While this part of the website is still glowing red hot from its recent crash landing it’s possible to use it to access our newest show: Talktor Who. It’s much more chatty show that our regular podcast and while it’s about Doctor Who it may just ramble a little all over the place, placey wacey if you will. Try it now: Talktor Who
“Previously on Torchwood…”
The last time we encountered Gwen and Rhys in BF’s ongoing Torchwood series, it was on the belting cliffhanger to Made You Look. So it was with a little trepidation that I saw Big Finish’s third season was opening with a Rhys story that had no credit for Eve Myles – could the worst really have happened?
Well, you may have guessed by the way the series varies its time of settings, but Visiting Hours is set before that story so entirely avoids the question – a certain Sherlock showrunner would be proud 😉
We pick up during the time in between Children of Earth and Miracle Day, and Rhys on a particularly sensitive mission – visiting his mum in hospital as she recuperates from a hip operation. But things aren’t normal in this hospital, and patients are disappearing… Can Rhys find the threat and save his mum? And more importantly, can he keep his language clean while doing it?
IN ISSUE 510, DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE
PAYS TRIBUTE TO SIR JOHN HURT
From Alien to Z Cars, DWM celebrates the extraordinary career of an acting legend who became the Doctor’s secret incarnation in 2013, including tributes from David Tennant, Steven Moffat, David Warner and Louise Jameson.
“It doesn’t need saying – John Hurt was one of the greatest actors who ever lived,” says Doctor Who‘s executive producer, Steven Moffat. “That’s not even controversial, that’s just a fact. I only met him a handful of times, but I can confirm the other thing that everyone else has been saying about him: he was also incredibly nice. Now, nice doesn’t seem like much of compliment, but you have to remember that this man was, quite rightly, worshipped by everyone he met. Worship has been known to go to people’s heads – but not John’s. If a man can remain humble and kind and warm as the world basically genuflects around him, then that is no ordinary man. The Doctor would be proud to be John Hurt – and for one very special day, he was.” (more…)
Between planet-hopping, facing threats both alien and domestic and flirting with everything else, you have to wonder where Captain Jack found time to do the personnel paperwork for Torchwood Cardiff – and given the rate of staff turnover there must have been quite a considerable amount!
In an appropriate echo of Everything Changes, Before The Fall follows a new person joining the team – Rachel Allen may be a far cry from Gwen’s confident police woman of action, but that doesn’t mean the biggest challenges will be whether to sink a colleague’s stapler in jelly or steal it, even if it is a red Swingline…
The sad new is true, Peter Capaldi has announced he will stand down as Doctor Who at the end of the year. After an epic xmas performance the 12th Doctor has decided this body is wearing a bit thin after staring in 3 incredible series of the flagship BBC show.
Peter made the announcement on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show tonight; speaking about the upcoming series this Spring he exclusively revealed the next series of the world’s longest running sci-fi show will be his last.
As the year draws to a close, Big Finish brings another bumper UNIT epic to warm the cockles. This time, an investigation of an energy buildup takes Kate and Osgood into conflict against one of the more insidious alien threats that the earth has faced – and once it’s time for a Silent Night, will anyone involved Remember Christmas, or anything else?
Just when you thought you were spoiled with the two-hour Torchwood Archive, here comes a bursting three hours of Cardiff goodness!
As the title and nicely-done disc art hints, Torchwood: Outbreak sees Cardiff at risk from a medical threat. But this is much more than an epidemic of sniffles – first they know you, then you love, then you kill…
With no vaccine or protection against the mysterious infection, the Torchwood team have to keep themselves safe as well as find the true nature and intent of the disease. Is this from nature, or could alien factors be at work? Or could there be a deeper conspiracy at play?
Although utterly fantastic and probably the best Third Doctor outing BigFinish had made so far, they can be said to have played a little bit safe with the Third Doctor Adventures Volume 1. Tim Treloar’s performance as the third Doctor was exemplary, and yet not 100% Pertwee – I said at the time that he was playing the Doctor, not impersonating Pertwee playing the Doctor. And that fitted in perfectly with BF’s own, slightly tentative approach to this untouched territory – they openly stated that they took the (largely disliked, okay, only by me) part-drama/part-prose route for the audio plays so that they’d be more acceptable to anyone offended by the replacement of Pertwee.
However, with this second Pertwee boxset, no such shrinking violetage has occurred. Explicitly asking the question of its audiences at various conventions as to whether the part-prose interpretation worked, Big Finish has taken their feedback on board and bravely – but rightly – decided this time to go down the full-dramatisation route. Similarly, Treloar has obviously been doing his homework in the intervening months, meticulously observing and learning the various tics and nuances of the actor whose performance he is reinterpreting here. I still maintain that he is playing the third Doctor rather than impersonating the actor who played the third Doctor; but bloody hell, he doesn’t half sound like him. While listening to the first box set there were moments I forgot that this wasn’t Pertwee’s own interpretation; with this new set, there was hardly a moment when I didn’t feel that.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already 10 years since Torchwood first hit TV, perhaps due in no small part to John Barrowman’s lack of aging. Like its parent show, it has worked in several guises across different media in that time, most recently having two six-episode seasons on Big Finish. And therein lies the challenge of celebrating it – with such a diversity of format (and not a particularly high character survival rate!) how do you reflect it all?
Cue Big Finish stepping forward, of course, and the bumper 2-hour The Torchwood Archive… but is this an archive worth digging in to?
For a man with no name, the War Doctor don’t half get around a bit. Yes, John Hurt’s grumpy soldier is back, joined once again by Jaqueline Pearce’s Servalanalike Cardinal Ollistra in a new Big Finish boxset: War Doctor Vol 3: Agents of Chaos.
This three-volume set continues the story of the Time War, and opens with David Llewlyn’s rather wonderful The Shadow Vortex: Ollistra sends the Doctor to cold-war Berlin to track agent of Skaro Lara Zannis, who is hell-bent on using the nascent post-war atomic science to usher in a new world order shaped like a million Daleks. Second is Andrew Smith’s The Eternity Cage, in which the Sontarans bluff and blackmail Time Lord and Dalek alike in an effort to grab a little Time War glory for themselves. And the set closes with Ken Bentley’s Eye of Harmony which has the Dalek Time Strategist basing his next campaign on a rewatch of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS essentially.
For a one-off gag, or at least a one-story device, as Steven Moffat originally intended the War Doctor to be for the fiftieth anniversary show, this incarnation of everyone’s favourite Time Lord has a surprising amount of depth and character. In part, of course, that is thanks to the fact that he is played by a superlative actor who lives and breathes characterisation; but it is also due to the care with which Big Finish amongst others have taken the skeleton provided by Moffat and added flesh to the bones. Despite being a soldier embroiled in war, the nameless one as interpreted by BF spends most of his time eschewing violence and yearning for a time when everyone gets on with one another regardless of race, creed or the ability to get up stairs without an ominously humming base unit. But this is no criticism: Hurt’s Doctor has every right to the name he refuses, since, just like all the others, he is a flawed guardian of morality and justice.
And the overriding narrative is strengthened further through a range of other characters of depth: Pearce’s wonderfully Machiavellian Ollistra, of course; Dalek agent Lara Zannis is played adeptly by Who royalty in the shape of Neve Macintosh; Honeysuckle Weeks’s Heleyna similarly plays a character whose true trajectory is well hidden until the appropriate moment; and Timothy Speyer’s Kruger, the Stasi officer who first captures and then aids War (as the kids have it) is a joy, with a journey that goes from traditional East-European intelligence officer stereotype through proper companion material to at last a sympathetic hero with a back story that actually justifies the choices he’s made.
It all sounds, as ever, great – the sound design, as professional as ever from Big Finish, creates totally believable environments; and a cast of fewer than fifteen delivers what feels like all of Berlin and most of the rest of the universe to boot. The writing is tight, taught and efficient, making for satisfying and unputdownable (now a word) listening. Overall, this is a joy and well worth adding to any BF collection.
There are those who thought the retro-fitting of the War Doctor into Who canon was a mistake that should never have been attempted. I was one of them. Well, I was wrong in 2013 when Steven Moffat did it, and I’m even more wrong now.