Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Complete Sixth Doctor Adventures (so far..)

The Sirens of Time: As an opening story this is probably a little too ambitious, especially since Big Finish were still finding their legs. I’m certain had they tried this story around the time of Zagreus when both the company and Nick Briggs had had much more practice at this sort of thing it would have been more dramatic and much more of an impact. It’s a nice idea to have three separate episodes with individual stories and then tie them all together in the final episode but everything feels oddly disjointed, that fourth episode is a long time coming and ending each episode on a cliffhanger that we don’t get to see resolved is frustrating and hard to move onto the next story. Saying that the story boasts some lovely ideas, some crude but still atmospheric audio landscapes and a good pace that never flags. Baker and Davison are surprise highlights whilst McCoy sounds oddly amateurish in places. It doesn’t help that the individual stories aren’t that interesting; episode two stands out and gives me hope that Big Finish will attempt more grand Historicals in the future. The final episode is okay but muted considering it is about 3 Doctors saving Gallifrey from invading conquerors. There is enough here to promise better things for the future but Nick Briggs will write and direct far better stories in the future: 5/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/01/sirens-of-time-written-and-directed-by.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/01-Doctor-Who-The-Sirens-of-Time

Whispers of Terror: An interesting story written by a good storyteller who has put some real thought into how to construct a tale on audio. You have a Museum of Aural Antiquities, a sound creature, speeches holding the narrative together and a blind character disguising plot twists. At times the story is a little too authentic to the time period it hails from as the music drones on and the Doctor and Peri bicker but the plot and direction are good enough to see you though. Colin Baker seems to relish being back in the driving seat but his best work is still to come and butts heads memorably with Lisa Bowerman here, a world away from their very different roles in Birthright. I like experimental stories and Whispers of Terror stylishly commits to telling a audio tale as forcefully and as intellectually as possible:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/01/whispers-of-terror-written-by-justin.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/03-Doctor-Who-Whispers-of-Terror

The Marian Conspiracy: A joy to listen to, The Marian Conspiracy finally convinced me that Big Finish was on to something very special. I love historical stories and this script manages to educate and entertain in equal measures and introduces one of my favourite companions in the form of Evelyn Smythe. Maggie Stables deserves a lot of credit for creating such a memorable and fun character, slotting into place next Colin Baker’s Doctor as though she belongs there. The plot is slow but fascinating to listen to unwind and the production is the usual high standards. A huge thumbs up to Alistair Lock who provides the most filmic musical score yet and to Gary Russell who oversees everything with a confident eye. Practically faultless, the one reason this isn’t getting full marks is that Evelyn’s adventures get even better later:
9/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/02/marian-conspiracy-written-by-jac-rayner.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/06-Doctor-Who-The-Marian-Conspiracy

The Spectre of Lanyon Moor: A gothic fantasy steeped in history and folklore proves to be the ideal backdrop for the long awaited meeting between the sixth Doctor and the Brigadier. Big Finish are telling the sort of tales we have been waiting for an age for with the sixth Doctor enjoying a fantastic companion, a spooky setting and a nice touch of nostalgia. Gather together some fine British actors, a villain, a stooge, an authority figure, add some murder, a squeaky voiced monster and a tale of revenge and you have something that’s traditional and rather gorgeous. Nick Pegg gives his own material some loving treatment and we get to enjoy the most atmospheric pictures painted in our head, accompanied by a chilling Alistair Lock score. It might be a bit too talky for your tastes and there is nothing revolutionary going on but if you like your Doctor Who down to Earth and evocative (I do and I do) then this is a good stepping on place for you. Kudos to Colin Baker for carving out a whole new life for his Doctor:
8/10Full review here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/02/spectre-of-lanyon-moor-written-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/09-Doctor-Who-The-Spectre-of-Lanyon-Moor

The Apocalypse Element: An unfairly maligned story, this is leagues ahead from Steve Cole’s previous effort. There is something romantic about defending a derided story but I feel there is more than enough evidence listed above to hold The Apocalypse Element in high esteem. The blockbuster script is powerful and dramatic, with a believable escalating threat and some really meaty ideas and rather than being a soulless action thriller there is some blistering characterisation that keeps this real. Cole’s dialogue has improved in leaps and bounds and the story has some highly quotable lines and the story moves at a frantic pace that never threatens to leave the audience behind. I love a story with huge ideas, science fiction can accommodate the melodrama of universal peril and Doctor Who especially so and Cole introduces a threat so absolute in this story we have reach theatrical levels of drama. Colin Baker, Maggie Stables and Lalla Ward all give magnificent performances and Nick Briggs convincingly brings this space opera to life with real gravitas. You might hate it, but I enjoyed it thoroughly in two blocks of two episodes and think this is one of the few stories to sustain its threat from the first scene to the last. Justice for The Apocalypse Element!:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/02/apocalypse-element-written-by-stephen.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/11-Doctor-Who-The-Apocalypse-Element

The Holy Terror: This is how good Big Finish are when they are on form. Much like the prison that the story is set within this audio is not quite what it seems and anyone who goes in expecting a deliriously fun and flightly adventure with the Doctor and Frobisher will be shocked. This is a shockingly bleak and yet hilariously funny take on the nature of religion with a biting commentary on the nature of religious toleration. It is populated with some gruesome and twisted characters played outrageously by a terrific cast at the height of their powers. Colin Baker and Robert Jezek make as much of an impact on us as the Doctor and Frobisher do on this society. The script constantly surprises with witty lines, thoughtful moments and stacks of unusual twists and by the time you reach the last episode you are wrapped up in this dangerous and frightening world. Every time I listen to this story I come away with something new, the issues discussed are always going to be relevant and the imagination on display here by Rob Shearman means he simply has to be used again. Astonishingly good, Big Finish has really hit their stride now:
10/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/03/holy-terror-written-by-rob-shearman-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/14-Doctor-Who-The-Holy-Terror

Bloodtide: A traditional Doctor Who tale told with some gumption and another stonkingly good story for the sixth Doctor. If I am completely honest I found the first half of the story far more involving than the second half because the first two episodes contained a glut of treats; the atmospheric setting, the re-introduction of one of the most interesting of the Doctor’s foes, Evelyn’s adorable scenes with Darwin, the glorious music…I was completely sucked into the story. Despite the fact that there are some dramatic turns in the last episode there is feeling that the story has run out of steam to the point where the writer rolls out the Silurian plague to keep things ticking over in a four parter! Still here is another glorious chance to see the unstoppable team of the sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe at work, compassionate, fiercely intelligent and full of warmth. Gary Russell deserves plaudits for bringing the story to life with such gusto and there is another great Alistair Lock score that is a tribute to Clarey Blyton’s in the original Silurian story:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/04/bloodtide-written-by-jonathan-morris.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/22-Doctor-Who-Bloodtide

Project Twilight: A shockingly nasty story that manages to feel both ultra modern and quite traditional. I was gripped throughout and very impressed by the small but electrifying cast. Holly de Jong and Rob Dixon made a brilliant pair of villains, whilst the story toys with the idea that they might be misunderstood victims the final episode reveals their real teeth and the ever wonderful pairing of Maggie Stables and Colin Baker provides moments of warmth and drama. Gary Russell holds the story together very well and the powerful music only serves heighten the tension. Scott and Wright are clearly a pair worth looking out for as they inject some real horror and science into the story that raises it above your archetypal vampire tale. Nimrod proves to be a fascinating and there are some intriguing strands to follow up on. A memorable story that drags the sixth Doctor kicking and screaming into the new millennium:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/04/project-twilight-by-cavan-scott-mark.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/23-Doctor-Who-Project--Twilight

The One Doctor: The crowning achievement of Big Finish. Don’t listen to those people who say that it is Chimes of Midnight…although that story is fabulous too but it far easier to scare people than it is to make them laugh and The One Doctor makes you really laugh. There is never sense that the writers are trying to take the piss out of the show but merely affectionately poke at its extremes and for a story that sees the sixth Doctor and Mel having the piss taken out of them so much they come off with more dignity and humour than any serious story could achieve. Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford deliver peerless performances and Christopher Biggins and Clare Buckfield are an absolute delight as their cahoots and alter egos. I may have moaned at Gary Russell’s constant turns in the director’s chair but his work here is nothing short of genius and the music and sound effects really drive the story along. Full points to Clayton and Roberts for such a witty script with so many great one liners for the actors to gobble up and tons of fantastic ideas as well. This story was a total surprise when I first heard it and I cannot think of a single Doctor Who story that cheers me up more. Orgasmically good:
10/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/05/one-doctor-written-by-gareth-roberts.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/27-Doctor-Who-The-One-Doctor

…ish: I love the English language. Words are the most powerful force any of us will ever come into contact with. Our entire perception of the world around us springs from words. That's why we read books, words have to power to capture our imagination, to make us laugh and to make us emote. Never before has language been used so interestingly and with such scope. Philip Pascoe has written a comprehensive, literate script that impresses with its ability to make you think and to entertain you wildly. You need a little patience with this one, as it's no average Doctor Who monster story but a very thoughtful piece that uses words to capture a sense of wonder and power. Brilliant on every level, this is Doctor Who at its imaginative and experimental best. It reached into my mind and expanded my knowledge and it kept me captivated until the last ...ish:
9/10Full review here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/08/ish-written-by-phil-pascoe-and-directed.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/35-Doctor-Who-ish

The Sandman: Much like Simon A. Forward’s novels this is a dense and fascinating piece of storytelling, which is triumphantly brought to life by Gary Russell. Each episode is very different to the last; episode one introduces the Clutch, two explores the idea of the Doctor as a villain, three is an exciting hunt and four draws everything to a satisfying close. The Galyari are definitely one of the more interesting original species that Big Finish created and the Clutch is marvellously conceived. Any story that allows Colin Baker to justifiably overact with such delicious villainy is okay in my book but if I did have a complaint it would be that the story sidelines Evelyn too much and the last episode gets bogged down in alien science that baffled me. This story wont be to everyone’s tastes because it is quite ‘out there’ in terms of its content but to step out of your life for an hour and a half and immerse yourself in an alien culture you can do no better:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/08/sandman-written-by-simon-forward-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/37-Doctor-Who-The-Sandman

Jubilee: Alarmingly inventive and brooding, I adore this story. Doctor Who rarely has the capacity to make me feel genuinely uncomfortable but Jubilee had me in a cold sweat throughout, compiling one horror and dramatic set piece after another. The humour is jet black and quite inspired making the terror all the twitchier. It is full of strong emotional beats, highly atmospheric and leaves you with lots to think about when it is over. Evelyn gets a really meaty role and Maggie Stables excels in a powerful, angry performance topped only by Colin Baker’s agonising take on the Doctor tortured for 100 years. This story is a (not so) subtle commentary on the horror of mankind and it drives its point home like a knife in the gut. Rob Shearman’s greatest gift to Doctor Who is his ability to make you think in brand new ways about staples of the series we thought have become mere clichés. This is beyond doubt the most interesting exploration of the Daleks we have seen. And the wittiest. And the scariest. John Scott Martin will never complain about getting into a Dalek casing again:
10/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/08/jubilee-written-by-robert-shearman-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/40-Doctor-Who-Jubilee

Doctor Who and the Pirates: Strikingly experimental and yet still an absolute pleasure to listen to, Doctor Who and the Pirates has taken all the style and effort that has been missing from recent stories and injects them all into four episodes of bliss. Jac Rayner has written a superb script, easily her best for Big Finish, which manages to be a beautiful character study, a rip roaring adventure, a hilarious comedy, a blinding musical and a striking piece of drama whilst offering a treatise on narrative techniques at the same time. It should be utterly schizophrenic but the story shifts mood effortlessly from humour to horror. Colin Baker and Maggie Stables continue to shine in what has become one of the great Doctor/companion pairings and the guest cast instil the story with some priceless performances. The jokes are funny, the songs are wonderful and the direction is faultless. Why can’t every story be as good as this? Remarkable:
10/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/08/doctor-who-and-pirates-written-with.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/43-Doctor-Who-and-The-Pirates

Project: Lazarus: There are lots of fantastic ideas squeezed into a story that doesn’t have the breathing space to handle them all adequately. As such Project: Lazarus feels incomplete and would have worked much better as a duel four part release much like The Reaping/Gathering. However a lot of the individual elements of this story are very good, especially the gripping continuation of Evelyn’s hurt which began in Pirates. The Forge is a treasurable concept and it works far better here than it ever did as Torchwood because Scott and Wright really drive home the horrifying idea of the Doctor as a lab rat. Colin Baker impresses in two very different roles, throwing away his trademark arrogance in the last two episodes to explore anger like never before and Sylvester McCoy gives his best performance in an age, beautifully capturing the lonely wandering seventh Doctor. Certain dramatic moments really make this worth listening to but it feels like a watered down version of the even darker, more involving tale we should have had. An extra point because the ideas are so strong:
7/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/08/project-lazarus-by-cavan-scott-and-mark.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/45-Doctor-Who-Project--Lazarus

Davros: A story that redefines Davros beautifully and drips with malevolence. When I first heard this story I thought it was far too long (150 minutes!) and was quite blandly directed but I was so wrong on both counts. I wouldn’t want to cut a single scene from this story and I found that the two and half hours of material flew by this time. As a character tale there is none finer as it uses its extended time to flesh everybody out with real clarity before leaving them gasping to get out of Davros’ homicidal grip. The dialogue is crisp and thoughtful and the music ramps up the tension to unbearable levels. Colin Baker gets another chance to shine and unencumbered with an assistant he is as naughty and rebellious as we will ever see him. But this story belongs to Terry Molloy who gets to explore a whole range of emotions as Davros and manages to tug at the heartstrings and terrify you, sometimes at the same time! Its one of the best portrayals of a villain we have ever seen on the show and elevates Davros to some nightmarish pedestal when he can glare down malevolently at the other bad guys we have encountered and laugh at their ineptitude. He’s really scary and that just feels right:
10/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/09/davros-written-by-lance-parkin-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/48-Doctor-Who-Davros

The Wormery: A story of the future haunting the past (3 times over), the Wormery holds a mirror elegantly up to Trial of a Time Lord. With Paul Magrs’ gift for English and poetic language and Steve Cole’s command of plotting and dialogue this is a classy marriage of minds and a peerless script. There are more sparkling one-liners than you can shake a stick at, wonderfully fulsome and theatrical performances, a tone which walks a tightrope between hilariously funny and achingly poignant and it all ends on one great universe threatening song. Colin Baker and Katy Manning are perfect together and my campaign to get them their own series starts here. The story creates a fantastic atmosphere and is plotted with some real care and offers twists and turns that genuinely thrill and surprise. Oh and the last line is perfect. The Wormery is shamelessly camp, glorious, fabulous:
10/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/09/wormery-written-by-paul-magrs-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/51-Doctor-Who-The-Wormery

Arrangements for War: Romance and warfare combine to make a gripping, heartfelt adventure with the best characterisation for ages and a dedicated cast. This is Evelyn’s story through and through and it is her apotheosis, where she leaps from a great character to my favourite companion. This quadrilogy of stories – Jubilee, Pirates, Lazarus and Arrangements for War - has seen her emotionally crushed and battle scarred and as a result she is a much more vulnerable, lovable character. My only gripe with this story would be that it pushes too hard at the end, I understand the point of the Doctor having to experience loss like this but its portrayal tips the story over into melodrama for a minute or two and the last scene is a little too self congratulatory. However I don’t want to complain about a story which got me this involved, that has a rousing battle in the last episode, some gripping politics and is directed and scored with this much talent. Stables and Baker have become the Big Finish team now and have yet still not been toppled. Arrangements for War is not the Mills and Boon soap that some people represent it as, it has enough action and romance to satisfy both parties. If you are in love with Evelyn this will break your heart, if you’re not, you don’t deserve one:
9/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/10/arrangements-for-war-written-by-paul.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/57-Doctor-Who-Arrangements-for-War

Medicinal Purposes: Wowza, this is a cast to die for! Baker, Stables, Phillips, Tennant and the others attack this gorgeously verbose and colourfully worded script with some vigour and with the added atmospherics this is an extremely pleasurable story to listen to. My one complaint would be that some of the scenes seem overlong and you could probably trim the fat a tad in places, cutting the virus subplot and tidying up the confused episode three. However Ross manages to approach this period of history in an unusual and thoroughly entertaining way with some unpredictable moments and a fantastic role for both the Doctor and Evelyn. The atmosphere of the period bleeds from every scene and the dialogue is little sipping a rich fruity wine, explodes on the lips and leaves a glorious aftertaste. Medicinal Purposes is not an especially popular Big Finish release but I found it a very pleasing story:
8/10
Full review here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2010/10/medicinal-purposes-written-by-rupert.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/60-Doctor-Who-Medicinal-Purposes

The Juggernauts: The Juggernauts throws lots of interesting ideas into the mix and lets the resulting drama bubble to the surface. It’s a quiet piece for the most part but with a great role for Mel, the Doctor at his sarcastic best and Davros insidiously trying to redeem himself in the most revolting way possible its never boring. Gary Russell directs this story with precision, creating a very believable futuristic environment. Episode four picks up the pace and features what we have been waiting for all along, the Daleks and the Mechanoids blowing the crap out of each other! An assured production with plenty of funky set pieces but lots of intelligent undercurrents too:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/01/juggernauts-written-by-scott-goddard.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/65-Doctor-Who-The-Juggernauts

Catch-1782: I honestly don’t know what to make of Catch-1782. It’s a gentle, unassuming story with a plot so light a gentle sigh could send it on its way and nice performances that recall Upstairs Downstairs and Pride and Prejudice. At the same time it is one of the most meaningless Doctor Who stories, setting itself as an examination of Mel and a time travel puzzle and fudging both of them with the laziest answers imaginable. Mel forgets everything that happens and they could have left at any time so let me ask you, what was the point? The 1781/2 sections lack the witty wordplay and entertaining characters of a good Austen whilst highlighting the melodrama of the genre. It’s never a chore to listen to and quite enjoyable in spots but I cannot fathom why it was made. Now I remember why I don’t remember anything about Catch-1782, because there’s nothing to remember:
5.5/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/01/catch-1782-written-by-alison-lawson-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/68-Doctor-Who-Catch-1782

Thicker than Water: Hankies at the ready as we say goodbye to Evelyn in a story that cleverly leaps ahead to two years after she left the Doctor and we get involved in her new life on Vilag. It’s a stunning examination of the strongest Doctor/companion duo Big Finish have to offer and by the end you realise it makes perfect sense for them to part company and on such good terms. There is a plot in there somewhere about torture and genetic manipulation which offers a few exciting moments but I was far more concerned with the character drama to give it much thought. Newcomer Ed Salt’s direction is urgent and softens the soap opera elements to make them something very sensitive and touching. A fantastic departure story for my favourite companion with a final scene will break your heart and make you grin from ear to ear:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/01/thicker-than-water-written-by-paul.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/73-Doctor-Who-Thicker-than-Water

Pier Pressure: Get a script editor sorted for Big Finish, now! Pier Pressure is nowhere near as offensive as people will lead you t believe. Whilst it does ramble on it has some sublime performances, evocative atmospherics and a great musical score all of which prove quite diverting. Ross can certainly coin a phrase but unfortunately that’s all he does here, everybody stands around chatting about this terrible evil that is brewing but we don’t actually find out anything about it until the end of the story and aside from inhabiting and killing one girl it doesn’t do anything that would suggest the ‘end of the world’ horror the Doctor keeps talking about. I’m probably a more forgiving audience for this story because I am a Brighton boy through and through and I love the undergraduate humour it displays but I would completely understand if people were bored rigid throughout. I’m giving extra points for Roy Hudd’s Max Miller, a genuinely delightful character:
6/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/02/pier-pressure-written-by-rupert-ross.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/78-Doctor-Who-Pier-Pressure

The Nowhere Place: A strikingly atmospheric production, just hearing that bell and the steam train whistling sends a shiver down the spine thanks to some chilling performances. It’s been an absolute age since we have enjoyed a Nick Briggs written and directed story and this is healthy reminder of just how dramatic his writing is and convincing his direction can be just before he takes over from Gary Russell as producer. The first two episodes build up a suffocating ambiance before the story dovetails into a completely different environment, the Doctor and Evelyn heading onto a fabulous steam train to solve the mystery of the door that sucks people into hell. Baker and Stables are always good value and they seem to get on better than ever here, terrified by the crushing danger that the door represents. The answers are riveting when they come, suggestions of a time long before ours and times to come – opening up a universe of storytelling possibilities. In all honesty I had forgotten all about The Nowhere Place and this was a total surprise – it’s very good indeed:
9/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/03/nowhere-place-written-and-directed-by.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/84-Doctor-Who-The-Nowhere-Place

The Reaping: A revelatory story for Peri, Joe Lidster writes a script that explores her character like never before and really give her substance. Nicola Bryant grabs hold of this opportunity and gives her most assured performance as Peri, ably backed up as ever by Colin Baker and they once again prove what fantastic chemistry they have. It’s an innovative Cyberman story too which I find something of a novelty, often the metal meanies are dumped into a story for no rhyme or reason but to boost ratings or increase sales. Lidster takes the Cybermen and gives their story a definitive ending and a new beginning and their brilliantly over complicated plan could only come from a mechanical mind. Some tasty moments of body horror, a genuinely emotional exploration of losing somebody to the Cybermen and subtle blanket of control over America – somebody is finally exploiting the potential of these creatures. Its Peri’s homecoming that makes the most impact, Joe Lidster takes all the domestic elements that made The Rapture such a disaster and skilfully provides some emotionally choking moments in this outstanding tale:
10/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/03/reaping-written-by-joseph-lidster-and_27.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/86-Doctor-Who-The-Reaping

The Year of the Pig: Not the best story to listen to whilst you are trying to diet! I have never been gormandised with such a nectarous display of culinary exquisiteness! Immaculately performed and sumptuously written, The Year of the Pig will appeal greatly to consumers of the English language as you get to gorge yourself on the loquaciousness of this piece. For those of you who enjoy a brisk narrative and lots of action will be left feeling extremely short changed. I’m trapped somewhere in the middle, I couldn’t help but enjoy the verbal luxuriousness of the piece and the quality of the incredible guest cast but at a whopping 145 minutes I couldn’t help but wonder every now and again when the story would get moving. As a Doctor Who story shaped into a comedy of manners Matthew Sweet’s unforgettable debut perfects the genre and there are many amusing moments of nonsense. An impressive piece of erudite theatre and an intriguingly experimental piece that ends on an optimistic note Gary Russell’s turn as producer of Big Finish:
8/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/04/year-of-pig-written-by-matthew-sweet.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/90-Doctor-Who-Year-of-the-Pig

I.D.: A technophobic nightmare, I.D. starts as a traditional Doctor Who adventure but evolves into a gripping little science fiction thriller packed with some terrifying industrial concepts. I really appreciated that Robson sticks to his guns within this decadent and pampered time period and pretty much every character from exploit-your-mothers-death Gabe to out-for-herself Claudia unlikable, making the villainous Kendal stuck as a tree in a forest of nasties. This also has a knock on effect of making the colourful sixth Doctor more charming than ever. As a three parter the pace is brisk and exciting and a lot of the padding that usually drags down these audio productions is cut away. I.D. is not a work of genius, it lacks humour and told in real time means we really don’t get to know that characters as well as we could because they are always reacting but this is a superb exercise in world building and an engaging action adventure:
8/10
Urgent Calls: Astonishingly good, I have almost written as much about this one part little gem as I did about the three part thriller it shares the case with. The relationship that develops between the Doctor and Lauren is delightfully appealing and ultimately tragic and I have rarely seen a writer handle the concept of a character getting in touch with the Doctor and having their life transformed for the better quite this beautifully and simply. The strength of the performances and the writing means that the ending feels abrupt and you yearn to hear more from this couple but the idea of Lauren posting a letter simply addressed ‘the Doctor’ and assuming he will get it is a touching final sentiment. She’s let wonder and absurdity into her life and well never look at things in the same way again:
9/10
Full review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/05/id-written-by-eddie-robson-and-directed.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/94-Doctor-Who-ID

The Wishing Beast: Despite some lovely dark fairytale trappings this is far from Paul Magrs’ finest work and after listening to his superb Hornets Nest series with its delicious phrasery and insidious atmosphere this unaffecting tale of sibling rivalry doesn’t cut the mustard. Somehow even with Colin Baker, Bonnie Langford and Jean Marsh this story never really comes alive, the story lacks pace and the chilling and magical atmosphere a story like this craves. Frankly I would much rather have the rather wonderful Sick Building brought to life as a full blooded audio adventure:
4/10

The Vanity Box: Fluffy and fun and full of Northern charm; once again the mini episode looks back at the main release on the disc and sticks its fingers up at it. I’m not pretending that this is a dazzling release that will change your understanding of audio adventuring but it is cheeky and quirky and everything I like about Paul Magrs’ idiosyncratic style. Frankly I would have paid for the whole CD just to get the chance to hear Colin Baker drag it up! The Vanity Box would have made a far better main release fleshing out its lovely characters and extending its running time of something this bubbly:
7/10
Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/05/wishing-beast-written-by-paul-magrs-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/97-Doctor-Who-The-Wishing-Beast

100BC: The only story to have Evelyn inadvertently and deliberately change the sex of an important historical figure! I understand what Jac Rayner was trying to do with this story, its her own little touch of the Romans (comedy misunderstandings, bawdiness and all) with a dash of female emancipation. Evelyn’s sudden history altering tirade does seem massively out of character but its just supposed to be a bit of enjoyment and not taken too seriously and I think had the director toned down Maggie Stables Hitleresque performance a tad this story would be much better thought upon. Really what she is suggesting is no less devastating than Barbara salvaging the Aztecs and Vicki poisoning Nero and those acts of stupidity are happily skipped over. Like Renaissance of the Daleks before it, 100BC is no-where near as bad as its reputation and with a few tweaks could have made a very funny piece indeed. As it is I enjoyed it far more this time round than on my first listening and found premise reasonably thought provoking and the easy resolution quite a charmer. Flawed but fun:
7/10
My Own Private Wolfgang: The only story to feature Evelyn and Mozart doing the washing up together (‘I’m not drying up this saucepan’ she tells him ‘it still has marks all over it!’). Rob Shearman you twisted genius how I have missed you unique brand of storytelling! To put it simply, Circular Time & Son of the Dragon aside, this is the best thing to be produced since Briggs took over from Russell at Big Finish. It reminds me of the audio series when it was at its height; witty, clever, thoughtful, impeccably performed (John Sessions is clearly have a blast) and a delight to listen to. The tragedy at the heart of this comedy, the romantic climax to Mozarts life blunted by the fact that he survived and his genius turned into a symbol of mockery simply by living adds a whole new dimension to events. Throw in the two best regulars the audios have produced and you have an absolute belter, an inspired piece of farce with a delicious edge to it. This should have opened the collection:
10/10
Bedtime Story: The only story where Evelyn murders her way through an entire family. Listening to Wolfgang and Bedtime Story back to back you realise how boundary pushing both Shearman and Joe Lidster are in very different ways. They both have a touch of uncomfortable touch of the macabre to their writing and they enjoy twisting the knife into reality and giving it a good wrench. Where Shearman plumps for a comic angle, Lidster likes taking you down the realism approach and offering a glimpse of your own life that is just out of reach skewed by a sense of horror. This story has a double twist ending that just keeps getting better and constantly wrong foots the listener and denies them a happy ending. Creepy and fun, it was a delight to be scared: 9/10


100 Days of the Doctor: The only story where Evelyn gets to walk through the Doctor’s lives. The performances, music, production and direction are all sound and there are moments of charming characterisation for Evelyn. That’s the good. The overall complaint that this is less of a story and more of an extended advert for Big Finish is genuinely valid and I do wonder if this couldn’t have been released as a freebie as they tended to do in the past (ala the third disc on The Settling release) and made way for a more interesting story instead. Worse, Paul Cornell starts getting irritatingly self referential and opinionated in the same way he did in the worst of his New Adventure novels and it feels at times like we are being brow beaten with his taste in Doctors and companions. I was really looking forward to hearing his take on the sixth Doctor within the context of a story but instead this just seems to be an excuse to say how wonderful the fifth and seventh Doctors are at the expense of old Sixie. And don’t the audience out there think that he is an aggressive fellow? Very clever I don’t think. Unfortunately what starts out as having an intriguing premise soon gets mired in continuity and judgment and the overall piece lacks sincerity. Did Cornell learn nothing from the TNG episode Shades of Grey? Disposable, irritating and a disappointing way to end the collection:
3/10

Overall:
It’s a shame that 100 had to be book ended by the two weakest stories because you go into the story thinking its going to be underwhelming and you leave it with a bad taste in your mouth. The two middle stories are very strong and amongst the best material to be released since Gary Russell gave up the mantle of Big Finish with some deliciously strong ideas and atmosphere. 100 Days of the Doctor is one of the few Doctor Who adventures that promises so much and delivers so little and it is such a shame that people should walk away from this release not thinking that the future is bright but that Big Finish is on a downward spiral of quality. A flawed anniversary release, not every I would have hoped for but with one above average story and two excellent ones it is no where near as bad as you have heard:
7/10

Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/06/100-written-by-jacqueline-rayner-robert.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/100-Doctor-Who-100

The Condemned: The Condemned comes as a bolt from the blue with its gritty down to Earth storytelling and the sense of quiet menace that chills the blood throughout. You’ve got two terrific innovations for Big Finish to play around with - the dazzling new sixth Doctor /Charley combo and a bright spark of a character in the shape of DI Menzies. Colin Baker’s Doctor fits snugly into the world of crime and killers and India Fisher gives another very strong performance. Eddie Robson provides a gripping story to hang these accessories on with an impressive guest cast of characters all of which are more than meets the eye and tied up with the murder at the beginning of the story in some way. Superbly brought to life by Nick Briggs who manages to push his impressive actors to the forefront whilst never once compromising the forbidding tone of the piece. Sam manages to be both a tragic victim and a brilliant ally and the revelation of what has happened to him is beautifully realised. The potentially catastrophic idea of Charley swapping Doctors was make or break for Big Finish because it could so easily be the point where people said that Big Finish had jumped the shark but what actually happened was something of a renaissance for a company that took a risk and won and they are still reaping the rewards of that shot of awesomeness this story gave them today: 9/10


Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/06/condemned-written-by-eddie-robson-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/105-Doctor-Who-The-Condemned

Assassin in the Limelight: I think its easy to say that you don’t like a Robert Ross script after Pier Pressure but Assassin in the Limelight has an unfair reputation because it flaunts a superb premise (what if Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was killed before he committed the act?), a witty script (pop back up to Sparkling Dialogue and some the dialogue quoted in the character sections), a talented cast (the Colin Baker/Maggie Stables/Leslie Philips combination is once again gold) and another knockout production from Barnaby Edwards. I’m a huge fan of Ross’ verbose, colourful style of writing which only works when it is tethered to a strong, fast moving narrative (which is where Pier Pressure fell down) and this tale skips along at a fair old pace with plenty of fun incident. For his first foray into the main range lets give a huge round of applause to Martin Johnson who provides the best score in ages and conjures up some wonderfully evocative locations. Assassin in the Limelight mixes drama, comedy and time travelling madness together with some skill and I spent most of the story with a big smile on my face especially when things get giddily complicated in the last episode. I honestly cannot understand the ambivalence about this release, I found it thoroughly enjoyable to listen to:
8/10

Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/06/assassin-in-limelight-written-by-robert.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/108-Doctor-Who-Assassin-in-the-Limelight

The Doomwood Curse: ‘Reality is still there beneath this gothic patina!’ Exactly what we needed after their dark and dank debut, The Doomwood Curse is a delightfully melodramatic affair with a sweet aroma of imagination and a hint of literature. What I really like about this tale is how it keeps innovating itself – we land in Rookwood and discover the curse in the first episode, the Doctor guesses that they are within the pages of the book in the second before we learn the truth during the cliffhanger which leads into a narrative defying second half. Whilst we are enjoying all the fun character parts and atmosphere we are kept guessing as to the very nature of the story. Colin Baker and India Fisher continue to produce riches together and at the same time enjoy their own fun in their separate narratives through the course of the story and Barnaby Edwards has once again assembled a stellar cast that has great pleasure bringing to life this passionate material. The way the Doctor has to piece together a fiction out of the interpretation of Rookwood Charley relayed to him at the beginning of the story is very clever and I love all the narrative trickery that Rayner indulges in. I also enjoyed the various depictions of Dick Turpin that we hear before the various cast members relay what the historical records say about the man giving the story a pleasing educational touch once the fiction has been wiped away. For once a reset is very welcome – its not the sort of happy ending the sixth Doctor and Charley will experience for long so lets enjoy it while we can: 8/10


Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/07/doomwood-curse-written-by-jacqueline.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/111-Doctor-Who-The-Doomwood-Curse

Brotherhood of the Daleks: ‘Doctor there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you…’ When reality is in question and people aren’t who they say they are…can you trust anybody? As India Fisher says in the interviews ‘you’ve paid your money and now get your money’s worth’ and it will probably take a number of listens to get your head around the many layers that this story is built on. There is a feeling of distrust that runs through this story that extends from the Daleks to the Thals and even to the Doctor and Charley whose relationship is really starting to flourish in unexpected ways. Brotherhood of the Daleks is a devilishly complicated tale that enjoys freaking out the audience by never failing to throw more and more surprises at you. The ideas keep coming and when I first listened to it I gave up by the end of the second episode because I felt it was too complicated for its own good but I have never been more wrong. Alan Barnes rams so much ingenious plot down your throat you are left gorged by the innovations and completely unwary of the volley of twists in the last few episodes as the traitors are exposed and the Daleks make their move. Underneath this madcap narrative there is the continuing discomfort of Charley keeping her secret from the sixth Doctor and with each successive story things are becoming more and more impossible to hide. This is The Last Resort of the Big Finish range – an intricate nightmare of a story that is great fun to deconstruct its Russian Doll nature and with a intense final scene:
8.5/10

Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/08/brotherhood-of-daleks-written-by-alan.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/114-Doctor-Who-Brotherhood-of-the-Daleks

The Raincloud Man: Result: A gorgeous Eddie Robson script that does some great things with the Sixie/Charley arc and tells a blissfully imaginative and exciting story at the same time. What I really love about The Raincloud Man is that it doesn’t try and overwhelm you with its production values (even though Nicholas Briggs’ direction is as faultless as ever) but instead impresses with its intelligent plotting (the way all the apparently random elements dovetail together is first-class), fun ideas and the extremely engaging three way relationship between Charley, Sixie and Menzies (all three parings are superbly handled). The idea of the Raincloud Man is inspired and it is dealt with in a number of engaging ways, exploiting greed, inciting war and causing inexplicable murders that get blamed on innocent Edwardian Adventuresses. Brilliant entertainment and packed full of memorable moments, The Raincloud Man proves (once again) how delightful this pairing of Doctor and companion is and their adventures continue to be the highlight of the main range. The Big Finish equivalent of having a night of fantastic sex and finishing it off with a fry up – pure pleasure with a rewarding finish: 9/10

Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/08/raincloud-man-written-by-eddie-robson.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/116-Doctor-Who-The-Raincloud-Man

Patient Zero: Dramatic, complex and very exciting, Patient Zero is another scorching Sixie/Charley tale that starts to round off their adventures with some real aplomb. Nick Briggs knows how to spin a Dalek yarn but inspired by the insane shenanigans of this incredible arc he has plucked a number of very clever ideas from the situation and created a frightening and unique character in Mila and found new ways to torture Charley. There is a boldness to the presentation that I really like, it is pacy and exhilarating (with an inspired musical score) and forces you to keep listening whilst the intelligence of the writing keeps you thinking. Things are definitely coming to head with Charley and somehow I can’t see her getting a happy ending but her continual bad luck is proving to be ever more stimulating. The Viyrans finally make a decent appearance and go head to head with the Daleks in some punchy scenes and the fact that the result of this adventure leads to an even more hellish time for the eighth Doctor (it seems he and Charley are still linked) in the future means that regardless of how good this is it is also essential backstory for Lucie Miller/To The Death. You would think two Dalek stories so close would be a cause to complain but both Brotherhood of the Daleks and Patient Zero find interesting new things to say about them and after all this time that is no mean feat. Electrifying and it has left me desperate to hear the rest of this trilogy now the Doctor has left with an imposter:
9/10

Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/08/patient-zero-written-and-directed-by.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/124-Doctor-Who-Patient-Zero

Paper Cuts: The idea of the 15th Emperor assembling together four vigilants like Poirot pulling together his suspects in a good Agatha Christie mystery is really appealing, a fascinating approach to a traditional genre. A power hungry heir, his scheming mother, a fallen warrior, a mistaken peasant, a faux Charley and a bluff Doctor make an intriguing cast, all with secrets to reveal as the plot unfolds. It would have been so easy to set this story on Draconia and mundanely introduce us to the day to day life of one of the most elusive Doctor Who planets but Marc Platt never goes for the traditional options and chooses instead to explore the culture through the turbulent change of the death of an Emperor, setting the entire story inside a tomb. As you would expect from this author the dialogue is memorable and paints pictures and the characterisation goes beyond what you would expect from the stereotypes that these characters embody. My one complaint is that by telling a story with an economic cast of characters in one location means that the piece unfolds at a sedate pace but this is such a refreshingly different type of audio story for Big Finish I just relaxed into the story regardless. It’s a shame that this is a Mila story rather than a Charley one but interestingly she makes a decent match with Colin Baker’s championship audio Doctor. Nick Briggs often surprises me as a director because I always peg him as the audio action man (especially after his superlative handling of his Dalek Empire series) but when he gets an opportunity to coax strong performances out of a small cast of actors he often ends up with a very powerful result (Creatures of Beauty is another example). I’m sure this isn’t what the audience wanted at the time when the fate of Charley was about to be revealed but denying people what they want is often the best approach and taken as a story in its own right Paper Cuts is an engaging character drama that looks at an old race in a fresh way:
8/10

Full Review Here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/11/paper-cuts-written-by-marc-platt-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here: http://bigfinish.com/125-Doctor-Who-Paper-Cuts

Blue Forgotten Planet: An aid mission gone fatally wrong leaving the Earth a post apocalyptic wasteland – that’s a fantastic setting for a Doctor Who story. Its used to stage a cinematic extravaganza that paves the way for a final goodbye to Charley Pollard from the main range. It is a testament to how they revolutionised her character since she joined the sixth Doctor that after so many years and releases that it still feels as though we are letting go of the character too soon. Nick Briggs is so underrated as a writer and this is a fantastic example of how well he can craft a Doctor Who story and here has been able to shape a trilogy to ensure that Blue Forgotten Planet is a very satisfying finale. The Viyrans are back for the blockbusting story they were promised and the Charley/Mila storyline is given appropriate focus and tension. Just look at the way he uses the cliffhangers to grab hold of the listen and catapult you into the next instalment – so many writers forget the true effectiveness a good cliffhanger can have and here we have three humdingers. The story holds the attention throughout thanks to a lavish production courtesy of Briggs (the sound effects are so effective that if you close your eyes you are actually taking part) and a Jamie Robertson score that ups the excitement levels at all the right moments. What this story is really about though is separating the Doctor and Charley and on that score it does so with real aplomb. The lies are abolished and they get to say goodbye to each other as they really are and it’s an emotional high for both Colin Baker and India Fisher. Blue Forgotten Planet has so much to do – rounding off a trilogy, telling a dynamic story in its own right and giving Charley a decent hurrah – and Briggsy ticks these three off with such swagger it is a real testament to his talent behind the scenes: 9/10


Full Review Here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/11/blue-forgotten-planet-written-and.html
Buy it from Big Finish here: http://bigfinish.com/126-Doctor-Who-Blue-Forgotten-Planet

City of Spires: In odd story for sure because not a lot seems to take place and yet in hindsight there is an awful lot of building up of the central arc of this trilogy. Which makes this the rarest of stories, one that might seem inconsequential and even a little dull on your first listen but becomes more enjoyable once you know where this story leads. Colin Baker seems more gentle than ever in the title role but I think that has more to do with the return of one of his best friends rather than a weakening of the character itself and I was always very pleased that the Doctor doesn’t know what is going on until very late in the day and even then he doesn’t have all the answers. Mysteries can be held in check as long as satisfying answers turn up eventually. Frazer Hines excels as an older and gruffer Jamie but he still has that touch of Highland charm that made him such a joy in the sixties and he is ably supported by Georgia Moffatt’s marvellous turn as Alice. I really wish she had gone with them at the end. It’s a story that scores highly on atmosphere and the chemistry between the actors but you might find yourself drifting off somewhere in the middle episodes because the story doesn’t want to spill its secrets until episode four which means a great deal of running on the spot (otherwise known as escape/capture/escape). City of Spires is a entertaining piece but perhaps better listened as the first part of a trilogy rather than a story in its own right. Because each story relies on what follows if you take the fourteen parts of the ‘Jamie trilogy’ as a whole Trial of a Time Lord style epic it is far more satisfying than judging the individual elements. As such its probably the best trilogy with the weakest individual stories. If that makes sense:
7/10
Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2012/01/city-of-spires-written-by-simon-bovey.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/133-Doctor-Who-City-of-Spires

The Wreck of the Titan: Barnaby Edwards has always been an extremely intelligent writer and a cinematic director for Big Finish and here he combines the two to dazzling effect. There are set pieces in this story that are so convincing you don’t even have to shut your eyes to imagine you are there – ships are hitting icebergs and sinking beneath the waves, polar bears are attacking and giant squids and wrapping their oily tentacles around you. To call his direction polished is to do it a disservice, it is avant garde. The script is a powerhouse of literary and factual detail but it also plays some quirky narrative tricks to keep the audience alert and I really like how the story takes time to explore its nautical theme both through intelligent detail and via the senses. Looking at this story in hindsight it takes the hints and whispers from City of Spires and starts playing about with its own unique style of clues and guides you in the right direction ready for the knockout final ten minutes where their location is finally revealed. The Doctor is beautifully characterised throughout with some marvellous dialogue - I didn’t need to hear in the extras that Colin Baker enjoyed this loquacious script because it shines from every word he utters. The Doctor spouts so many theories you can tell he is a seasoned adventurer until the truth finally dawns on him. Its one of those stories I suggest you listen to cuddled up in bed with the lights out and let Edwards take you on a fully immersive adventure on dangerous seas. There are lots of questions to be answered but for now this is an exciting, unpredictable tale with an ending that will leave you desperate to hear the conclusion:
9/10
Full Review Here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2012/01/wreck-of-titan-written-and-directed-by.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/134-Doctor-Who-The-Wreck-of-the-Titan

Legend of the Cybermen: Prepare yourself for the greatest mindfuck fan fiction experience of the century! Every time I thought Legend of the Cybermen couldn’t throw anything more insane at me it always managed to find some other little creative titbit in the darkest recesses of its twisted imagination. Where else will you find Dracula telling to Little Lord Fauntleroy to try and hold Atlantis back from Cyberman invasion? We’ve got gothic Cyberplanners, Moby Dick with torpedo tubes, bedtime storytelling, fictional characters bleeding ink, Cyber converted fairies, and even Nick Briggs making a cameo as himself! Underneath all the creative bluster there is a touching character tale taking place dealing with the aftermath of The War Games and the tragic circumstances surrounding Jamie and Zoe’s departure. We learn that Jamie isn’t real but that isn’t enough, Zoe is revealed as the Mistress of the Land of Fiction and that isn’t enough, characters from the first two stories of the trilogy join the fight and that still isn’t enough…this is a story that keeps giving, twisting, evolving, subverting until I was left tied up in fictional knots and laughing manically all the way. For the chance to hear Colin Baker, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury working together it is a treasurable on its own but Legend of the Cybermen also features a cinematic array of audio landscapes, moments that will make you laugh and cry at the same time and a stirring musical score. Its everything this climatic final instalment needed to be and it answers the stack of mysteries very satisfactorily and has a tearjerking final scene. Its completely, mind bogglingly, escaped from an asylum madness and I loved every second of it:
10/10
Full Review Here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2012/01/legend-of-cybermen-written-by-mike.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/135-Doctor-Who-Legend-of-the-Cybermen

The Crimes of Thomas Brewster: A rollicking adventure full of energy and pizzazz. Lately the main range has been nothing but death and misery and angst…what joy to finally have some fun! From its breathless opening, through its gigglesome ‘have we met yet?’ antics, London transport shot onto an alien world (like Planet of the Dead but far superior) and an intriguing moral dilemma at the climax, this is a colourful and dynamic story. Jonny Morris assembles some of the most popular Big Finish characters to join the party and it is genuinely gleeful to have Evelyn, Brewster and Menzies back in action. Add some polished post production work, a robust musical score and more funny lines than my underwear could handle, The Crimes of Thomas Brewster is a healthy reminder that Doctor Who can be a purely pleasurable experience:
8/10
Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/03/crimes-of-thomas-brewster-written-by.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/143-Doctor-Who-The-Crimes-of-Thomas-Brewster

The Feast of Axos: A sweepingly epic, visual piece of storytelling buoyed by some intimate moments and great characterisation, The Feast of Axos is an outstanding piece of audio drama. The titular creature itself is perfectly suited to audio offering up a genuinely chilling and exciting soundscape and some wonderfully creative moments. The relationship between the Doctor and Evelyn has never been stronger and Brewster gets some fine development but there are lots of lovely character moments throughout for the entire cast. It’s an intelligent script that inverts the original story and exploits mankind’s greed and there are a number of emotional moments that are beautifully performed. I cannot recommend this story enough, it’s one of the strongest stories in a very impressive run:
9/10

Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/09/feast-of-axos-written-by-mike-maddox.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/144-Doctor-Who-The-Feast-of-Axos

Recorded Time: A fortuitous release that ties in with The Other Boleyn Girl that I am currently reading (although the takes on Anne Boleyn are diametrically opposite!), Recorded Time is a very fun story to kick off this collection and a piece I would have loved to have seen televised in season 22. It’s a great story for Peri who gets all the best lines but it’s a witty script regardless with a fantastic idea at its heart. Recorded Time educates and amuses and puts a very Doctor Who stamp on Tudor history:
8/10
Paradoxicide: Paradoxicide has the nuts and bolts of a great story and I can see why it was commissioned – they plot as it stands is a very solid one and once again there is a strong role for young Peri. Where it falls down is the guest characters who are written without much charm or interest and thus the performances are pretty flat. However the story gets more and more thrilling as the episode continues and I was hungry to discover what was at the heart of the armoury. Taken as a whole though this is very clever stuff, a tad predictable once you realise what the paradox is, but still very satisfying when the Volshi get their comeuppance. Flawed but exciting all the same:
8/10
A Most Excellent Match: I know storytelling possibilities are endless but Doctor Who seems to go out of its way to prove this and A Most Excellent Match switches genres, literary icons, twists with frequency and proves to be a unique experience. There is plenty of imagination, a large splash of literature and another smart ending. All it lacks is some emotional consequences - the theme of this anthology seems to be fun over character development but when stories are is delightful as this who’s complaining? Great stuff:
8/10
Question Marks: Saving the best for last has become a common feature of the last couple of anthologies and Question Marks is a superlative mystery tale that grows more and more uncomfortable to listen to until it hits you over the head with a devastating final twist that makes you want to go back and listen to it all over again. It’s a claustrophobic piece, brilliantly acted and Ken Bentley’s direction has rarely been better than this. I was knocked out by the intelligent handling of the amnesia, the way the mystery was slowly peeled away by the clues discovered and the heartbreaking final scene that had me reaching for a tissue. A perfect example of what Big Finish can achieve:
10/10
Overall: Far superior to bloated, overblown nonsense like Zagreus and with its pleasing mixture of styles and celebration of the finest BF Doctor and an example of how far you can take television companions such as Peri (who has both Henry VIII and Mr Darcy eating out of her hands!) this is Big Finish at its best. You’ve got a historical revelation, a genocidal trap, a shocking marriage proposal and an appalling fate for an amnesiac Doctor and Peri. I continue to be amazed that two of the least liked regulars on TV continue to be so awesomely utilised on audio and that Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant can stick two smiley fingers up at their critics for proving over and again that they were made for each other and the series. Its easy to see why these scripts were chosen as each of the fresh writers shows great potential and its further proof that Big Finish should extend beyond its usual pool of writers and sample new talent. I hope we see more of all of them. A final word for the creators of this piece - director Ken Bentley and the sound designers and musicians Richard Fox & Lauren Yason – all three are at the top of their game and proof that BF are using the best in the audio business. The best anthology since Circular Time:
8.5/10

Full Review here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2011/08/recorded-time-and-other-stories.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://www.bigfinish.com/150-Doctor-Who-Recorded-Time-and-Other-Stories

The Curse of Davros: A playful Dalek story…who would have ever thought? It’s a great compliment to Jonathan Morris to admit that this is the sort of story I would have expected Douglas Adams to have written for the Daleks instead of bumf like Destiny of the Daleks (which was a tug of war between him and Nation). It manages to take a reasonably whacky premise and have real fun with it whilst telling us something very personal about the Doctor (lonely and trapped) and Davros (who exists in a world of pain). Along the way Morris tosses out so many creative notions (all of which would generate an entire story in other hands) its like a Catherine wheel of imagination is fizzing off in all directions and I was chuckling away with the madness of the scenario come episode four. I especially loved the fact that when the humdinger of a twist was revealed in episode two things did not revert back to normal and the story allowed both Colin Baker and Terry Molloy to stretch themselves far more than their roles would usually allow them to. I wasn’t sure what to think when they announced Phillipa Greenwood’s return as a new companion because she had a very minor part to play in The Crimes of Thomas Brewster but as written by Morris she is given a super introduction with plenty of witty and wonderful lines and Greenwood proves a surprise win. I can’t wait to hear more from her. You’ve got some history, original Dalek action (bing bong!), a fascinating role reversal, a new companion, character development (you’ll never feel such pity for Davros again), Jonathan Morris at his ingenious best (conjuring up a superb reason for this most unusual of settings) and blissfully realised production with great music and effects. What more could you possibly ask for? Wonderfully, blissfully brilliant:
10/10
Full Review Here:
http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2012/01/curse-of-davros-written-by-jonathan.html
Buy it from Big Finish here:
http://bigfinish.com/156-Doctor-Who-The-Curse-of-Davros

The Fourth Wall:
John Dorney has written a superb sixth Doctor story which is unlike anything that has come before and doesn’t so much break down the fourth wall but blow through it with dynamite and then stamps all over the debris so it can never be sealed up again. It’s a delirious mixture of clever observations, broad comedy, strikingly dramatic moments and laugh out loud dialogue that begins deliberately predictably and then defies your expectations at every turn. I loved the commentary and inclusion of melodramatic plot devices (hysterical heroines, florid talking villains, karate wielding heroes and lack of motivation and backstory amongst them) that can be traced back to many points in the series because the observations don’t just serve to point out these absurdities but also smile affectionately at the gleefully silly moments Doctor Who has offered us over the years. Dorney introduces the Porcians who are the first deliberately duff alien race (as opposed to all the intentionally terrifying aliens that wound being duff!) and I hope this isn’t their only appearance in Doctor Who because they are hysterical and might just have you honking with laughter! Flip gets some fantastic satirical dialogue in the first two episodes that really helps to sell her as a confident companion with a brain and by having the Doctor lose her so soon into their relationship I was convinced of the bond between them far more than I would have otherwise. There is more than a touch of Pleasantville about this (one of my favourite films) with the fictional characters coming to terms with their roles and as such evolving into real people and it tinges the comedy with tragedy and depth that makes it a far more remarkable tale. If William Gallagher can produce something magical with the Wirrn in the last of this trilogy it might just be the best threesome we’ve had in over a year because The Fourth Wall kept me smiling throughout with its fiendish ingenuity and riotous spoofing and coming so soon after The Curse of Davros which I also directed this praise at this is another story that could happily sit in season seventeen alongside City of Death. Quite brilliant: 10/10

Full Review Here: The Fourth Wall
Buy it from Big Finish here: The Fourth Wall

Wirrn Isle: Very scary and insidious listening which is told with a skilfully economic cast and a director who is completely devoted to frightening the pants of you. Flip goes through a living hell in this episode and she does it quite alone without the comfort of the Doctor to protect her. Lisa Greenwood is phenomenal in Wirrn Isle, allowing Flip to be a victim whilst never once forgetting how brave, resourceful and feisty she is. I was doing the audio equivalent of hiding behind the sofa as she was menaced by disembodied voices, hulking Wirrn whilst trying to hold her own broken body together. Like Lisa Bowerman’s best ever direction in A Thousand Tiny Wings, director Nick Briggs knows precisely when to make noise and when to snatch it away and he uses the silences to allow the audience to fill in some nasty blanks before assaulting you with some very unpleasant sound effects. It’s a claustrophobic little thriller for the first two episodes before expanding to answer some of the loose threads hanging at the end of The Ark in Space as we get to visit Nerva City. Suddenly the Wirrn are everywhere like a pandemic of bloating insects gorged with eggs to plant into human incubators. Just like Spare Parts the inclusion of a family unit equates into fantastic drama and the secrets and tragic past of the Buchman’s gives this scare fest a real beating heart. The Wirrn are such an imaginative, menacing threat and Gallagher manages to unlock plenty of their potential whilst flaunting some imposing imagery. This arc has been three for three for old Sixie and his new companion, a truly impressive beginning for their adventures together. Let’s hope we hear more from them soon. Its three very different stories (a character drama, a post-modern mind fuck and a gripping slow burn horror story) but all three of them have been just about perfect in their own unique way. A knockout start to 2012 and I would advise that you listen to this one in the dark. You wont regret it: 8/10

Full Review Here: Wirrn Isle
Buy it from Big Finish here: Wirrn Isle

The Wrong Doctors: ‘Just forget that you saw me…I’ll be along later!’ I’m biased (because I basically want to marry Colin Baker), I know that but this was fabulous. Only Doctor Who could create an entire story out of a missing link in continuity and turn it into a amusingly dense and nuanced puzzle to solve. What’s great is that this isn’t just a story featuring the sixth Doctor and Mel, it is constructed out of their characters and has the potential to have a profound impact on both of their lives. As if cocking up the time period and thus creating a paradox of two Doctors and two Mels wasn’t bamboozling enough, Matt Fitton throws in time experiments that erase events, cause anachronisms and the odd time travelling company messing about with the vortex for good measure. You might think with so many elements that this might become unwieldy (as Fitton’s previous Black and White proved) but he has taken a great deal from his first main range script and rectified the mistakes, ensuring that this remains consistently entertaining, explaining itself as it goes along with oodles of great lines and fresh ideas constantly being pumped into the plot to keep interest levels high. Who would have thought that scenes of two Colin Baker's talking to each other could be so enticing? Take a dash of Invasion of the Dinosaurs (time experiments), a cup of The Five Doctors (multiple incarnations and companions), add in Big Finish’s revolutionary take on a maligned Doctor and companion (given we have had to wait so many years for Bonnie Langford’s return its glorious that her homecoming is heralded by a story that is bound together by her character) and grind some over the top the best aspects of The Quantum Archangel (twisted realities invading, nasties from the vortex invading) and you have a recipe for success. Whilst Matt Fitton deserves a round of applause for containing so many fascinating elements in one tight script a further round of applause must be saved for Nick Briggs who directs The Wrong Doctors with absolute clarity and ensures that it never gets too complicated to enjoy and remains highly entertaining. More than worth waiting a whole year for, this is a unique blend of insanity from beginning to end but there’s no part of it that isn’t firing on all cylinders. A most satisfying puzzle to unravel, as a result of this story the TARDIS builds the ultimate companion for the sixth Doctor and one we can be proud to travel further with: 9/10


Spaceport Fear: Episode one is so agreeable I was wondering if Spaceport Fear could maintain its momentum right until the end and it has a damn good stab at it. On its own the first episode is 25 minutes of glorious scene setting, intriguing ideas, well paced action, imaginative dialogue and subtly scary sound effects. It’s a very easy story to leap into and start running. Come episode three we are still experiencing the story in real time, on the run with the Doctor and tiptoeing past obscene monsters as they slumber with Mel. Once again Barnaby Edwards proves he can direct these stories like no-one else and the pace is relentless, expertly jumping from one set piece to the next, to one additional clue of the mystery to the next. Everything climaxes rivetingly at the end of episode three as the shields come down and the Wailers flood the Spaceport and secures this tale as knockout adventure material. Gallagher has proven an expert at misdirection, pointing us in the direction of the Wailers when we should have been focussing on Elder Bones. It all comes down to whether Ronald Pickup is up to injecting this character with the right amount of ambiguity and menace and come the finale he was literally giving me the chills. I really enjoyed the unusual location, the mystery at the heart of the story and the simple pleasure of listening to Sixie and Mel investigating together once again. Sixie slips in effortlessly to this location and takes charge but it is the characterisation of Mel that stands out. Part Paradise Towers, part The Face of Evil but with an energy and dramatic force that neither of those two posses, Spaceport Fear continue the excellent run of form that has greeted Bonnie Langford’s return to Big Finish. On all of these strengths: 9/10

Buy it from Big Finish here: http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/spaceport-fear-708

The Seeds of War: With its insidious nasties, space opera storytelling a multitude of locations and a sense of humanity attempting to survive against the odds, this had a feeling of a number of previous sixth Doctor tales of late about it (Wirrn Isle and especially The Acheron Pulse where this is similarly set up to be the middle part of a serial with a tale featuring a former Doctor and a tale featuring a later one still to come). However it sports a decent storyline of its own, strong guest characters, eerie monsters and the added bonus of bubbly Bonnie. It’s quite a novelty to meet an alien race that the Doctor has experienced before but the audience hasn’t (more often than not we are introduced to fresh nasties at the same to strengthen the impact) and whilst they certainly have a creepy presence the Eminence don’t really jump out as a world-ending threat on the evidence of this story. The story continues to develop well and as a result I really couldn’t tell where this one was going to end up and it doesn’t always take the easy option, bumping off characters that don’t deserve it. It’s a story that isn’t afraid to treat the Doctor roughly either which makes a nice change from the constant hero worship, here he is put through a mental nightmare that tests him to his limits and Colin Baker is more than ready to add some real bite to his usual portrayal. The Seeds of War is an engaging science fiction tale that only suffers because it comes off the back of two other engaging science fiction tales in a trilogy that hasn’t offered much in the way of variety. On it’s own merits this is well written, well directed and well acted but next year I am hoping to see a historical or something more light hearted to break away from the spate of high concept SF tales for Sixie. My biggest problem with this escapade was that the best moments seem to come in the early episodes leaving the final installment (as is so often the way) lacking in incident or any sense of climax. The story promises a more cinematic conclusion, using the seeds as part of an menacing invasion plan but it never comes anywhere near fruition. Bizarrely the story ends without any sense of occasion. On those grounds, it was the least satisfying of this trilogy but it was still crafted with enough skill to provide two hours of decent entertainment. I’m eager to see the Eminence again, though, because I didn’t feel they were exploited to the full here: 7/10

Buy it from Big Finish here: http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-seeds-of-war-709

Antidote to Oblivion written by Philip Martin and directed by Nicholas Briggs

Result: So traditional it hurts, Antidote to Oblivion has its redeeming features but it is still the weakest sixth Doctor audio adventure in some time. Philip Martin simply does not have the hang of writing audio drama, neither pacing a story nor filling it with any interesting material. I was willing to let Mission to Magnus scrape a pass because it was fast, quirky and outrageously sexist but that was written for television back in the eighties when Martin was firing on all cylinders. His scripts for the main range (The Creed of the Kromon was just as dreary) are a world away from the adventures he wrote in the eighties; sluggish, tiresome and lacking originality. The writer is so obsessed with Sil's financial machinations that there are times when this comes across as an audio representation of a balance sheet...and you can imagine how exciting that is! The best parts of Antidote to Oblivion are the work of three performers, namely Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood and Nabil Shaban but even they are hampered by some less than stellar scripting. Whenever there is a combination of these three actors together (Greenwood and Shaban have some gorgeous moments together) the story automatically lifts from dreadful to passable but they are literally holding the tale up with their bare hands. Usually with every Doctor Who story there is something to grab hold of that helps to captures my interest. A clever idea, a memorable twist, characters that you want to spend time with, an inspired moment of direction, fun dialogue...but Antidote of Oblivion has a dearth of all of these. It plods along for four episodes drowning in cliché with a hollow void where strong characterisation should be. It's one of those stories that just sort of exists, failing as entertainment and lacking any purpose: 3/10


The Brood of Erys written by Andrew Smith and directed by Nicholas Briggs

Result: 'Living planets aren't easy to kill...' Really rather engaging if perhaps an episode too long, The Brood of Erys is a story that defies description because it juggles a lot of very big ideas with a very blasé attitude. Don't listen to the naysayers the suggest that this is a traditional Doctor Who story because despite a few familiar ideas, there are very few stories that resemble this one. Andrew Smith is a pretty reliable pair of hands these days and he has written a fast moving script that gives both the Doctor and Flip plenty to do, creates an interesting SF setting on a grand scale, includes a couple of guest characters with some surprises up their sleeves (Sara and her father transform from terrorists to concerned relatives as the story progresses) and works the theme of parenthood into his story in a number of thought provoking ways. It isn't a piece of art but there is a great deal going on and most of it is well worth listening to. This is the ideal kind of story for Nick Briggs to helm, one where he gets to flex his directorial muscles and bring an entire alien solar system to life complete with a living moon, several alien races and all kinds of actions sequences. The soundscape for this story (including the pacy score) is exceptional, Steven Foxon doing his usual sterling job. Colin Baker clearly feels much more comfortable this month and gets to command his way through the story, squaring up to and ultimately forming a relationship with a living moon. It is a shame that he and Flip are separated so quickly, especially since a story about parenthood seems perfectly set up to explore their relationship in quite a probing way. However, it does give Lisa Greenwood the chance to head her own subplot, Flip once again put through the physical and psychological wringer. Where does The Brood of Erys go wrong then? I would say there is enough material to comfortably tell a three part story but at four parts certain sections are stretched a bit, even if each of the cliff-hangers do all branch the story off in a new direction. Some of the action is a little repetitive but the change of rapid change of locations does help in that respect. After reading some sour reviews of this story I came to it expecting the worst and found myself pleasantly surprised. It's not vintage Doctor Who but it is a solid action adventure tale with some interesting concepts in play. I was rather charmed by how unpretentious the whole piece was, being content to tell a story unencumbered by angst. It was rather refreshing for it: 7.5/10 (I toyed with a 7 and an 8 but I don't think it quite suits either)


Scavenger written by William Gallagher and directed by Nicholas Briggs

Result: Pacy, dramatic and ending on an emotional high, Scavenger is by far the best of this trilogy of sixth Doctor adventures. Be warned there is a lot of astrobabble inherent in this adventure but that cannot be avoided in a cat and mouse chase between the Doctor and an alien device that is on the scavenge for biological an technological parts, including wiring up Flip to its systems and attempting to dismantle a space station. If you like your plot-based Doctor Who then this might just be the story for you as Scavenger is packed full of incident and clever manoeuvres to try and outwit the death machine, including playing dominoes with satellites, missile strikes, an attack on India and even some exotic mythology thrown in to add some local colour. This is probably the closest a Big Finish adventure has ever come to techno porn but Gallagher ensures that the pace is furious and the gadgetry is always being used in an exciting way. In the midst of all this you have the Doctor trying to cope with international relations whilst trying to use the technology he has to outwit the alien scavenger. For a time it looks like he might have bitten off more than he can chew. And caught up in the machinations of Scavenger is Flip, scared and alone, and facing certain death. Kudos to both Colin Baker and Lisa Greenwood who make this pairing work better than ever before, especially during the final few minutes where it looks as though they are about to ripped apart forever. It was a bold move to put Flip on hiatus in such an uncompromising, perilous fashion but sure leaves you hanging on an unforgettable note. I wouldn't suggest listening to Scavenger in one go because there is relatively little relief for its two hour length and you might find it heavy going. One episode a night over four nights means you can space out the excitement and really enjoy the shift into high drama in the last episode. Nick Briggs ensures that the story never flags and he has assembled a strong cast who make the most of their roles. Scavenger might not be to everyone's tastes but it knows precisely what it is doing - providing a thrill ride in space with some strong emotional beats. As a potential farewell to Flip it is a triumph: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/scavenger-written-by-william-gallagher.html

Breaking Bubbles & Other Stories

Overall: A terrific collection of stories that just gets better as it goes along. Big Finish has mastered the anthology by now and this a clear step up from 1001 Nights (which in itself wasn't too shabby). Each story has its own merits and there is far more novel and impressive than the majority of the main range stories for the past 12 months. I especially enjoyed the last two stories but there isn't a duff one in the batch. You've got a great use of the sixth Doctor and Peri, my favourite current Big Finish team and Colin and Nicola are riding a wave of great chemistry which has me hungry for their trilogy at the end of the season. It pleases me to be quite this positive about the range that has always been the beating heart of Big Finish, I just hope the following McCoy trilogy can keep up the good work. Breaking Bubbles & Other Stories gets two thumbs up from me: 9/10

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