Review – Big Finish Doctor Who #22: “Bloodtide”

This is the next in line of my Big Finish Productions Doctor Who retro-reviews.

#22 – “Bloodtide”

From Big Finish’s site:

The prehistoric Earth is dying. Thunderclouds roll across the skies, cloaking the land in darkness. The seas crash and boil as the rain turns to acid. The remnants of the Silurian race place themselves in suspended animation, deep below the surface.

One day they will awaken and reclaim their world…

The TARDIS has landed on the Galapagos Islands, a desolate outcrop of rocks shrouded in mist and fear. In the settlement of Baquerizo Moreno, there are rumours that prisoners have been mysteriously disappearing from the gaolhouse. A fisherman has been driven insane by something he saw in the caves. And the Doctor and Evelyn are not the only new arrivals; there is also a young natural philosopher by the name of Charles Darwin…

Written By: Jonathan Morris

Directed By: Gary Russell


Colin Baker (The Doctor); Maggie Stables (Evelyn Smythe); Miles Richardson (Charles Darwin); George Telfer (Captain Fitzroy); Daniel Hogarth (Tulok); Julian Harries (Governor Lawson); Helen Goldwyn (Shvak); Jane Goddard (Greta); Jez Fielder (Emilio / Lokan); Rob Shearman (The Myrka); William Johnson (The Myrka)

***minor spoilers ahead***

This is the one that started it all for me, which gives you an indication how late into the game I arrived.  This was the first Big Finish Doctor Who adventure I ever heard, and while I didn’t know it then, it was the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship, eventually declaring my everlasting fandom with a later 8th Doctor story, “The Chimes of Midnight.”  

“Bloodtide” introduces us to the Silurians – the classic, three-eyed, telekinetically-powered ones, not those wanna-be players they show us in the current television series.  Having dabbled in some of the classic TV episodes by the time I heard this introduction (which is worthy for those unfamiliar with their story), this audio made me want to go back and learn more of the history of Doctor Who.  First I watched the 3rd Doctor storyline The Silurians, and that prompted me to eventually take the years necessary to watch every surviving episode, in order, from the beginning.  Such is the power of Big Finish.  Who knew a line of fun little audio adventures could have such a lasting impact?

One of the things I love about Doctor Who is that it’s not afraid to mix history with controversial theory for the sake of a good story.  In 1968, Erich von Däniken presented his book Chariots of the Gods?, which asked questions about ancient astronaut theory in relation to the origins of man.  Two years later, the Silurians were introduced on TV, spinning the question around: what if those ancient aliens were in fact indigenous to earth?  Big Finish takes it one step further with this audio, presenting the idea that a rogue Siluran created early humans in a forbidden experiment.  Banished to the surface to die in the harsh environment of the age, those proto-humans evolved into, well, us.  Puts a nice spin on the tiresome creation vs. evolution debate, doesn’t it?  After all, why does it have to be just one or the other?  Why can’t it be both? 

Enter the 6th Doctor, who treats his companion Evelyn to a surprise meeting with one of her historical idols, Charles Darwin just as he’s on the voyage that will be instrumental in the development of his theories of evolution and the origins of humanity.  The end result is an incredibly well-told story that explores these themes and puts the Silurians at center stage.  Like many of Big Finish’s stories, this one is crafted for the newbie and the experienced fan alike and holds up to scrutiny from both angles.  Unlike the Daleks or many other Doctor Who baddies, the Silurians are beings who are not inherently evil, just merely fearful and desperate.  Their origin story promotes both sympathy and philosophical consideration, and this story is a great primer for such fan discussion.  Like Darwin himself, anyone who listens to this audio is on the cusp of fantastic discovery.