Well, time for another laid back, rather silly Fourth Doctor adventu…wait, this one has characters dying? OK, this one may be a bit more serious.
But only a bit.
See, the thing is, as explained in the end-of-disc interviews, Big Finish does try to recapture the mood of the given Doctor’s era when they do these stories. This is an adventure with the Fourth Doctor, second Romana, and K9. That’s going to have a different feel than if it was the Fourth Doctor and, say, Leela. Or pretty much any other Doctor, with or without K9.
Yes, I am aware K9 was mostly a Fourth Doctor thing, but I do recall the special online episode that the BBC whipped up to tell the story of Sarah Jane Smith’s funeral had the detail that Seventh Doctor companion Ace ended up taking K9 with her for some reason, so I am not going to think too much about that.
However, it does mean the story can have some humor as the Doctor and Romana are sitting in 1960s London. K9 was piloting the TARDIS to random places to try and throw the Black Guardian off their trail, and the Doctor is checking tomorrow’s newspaper to see if he got the crossword puzzle right while Romana is maybe a little confused about what decade they’re in. Then K9 returns and is having some unexpected problems with his internal processors or some such, and that points to someone having a modulated frequency wave transmitter. That shouldn’t be, so it’s off to do some investigation.
What they find is the inventor unconscious, an MI5 agent named Barnaby Miller investigating and dealing with paperwork, and the inventor’s daughter concerned. The Doctor, being an enlightened soul, sends Romana off with the young woman to do some shoe shopping while he goes with Miller to look into a pirate radio station that seems to be playing nearby.
As it is, Romana’s grumbling over the shopping expedition was maybe unnecessary. See, the woman, Jill, isn’t the inventor’s daughter but a leader of the alien Vardans, another one of those hostile alien races that is looking to invade and enslave the human race. Also, some of the stuff she sees on sale comes in handy in the climax. Likewise, the Doctor and Miller find the radio station is being run by the inventor’s nephew, but another man there is another Vardan. Vardans can travel over radio waves, so the plan is to use the inventor’s wave transmitter to beam a whole lot of Vardans to Earth thanks to a subliminal bit in the pirate station’s advertising that makes people want to tune in.
OK, how does a pirate radio station get advertisers? Eh, never mind. It was amusing enough listening to Big Finish try to come up with some off-brand 60s rock because it wasn’t like they could use actual songs from that era without paying for them.
Anyway, that bit above about how Romana can do things Leela can’t (and vice versa) proves true because since she’s a Time Lord herself, she’s also pretty darn clever, so while the Doctor can do his thing and try to convince the two Vardans to call off their invasion, that humanity can fight, and they didn’t have to kill an innocent technician that riles up even the pencil-pushing Agent Miller, Romana can do a lot of jury rigging on that radio tower, so that when the female Vardans sets the transmission for her people and smashes the controls in such a way to prevent anyone from reversing the process…well, by then, Romana has reversed the polarity, meaning the Vardan ended up killing her whole invasion force rather than take the Doctor’s offer of just giving up and going home without any repercussions.
Some folks should really listen to the Doctor sometimes.
Well, that’s that then. As for the Doctor and Barnaby Miller, well, the Doctor says he works for UNIT when asked. Miller hasn’t heard of them. The Doctor just assures him that he will and takes his leave, and I think that’s a good place to stop right now.