Doctor Who review: The Doctor is out of his depth in Stranded: Wild Animals

Doctor Who review: The Doctor is out of his depth in Stranded: Wild Animals
A terrible crime occurs in the second episode of Stranded 1. The Doctor wants to help. But this time, can he? Image Courtesy Big Finish Productions

The Doctor tries to solve an ordinary crime in Wild Animals, the second episode of Doctor Who: Stranded 1. But this time, is he out of his depth?

The second episode of the new Eighth Doctor audio series Stranded, Wild Animals, has to be one of the most unusual stories ever told. Not just on audio, but in any format. Because it’s one of the only stories set on contemporary Earth that has no sci-fi elements at all.

In this episode, there are no monsters for the Doctor to face. No evil villains trying to take over or even destroy the world. A terrible thing does happen, but it’s something as simple as an everyday robbery. There’s no agenda, no conspiracy, nothing that the Doctor’s usually familiar with. Just a couple of people getting shot over something as simple as money.

With one of his friends in the hospital, the Doctor knows what to do: find the culprit and bring him to justice. After all, the Doctor has stopped psychopaths and megalomaniacs on a regular basis. He can help to bring in someone as simple as a robber. Can’t he?

Doctor Who review: The Doctor is out of his depth in Stranded: Wild Animals
The Eighth Doctor is used to being a hero and saving the day. But is this one problem that he can’t fix?Image Courtesy Aaron Rappaport/BBC

Tragedy and comedy

What really drives Wild Animals, beyond the crime itself, is how the Doctor reacts to it. He’s so desperate to be who he is and do what he’s best at that he seizes upon almost any opportunity to catch a villain. Regardless of whether it’s something that’s really suited to him or not.

There’s definitely a fair amount of tragedy in Wild Animals, especially early on in the episode. The shock of a companion getting shot is a moment that hits particularly hard.

But at the same time, writer John Dorney makes sure to have a lot of fun with this story, too. The Doctor trying to catch a robber is surprisingly hilarious because, unlike the monsters or megalomaniacs that he usually battles, someone as simple as a robber isn’t something that he knows how to deal with. There are a lot of great moments when the Doctor keeps getting in the way of the police that are hilarious to listen to.

Wild Animals is a completely strange story for something like to explore, mainly because of how grounded and everyday it is. But it’s also a great exploration of what happens when the Doctor isn’t the best fit for chasing the bad guy. The glimpse we get of the Doctor in this story is someone who’s struggling to hold onto who they are when they’ve got nothing left, and it’s a fantastic story as a result. Another strong episode from Stranded 1, and another easy example of the unique stories that this series can tell.

Do you think an episode of TV could explore what happens when the Doctor tries to solve an everyday crime? Should there be more contemporary stories told with no sci-fi elements, either on or off the screen? Let us know in the comments below.