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…)
Once a year, Torchwood Cardiff does a different kind of public service – it helps the local police with long-idle cold cases.
Naturally, PC Andy jumps for this opportunity to follow in Gwen’s footsteps, though she isn’t to be his liaison – for what better member of Torchwood for Corpse Day than the currently-rather-dead Owen?
Together, Andy and Owen investigate a trend of missing girls, and soon end up far deeper than they expected. It’s not just The Rift that spirits people away, and sometimes humans can be more vicious and disturbing than anything beyond this planet…
Adrian Poynton’s Dethras is an interesting addition to the Fourth Doctor range. Its plot is something of a staple of Who – and I won’t go into much more detail for fear of giving too much away – but Poynton’s execution is full of, well, the bonkers. And I do love a nice bit of bonkers in my Who.
Bonkers, you ask? Well, yes. A WWII (or thereabouts) submarine that’s literally out of this world leads quickly to a talking chimp and marauding space cockroaches (well, that was my take) – and things don’t get all that much saner from thereon in. But the mark of a well-written play is in the resultant insanity’s consistency, and it has to be said that Poynton’s story really does continue to hang together. The bonkersness is only a backdrop to an exploration of things that, well, it has to be said have been well explored before in Who, but are none the worse for being explored again. A complete bastard who has a reason for being so. A guilty party who feels the guilt 110%. A talking chimp.
Nick Briggs directs, Lalla Ward and Tom Baker star, Jamie Robertson does the sound design and music, and David Banks goes “eek” a fair bit. And they all do it with the customary aplomb. It’s pretty-much flawless, and – apart from the lack of K9, who really should be contractually obliged to be in every Big Finish production (whether Tom Baker’s there or not) – it’s a great addition to the range. More from Poynton soon, please.
Dethras is available from Big Finish
Written By: Adrian Poynton
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), Alistair Petrie (John), Shelia Ruskin (Flague), Josh Bolt (Philip), Brian Vernel (Robert), John Banks (Franklin), Jane Slavin (Xankari/ Teacher).
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Occasionally, the Big Finish Main Range monthly release is a little different. A four-parter of some ilk, perhaps including work from writers new to the range. Or, as in this month’s release, a two-parter. Alien Heart and Dalek Soul.
And I have to say, it’s not a bad idea. It allows a story – two stories, in fact – to be told at a somewhat sharper pace than most of the monthly releases. Less padding, more action. Now, that will only work if the stories in question benefit from that pace – and, to be fair, many wouldn’t. Or at least, many of the main range work well spread over four episodes. But for the two here, I would say that the decisions to keep them to two episodes each were decisions well made.
Although not necessarily well made for the same reasons… (more…)
Once upon a time – a time of big hair, big attitudes and even bigger stereotypes – there was a corner of an exceedingly American part of the United States that was forever British. And it wasn’t just the provenance that made it a very important corner, but that it was the last line of defence for the West Coast against the alien threat… this was Torchwood, LA style!
Hollywood beckons, but wannabe actresses are disappearing – not into obscurity but actually missing. Can Torchwood’s heavenly heroines uncover and challenge the true nature of the threat, and at what cost?