Doctor Who

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Thad
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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Wed Apr 15, 2020 12:04 am


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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Thu Apr 23, 2020 10:37 am

Now the next 50 Big Finish audios are on sale for $1.49 each.

I haven't heard a single one of these so I can't give any personal recommendations, but I've heard good things about

The Wormery (Six/Iris Wildthyme)
Scherzo (Eight/Charley)
The Harvest (Seven/Ace/Hex)
The Roof of the World (Five/Peri)
Faith Stealer (Eight/Charley/C'rizz)
The Council of Nicaea (Five/Peri)
Live 34 (Seven/Ace/Hex)
The Kingmaker (Five/Peri)
The Settling (Seven/Ace/Hex)
Son of the Dragon (Five/Peri)

If/when they put the next fifty on sale, I'll have some things to say about A Death in the Family, which is probably up there with Chimes of Midnight as one of the best I've ever heard.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Mon Apr 27, 2020 11:58 am

A very press-releasey press release announces some kind of cross-media thing called Time Lord Victorious.

Image

Time Lord Victorious will be set within the Dark Times at the start of the universe, when even the Eternals were young. It features the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Doctors, travelling across Space and Time as they defend the universe from a terrible race.

As well as three Doctors, companion Rose Tyler and monsters including the Daleks and the Ood will feature, plus more to be revealed over the coming months as products are announced.

Partners involved in the project include Penguin Random House, BBC Books, Doctor Who Magazine, Titan Comics, Escape Hunt, Big Finish and Immersive Everywhere.


Makes sense -- TV production ain't happening, so might as well do something with books, comics, and radio.

As to whether it'll be any good? Well, I've read a lot of damn comic book crossover events in my time, and my general opinion of them ain't great. You can tell a good story as part of an event, but I usually find it's best to focus on a small corner of the action and tell a complete story in that corner that works even out of context. (Squirrel Girl and Ratatoskr liberating Canada from frost giants; the Scavengers coming to Earth during the big GI Joe/Transformers Revolution storyline.) Maybe we'll get some good stories out of this, and maybe we won't.

Nine's prominence in the story is interesting; of course we can reasonably assume Eccleston won't be involved (if the dude won't even show up for a charity video...). Of course writers can still use him in comics, prose fiction, and audiobooks without Eccleston's participation, but the Big Finish/BBC Radio part is a question mark. Maybe a Companion Chronicles entry narrated by Billie Piper. Jacob Dudman has already done "Doctor Chronicles" and "Short Trips" featuring Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve, so I could see him doing more, but notably those are all audiobook format; they've never actually had him play any incarnation of the Doctor in a full-cast radio play.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Mon May 04, 2020 5:10 pm

Big Finish freebie: Jenny - The Doctor's Daughter: Stolen Goods

Also, they streamed this a few hours ago and it's still up. Not sure for how long.


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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Wed Jun 10, 2020 12:08 am


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Re: Doctor Who

Postby KyleYoung » Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:21 am

The opening has elements of Douglas Adams :)

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:54 pm

Big Finish has a Master sale on.

I haven't listened to "Master" but I hear it's good.

And I haven't listened to the last episode of The Diary of River Song Series 5 (which has River crossing paths with various Masters) but I've listened to the first three (where she encounters the Michelle Gomez, Geoffrey Beevers, and Eric Roberts incarnations; Derek Jacobi is in episode 4) and really enjoyed them. I think they're not just good Master showcases, they also play with River's timeline in interesting ways. (For example, episode 1 is River's first time meeting the Master, while episode 2 is the Master's first time meeting River.)

Speaking of Jacobi, the first episode of his War Master series is free (I don't know if that's part of the sale or if it's a permanent promo).

Sympathy for the Devil is also on sale (marked down to $1.50); it's a parallel-universe story with David Warner as an alternate Third Doctor (and Nicholas Courtney returning as the Brigadier) that I quite enjoyed but which probably requires some familiarity with the canonical Third Doctor/UNIT era to properly appreciate. Bernice Summerfield volumes 3 and 4 are set in that same alternate universe and also on sale; I haven't heard them but they've got David Warner in them, so there's that.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:11 pm

Thad wrote:Big Finish sale; the first 50 Doctor Who stories are half off ($1.49 instead of $2.99).

Same sale's back at the same link. See the rest of my post from April for recommendations.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:41 pm

I've been meaning to post some thoughts on some of the serials I've listened to but haven't gotten around to it. In brief:

The Sirens of Time (Five/Six/Seven)
This one's most notable because it's the first. Big Finish had done some Doctor Who-adjacent audio stories before, but this was their first crack at the Doctor himself, and they brought in Davison, Colin Baker, and McCoy to reprise the role.

The structure is an interesting choice; each Doctor gets a half-hour episode and then part 4 brings them all together. It's interesting for showing where this all started but isn't really a great serial in itself.

The Fearmonger (Seven/Ace)
Listening to this one in 2020 is fascinating in just how much it's simultaneously timely and off-base. The parts about rising racism and fascism promoted by far-right politicians and talk radio hosts all feels like a perfect fit for the moment, but the subplot about protestors being dupes of false-flag machinations feels more like a swing and a miss. I found the resolution unsatisfying, but it has some great work by McCoy and Aldred.

The Fires of Vulcan (Seven/Mel)
It's a Pompeii story. It starts with a really good hook -- archaeologists discover the TARDIS in the ruins of Pompeii in 1980; UNIT tells the Doctor about it; years later he lands in Pompeii and sees his death as inevitable -- but really falls flat on the execution. The Doctor gives up way too easily, resigning himself to his fate for the first couple of episodes until he has a narratively-convenient change of hearts and decides he's going to try to save himself after all, and then the final resolution of how the TARDIS got buried in the ruins of Pompeii in the first place is pretty lame. It's a decent enough story with good performances, but it really wastes its premise.

Human Resources (Eight/Lucie)
This one requires a little bit of buildup since it's concluding a season-long storyline; at least listen to Blood of the Daleks, the serial that introduces Lucie, first.

Anyhow, the headhunter who's been trying to catch up with her all season finally does, and...it turns out she's a headhunter in the corporate sense. Lucie has been forcibly recruited to work in a corporate office.

I really like this one; it's one of those great Doctor Who social satires about the banality of war. There's some kind of cosmic war afoot, but the people waging it don't even know that's what they're doing; as far as they're concerned they're just workers in an office building somewhere.

I really like the Doctor's characterization in this one, too; he bluffs his way into a boardroom and has no idea what's going on but thinks on his feet and bluffs and as soon as he realizes they're waging a war he starts making policy proposals that will minimize fatalities and justifying them in ways that the executives will accept. He doesn't have all the information and makes a crucial mistake, but I think it's a great example of the Doctor trying to do the right thing, and charming his way into control of the room, even though he's not entirely sure what's going on.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:10 pm

The Holy Terror (Six/Frobisher)
Between this and Jubilee, I'm seeing a pattern in Robert Shearman's Sixth Doctor scripts: they're bracingly dark, shockingly violent, bitingly satirical, and slyly metafictional. I'm beginning to see why the Sixth Doctor is so much more beloved by the Big Finish fandom than the people who just saw him on TV.

The story takes place on a world governed by a religious tradition: the king is worshipped as a god, until he dies, at which point the High Priest declares him a false god and the king's son takes the throne, is declared a god, and the high priest has a tenth of the population tortured and executed as heretics for worshipping the previous king. The high priest then goes on to conspire with the new king's bastard half-brother to overthrow him. And so it's gone every generation for hundreds of years.

Nobody really believes in any of that god stuff (except the prince himself); they just go through the motions because that's their culture and tradition. The Doctor remarks that that's the way of every civilization -- once society gets advanced enough, they cease believing in all the supernatural elements of their faith, but continue to observe the traditions. It's a very, very British perspective on religion; I gotta say I've got a bit of a different outlook from being born into a society founded by the religious fundamentalists who left Britain.

The companion in this story is Frobisher, a shape-shifting penguin created by Steve Parkhouse and John Ridway for the Doctor Who comics Marvel published in the '80s. It's my first time hearing him in audio (played with a New York accent by Robert Jezek), but he appeared in some rather good comics by Grant Morrison that I read when IDW reprinted them some years back. And Frobisher is exactly the right fit for this story: he's outwardly outlandish but his personality is that of just a regular working-class guy, so he's just the right companion to drop down into a world governed by strange religious rituals.

Some of the third-act twists are predictable, some are less so; there are elements that feel like a first draft of The Chimes of Midnight (also written by Shearman). It's got some rough edges (including a clunky scene with Frobisher and a fish at the beginning that sets up a theme that becomes important in the end, and a villain whose motivations ultimately turn out to be "I'm quite mad, you see"), but it's ultimately one of the best damn Big Finish audios I've heard. With this, Jubilee, and especially Chimes of Midnight, Shearman is three for three and I think it's fair to call him my favorite Big Finish writer and one of my favorite Doctor Who writers full stop.

I've got two more of his I haven't listened to yet (The Maltese Penguin and Scherzo). I look forward to listening to them.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:12 pm

Well I'll be damned. Big Finish got Eccleston.

Doesn't sound like he'll be in the Time Lord Victorious series that's coming out later this year, but he's got four Ninth Doctor Adventures box sets coming with three episodes each, the first one due in May 2021.

(ETA it would probably be more accurate to say "they haven't announced that he'll be in Time Lord Victorious." His face is on the cover, so it wouldn't be that surprising if it turns out he's in it after all.)

No announcement on any of the rest of the cast yet, but Billie Piper's an obvious guess and she's already done a couple Big Finish series (The Tenth Doctor Adventures vol 2 and Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon). John Barrowman and Camille Coduri have both done quite a bit of BF work too so I wouldn't be surprised if one or both of them were involved, either.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:24 am

Previously:

Thad wrote:It's Sylvester McCoy's birthday and Big Finish has a sale on, including A Death in the Family for $5. It's one of those that consistently gets praised as one of the all-time best Big Finish serials.


And it's that time again and there's another big Seven/Ace sale on (apparently McCoy and Aldred share a birthday, so happy birthday to both of them). A Death in the Family is marked down to $6 this time, not $5, but it's still highly recommended.

Here's the rest of what I wrote about it previously. One minor correction to what I said back then:

Thad wrote:Remember how I said you can follow episode 1 pretty well without knowing the backstory? The same is not true for episode 2. It dives hard into continuity, and it's like, clearly I'm supposed to know who this person is and what this planet is but I don't.


You're not actually supposed to know what the planet is; it's introduced like maybe it's a familiar planet but it's not, this is its first appearance. There's quite a bit of that going on in this story; it references a lot of previous clashes between the Doctor and the Word Lord but this is only his second appearance.

It helps if you know who Evelyn Smythe is going in, too, though the short version is "she was one of the Sixth Doctor's companions."

Anyhow, one of my favorites and well worth six bucks.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:24 am

Clickbait headline notwithstanding, Bleeding Cool has a pretty good rundown that starts to explain just what the fuck Time Lord Victorious is exactly.

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Re: Doctor Who

Postby Thad » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:32 am

Minuet in Hell (Eight/Charley/Brigadier)
The guy who first recommended this one to me said "some revile it, I love it". Well, I don't revile it but I definitely don't love it.

It's overstuffed; there's entirely too much going on. It's an amnesia story and it's got the Hellfire Club and demons and it's a satire of the religious right and their influence in American politics and the bad guys abduct people off the street and perform experiments on them involving a machine that can read and transfer people's minds and that's why the Brigadier shows up to investigate.

And therein lies, I think, the biggest misstep of the whole thing: you see this is a serial where the Eighth Doctor meets the Brigadier, and you think, "Hey, I'd really like to hear that story; I want to know how the Eighth Doctor and the Brigadier interact with each other." Well, brace yourself for three episodes of that not happening. The Doctor does encounter the Brigadier early in the story, but he's got amnesia and doesn't recognize him. (That's the Doctor having amnesia and not recognzing the Brigadier. As opposed to the other way around, which come to think of it is the plot of Mawdryn Undead.) They do finally meet, with the Doctor's memory fully restored, in episode 4 (of 4), and it's lovely, but I wish there was more of that and less of really everything else.

And the "everything else" gets kinda gross in places, too; there's a subplot involving the Hellfire Club abducting women and using them as sex slaves. It's still Doctor Who so it's not graphic, but it's clear enough what's going on, and there's a little too much lingering on details like leather corsets and spiked heels.

All in all? I can't say as I recommend it. I got it on sale at half price ($1.50) so I'm not bent out of shape about paying for it, but there are lots and lots of better Doctor Who plays; even if you're looking specifically for Brigadier stories, I'd recommend Sympathy for the Devil above this one. If you're listening to it for free on Spotify, okay, maybe check it out I guess, but it's at or near the bottom of my rankings of every BF story I've listened to to date.

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