6 out of 6 found this review helpful.
To say that The Marian Conspiracy is one of the most important releases Big Finish have ever put out would be an understatement: not only was it the first story to feature a new, audio-only companion, but also was the company's first step to redeeming the Sixth Doctor in the eyes of the fanbase, and was also the first pure-historical Doctor Who story since 1982. And it's testament to the hard work from all involved that The Marian Conspiracy is a fantastic release that still stands tall with the best Big Finish audios.
Of course, The Marian Conspiracy introduced us to Evelyn Smythe, who was possibly the most radical Doctor Who companion to date. I mean, a chocolate-cake loving university professor in her mid-50's would never work, would it? But, of course, with Jacqueline Rayner's fantastic writing and Maggie Stables' exquisite performance, of course it was going to work. Evelyn is fantastic here: doing all the usual things companions do, but with a very different twist to usual. And her relationship with Colin Baker is lovely. From the moment the pair meet in episode one, you know you're in for a great time with these two, and that's exactly what happens. They are amazing together, and it's no wonder that, even today, they are still one of the most popular Doctor/companion parings.
The plot itself, it can be argued, is fairly unoriginal and standard for Doctor Who, but when it's told as compelling as this, I think it's hard to argue. Taking Queen Mary as a focus for the story is a fantastic idea, and I'm glad that writer Jacqueline Rayner chose to make her a fully-fleshed out character as opposed to a one-note cackling villain. The story is gripping enough, and the characterisation is superb, with everyone given a clear morality and viewpoint on the situation. That's something the historical stories did very well: the characters are interesting and well rounded, which is very much the case here. The acting is fantastic, particularly from Anah Ruddin as the Queen herself. Combined with some stellar sound design and music from Alistair Lock, the end result is a very sumptuous production that launches the Sixth Doctor into a new era with an amazing first story.
The Marian Conspiracy is definitely a classic from the early days of Big Finish, and one of their strongest ever productions.