Well, as advertised, the new Eighth Doctor storyline gets off to a rather… slow start. Stranded on Earth once again but with no UNIT to distract him, The Doctor, along with Liv and Helen, have to try and blend in with regular life in (a mysteriously COVID free) 2020 London. Does Doctor Who work in a contemporary and sometimes completely alien free setting? Let’s find out!
The TARDIS is gone. Stranded in one time and place, the Doctor, Liv and Helen seek refuge in Baker Street. But the house has changed: they now have neighbours – not all of them welcoming. And someone has a dire warning for the future.
The Doctor and friends face their greatest challenge yet: living one day after another, in 2020 London.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The idea sounds like a good one on paper: take The Doctor out of his comfort zone and tell more personal stories with the companions, and while it doesn’t always land for me personally, there were some highlights. The Doctor having to play landlord, his attempt to take over a police investigation because he needs a bad guy to chase down and “fight” were both fun concepts. Episode 1 also had some fun callbacks, The Doctor’s house on Baker Street was left to Big Finish companion Thomas Brewster and he sold it and turned it into flats, much to the Doctor’s distress, and an alien artefact that becomes a key part of the episode was apparently left behind by the Twelfth Doctor. The artefact drives the other tenants in the house to arguments and to generally shout at each other, so when The Doctor destroys it, it sort of unites them, I guess? That was sort of a side plot anyway, the key parts of “Lost Property” were more scene setting and the return of a certain future Time Lord…
Yes, the main bit of continuity is the return of The Curator, Tom Baker’s apparent far future version of The Doctor that retired with a “familiar face”. Here he just wanders around, talks to Liv and Helen a bit in cryptic fashion, and then claims that something very wrong with time and the universe is going on. He doesn’t do a lot, but what he does is good fun, really upping the shadowy foreboding as well as the Tom Baker charm!
Liv and Helen get plenty to do, the latter trying to adjust to her near future, and the former trying to adjust to her distant past. While Helen doesn’t do much exciting beyond being the main person The Curator is interested in, Liv gets to know and eventually accepts a date from Tania Bell, a transgender tenant at the Baker Street flats (I mention the transgender because it was specifically pointed out in the script, otherwise the personal lives of the actors and actresses aren’t any of my business, and doesn’t bother me anyway!) There was a scene in Episode 1 when Tania contacts someone about The Doctor, so… She has a mysterious background that will come to light at some point. Fair enough!
Sadly the Eighth Doctor stories now join the “same cover for all four stories” gang of Big Finish releases…
I really didn’t get on with Episode 2 “Wild Animals”. Full of soapy drama involving Liv working in a corner shop and getting herself and her boss shot in a bog-standard robbery gone wrong, complete with her boss dying from his wounds and his daughter who had befriended her now hates her and… ugh. It’s the kind of realism I enjoy Doctor Who taking away from my mind, not putting it back in. Sure, it had the aforementioned scenes of The Doctor trying to catch the criminal (who ends up being caught by the police instead) which were fun enough, but in general it was just… not fun? It had Tania and Liv decide to go on a date, which I’m sure to some is a big moment, or a controversial one, but as someone who’s never cared about same sex or trans … anything and has always been happy for anyone to do whatever makes them happy, it was just “oh, okay.”. This isn’t what I watch Doctor Who for, basically.
To get them out of the way, the TARDIS was busted in the previous story “Day of The Master”, while The Curator appeared in the 50th Anniversary story “Day of the Doctor”. Both should be pretty obvious or well known by now!
107 Baker Street has been The Doctor’s home for many audio stories, starting with Fifth Doctor story “The Haunting of Thomas Brewster” and has appeared across multiple Doctor eras, including a few times with The Doctor and Liv. Speaking of Brewster, he was left the house by The Doctor in “A Perfect World”, the one-part side story following on from “Time Reef”, both also featuring the Fifth Doctor.
Jim (and by extension, his brother Midge) and the underground warehouse they run made a brief appearance in Doom Coalition episode “The Doomsday Chronometer”. Midge mentions that by 2020 UNIT was defunded, explaining while The Doctor doesn’t just go back to work with them. Handily this was a fact established in Thirteenth Doctor story “Spyfall”, so even though their license doesn’t extended that far, they can still mention it as a rumour, like they did (not that I think the BBC would go after them if they just confirmed it!)
Stranded gets off to a slower start, the first episode is full of fun continuity nods and an enigmatic performance from Mr. Baker, but Episode 2 is full of real life drama that really didn’t click with me, even if it does have some more light-hearted moments with The Doctor to try and offset it. Still, it’s an interesting new status quo, and I’m interested to see which direction they go with it for the next two parts…
Episode 1 – Lost Property:
Episode 2 – Wild Animals: