Yes, the official series 5 – and with RTD on board as well! This time round he is in a more advisory role behind the scenes, adding to the wealth of Big Finish talent proven in the past couple of years.
Cardiff is not so much invaded as occupied – these aliens look human enough to avoid mass panic, and have built enough financial and political clout to make them a formidable foe for anyone who should want to shift them. But these newcomers may not be all that’s alien in Cardiff, and things are never straighforward where the freshly-rebuilding Torchwood are involved…
As the finale to Aliens Among Us approaches, it seems a good time to have a look back at some of the recent entries in Big Finish’s monthly range of Torchwood that has helped pave the way in popularity and quality. They all feature members of the team who would be unlikely to appear in that “fifth season” – though stranger things have certainly happened in the series! – and tell very different tales in different ways. But how do they fare as entries to the Torchwood canon?
There’s a new Doctor in town. Or rather, an old one. Or rather, rather, a young one. Or rather rather rather, a new old young one. It all gets a bit confusing, this time travel shenanigans.
On Christmas Day 2017, mere moments after his appearance as the actual First Doctor on BBC1 (as opposed to simply the mere mortal who played him in Mark Gatiss’s 2013 Hartnell biopic An Adventure in Space and Time), David Bradley’s Doctor was inaugurated into the Big Finish Hall of Fame with the release of their First Doctor Adventures volume one. Two stories, from the pens of Messrs Fitton and Adams (chained as they are, without let or relief, to the BF writing table) starring the First Doctor and his original team of travelling companions: granddaughter Susan (played by Claudia Grant [who played Carole-Ann Ford in AAISAT]) and her teachers Ian Chesterton (Jamie Glover [William Russell]) and Barbara Wright (Jemma Powell [Jaqueline Hill]). Like I said, confusing. (more…)
Sometimes the most terrifying place in the world can be the most normal. When the Doctor, Flip and Constance visit a caravan park in Abbey Marston they are not in for a relaxing holiday. It’s not that people don’t come to Abbey Marston to get away from it; it’s just that people no longer here sometimes come to visit.
If you’ve never listened to any of Big Finish’s Short Trips range, let me advise you to do so. Yes, it’s a series of prose stories rather than full-cast theatrical recordings; but that makes for a very different style of story-telling that is perhaps more slowly paced, and more reflective of the characters’ mores and motivations than full-cast theatrics would allow, and as such well worth a punt or two.
If you’ve never heard a Short Trip written by Julian Richards, I’d advise you to get that changed asap too. His writing is subtle and engaging, and his characterisation pretty-much spot-on. Rarely a dull moment.
And if you’ve never listened to a Julian Richards story narrated by Mathew Waterhouse, Adric off of TV’s the Fifth Doctor Years, then… well, you can see where I’m going with this. Cos TL;DR… he really is very, very good.
Julian Richards’s The Ingenious Gentleman Adric of Alzarius is the second Waterhouse-narrated Short Trip (the previous being the excellent A Full Life, released… has it really been that long? …over a year ago, now) and it proves wholeheartedly that the combination of Waterhouse and narrated prose is meant to be. (more…)
At last! The heretofore Whoniversal asymptote that is the Time War has at proper last been reached by Classic Doctors. Yes, Big Finish’s latest Eighth Doctor box set is The Time War I, the first in a series of sets situated within the temporal reaches of the Time War (as opposed to just outside them, as with all Classic Doctor stories up to now).
And a very fine set it is too, with support from Jaqueline Pearce’s marvellous Cardinal Ollistra, two (possibly four) new companions, and scripts from the now ubiquitous manic typing fingers of Messrs Fitton and Dorney, whose metaphorical scriveny inflatable arm bands and day-glo swimming trunks are virtually never out of the BF writing pool.
The set opens with John Dorney’s The Starship of Theseus, which sees the Doctor and companion Sheena (Olivia Vinall) arrive on the luxury space-liner Theseus, only to find shenanigans afoot. Why are passengers disappearing? What waits under the space bridge? And above all, who the hell is Emma? (more…)
It seems rather amazing that a show I first watched nearly 30 years ago is still going. More amazing still is that despite the age it’s still very much the show it was; despite some very shaky seasons it’s recovered its heart and soul. It’s unlikely to ever hit the heights of the show at its prime but last season was a lot of fun and this first episode of S12 looks like more of the same.
Cured feels a little like a homage to some past episodes. It’s not the most original of setups with a research base and an excuse of humanoid characters for the crew to engage with. But the idea is nicely played out and the historical cameos allow some nice set pieces. Layered onto this light entertainment is a more nuanced subtext about the nature of evil; a bit deeper than most episodes involving the boys from the dwarf.
Possibly the best thing about the episode is a strong Cat episode; with Danny John Jules being allow to steal the show; many, many times. Anyone who’s ever thought cats were evil will not be surprised by some of the twists in this episode but no matter what your feelings are about feline friends these will make you laugh.
With a third box set, and the second to comprise entirely full-cast adventures, the Third Doctor, bless his little bouf, is back with us again. As before, Tim Treloar presents his on-the-button interpretation of Jon Pertwee’s eponymous Third Doc, ably assisted by Katy Manning’s Jo Grant, in a duo of stories set late in Ms Grant’s run.
First up is Nick Briggs’s The Conquest of Far, which is less a sequel to and more a direct continuation of TV’s Planet of the Daleks. The planet of Far is home to one of humanity’s greatest feats of spatial engineering – but it has been invaded by the Daleks, and is now a mere chess piece in a deadly intergalactic game. Can the Doctor save Far from complete oblivion?
Andrew Smith’s The Storm of the Horofax completes the set. A mysterious alien, apparently peaceful but with the ability to see the future, has made contact with the crew of Royal Navy destroyer. But who are the Horofax, and what are their true designs for the peoples of Earth?
Summer is always a good time for a blockbuster – if the promise of warmth comes good then it is a great way to relax, and if rain should encroach then it provides entertainment as respite.
Now it’s time for Big Finish to join the party, with another bombastic entry for Kate Stewart and Osgood taking aim at the holidays in UNIT: Assembled. For the fourth boxset featuring the latest UNIT lineup, Big Finish goes all the way back the 70s (or was it the 80s?) and a Silurian menace threatening humankind.
Good job they’ve got some old friends to call up – but the Silurians aren’t on their own either…
It is a beautiful but rare thing, the thud of a new Scarifyers audio on the metaphorical doormat – but we live in miraculous times, for such a thud has just been heard. Yes, for the first time since 2014’s The King of Winter, Messrs Crow and Dunning of MI13 are back in The Gnomes of Death. This time the pair are having to deal with the mysterious appearance of depeditated corpses (that’s having had their feet cut off), followed by Morris dancing, the odd Indian god or two and copious amounts of real ale. Just another weekend in 1930s Britain, then.
Although the culprits are telegraphed a little before the story has even begun – not least by the title and cover illustration – as with all Scarifyers stories it’s really the rollercoaster of the narrative, rather than the abrupt halt of the denouement, that’s the joy of the thing. And a veritable rollercoaster it is, too: in the grand tradition of scripts from writers Simon Barnard and Paul Morris, it’s a mix of adventure and comedy that never compromises the one for the other, but simultaneously seems to go overboard in providing each. Achieving that balance is quite the feat, and I only wish I could do it myself. (I can. Please pay me. You know you want to.) (more…)