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‘Doctor Who’ Review: Big Finish’s ‘Once and Future: Two’s Company’

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Well Whovians, we’re back in a desert period without our favorite Gallifreyan hero with two hearts. We had Doctor Who back on our screens for a few short weeks, with the 60th-anniversary specials (“The Star Beast, “Wild Blue Yonder”, and “The Giggle) and “The Church on Ruby Road” Christmas Special, which saw Ncuti Gatwa officially taking the reins of the long-running sci-fi series. Thankfully, this current dry spell isn’t too long, as the next season is expected in the Spring. But if you’re like me, you’re probably looking to fill that time with some Doctor Who media, which Big Finish continuously produces all year long. Having reviewed the first three chapters of the eight-part 60th celebration series, it’s time to turn our attention to the fourth audio drama, Doctor Who: Once and Future: Two’s Company.

Doctor Who: Once and Future has thrust The Doctor in a direction we’ve never seen before. He’s degenerating before our eyes, fluxing through past incarnations faster than he can comprehend. The Doctor is unsure what’s happening but needs to find answers soon before becoming completely unstable… or worse, ceasing to exist.

From adventures with his daughter Jenny, and visiting a dangerous moon of Skaro, The Doctor has flown across time and space to find answers to his degeneration. So where does he end up in Once and Future: Two’s Company? Back to Earth, of course!

[Warning: Spoilers from Doctor Who: Once and Future: Two’s Company are below!]

Two Doctors in Doctor Who: Once and Future: Two’s Company

The Doctor needs answers, and quickly. Having just stopped another devious plan of Davros, the creator of The Daleks, on Falkus, The Doctor is not any closer to understanding what is causing his degeneration or how he can possibly stop it. What happens if he completely degenerates? Does he lose himself, does The Doctor cease to be? This impending fear and doom feels like it’s speeding ever closer, as we are now reaching the halfway point of the anniversary series, Once and Future.

Once again, The Doctor shifts from Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor to Colin Baker’s Sixth, just in time for him to arrive at one the most dangerous places in all of time and space. Early 2000s London. I know, it’s terrifying. But there’s a reason he’s returned to such an important time in both in-world and real-world Doctor Who, with this story taking place not long after the show’s revival at the hands of Russell T. Davies, there’s a lead on the degeneration weapon, which might finally give him some answers.

His search brings him in touch with a past companion, or perhaps a companion from the future, as time seems irrelevant in Doctor Who: Once and Future. Harry Sullivan, voiced by Christopher Naylor, has worked with The Doctor many times and is familiar with his antics and ability to disappear and reappear throughout his life. Harry has appeared in both live action, with stories and adventures with the Fourth Doctor as well as the Seventh, but has found new life in Big Finish audio dramas. 

Doctor Who-Once and Future-Two's Company

In Two’s Company, Harry’s working with a future incarnation of The Doctor to study desentherium, a mineral that can open a passage through time. It’s also completely possible that this mineral and its ability might be at the core of The Doctor’s issues. What Harry doesn’t know is that he isn’t actually working with The Doctor, but instead The Two (Michael Maloney).

For those who might not know who The Two is, don’t worry, I wasn’t familiar with the character either before Two’s Company.  The Two is an arch-nemesis of The Doctor and a fellow Time Lord. Upon his first regeneration, The Two begins to experience regenerative dissonance, meaning that each incarnation continues to live within the psyche of the next incarnation of the Time Lord. The more The Two regenerates, the more voices and personalities compete for control over the Time Lord. The renegade Time Lord discovers early in his journey that The Doctor is destined to thwart any plans he may have. Which brings him to Earth to rain down hell on The Doctor.

As The Doctor and Harry work together to get to the bottom of the desentherium and The Two, there’s another story that’s set into motion by none other than River Song. Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) has recently seen her daughter fly off with The Doctor, meaning she’s early on in her journey of self-discovery. She’s feeling lost without Rose there, unsure of what to do or how to keep herself afloat. However, with a slight push from The Doctor’s wife, Jackie seeks out Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan) for a cleaning job. 

Although Lady Christina doesn’t need a cleaner, she and Jackie bond quickly, and the two set off on their own adventure to sell a piece of jewelry that will catch a small fortune. Their journey brings them directly to the Doctor, as both stories become intertwined to a shocking conclusion.

The positives and negatives of this Big Finish Doctor Who adventure

So far, I’ve made it through four chapters of the Doctor Who: Once and Future series, and Two’s Company is perhaps the most polarizing of the bunch. There are aspects of this chapter that I love a lot, and other parts that made it feel like a drag.

To begin with the positives, I think the storyline focusing on Jackie and Lady Christina was some of the most fun I’ve had throughout the entire series. Part of that is due to the heartbreaking reality that Jackie faces about her fears of Rose traveling with the Doctor. Learning that not everyone makes it back, which is a danger posed to her daughter. As a parent, that has to be terrifying, but Two’s Company allows some personal growth for Jackie, which the series proper sometimes lacks.

Also, Lady Christina was exciting in her one-off special of Doctor Who, so it’s even more enjoyable to see her back once again. She’s thrilling and feeds well off of Jackie’s chaotic energy, creating an enjoyable storyline that made me want to keep listening.

However, The Doctor’s storyline with The Two and Harry wasn’t nearly as engaging as I would have hoped, being that we are halfway through this anniversary special. Baker does a great job with his role, capturing the essence of what made his Doctor so important, but Two’s Company doesn’t seem to do much as far as pushing this story forward. It feels like it stalls just a bit, creating some drag that Once and Future can’t afford to take on.

Something interesting I noted as well, is that there is almost a lack of background noise that seems to be rather standard for Big Finish productions. Part of what brings the story to life is the sounds of the world around the characters coming to life. But Two’s Company felt rather flat and one-dimensional compared to some of the earlier chapters. Hopefully, once I listen through it all together back-to-back, the difference won’t be so stark, but it felt rather apparent from the moment I started listening to it in my car.

Final thoughts on Doctor Who: Once and Future: Two’s Company

Overall, while Two’s Company is an essential piece of the larger puzzle of Doctor Who: Once and Future, it’s not one that I’ll be looking to listen to over and over. It’s a bridge that gets from one chapter to another, and the pieces of this episode that work, work well.

Jackie and Lady Christina make this episode delightful and digestible, as their chemistry and banter are exciting and refreshing. If you’ve been listening to the entire series, this is a part that you cannot miss. But if you’re looking for a fantastic piece of standalone work from Big Finish, you might look towards one of the chapters that have come before.

Doctor Who: Once and Future: Two’s Company is available now. Let us know on social media @mycomsiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on checking on this episode!

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 365 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson