The seventh Doctor, Ace and Raine visit Margrave University and become involved with animal activists – of various species…
The run of seventh Doctor Lost Stories (of which this is the third) feels very different from virtually anything else that Big Finish has produced, part of which no doubt is due to the involvement of original era script editor Andrew Cartmel. As director Ken Bentley points out in the CD extras, the stories change tack regularly and don’t really fit into any category – which sometimes makes listening to them a little frustrating.
Cartmel himself notes that Animal uses a lot of the standard “Cartmel tropes”, as witnessed both on the show and in his War Trilogy of novels for the Virgin New Adventures line. This adds to the frustration for long-term fans, but does give the play a definite feel that it’s “about” something, rather than just the Doctor and pals having an adventure. There are some nice touches throughout – the way in which the Doctor’s masterplan unfolds in episode four is a particular highlight – which are occasionally let down by some weak acting, particularly in the first episode.
Big Finish have been deliberately vague about the menace in this story – suffice it to say that they possess a characteristic that would probably have been mind-numbing on television, but which works on audio (although you can understand why other castmembers got the giggles when they heard the voices in studio). What they’ve not hidden is the involvement of UNIT (whose acronym isn’t spelled out), and the return of Brigadier Bambera – and in at least one case, the group’s recruiting policy seems seriously faulty.
Verdict: Like the other Lost Season 27 Stories, this does feel like a throwback to the televised era of McCoy stories – which for some, of course, will be its strength. 6/10
Check out our reviews of this month’s other releases from Big Finish: