Doctor Who: Shadow Planet / World Apart Review


Finally caught up with the Main Range with this, the last of the trilogy of two two-part stories, this time reuniting the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex, the classic audio trio whose story came to an end a few years ago. This story is set somewhat early in their adventures, certainly before their story became arc heavy, which makes sense given most of Big Finish’s Who output is placed in the middle of an established Doctor Who time period, so why not plonk a new story in the middle of your own established era? Anyway, enough of all that, both stories are actually good this time, with World Apart being a standout…

Synopsis (of Shadow Planet):

Troubled? Anxious? Tormented by self-doubt? Come to Unity, the psychic planet! From our therapy centre beside Unity’s idyllic shores, the Unity Corporation can help you overcome all your problems. How? By using a patented combination of technology and Jungian psychology, we can bring you face to face with your shadow self. The hidden you. The dark you. The you that no-one knows…

Rest assured: the process is perfectly safe. Nothing can possibly go wrong. And that’s guaranteed!

Synopsis (of World Apart):

If you’re reading this, it’s too late.

There’s no way off this planet.

You will never escape Nirvana.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) – The seventh incarnation of the Doctor, still in that transition phase of scheming but still a regular Doctor, but not quite full-on “fighting the Gods at any cost” scheming Doctor…

Ace (Sophie Aldred)Ace has been travelling with The Doctor for some time now, she’s more used to his ways, and has therefore taken on a protective big sister role with the less experienced Hex.

Hex (Philip Olivier) – Hector Schofield, or Hex to his friends, was a regular staff nurse before getting involved with The Doctor and Ace. Now he finds himself travelling across time and space, though he still is a nurse at heart…

Mrs. Wheeler (Belinda Lang) – The cold and heartless leader of the Unity Corporation. She sees the natural psychic powers of the planet as a means to make money, nothing more…

Sandy (Sarah Thom)Extremely shy and naïve lady who works as Mrs. Wheeler’s secretary…

Professor Grove (Nickolas Grace) – The genius responsible for the equipment that causes someone to separate their “Shadow self” from themselves. He soon figures out that this might not be the best thing to do …

Plus more!

The Good:

DW SP WA Cover

I’m not sure what pose that’s supposed to be that Hex is doing, but it looks so unnatural…

World Apart was the standout of the set. The whole two-parter stars only the lead trio, but you won’t notice it. Part 1 is all about The Doctor trying to find out where they are, with some nice character moments between Hex and Ace, and then Part 2 is almost entirely Ace and Hex stranded together on the planet alone, trying to survive. It’s very well done, with some great interaction between the two companions that just cements the close bond they have when it all starts to unravel later in their run. The end, when they find out the reason it took The Doctor so long to get to them is because the planet is an organism and him landing on it a second time could kill it, was great. Hex didn’t understand given the planet was trying to kill them, and would kill again, so why not kill it? Ace on the other hand just acts unsurprised.

When I heard the core concept of Shadow Planet, I rolled my eyes. “Oh, evil versions of characters causing havoc…Not very original!” but actually the shadow versions of Ace and Hex don’t cause havoc as much as they just lay around and watch the carnage, they don’t get why they’re supposed to put their lives on the line to help. That was a refreshing twist on a simple concept. Also the revelation that Mrs. Wheeler was a shadow self wasn’t surprising, but the fact that Sandy was her other self was. Throw in a few fun Doctor moments when he’s communicating with the planet, and it was a good solid hour of entertainment, though maybe not particularly memorable.

The Bad:

Not a lot. I think using a taped journal Ace keeps as a linking narration was not only unnecessary, but also rather cheesy and cliché (didn’t hurt the overall story much, mind you!). As mentioned Shadow Planet wasn’t as predictable as I thought going in, but I doubt I’ll remember much about it in a few weeks…

The Continuity:

Not really anything springs to mind. A nice standalone bit of Who.

Overall Thoughts:

While Shadow Planet is good, if unexciting, World Apart is a great story that fits in nicely with the many great stories that sprang up from this TARDIS trio over the past however many years. It was a nice reminder of the great chemistry between Ace and Hex, and did a good job of washing away some of the taste from Hex’s final trilogy of stories…

Shadow Planet                                         

3 Star Listen

World Apart

4 Star Listen

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