Doctor Who: Stranded 4 – The Keys of Baker Street & Best Year Ever Review

The Stranded run of Eighth Doctor stories reaches its conclusion… I was going to put “epic conclusion” but that wouldn’t be right, for better or worse. Without giving too much away the key plot point of Stranded gets resolved in the “The Keys of Baker Street” and what we have for a finale is a rather more tame epilogue that I’ll be honest didn’t really work for me. Want to know more? Read on!

“The Keys of Baker Street” is a fun story, though as an end of the Stranded line it’s falls a bit flat. Once again avoiding spoilers is hard but basically The Doctor’s latest plan to solve everything and return the timeline back to normal results in a total collapse of the timeline itself, trapping all the Baker Street regulars of The Doctor, Liv, Helen, Tania, Andy, Robin, Tony, Ken, Aisha, Zakia and even Mr. Bird (Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, Hattie Morahan, Rebecca Root, Tom Price, Joel James Davison, Jeremy Clyde, Alan Cox, Amina Zia, Avita Jay and Clive Wood *sigh!*) in a void where the only thing that exists is the house on Baker Street itself and the keys to the various doors open up memories created in the house and soon result in some key emotional baggage being solved. There is also an appearance from Colin Baker’s incarnation of The Curator, who does talk with The Doctor at one point, that was good fun, especially the Eighth Doctor jabbing at his predecessor by saying that with all cryptic clues the Curator was spouting he was “surprised he wasn’t also Scottish”. Basically the episode can be a little all-over-the-place, plus the ending is a bit… “Okay then” rather than exciting. Not what I was expecting…

One last look at the horizontal line up!

The same can definitely be said about “Best Year Ever”. With the actual main plot resolved in the previous episode our cast of regulars spend a year in the actual 2020, which means living through the lockdowns and pandemic. Frankly it felt far, far too soon to “look back” at the COVID-19 pandemic so scenes of Zoom quizzes, people “clapping for carers”, working out to Joe Wicks or more importantly, losing loved ones was just a depressing reminder of not even two years ago that I really didn’t need right now. There was a nice scene of everyone throwing The Doctor a birthday party but that was about it for highlights, even the ending fell flat on its face, which I’ll get to in the spoiler section. This was a shocker given it came from the virtual pen of John Dorney, a writer who has pretty much hit it out of the park every time he’s written a Who story…

Overall it was a pretty poor end to the Stranded sub-series, then again I never really got on with it as much as other “series” anyway, never been a big fan of the soapy aspects that can leak into Doctor Who from time to time. Still happy to see them try something new, and as a big fan of Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor I’m still looking forward to seeing what comes next!

The Continuity:

As per usual with the Stranded series, the only real continuity is with past episodes of Stranded, which can be viewed in the Eighth Doctor tab at the top of the page.

Overall Thoughts:

“The Keys of Baker Street” ended the crazy alternate timeline story with an average tale and then “Best Year Ever” was a slow walk down unpleasant memory-lane, memories that aren’t even old ones yet, and ends on a cop-out. Can’t say I’ll be listening to these two stories again any time soon…

There isn’t much else to add when talking about “Keys of Baker Street”, but I will talk about the ending to “Best Year Ever”, which plays with the idea that Liv is stuck between wanting to stay behind with Tania and continuing her travels in the TARDIS with The Doctor and Helen. In the end, despite everyone from Baker Street (who didn’t die from the Corona Virus, remember that? What? It’s still happening? Oh yeah, right…) forming a new version of the previously deadly “Divine Intervention” organisation to do good in the world Liv leaves with The Doctor and Helen instead, leaving Tania sobbing of the doorstep… then the TARDIS rematerialises and Liv gets out, thanks The Doctor and stays with Tania. So basically we get both potential endings at once, and future adventures with Liv now have lower stakes as a result because we know she survives them. What an uncharacteristically big story-writing error, from John Dorney no less! Oh well…

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