Featuring characters from across four different series, The Worlds of Doctor Who is an extremely ambitious crossover box set. But how well does it work overall?
Last week, with the first episode being available for free, I decided to revisit the special audio box set The Worlds of Doctor Who. Designed to celebrate not just fifteen years of Doctor Who on audio, but more importantly, the spin-offs that had been created during that time, the box set contained four adventures from four very different series. Stories that were connected by the presence of the powerful mesmerist Mr. Rees…
How strong was the box set as a whole? Upon relisten, all four episodes were enjoyable, although there were also some flaws in the overall story. The largest was Rees himself. While Jamie Glover’s performance is absolutely fantastic, a psychopath who can take over other people’s minds feels a little basic for a box set like this. Admittedly, he works extremely well in opening story Mind Games, but for the box set as a whole, something bigger might have been required.
There’s also the slight problem that, once he’s been introduced, we know who the villain is in all four episodes. With each story featuring a distinctly different team of characters, not only is the antagonist continually reintroduced as a result, but the audience will know who and what the threat is before the rest of the characters. This is only really a problem during the middle two episodes, as the finale Second Sight does continue directly from where the previous story left off. But it’s still noticeable, especially in a box set release.
Introducing each series
Now, having said that, there’s still a lot to enjoy with The Worlds of Doctor Who. First of all, it does an excellent job of introducing each of its different ranges to potential new listeners, especially with the first two episodes. Both Mind Games and The Reesinger Process capture so much of the style and atmosphere that have made both Jago & Litefoot and Counter-Measures so popular, while also working as excellent stories in their own right.
The same isn’t quite true of the remaining two stories. While The Screaming Skull and Second Sight are enjoyable listens, I’m not sure they capture the strengths of either the Vault audios (as usually told in The Companion Chronicles) or Gallifrey. But they do continue the box set’s arc nicely – particularly as they’re so closely linked.
It’s also worth noting that the finale is more of a traditional Doctor Who story than a Gallifrey episode anyway. And that works really well. While the threat the Doctor faces is in some ways something he’s used to – a villain who wants to take over the world and has the power to do it etc. – it actually works well as a finale to a box set where the threat was initially much smaller.
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There is a gradual feeling of escalation with The Worlds of Doctor Who, and ending it with a traditional Doctor Who adventure is a great way of highlighting how epic the Doctor’s adventures are on a regular basis.
While The Worlds of Doctor Who isn’t one of my favorite box sets from Big Finish, it is still worth a listen. As a box set highlighting just how huge the Doctor Who universe really is, it does a pretty good job. Admittedly, last year’s The Legacy of Time – which featured six Doctors and a huge amount of characters from various spin-offs – arguably did a better job of that, and it’s hard not to compare Worlds to it. But while flawed, on its own terms, The Worlds of Doctor Who is still an enjoyable box set, and a great listen for both fans and newcomers alike.
Have you listened to The Worlds of Doctor Who? Do you think it worked well as a Doctor Who crossover? What was your favorite story from the release? Let us know in the comments below.