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Month: January 2018
There can be little doubt that this fourth series of The Early Adventures range has been the strongest so far, The Night Witches, The Outliers and The Morton Legacy have all been brilliant. It is good news then that The Wreck of the World brings this strong series to a close on a high!
The Wreck of the World is the Big Finish debut for writer, Timothy X Atack, who recently won the Bruntwood Prize, the largest playwriting award in Europe. And he certainly doesn’t let his success go to his head as he delivers a fantastic story for the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, though as he tells us in the extras, it isn’t a story they would have made on the television due to the lack of budget.
But this is a good thing as it allows him to tell a story on a huge scope. The idea of ships being sent off into space in The Ark in Space is picked up here and they had to make that set using mirrors. There is no way the sixties would have created something like this. That is the beauty of audio, almost anything can be done because it is left to listener’s mind’s eye to create the picture.
Like Jonathan Morris’ Static, The Wreck of the World is another outstanding release from Big Finish. But what makes it so? Well, we have the writing. One imagines just reading the script brought the characters to life without the need for the original actors! And it makes great use of its main cast, Zoe, in particular, gets the majority of the script to show her brilliance in a way I haven’t heard since Last of the Cybermen.
And this story isn’t afraid to take its time, almost the entirety of the first episode is left to the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. It feels very era-appropriate. Atack also gives us brilliant dialogue which manages to carry both the plot and characters without delving so much into heavy exposition, something that not every audio adventure can claim to do.
It should come as no surprise by now that all the main cast fire on all cylinders. Frazer Hines is brilliant as Jamie bringing his character effortlessly back to life. And he is equally as brilliant as the Second Doctor capturing Patrick Troughton’s essence with love and affection. I always look forward to a story where he gets to play Troughton because I know he is so damn good.
Wendy Padbury is just as brilliant and like Anneke Wills before her, she pulls a double duty as her original character, Zoe and the narrator. Like Hines, she manages to capture the innocence and the ‘of the time’ essence of her character, while being allowed the room to grow and expand in a way the television scripts never allowed her to do. She is positively perfect.
Director Lisa Bowerman has also assembled a strong guest cast, who round everything off perfectly. I don’t know where she finds them but Bowerman always seems to find the right people for the job and he has done right again. Particularly brilliant is Adam Newington as Twenty, I really wanted him to join the crew! It just goes to show that good performances and strong writing really does go a long way!
Lisa Bowerman’s direction really helps to drive the story forward and she proves she is damn good at anything she sets her mind too. She knows what us fans want from these stories and seems to get it out of her casts. It must be a tough job mixing the slower pace of the sixties stories with the faster pace of storytelling we are used to these days but she always manages to pull it out of the bag!
Easily another strong piece of this story comes in the form of the sound design from Toby Hyreck-Robinson and the soundscape he creates effortlessly recreates the sounds of the sixties while sounding robust and new its own way. And he manages to make us jump a few times using real screams from the cast in brilliant ways.
The fourth series of The Early Adventures was already going to be a strong one and I’ve no doubt this will become one of the must-have tales in all of Big Finish’s catalogue. I sincerely hope we get more from Timothy X Atack and that this isn’t his only stop with Big Finish and the world of Doctor Who, there are so many more Doctors and Companions for him to play with, it would be a shame if we were to lose him now. Both the cast and crew with this story are brilliant and there is a great understanding of how classic Doctor Who worked that runs throughout the whole package…
Greetings and welcome to Episode 173. Before our review of Warriors of the Deep, it’s time to dive into what’s been happening in the world of Doctor Who…
Sad news, again, as classic Who actor Peter Wyngarde has passed away aged 90.
This week’s merch provided by our always friendly Dalek Tat – Reeltime Pictures are releasing The Doctors: The Sylvester McCoy Years on dvd in June and Big Finish have put up The 10th Doctor Chronicles for pre-order.
“Warriors of the Deep” Review
Wow, it’s been a while since we watched a 5th Doctor story so how does this one stack up? Two great classic monsters tag team the Doctor and a group of military folk in this base-under-siege story but, does it rise up like the tide on a beautiful beach or sink into the Myrk-y swamps of low review scores?
Thank you for joining us for 173. Next week we dive into the asylum for the 11th Doctor’s story Asylum of the Daleks. Have a super week and until next time – Allons-y!
Big Finish wrapped up another successful year for the main Doctor Who audio range with Static and following on from stories which saw The Fifth Doctor, Adric, Tegan and Nyssa reunited for the first time since 2014, Philip Olivier returning as Hex and The Seventh Doctor, Ace and Mel’s continued adventures. Static could quite easily be the best audio adventure from the Main Range to be released this year. Indeed, it is easily on par with The Chimes of Midnight, one of the most highly regarded Big Finish releases ever.
But what made Static one of Big Finish stand out releases?
Well for starters it has some genuinely creepy moments normally made from a combination of excellent writing and sound design. The use of white noise is disturbing and the idea that something can use it to make contact with you is truly terrifying. Sure, this isn’t something new to the horror genre, the movie Poltergeist used a similar method but on audio, arguably it works even better, especially when it is so loud it is all you can hear.
The setting lends itself well to the story, a caravan site, out in the middle of nowhere, gives this story the idea that no one can escape, you’re stuck there and that isn’t a pleasant thought. In his interview for Doctor Who Magazine, author Jonathan Morris says he was trying to think of spooky Doctor Who locations. A caravan site in bad weather becomes like a seaside town in winter – there is an element of being abandoned and unwanted. This is something that is helped along by the use of the fog which surrounds the outside of the campsite. Thanks to the vividness of Morris’s descriptions, the fog itself seems to become another character and is almost felt by the listener. So it is no surprise then that the sound design and music also has a very claustrophobic feel to it.
I’ve always felt a sense of unease with campsites and caravan parks, it is probably the same reason I feel uncomfortable in hotels, you never know what is going on behind those closed doors, so this story really tapped into my nervousness surrounding those kinds of places.
But the story isn’t just about being creepy and giving you goosebumps. Morris cleverly makes this is a story about grief and loss and the horrible feeling that fills your veins when someone dear to you passes away. This element is shown to us through the characters of Andy Clover and Joanna Nash, a couple who have come to the secluded camp to deal with a few things. Joanna’s sister, Susannah drowned while they were all on holiday and Joanna blames herself. Her story is heartbreaking, she blames herself, which makes things even harder for her. She says if she had put down her book and noticed something was wrong then Susannah would still be there with her.
Andy, on the other hand, has brought her to the camp for other reasons, though both characters what to see Susannah back again, Andy wants to test out the myth of a nearby stone circle. He disobey’s the campsite owner’s rules of not having a television and makes contact with the disembodied voice of Susannah. And in traditional Doctor Who fashion, things go rapidly from bad to worse from that point on.
And following on with the tradition of this Sixth Doctor trilogy, the performances are nothing short of stellar from everyone included. The guest cast are superb but the stand-outs include Scott Chambers and Pippa Nixon who bring a real sense of being a couple at the end of their tether. While Jo Woodcock brings Susannah to life in a loving way without ever forgetting that something is supposed to be slightly off.
David Graham is brilliant as the mysterious Percy Till. He plays both the younger and older versions of the character. His performance brings his character’s sense of desperation and unlikability to life throughout the story as you never one-hundred percent know on which side he stands. Is he good or is he evil? And he wields an axe, making his motivations even more muddled.
The main cast are brilliant too with Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood and Miranda Raison all pulling their weight and delivering some really brilliant performances. It helps that Jonathan Morris has tailored moments in the script to play to each character’s strengths. Flip can’t leave people to suffer, Constance’s devotion to her duty and the Doctor’s devotion to protecting all life. All the characters get put through the nasty wringer but each actor is more than up for the challenge.
Miranda Raison as Constance Clarke has quickly become one of my favourite audio companions and companions in general and she continues to be brilliant here, especially when she is paired with Lisa Greenwood’s Flip. Constance and Flip have a brilliant sisterly bond, with Flip being loud and sometimes brash, Constance can reign her in a bit and stops her from getting into trouble. I strongly believe that Constance and Flip are going to be considered one of the best companion-duos of all time!
Colin Baker is superb in this story as the Doctor is so obviously out of his depth. From the off, he knows something is off and that suspicion is only fueled even more when Percy Till makes himself known and he knows who the Doctor, Constance and Flip are already! This trilogy has allowed Baker to show us his considerable acting skills with the Doctor falling in love in The Behemoth, the real-life reflection on how we deal with the elderly in The Middle and now his sheer confusion in Static has proved us why Colin Baker is the one Doctor who was truly let down by the BBC in the 1980s. He had so much more to give, something Big Finish has allowed him to show us.
But at its heart, Static is a story about tragedy and grief, something that director, Jamie Anderson ensures no-one ever loses sight of. It also manages to look into the ethical questions raised during wartime in a very adult way. Jonathan Morris has outdone himself here as both subjects are dealt with in a very mature manner, not something that always happens.
It is rare the stakes are as high as they are here in Static. The emotions are so raw and it feels very grown up. Do we finally have a story which can stand toe-to-toe with the mighty The Chimes of Midnight? I believe we do and everyone involved should be very happy.
This is superb.
Welcome to episode 172! The usual updates, news, and merch await then onto our review of School Reunion. Let’s do it…
We start off with some sad news as Classic Who writer David Fisher has passed away aged 88 and some cool talk around Jodie Whittaker’s first scenes from Twice Upon a Time.
Dalek Tat throws us this week – A new unauthorised book published for charity and the 8th Doctor’s upcoming story Ravenous is up for pre-order from Big Finish.
“School Reunion” Review
We put a commentary out last year of this episode but haven’t delved into detail. With new (for 2006) Doctor Who teaming up with Classic Who, are we into this one or does it feel like a long detention?
Thank you for listening and hanging out with us. Next week it’s the 5th Doctor’s turn with Warriors of the Deep so get those dvd’s out. Have a great week and until next time – Allons-y!
Hey, Who fans! The new year is already cruising along and this week before our review of The Three Doctors, we have some merch news for you…
No news this week.
Dalek Tat throws us this week – the Doctor Who 2018 Year Book special from Doctor Who Magazine and the new Lethbridge-Stewart book that kicks off series 5.
“The Three Doctors” Review
From last week’s multi-Doctor story to another, we take a look back at Pertwee’s era and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Doctor adventure against the very bitter and insane Omega. What do we think to this classic Who story that kicked off the multi-Doctor “thing”?
Thank you for listening and getting 2018 off to a great start with us, it’s awesome for us to still be chatting Who in your ears. Next week it’s a Tennant story School Reunion. Have a brilliant week and until next time – Allons-y!
Hello, my fellow Whovians. I hope you’ve all had a good break. The Christmas episode, of course, had the regeneration of Peter Capaldi’s doctor. What did you think of the regeneration? The 12th doctor talked of kindness in his farewell and with mid-winter in the UK and the new year celebrations, singing ‘ Auld Lang Syne’ (‘add a cup of kindness dear’ ) it was a goodbye from both Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat. Both were ushering out the old and bringing in the new this year so it is strangely appropriate to consider the whole process of regeneration.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be able to regenerate? This is more than having a bit of a nip and tuck via cosmetic surgery. Visualise having the ability to be able to physically change your body completely. The doctor regenerates such a regular basis now, it’s the unique selling point of the show along with the Tardis within the show but do we really consider the wonder of the process, the physical and psychological effort during and after the change.? One programme I was engrossed by growing up, besides Doctor Who, was The Incredible Hulk https://youtu.be/XFdWBC9vbHg. The transformation of Dr David Banner into this changed persona, a raging creature out of his control was so fascinating to me. That and also the number of shirts he got through! I liked the mix of comic book superhero green hulk versus the humanity of the central character, searching for a cure and the drama created as he was chased relentlessly by an investigative reporter.
Nature does it
Regeneration is, I was surprised to know, an aspect of the natural world. There are animals that are able to regenerate whole or parts of their bodies as if it’s an everyday thing. The Axolotl is an amphibian salamander of South America whose population has been dwindling due to humans encroaching onto its territories. What is amazing is that it can regenerate a missing limb, parts of its brain, its heart, as well as its lower jaw. The Axolotl is also able to easily create new connections in their brain to support their newly regenerated body parts.
The starfish also has the ability to regenerate all five of their limbs as long as the central nerve ring remains untouched. The sea cucumber, also a member of the same family has an extended body will and if cut each part will subsequently grow into a separate sea cucumber much like the flatworm. We saw this demonstrated in Doctor Who quite neatly when the 10th Doctor’s hand was severed in a sword fight for the Earth by Sycorax leader. I’m sure this is the first time this was explored in the series that as the Doctor was within the first 15 hours of regeneration he was conveniently able to grow a new ‘fightin’ hand!
Renewing the future
In Doctor Who the ‘concept’ of regeneration was created in 1966 by the writers as it was increasingly apparent that William Hartnell’s health was deteriorating and he was becoming more difficult to work with as his memory worsened.A solution had to be found for the series and Gerry Davis proposed that, since the Doctor had already been established as an alien, the character could die and return in a new body. It was a masterstroke of thinking but also practicality. Script editor Innes Lloyd believed the Doctor could have a “renewal” regularly, transforming from an older man to a younger one when recasting of the role was required. During the serial, The Smugglers, William Hartnell and producer Innes Lloyd reached an agreement that he should leave the role in the next serial The Tenth Planet which would see a handover to a new actor, which would be the first story produced as part of Season 4.
When Patrick Troughton took over the role he was roughly twelve years younger and the process he went through as the Doctor in Power of the Daleks was described a ‘renewal’
DOCTOR: Life depends on change and renewal. BEN: Oh, so that’s it. You’ve been renewed, have you? DOCTOR: I’ve been renewed, have I? That’s it. I’ve been renewed. It’s part of the Tardis. Without it, I couldn’t survive.
Perhaps the Doctor said he had been renewed because he didn’t want to have to explain about regeneration to Polly and Ben and if it was the first time it happened to him he didn’t know what would happen or who he would become. Is it really a surprise that in an era where youth culture was coming to the fore after the austerity of the 1950’s and the Second World War that the proposal was developed. As a species, we have been preoccupied with renewal since Cleopatra daily bathed in ass’s milk, from 700 donkeys supposedly, for the milk acids which possess anti-ageing and skin-softening properties. The late 1960’s were represented by a new young generation who had more disposable income to spend on fashion and watch TV programmes created for them and be consumers than their parents ever did. Ben and Polly were introduced as a modern break with the past of alien young ladies in Doctor Who. The idea of change and ‘renewal’ by choosing a younger actor to replace Hartnell, besides making commercial sense to continue the programme, also seems so appropriate to the time.
A part of timelord life
The term ‘regeneration’ for Timelords took some years to be spoken on TV being first mentioned in the third doctor’s last story ‘Planet of the Spiders’ and not actually spoken by the Doctor but by another time lord, K’anpo the doctor’s mentor, to explain the process.
K’ANPO: Indeed. I regenerated and came to Earth, to Tibet. SARAH: Regenerated? DOCTOR: Yes. Yes, when a Time Lord’s body wears out, he regenerates, becomes new. K’ANPO: That is why we can live such a long time.
Theories of regeneration
There have been different theories as to how regeneration became a part of Timelord physiology. Rassilon was chiefly an engineer and architect so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a hand in the implementation of regeneration for the Timelords. He was far too intelligent to let the Timelords age and die as with humans. I’ve highlighted a few interesting ones from audio, prose and TV
One theory is that that it was the result of a deliberate infection with a virus from the Great Vampires, or Yssgaroth, that they obtained regenerative abilities. The Great vampires were seen in “State of Decay” as an ancient foe fought by the Timelords.
Theory 2: that Rassilon tried to find a method of regenerating decayed and diseased tissue via a series of self-replicating, biogenic molecules.
Theory 3 Time Lords had a triple-helix DNA the third Strand of which to enable regeneration was added by Rassilon.
Theory 4: According to Madame Vastra in “A Good Man Goes to War” the Eleventh Doctor theorised that exposure over billions of years to the Untempered Schism contributed to the Time Lords’ ability to regenerate.
There are other theories out there but not one definitive answer so depending on which medium you consider canon take your pick,
I have been ‘reborn’
I recently rewatched ‘The Lazarus Experiment’. What do you think of it as a story? It seems a little unloved although let’s face it David Tennant does rock a dinner suit like no other doctor! Seriously though, If I ignore that the CGI monster here is rather overblown and on-screen way too long and it has been my abiding visual memory of the story, then the underlying story of a professor seeking to prolong his life is a solid sci-fi idea dealing with the societal ‘obsession’ for extending our lives. The professor says ‘I am Richard Lazarus. I am seventy-six years old and I am reborn!’ Isn’t that what the doctor does each time he regenerates? I quite like the parallels that you don’t know what you will get from the metamorphosis that occurs for Professor Lazarus.
I do enjoy that Professor Lazarus wants to take everything from the opportunity that losing forty-odd years from his actual age gives him. I understand how he is haunted by what he went through in the destruction of the Second World War ‘When the sirens went, we’d go to the cathedral there. We used to shelter in the crypt. The living cowering among the dead.’ his sheer determination to conquer death becomes an irony that he dies in the same place where he took shelter as a boy.
Whether he deserves to be the first human to undergo the rejuvenation process is debatable as Richard Lazarus relishes in the cruelty to his wife and killing her without a second’s thought. I do wish that the role of Lazarus had been written as slightly more compassionate as his determination to survive talks so much about the human spirit, but he is written as plagued with a streak of arrogance. Modern doctors work so hard to make people better to enable them to live longer and Lazarus believes that living longer is better although the doctor disagrees. The doctor’s view is that a longer life is only meaningful by what you do. It can be a curse but that some people will do more in twenty years than others will do in eighty and it depends on the person. It is an argument to remember to really live each day
In the next part of this subject I will look at whether humans could regenerate and consider whether regeneration is worth it as well as picking my favourite regenerations seen on TV but what do you think of the idea of regeneration? Is there a theory of regeneration you prefer? What are your thoughts on the Lazarus Experiment? Post your thoughts on here or on Twitter. Let’s talk.
Hey, Who fans and a very Happy New Year to you all. We’re back behind the mic chatting all things Doctor Who so 2018, let’s be ‘avin ya!
Twice Upon a Time official ratings and we shed a tear or two watching the time lapse video of Capaldi’s TARDIS set being dismantled.
Dalek Tat throws us this week – the Series 9 soundtrack is FINALLY being released(!), a new Roger Delgado biography is out now and we could start seeing Classic Doctor series’ on blu ray.
“Twice Upon a Time” Review
An important episode this one – A multi-Doctor-regeneration-Christmas-special. It feels like a long time coming so we dive into the story, characters, the regen’s and the ultimate first look at the new 13th Doctor. Are we happy with the Moff’s last effort or do we shed sad tears at a potential anti-climax?
Thank you for hanging out with us and kicking off 2018. Next week it’s another multi-Doctor story with the classic The Three Doctors so grab those DVD’s as we’ll be asking for your usual thoughts. Have a brilliant week and until next time – Allons-y!