I pick and choose with my Short Trips, and I almost always choose anything read by Peter Purves, who established himself as a masterful reader in The Companion Chronicles, and continues to do strong work in The Early Adventures. John Pritchard’s Out of the Deep brings the Doctor and Steven to an 1850s archaeological dig where they find the world’s first city — and, of course, an ancient evil.
Purves is a strong performer, but he can’t save this tedious, generic story that has interesting ideas but ultimately goes nowhere with them. Mostly it feels like Steven stands around and then the plot ends; I don’t know why this is told in the first person, for we get no insight into Steven as a character, and the narration often switches into the third to let us know what the Doctor is up to. If you’ve heard one ancient-evil-offers-humanity-its-knowledge-but-there-are-things-humanity-is-not-ready-to-know story, you’ve heard this one, and the story doesn’t offer enough other delights to really make itself worthwhile, even at its low price and short length. The worst Doctor Who short stories, I think, try to crush the television format into a 30-minute prose adventure, which does the medium a disservice.
Out of the Deep (by John Pritchard; read by Peter Purves) was released by Big Finish Productions in June 2020.