Technically, The Reaping is a Sixth Doctor story though in reality its a Peri story because it focuses around her and her family and friends. When the Doctor takes her to the Gogglebox, a place where people can see everything, Peri discovers her best friend's father has been murdered and demands the Doctor takes her back so she can attend the funeral. While the Doctor refuses to be involved in changing history, he does agree to take her back to the funeral where she finds she isn't welcome after her long four month disappearance.
When you know that these stories are connected to The Harvest it doesn't come as a surprise when we discover the murder was done by a man with super strength and the police holding the suspect are all wearing strange ear devices and that people keep repeating the same numbers 8687. Peri's experiences from her travels allow her to start piecing the bits of puzzle together but nobody is in any mood to listen to her until its too late.
Its no secret that Classic Doctor Who dealt with the effects of the companions leaving their homes but when they returned they either had no home to return to, never go home or arrive on the day they left. Lidster gives us a glimpse of what this sort of homecoming might be like and its in his favour that he gives us this previously unexplored angle of the Classic Doctor Who world. However because so much time is spent on fixing character relationships the ending feels rushed and is resolved in an abrupt manner.
Events in this story then lead on into The Gathering.
The Gathering is set before The Reaping and features the Fifth Doctor travelling alone after leaving Peri and Erimem in Monte Carlo for the events depicted in the one off release The Veiled Leopard. But if you think what happens to Peri in The Reaping is sad, grab some tissues because what Lidster does to Tegan is worse...
Tegan is my all time favourite companion so her revelation in this story is distressing to say the least. Set 20 years after the events of The Reaping, The Gathering sees Kathy Chambers move to Brisbane and trying to save her brother Nate by using Cyber technology and although he is in a different body, she recognises the Doctor straight away.
The dark tone of this story is lightened by the use of heavy handed humour, mainly from Tegan but the Doctor's comment about how breaking and entering is painful is also quite funny. Although I prefer The Gathering to The Reaping, it is a story that is stretched to within an inch of his life and padded to the point of suffocation with multiple clips from its predecessor but although it is a sort of prequel, The Gathering doesn't quite work. Come to think of it, neither story quite works for me which is a great shame when they come from the sort of story like The Harvest.
Overall both stories are worth a listen just have tissues at the ready. It is just unfortunate that both stories weren't actually needed...
THE REAPING AND THE GATHERING BOTH WRITTEN BY JOSEPH LIDSTER AND STARRING COLIN BAKER, PETER DAVISON, NICHOLA BRYANT AND JANET FIELDING WERE BOTH RELEASED BY BIG FINISH PRODUCTIONS IN SEPTEMBER 2006.