Sixth Doctor in this audio adventure. I’m glad he enjoyed doing this audio adventure and I hope it comes down to the actors he works with in Big Finish. Colin’s able to play the Doctor he wanted to play in Big Finish compared to the TV show. 🙂
I like it when Colin’s Doctor gets frustrated with the increasing tension going on to tackle Scavenger as well as the Salvage 2 rocket in space. He has to referee between Salim and Jessica Allaway when down on Earth. The Doctor’s reaction to Flip’s emotional message at the end was very mesmerising.
Lisa Greenwood is equally good as Flip Jackson in this audio adventure. I like how Flip manages to cope on her own in some of these stories and how she gets to be resourceful, especially when interacting with Jyoti and being trapped inside Scavenger. It shows varying layers of Flip’s character.
It’s fascinating when Flip has the impression that the Doctor doesn’t want her around much as he’s been thinking about Peri lately. The build-up to when she makes the decision to crash-land to Earth via dangerous means is so gut-wrenching. I pray this is not the last we will see of Flip in these stories.
Anjli Mohindra guest stars as Jyoti Cutler, who becomes a friend to Flip and the Doctor in this audio story. Anjli is well-known for playing Rani Chandra in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ on TV. She’s also good friends with Lisa Greenwood when they met each other at conventions in America. That’s nice!
It was intriguing to hear Anjli put on a stronger Indian accent for Jyoti compared to how she plays Rani in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. The interactions between her and Flip in this audio adventure when in outer space in astronaut suits were fun to hear and I liked how Jyoti helped the Doctor here.
Tariq Bhatti guest stars as Salim, an astronaut who is part of the Clean Space Project on Earth. Salim has an intriguing character development in this story as he happens to be royalty in India. He’s revealed to be 496 years old in this story and knows a lot about Scavenger when it’s causing trouble.
It was intriguing to hear the conversations Salim had with Jessica Allaway, as the two clearly don’t like each other. Salim can be a bit of a backstabber, especially when he sold Jessica out to the media by the story’s end. It was also intriguing to hear his backstory on how he lost his true love interest. 🙂
The story also features Kate McEwen as Jessica Allaway, a former tennis player who won Wimbledon in 2057 and has now taken some British charge of the Indian Space Control on Earth. Jessica can be quite bitchy, cold and heartless in this story. Jessica’s even willing to risk the lives of others in this. 😐
Tania Rodrigues plays a certain amount of characters in this audio adventure. This includes Anarkali, whom Flip interacts with once inside Scavenger and she was a former servant and lover of Salim. She also played Melissa, a news journalist who talked to Jessica Allaway and she also played Isra Tech #2.
And of course there’s John Banks who plays a certain amount of characters in this audio adventure too. There’s Commander Gabbard, who was in charge of the Nelson Mandela International Space Station; the voice of Scavenger itself; Isra Tech #1 and a security guy. John Bank is pretty versatile. 😀
I like the references made to Flip’s boyfriend Jared and her younger brother Philip, who gets mentioned for the first time. I liked it when the Doctor pointed out to Salim and Jessica that there are several Atlantises featured in ‘The Underwater Menace’, ‘The Dæmons’ and ‘The Time Monster’.
I wonder what’s going to happen to Flip following this story’s dramatic cliff-hanger. I hope the Doctor saves her. Apparently, Big Finish went on to make the 2014 Sixth Doctor/Peri trilogy next. Maybe questions about Flip’s predicament will be answered there. I hope to find out. It feels gripping.
Overall, ‘Scavenger’ wasn’t an altogether satisfying audio adventure for me to listen to. It has great performances from the cast and a dramatic cliff-hanger ending for Flip. But I did struggle with the outer space stuff featured in this audio tale. Hopefully there will be more to find out concerning Flip.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. On Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘Moonflesh’ with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. There are some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood, Anjli Mohindra, director Nicholas Briggs, etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Scavenger’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Scavenger’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘The Piltdown Men’ with the Second Doctor, read by Hugh Ross.
‘Scavenger’ rating – 6/10
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