Never let it be said that Big Finish doesn’t have a sense of timing, releasing ‘The Star Men’ exactly one year after David Bowie’s death. The story of starlight beings from beyond the universe coming into contact with humanity is definitely worthy of Ziggy Stardust.

The Fifth Doctor’s entourage arrive on Gallius Ultima, where humanity is making its first steps outside its own galaxy. When a disaster aboard a pioneering spaceship threatens to destroy mankind’s legacy among the stars, the Doctor must step in. Unfortunately, there’s a starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet them…and blow their minds.

Complex But Clear

Writer Andrew Smith has a strong command of pacing which comes through in this release. Nothing feels like padding but every new twist is given plenty of time to breathe. The plot gets pretty complicated as the story goes on but it all flows together very naturally. Even when our heroes get separated early on, the story balances each subplot. Each scene feels carefully measured to advance the story without overloading the listener.

As the story gets more complex, the cast gets bigger. But the actors and director Barnaby Edwards have clearly worked hard to keep every new race distinctive. Except for the slightly underused Nyssa, every character feels essential for the plot and nobody out-stays their welcome. This makes for a very comfortable listen, letting you focus on plot instead of keeping track of who’s who.

Growing Pains

It’s been a little while since we heard this quartet together and there are some signs of growing pains in the cast. Matthew Waterhouse’s admirable attempt to reproduce Adric’s youthful voice sounds a little strained early on. But he finds his groove again pretty quickly and gives possibly the most entertaining performance of the release. Particularly when he’s given a romantic subplot and has to run the emotional gamut.

Overall

Fans of the Fifth Doctor era will undoubtedly get a kick out of hearing this TARDIS team together again. The story has been tremendously crafted and every cast member is clearly putting the work in. Smith has juggled an ensemble cast superbly and set Big Finish’s 2017 in ‘Doctor Who’ on a flying start.

Blogtor Rating – 9/10

Doctor Who: The Star Men is available to buy now on CD and download from the Big Finish website.

Synopsis

Astronomical navigation is a tricky business. To help Adric with his studies, the Doctor sets course for Gallius Ultima – a planet on the edge of the Milky Way, housing one of the most impressive observatories ever constructed.

But the TARDIS arrives to find Gallius U in a state of emergency, tracking the return of the Explorer-class ship Johannes Kepler from its mission into the heart of the mysterious Large Magellanic Cloud. A mission that met with disaster…

To find out what overtook the crew of the Johannes Kepler, the Doctor and his companions must journey into the heart of the Cloud… and beyond, into the darkness of another reality altogether. The universe of the Star Men.

Written By: Andrew Smith
Directed By: Barnaby Edwards

Cast

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sue Holderness (Kala Tace), Sophie Wu (Autumn Tace), Peter Guinness (Rovus), Damian Lynch (Fell/Lom), Kris Dyer (Nomar/Vedrin / Surgical Robot/ Pilot), Barnaby Edwards (Computer). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer David Richardson

Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

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