Recap / Big Finish Doctor Who 016 Storm Warning

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The journey of filling a thousand narrative blanks begins with a single audio.

This is the first Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama featuring the Eighth Doctor, five years to date since he made his debut in the TV movie. It is also the debut story of India Fisher as the Eighth Doctor's first audio companion, Charley Pollard. (Though not his first actual companion, as he had had several in both his book series and comics series by that point.)

It would turn out to be the first of an extensively long line of audios for Paul McGann when his character became a runaway hit. The audios began to explore the untapped potential of the Eighth Doctor, where the sky's the limit.


October, 1930. His Majesty's Airship, the R101, sets off on her maiden voyage to the farthest-flung reaches of the British Empire, carrying the brightest lights of the Imperial fleet. The Eighth Doctor ends up on the R101 entirely by accident, and soon meets an upper-class runaway named Charlotte Pollard (Charley for short), who has snuck aboard in men's clothing. She dreams of being an Edwardian Lady of Adventure, and was rather hoping to hitch a ride to a romantic encounter on a rooftop in Singapore. The Doctor knows what will happen to the ship, but before he can make his way back to the TARDIS, he's captured and mistaken for a German spy. Playing along as Herr Dr. Johann Schmidt, he realises that a Vortisaur (a vortex pterodactyl) has followed him in from the time vortex, and he tames the beast by letting it drink his blood. It's not the only alien aboard, though — the mysterious special passenger is the Prime of the Engineer caste of the Triskele. The three-caste race is looking for a new Lawgiver, and they have their eyes set on Lord Tamworth. The Uncreator caste, however, are also eyeing Rathbone, an Afrikaans traitor who's easily manipulated. He shoots the Triskele Lawgiver, which sets the Uncreators free of their mental bond with the law and gives them a great excuse to declare war.

However it turns out the new generation of Triskele Uncreators, who have never encountered predators before, are frightened of the humans, and scared away by roaring. In the end, the Doctor convinces the Triskele that they can live without a Lawgiver if their Engineers and Uncreators learn how to work together. It will take time and effort, but it's possible. Tamsworth, now the new Lawgiver, leaves to teach the Triskele this. But Rathbone gets his hands on the Triskele energy weapon. The Doctor needs prevent history from being changed by alien technology. He doesn't need to do anything special to save the day, though, as the crash of the airship makes Rathbone's plans moot anyway. But since he and Charley manage to escape from Rathbone on the Vortisaur's back, Charley is now a living paradox — a girl who shouldn't be alive.

The Doctor briefly considers putting her back on the airship just before the crash so she'll die in her proper time. But he can't bring himself to do so, and they leave for adventures together with Ramsay the Vortisaur.

Tropes:

  • Accent Relapse: Invoked by the Doctor when he's pretending to be a German spy.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Uncreators seem to be this, though they are really all instinct and when confronted with humans roaring they are scared back.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: Rathbone is from South Africa and peppers his speech with the accent, and strange De Veldt sayings about lions and such.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Triskele have visited Earth once before in the distant past, and the triskelion symbol of the Isle of Man is said to be a cultural remnant of their first visit.
  • And the Adventure Continues
  • Axe Crazy: The Uncreator Prime, who loves destruction for its own sake, being all instinct.
  • Badass Grandpa: Lord Tamworth. Among other things, he takes on Uncreator Prime in a fistfight and wins.
  • Batman Gambit: Everything goes according to Uncreator Prime's plan.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The Vortisaur can sense time distortions.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Lord Tamworth
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the story, before he meets Charley, the Doctor spends a lot of time Thinking Out Loud for the benefit of the audience, and lampshades it by noting that talking to himself is a bad habit to get into and possibly a sign of encroaching insanity. At the end he has a relapse when he's trying to decide what to do about Charley, and when she notices he's talking to himself she also says that it's a bad habit to get into and possibly a sign of encroaching insanity.
  • Cassandra Truth: Toward the end of the story, the Doctor has a go at averting the historical crash of the airship, but of course nobody listens to his warnings.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When the Doctor is explaining to Charley what a vortisaur is, he mentions in passing that he used to ride them bareback for fun when he was a student. This turns out to be how he escapes from the doomed airship at the end.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Vortisaur is captured midway through the second episode and then is forgotten about until nearly the end of the story, when it suddenly becomes important again.
  • Clock Roaches: Vortisaurs live in the space-time vortex and are attracted to disasters involving time travel.
  • Cold Open: The first episode opens with the TARDIS encountering a stricken timeship being mobbed by vortisaurs, leading to the Doctor making an emergency landing on the R101 and inadvertently bringing one vortisaur with him.
  • Cool Airship: The R101.
  • Death by Materialism: Rathbone tries to reach the alien weapon in the rafters, which he'd just busted up with a wrench, and falls to his death.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The Doctor rescues Charley from the airship crash, reasoning that since she's a stowaway it won't make any difference to the death toll and history will be unchanged. After he's done it, he realizes that, since Tamworth went with the Triskele, one of the bodies that should be in the wreckage will be missing and history needs an unexpected body, namely Charley's, to make up the numbers.
  • Disney Villain Death: Rathbone.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Rathbone, who's been reduced to a puppet, shoots the Uncreator Prime when it tries to make him shoot Tamworth.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock
  • Establishing Character Moment: Rathbone gets two. First he's introduced as drugging a defenseless creature, then afterwards he's trying to force himself upon Charley for "Protection".
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: What Tamworth planned, and Rathbone tries after the climax.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The story introduces Vortisaurs, pterodactyl-like creatures who live in the time vortex.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: SPIN that Tardis into rescue, Doctor!
  • The Evils of Free Will: The reason for the Fantastic Caste System of the Triskele. Lord Tamworth says he will teach them to live again with free will.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: The Triskele apparently have a different naming order from English, as the Engineer Prime addresses the other characters as Tamworth Lord, Frayling Lieutenant-Colonel, Zelda Madame, and Doctor The.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The Triskele Engineers have an entirely pacifist culture, so the Engineer Prime is horrified when the Doctor encourages her to shout to frighten away the Uncreators. Shouting is barbaric!
  • Flying Saucer: The Triskele mothership.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Airship in question is not a future or alternate history, it's the R101, which crashed in France on its maiden voyage in October 1930.
  • Freudian Trio: The Triskele have this sort of arrangement on a species-wide scale. The Engineers are the Superego, the Uncreators are the Id, and the Lawgiver is the Ego.
  • Friendly Enemy: Spies are received better than Intrepid Reporters.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Foregone Conclusion
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Lord Tamworth challenges the Uncreator Prime to this to give the others a chance to retreat — and actually gets the upper hand (at least until his opponent cheats) because the Uncreator Prime, although large and hostile, has no martial training or experience.
  • Go-to Alias: Well not quite, it's Johann Schmidt.
  • The Greys: The Triskelene
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The opening has the Doctor discovering an exploding ship that is stuck in the time vortex in away that makes go through the same few seconds of exploding, and the explosion itself, on a loop.
  • Heads or Tails: After making an unplanned landing on the R101, the Doctor flips a coin to decide whether to explore or to go back into the TARDIS and leave immediately. Using an alien coin with two heads.
  • Historical Fantasy: This story mixes the real life R101 Airship disaster with fictional characters and a rendevouz with aliens during the airship's maiden voyage.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: They're warmongering jerks.
  • Humans Are Special: But also pioneers, innovators. And possess free will.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: From the perspective of the Uncreators humans are Monsters, as they have never met any predators before. The humans scare them away by roaring.
  • Indy Ploy
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tamworth first appears as a rather stuffy glory-seeking individual, but underneath it all he has a core of honor and compassion that comes out as the story goes on and becomes an eminently lovable character.
  • Klingon Promotion: Tamworth beats the stuffing out of Uncreator Prime, and becomes the leader of the Triskele.
  • Lady of Adventure: Charley
  • Military Salute: When Tamworth is about to leave with the Triskele, the Doctor is heard shuffling about and exclaims, "Sir!", seemingly the radio version of a salute, conveying just how impressed he is.
  • Mistaken for Spies: The crew assume the Doctor and Charley are spies from the Zeppelin Company. The Doctor rolls with it.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Explicitly, Ramsay the vortisaur.
  • News Broadcast: A radio broadcast about the launching of the R101 is used to set the scene.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Lord Tamworth" sits in for Christopher Thompson, 1st Baron Thompson, who was a member of the Labour Party and Air Minister under Ramsay Macdonald, and the motive force behind the building of the R-101. He died in 1930, in the Real Life R-101 disaster. Tamworth's military background is also drawn from Thompson's. Making him a fictional character gives the writer a free hand with his personality (not to mention the bit where he goes into space instead of dying).
  • Non-Answer: The Doctor is a Doctor of "Most things and some things aside"
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Doctor, once he's been "Exposed" as a German spy, starts intentionally botching up English sayings.
  • One Last Smoke: When he realizes that it's too late to avert disaster and everyone on the airship is going to die, Frayling notes that there's enough champagne left for one last drink, and proposes a final toast.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When Charley is disguised as Murchford.
  • Pre Emptive Apology: The Doctor gives Rathbone one before breaking his nose and making off with the alien weapon Rathbone plans to take back to England.
  • Pretext for War: The Uncreator Prime uses Rathbone shooting the Lawgiver as this, even though he manipulated Rathbone into doing so.
  • Pronoun Trouble: The Triskelene seem to lack obvious genders. Charley refers to the one who was on the R101 with female pronouns, but Tamworth refers to the same individual as male.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Doctor's "English Accent" is almost good enough, but doesn't quite cut the mustard! Paul McGann doesn't use his real accent to play the Doctor.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Both the Minister and the "Uncreators"
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: Barnaby Edwards' Afrikaans accent is definitely not bad.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Triskelene get a bit confused by the Doctor's name and call him Doctor The.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Charley starts out disguised as steward Simon Murchford.
  • Taking You with Me: The Doctor threatens this on Rathbone.
  • Telepathy: The Triskelene. The Doctor is shielded from this because of his own latent Psychic Powers. Mention is also made of Madame Zelda, an English medium who was the first human to be able to communicate fully with the Triskelene.
  • Thinking Out Loud: The Doctor for most of the first episode, until he finally meets someone else to talk to. He even chides himself for talking to himself a few times, calling it a bad habit.
  • Villainous B.S.O.D.: Rathbone goes through one.
  • War Is Hell: World War I.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The first part, with the vortisaur attacking the airship, seems to invoke "There's something on the wing!"
  • Would Hit a Girl: Rathbone.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Yay! Tamworth beat the Aliens! Rathbone has stolen alien technology and at the end is trying to kill the Doctor and Charley.
  • You Talk Too Much: "Give it up, with the yak, yak, yak, will you?"
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: During their final confrontation, the Doctor threatens to deliberately bring down the airship to destroy the alien technology Rathbone has stolen, and Rathbone says he's not the type to do something like that. Normally he would be right, but in this case it's more ambiguous because the Doctor knows the airship is going to crash anyway.

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