The first half of the story is set during the time that the Third Doctor is stranded on Earth, with access to time travel theory denied by the Time Lords. The period of the TV show where the Doctor is constantly tinkering on his TARDIS to “get it working” again, whilst working with reluctance for and under the sufferance of U.N.I.T.
The story begins with the Doctor, frustrated that nothing is going his way, reaching the (literal) end of the road and encountering an old ship’s captain. The captain is “landbound” in his own way, having been denied a new ship due to an incident with his previous one whereupon all crew ended up dead at sea with the captain being the only survivor.
The Doctor isn’t in a mood to listen to tall tales at first, and they depart, but the Doctor relents and catches up with the old captain just as he’s set upon by hooligans. The Doctor delights in despatching them, saving the old sailor, and they then go and share a drink at a pub/inn owned by the retired captain.
The captain tells the Doctor of his story, that his ship sank when coming into port. He was accused of being negligent when the ship hit floating debris, in not saving his crew. He tried to tell them that his ship had been attacked by some great sea beast, but no one would listen and no one was likely to sail with a captain with his reputation, especially one that makes up tall stories about sea beasts.
The Doctor believes he recognises the description of the sea beast, but the captain has made his peace with the past. Whilst he may look out upon the sea, reminiscing for the nostalgia of old days, he’s content to be content.
Months later, the Doctor returns to the captain. Following a recent adventure, the Doctor’s ability at piloting his own “ship” has returned. He takes the captain into his past, to see what really happened to his ship. They see the sea beast, and the Doctor explains that it’s a stranded metal-consuming alien that didn’t know it was harming people.
Later, now being clearer in his own mind of what really happened, the captain regains his sea legs and he and the Doctor depart, neither of them “landbound” any more.
Landbound is a quiet little story that doesn’t involve the usual U.N.I.T. team or any companion of sorts. The story has a couple of minor issues (the captain regains his command, but doesn’t seem the least bit remorseful, concerned, or guilty about the loss of his previous crew – something that I’d expect to weigh more heavily on him than knowing what it was that scuttled his ship), but otherwise it’s a harmless way to spend 37 minutes of your time.
Weaving the two “landbound” characters together works nicely enough, and the story the captain tells is intriguing if somewhat predictable. I half-expected someone to mention “pescatons”.
The story is narrated by Nicholas Briggs, who does a fair job of delivering different voices for the small cast of characters. He’s no Tim Treloar, but his third Doctor voice has a passing acquaintance with some Pertwee familiarities. There are some sound effects and background music to help the narrative along.
Landbound is a free story offered by Big Finish and, at that price, it’s a no-brainer. Download it, get yourself a cup of hot chocolate, and listen. It’s not going to rock your socks, but what else are you going to do with the next 37 minutes?