The Fifth Doctor finds himself facing both something powerful and his ongoing self-doubt in the Doctor Who audio Thin TIme.
Thin Time is the first of two Fifth Doctor stories in this month’s regular Doctor Who audios from Big Finish. Currently, the Doctor is traveling on his own and taking a bit of a break from all of his friends. He’s had several adventures without them already (see last month’s anthology Time Apart), and Thin Time continues that thread. But it also significantly develops it, too.
I always get excited when I see Dan Abnett’s name in the writing credits. He hasn’t written many Doctor Who audios, but he’s written a lot of licensed fiction across various franchises and even mediums, and he’s consistently fantastic. So I had high expectations for Thin Time, and honestly, it did not disappoint.
First of all, it’s a fantastic blend of old-school sci-fi with a classic haunted house story. In some ways, it reminds me of the Eighth Doctor story The Chimes of Midnight – arguably, one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever in any medium. However, Thin Time is also very much its own thing, in several key ways.
Uncovering the mystery
For one thing, there’s the way the story is told. Thin Time begins with the famous writer Charles Crookshap having some exciting news for his old friend John Hobshaw, as he reveals how he’s broken the ultimate barrier: time.
There are clear nods to The Time Machine at the very start, but Thin Time very quickly becomes something else entirely, especially when the Doctor arrives. There’s a mystery driving this story, and the listener is very quickly drawn to that mystery as it unfolds. We find out more about what’s going on piece by piece, but at the same time, Abnett makes sure that we don’t find out too much too early. It’s a very delicate balance, and Abnett handles it just right.
We’re also introduced to several distinctive characters, too. Characters that each has a clear role to play in this story. The writer; the teacher; the servant. The core cast of characters is kept small, allowing Abnett to give each of them just the right amount of focus.
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Exploring the Fifth Doctor
That focus includes the Doctor. What really stands out about Thin Time is that it’s not just about the Doctor solving a mystery or saving the world. After all, he’s used to these things by now. No, it’s more about confronting recent traumas and his ongoing self-doubt.
This highlights what I’ve been enjoying about this current arc for the Fifth Doctor. Ever since Tartarus, there’s been a thread in his stories that have examined him on a deeper level, especially last year’s finale Conversion, which explored his grief over losing Adric in a fresh way.
Thin Time continues that sense of exploration, giving us some really great moments that reveal exactly what’s going on through his head right now. So not only does Thin Time work as a great story on its own, but it’s also a fantastic continuation of one of the best explorations of the Fifth Doctor yet. A great start to this double-bill.
Do you enjoy a good haunted house story? Can you think of any that you enjoyed in the Doctor Who universe? Let us know in the comments below.