Here’s a mini Christmas special for Liz Shaw and Benton that skirts plausibility for the sake of a cute twist. It’s a Subscriber Short Trips bonus audio, bundled along with a Main Range subscription that includes Absolute Power (MR #219) or Quicksilver.
“I should’ve expected this.” Benton sounded resigned as he gazed from the creature up at the sparking hole hanging above them. “Christmas with the Doc is bound to involve an alien invasion.”
Benton, stuck guarding the fort while most of UNIT is home for the holidays, stops by the lab with beer and Christmas decorations to join the Doctor and Liz for a mad scientist Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, as Benton says, nothing around the Doctor is ever simple. They’re soon scurrying outside to investigate a hole in the sky and what’s coming through it.
The secret of the “Christmas Dimension” is ingenious and whimsical, but my inner scientist was balking at some of the “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” physics. Liz takes centre stage, which is all to the good, but she seems awfully blasé about exposing herself and a redshirt to an unknown hazard that might kill them! Then again, back in the Three era, I suppose one could zip over to the universe of antimatter the way we’d pop down to the corner grocer, so this is appropriate for the era.
In the end, it’s up to the Doctor to untangle the mystery and rescue Liz when her scientific curiosity gets the better of her. The Third Doctor is in his element, dinking about with gadgets, and Benton adds a homey warmth to the proceedings with his stouthearted bewilderment.
Stephen Critchlow reads and performs everyone, as usual for these Subscriber Short Trips. His Pertwee and Liz voices evoke the characters fairly well, although I couldn’t understand a lot of what Liz said over walkie-talkie. I’m a little perplexed by how Critchlow performed Benton: it’s a down-to-earth voice for a common soldier, but it’s not much like Benton. Whereas Critchlow captured him beautifully in A Home From Home.
I’ve recently binged on several exceptional Short Trips including Museum Peace, Christmas-themed Little Drummer Boy and Benny’s Christmas adventure The Hesitation Deviation (reviewed here and here). This one suffered a little by comparison. Still, it’s a clever concept, and I enjoyed it more on a re-listen. More Liz Shaw is never a bad thing.