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?
“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?
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…
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.