My Big Finish Short Trips have gone down quite well: on Good Reads, Flywheel Revolution has 4.5 stars; Black Dog has 4. The stories are sold directly from Big Finish, so sites like Amazon don’t have them listed or reviewed, but somehow Flywheel Revolutions has ended up on Library Thing, with a single review giving it 3 stars.
Many reviewers picked up an old-school Science Fiction feel to Flywheel Revolution. Mass Movement said “There’s more than a touch of Ray Bradbury”, while Matt Michael said it was like “like an episode of 1960s science-fiction series Out of the Unknown” in DWM. Third Eye Cinema thought it has “equal touches of Isaac Asimov and … Harlan Ellison”.
Flywheel also earned praise for what SFX called “world-building with a nicely retro edge”. Ed Wakinson said “the world building is wonderful and the characterisation second to none” at Planet Mondas, whilst Sue Davis added “[Frankie] explains the history of his planet and how this has come to be so beautifully, I defy you not to feel a little bit watery-eyed” at SF Crows Nest. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however, with The Time Scales complaining that “instead of engaging you into a fulfilling sci fi romp instead it leaves you struggling to identify and establish characterisation and story arc”, and Laura Dahlinger said “There are a lot of great ideas to explore in here but it just feels like it’s cut short by about 5-10 minutes”.
Black Dog Was seen as the more challenging story of the two, with reviewers picking up on allusions to religion (“Looks like author Dale Smith has a bit of a bone to pick with religion, n’est-ce pas?” asked Third Eye Cinema) and also to depression. Planet Mondas said “it isn’t easy listening by any means, it is a dense and involving 35 minutes that demands attention from the listener”, whilst Laura Dahlinger “was honestly a bit confused by the ending, though I heard the story twice”. Others noticed that the story is closely tied to “the themes of science over superstition that characterised the Fourth Doctor and Leela’s time together”, as Planet Mondas put it: or, as Christopher Buchanan puts it on Good Reads, a “nice, compact story about good ol’ Leela the God Slayer”.
Leela is praised as the star of the story: “she gets some good development, in that flashes of her inner fear are exposed, and yet her determination still comes coursing through,” says the Doctor Who New site. CultBox also praised the atmosphere of the piece, “the dark prose, redolent of bleak, damp weather”. Indeed both stories garnered strong praise for their narrators, with Louise Jameson and Peter Purves both being commended on their strong performances.