The third season of the audio dramas from Big Finish Productions to feature the 8th incarnation of Doctor Who began in March 2009 with the first of eight installments, titled Orbis. This production, made available on the Big Finish website over two successive weeks in thirty minute installments, saw the return of both Paul McGann, as the 8th incarnation of Doctor Who, and Sheridan Smith, as Doctor Who companion Lucie Miller. Paul McGann began reprising his role as the time traveling Gallifreyian in 2001 for Big Finish Productions and has starred in over forty audio dramas for the company. McGann played the title role in the 1996 television movie Doctor Who, also known as The Enemy Within.
The newest season, the third, of the 8th Doctor Adventures picks up six months after the end of season two. As a short recap, the evil Time Lord Morbius, who 4th Doctor Tom Baker faced in the classic 1976 serial The Brain of Morbius, has been reborn and The Doctor faced off against him in the two-part finale of season two. Both Morbius and The Doctor have fallen to their certain death and the Time Lords have returned Lucie Miller to Blackpool, England. Six months later, a knock at the door brings back a familiar face to audiences of the 8th Doctor Adventures with The Headhunter (portrayed by Katarina Olsson) and she shoots Lucie Miller! That was how the second season ended; with a cliffhanger…is Lucie Miller alive? Is The Doctor alive? You’d have to keep an ear to the internet to find out.
The second season ended in August of 2008 but audiences had to wait until March of 2009 to find out what became of Lucie Miller and The Doctor. When Orbis opens, after a brief refresher on the closing moments of the season two finale, we find out that The Headhunter hasn’t killed Lucie Miller after all. She used Quantum Tipped Time Bullets to abduct her and get her assistance in finding The Doctor. The Headhunter claims that the TARDIS (The Doctor’s ship), which she was able to secure from the Sisterhood, is dying and spewing time waste across the universe, destroying the universe. She needs The Doctor to regenerate it so that she may sell the TARDIS.
We find The Doctor on the ocean planet of Orbis, living amongst the Keltons (and I’m hoping the spelling is correct since I cannot find any reference material giving an accurate spelling) and having lived among them for 600 years. His faithful helper is Selta (Laura Solon), whose father Yanos (Barry McCarthy) is one the elders of the Kelton people (a jellyfish-like race). The Doctor (being called Old Doctor by the Keltons, much to his dismay) is trying to figure out why the storm season has been lasting too long.
The Molluscary (again, not positive on the spelling) race have their own plans for the planet of Orbis. Their leader is Crassostrea (Andrew Sachs) and he (who is trying to become a “she” in a species that changes gender when they wish to spawn) is joined in his plan by Saccostrea (Beth Chalmers). They have been applying to the Galactic Council for a change to claim on Orbis by the Keltons, an amphibious species that needs land in conjunction with the oceans, but whose land is being destroyed by the never-ending storms.
The TARDIS arrives on Orbis and Lucie Miller is quickly thrown out of the TARDIS and into the Great Ocean of Orbis by The Headhunter. While she is forced to make her way to shore (fifty miles away), The Headhunter is in contact with others and her plan becomes a little clearer, she isn’t really here for The Doctor. Her plans include something at the bottom of the Great Ocean of Orbis. Selta finds Lucie Miller and pulls her from the sea and soon Lucie Miller is reunited with The Doctor, only to find The Doctor has no memory of her at all. And so ended part one of this episode. Part two opened with Lucie Miller trying to jog the memory of The Doctor. She mentions their adventures on Red Rocket Rising (which were heard during the first season opening two episodes) and the Glam Rock third episode of season one. The Doctor explains that he has been on Orbis for 600 years and has no memory of her.
We learn that The Headhunter is working with The Molluscary and that The Moon of Orbis has been drawing closer and closer to the planet, causing the storms. The Doctor doesn’t remember the planet of Orbis having a moon except for the past one or two decades. Finally, after having been slapped by Lucie Miller before she stormed off and in doing so transferring some of the chronal energy from the TARDIS, The Doctor begins to think past the fog of amnesia. He realizes that Lucie Miller can understand the Kelton people because the TARDIS is translating for her. Meanwhile, The Molluscary are sending divers to the bottom of the Great Ocean of Orbis to retrieve something for The Headhunter.
The Molluscary are ready to take over Orbis, despite Yanos and The Doctor’s pleas to the Galactic Council. The scope of The Headhunter’s plan comes to the forefront though, as we learn that she has had The Molluscary retrieve the Stellar Manipulator Activator that The Doctor took from Morbius at the end of the last season. The Doctor had been holding it when he fell into the abyss. The Sisterhood had saved The Doctor by transporting him to Orbis, but the activator fell into the ocean, where it had sit for 600 years. In return, The Molluscary was promised that The Doctor would be forced to leave Orbis forever so that they may feast on the Keltons before using Orbis as a place to spawn.
The Molluscary and The Headhunter want The Doctor to turn off the Stellar Manipulator, but instead The Doctor increases the power to it. This brings the Moon of Orbis crashing down on the planet, sending The Molluscary into a feeding frenzy. Selta even reveals that she had been working with The Molluscary in order to save her own family a deal that goes bad, of course. The Headhunter reveals that the moon is actually the Stellar Manipulator and that it had been travelling toward the activator at the bottom of the ocean for 600 years and only recently had begun to affect the weather on Orbis. The Headhunter takes the activator from The Doctor and throws it into the sea before she and Lucie head for the TARDIS. The Doctor, however, has decided that he is happy on Orbis and even though the planet and the Kelton people are dying that he wants to stay and die alongside them. Lucie Miller takes The Headhunter’s Quantum Gun and shoots The Doctor.
The Doctor wakes up on board the TARDIS. He discovers that Orbis is gone and with it the Stellar Manipulator. The Headhunter teleports away from the TARDIS and we are left feeling that The Doctor is upset that he survived. He seems to have wanted to give up, his journeys becoming too much for him. He was content to live a peaceful existence on Orbis, but now he must return to his journeys and trying to save Earth. He and Lucie are left alone in the TARDIS and we are left waiting on the next episode, however we learn that The Headhunter lied to The Doctor and Lucie (anyone familiar with the character will not be surprised by this) and that she still has the Stellar Manipulator Activator. She explains this to someone else, but who? Who is she working with and what does it mean for The Doctor? Did Morbius also survive? If so, is he working with The Headhunter? All these questions will, hopefully, be answered this season with the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who adventures and the Third Season of the 8th Doctor Adventures.