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Recap / Big Finish Doctor Who Special The Last Adventure

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Godspeed, Old Sixie. We'll never forget you and your unforgettable coat.note 
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The one that finally righted a great wrong and said good-bye to Six in pageant-like fashion.

In 1987, Colin Baker, after an ostensibly three-year tenure on Doctor Who as the Sixth Doctor, was torn from the airwaves before his time. Baker got rudely shoved out the door and replaced so acrimoniously he refused to do a regeneration story. As a consequence, his farewell performance just didn't happen, and we were met with a new Doctor who abruptly "regenerated" after briefly playing his predecessor in a blond wig.

Some time later, Big Finish Productions began the long journey of rescuing the Sixth Doctor after he had been thrown under the bus and lost out many upon many adventures that he deserved to see produced, slowly giving back what he never received. Almost three decades later, they decided to tackle the elephant in the room. This is the one tale he deserved most of all. A proper regeneration story.

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The Sixth Doctor embarks on his final adventure and comes face-to-face with an old and powerful enemy, who has wreaked havoc across many points in time and space, leading up to an ultimate confrontation. It’s part of an epic battle that spans many sections of his life, and involves many of his companions. The stories are connected by the presence of Michael Jayston as the Valeyard, the entity that exists between the Doctor’s twelfth and final incarnations. Also involved are latest companion Constance (Miranda Raison), Charlotte Pollard, Flip, and Jago and Litefoot.

The stories in the special are:

  1. The End of the Line
  2. The Red House
  3. Stage Fright
  4. The Brink of Death

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Tropes

  • Assimilation Plot: By The Brink of Death, the Valeyard chooses this plan to become every Time Lord ever, up to and including Rassilon himself.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The ending of Stage Fright; sure, Flip avoided a gruesome death and the situation could have gotten much worse, but the Valeyard accomplished his mission in absorbing a sufficient amount of the Doctor's negative energies. That's also not taking into account how many innocent people died to get those emotions going in the first place.
  • Back for the Finale: The Valeyard returns for a final showdown with the Sixth Doctor, and just about every companion who ever traveled with the Sixth Doctor joins him. Sadly, not Evelyn Smythe, one of his most notable companions in the audio range, as Maggie Stables passed away not long before this production was made and her story had already reached a definite ending; and neither does Peri, since she never was in a story with the Valeyard prior to The Trial of a Time Lord.
  • Big Bad: The Valeyard takes on this role in an epic four-part story arc.
  • Call-Back:
  • Call-Forward: The Sixth Doctor's choice to avoid going to Lakertya but ending up going anyway, resulting in his death and regeneration, parallels how in his future the Eleventh Doctor wished to avoid Trenzalore when he learned of a prophecy about his downfall occurring once he went there, but eventually needed to, remaining on the planet and resulting in his death and regeneration in "The Time of the Doctor".
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The cover art shows the Sixth Doctor in a red polka-dotted cravat, correctly in line with what he had been wearing at the time of his regeneration in "Time and the Rani". Spiral Scratch, a previous attempt to give Six a finale story, had a cover art which incorrectly depicted him in an aquamarine cravat because it borrowed a publicity still image of Colin from 1985, before he had switched to the red cravat.
    • This story features an adventure with Charley, but she is not among the companions The Doctor lists at the end. Instead, he name checks Mila, the girl he thinks all his adventures with Charley were actually with, thanks to some Fake Memories courtesy of Charley and the Viyrans.
  • Climactic Battle: The long-awaited final showdown between the Sixth Doctor and the Valeyard. The TV series was clearly leading to this point before Michael Grade intervened and the story arc was shelved. It nearly happened narrative-wise back in 1986, until Eric Saward had a huge argument with John Nathan-Turner over depicting a final struggle (the Doctor and the Valeyard get stuck in the Matrix and could do battle for all eternity) with Grade breathing down their necks to cancel the show if given the slightest excuse.
  • Continuity Porn: The final story for the Sixth Doctor takes full advantage of his lifetime to showcase everything fans love about him in the audio range, wrap up loose ties with the most memorable foe from his tenure, and more than anything else, the audio is designed to give the Sixth Doctor a big finish.
  • Crossover Finale: Jago and Litefoot return to team up with the Sixth Doctor again.
  • Demoted to Extra: Though Mel does appear throughout The Brink Of Death, she doesn't play a big part in it, mostly serving to highlight how thorough the Valeyard's plan is working in replacing the Doctor. Instead, the part of the companion goes to newcomer Genesta.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In The Red House, the transformation from Wolverine to proto-human is treated very much like drug-taking: with a sensory rush, some people being unable to deal with it, and others becoming addicted to the sensation. And local law enforcement is looking to stamp the practise out, and hunts down the illegal parties where it takes place.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • Well, we finally get the Sixth Doctor's regeneration here, so...
      Sixth Doctor: So... that's it? (sighs) Oh, well... (collapses) I've had good innings. All those lives I have lived... I hope the footprint I leave will be... light, but apposite...
    • And then we have the last words of the other Sixth Doctor as he begins to fade:note 
      Other Sixth Doctor: Yes, I will regenerate... Our future is in safe hands...
  • Foreshadowing: After the Sixth Doctor leaves the Matrix, Genesta begins calling the Valeyard similar names the Doctor himself called the Valeyard during his lengthy trial (the Knackersyard, the Boneyard, ect.). Initially it serves as a sign that she is like the Doctor in many ways, including having a love for Earth that had her adopt a Manchester accent and numerous sayings. However, it also serves to blur the line between when the Valeyard was posing as her and when she was genuinely herself.
  • Grand Finale: An enormous one at that.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Sixth Doctor, of course. In grand Doctor Who tradition, he does it when he realises that his brain is the item powering the Valeyard's plan to take over Time Lord Society. The only way to stop him is if he died or regenerated, since it wouldn't be his brain anymore.
  • Hidden Villain: The Master as Keith, a railway enthusiast in The End of the Line. The Valeyard in the same story as Tim Hope. The Valeyard again as Dr. Pain's assistant in The Red House, and the Valeyard yet again as Genesta and Coordinator Storin in The Brink of Death.
  • Hope Spot: Genesta as a whole. The Valeyard deliberately chose to disguise himself as a possible companion to help the Doctor, while withholding actual tactics on how to stop the Valeyard. He wanted to be amused by sending the Doctor on a wild goose chase, give him the chance to save the day, then crush his hopes and kill him. Unfortunately for the Valeyard, he seriously underestimated the Doctor by letting him out of imprisonment in the first place. That said, it's impossible to tell when the Valeyard actually replaced Genesta, and the Doctor refuses to believe that she was the Valeyard the entire time. The Valeyard refuses to confirm either way.
  • Insistent Terminology: In The End of the Line, Norman keeps telling people that he is a 'senior customer service manager'; not a 'conductor', a 'ticket collector', or any of the other titles people address him as.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Valeyard discussing his theatre play in Stage Fright is laden with this. Most notably he talks of how the last act in a story is the most important one, a comment on regeneration stories being considered central to Doctor Who, and that you sometimes have to rewrite it several times to get it right, a comment on how The Last Adventure is not the first attempt at giving the Sixth Doctor a proper regeneration story.
  • Long Bus Trip: Holy hexadecimals, did this finale take a long time to grace itself upon us! Know how Paul McGann sat waiting for his for 17 years and spent the meantime also developing his Doctor in Big Finish audios? Try 28 years for Colin Baker — long enough to raise children and grandchildren! Baker holds the record for longest time awaiting a regeneration story.
  • Louis Cypher: The Valeyard goes under the alias Timothy Yardvale in Stage Fright. The lack of subtlety is quite justified though, as he wants the Doctor to know who he is and what he is doing.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: On two occasions. The Valeyard saves the Doctor from a nuclear bomb so he can kill the Doctor himself later. He also disguised himself as a friendly Time Lord, so he can break the Doctor out of the Gallifreyan Matrix multiple times - the same Matrix where he imprisoned the Doctor in the first place - simply for another opportunity of some evil boasting about how he had tricked the Doctor. Unfortunately, he had the rather bad form to reveal himself while inside of a TARDIS that the Doctor is piloting alongside the Doctor's own TARDIS.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In The Red House, the Wolverines are a essentially a race of reverse werewolves. They are wolf-like humanoids who transform into hulking, hairless proto-humans when exposed to sunlight. Most of the race abhor their animalistic alter-egos and avoid sunlight at all costs, but a small band of rebels feel they should embrace their human side and hold secret transformation parties.
  • Spoiler Title: Although this is a rare justified example, since the whole appeal of the story is to find out how he died.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: In The Red House Charlie is strapped to an operating by Dr. Pain who intends to use the physic extractor on her. Dr. Pain comments that the procedure to a 'pure human', not realising that Charlie is one.
  • Take That!: While discussing Star Wars with the Doctor, Flip mentions that she likes Jar Jar Binks, the Doctor responds by scuffing at this.
  • The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: The fact that the Sixth Doctor has a regeneration story in audio format instead of a televised episode (barring someone putting out an animated version of his final adventure), means this trope applies.
  • The Reveal: So, what caused the Sixth Doctor to regenerate? Radiation! ...yet again.
  • Wham Line: "It's far from being all over."
    • Also doubles as a retroactive rewrite of the Seventh Doctor's first words, when he first woke up in a haze.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't know what happened to Genesta after the Doctor manages to foil the Valeyard's plan, as she never turns up again and the Valeyard never confirms if she actually existed or not.

Alternative Title(s): The Sixth Doctor The Last Adventure

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