Sunday, September 30, 2012

They were Angels....

Thumbs WAY up from me for "The Angels Take Manhattan". My one nit to pick was the silly Statue of Liberty as Weeping Angel, which looked silly, and had the impossible idea that Lady Liberty could move more than an inch without being observed by ANYONE in New York. However, the baby angels were wonderfully creepy, and the end for the lovely Ponds/Williams was both sad and sweet. I will forgive Moffat and company if they can't resist the urge to bring them back for whatever they have planned next year for the 50th anniversary, but I really hope that they won't. It would be nice to have one of these sad endings not be cheapened later on by the "lost" characters returning later.

In anticipation of this episode, on Friday night I rewatched "Time of the Angels"/"Flesh and Stone". I really think this story is a bit underrated because it had to follow "Blink". I think it's a pretty great story in its own right as Aliens to Blink's Alien. This 3rd story was likewise an excellent one for my money.

I know Amy had grown stale for some fans, but I thought she was a lot of fun. Plus, I really loved Rory. I really wish they could have done more with the Doctor and Rory together (maybe even an adventure without Amy) as they too had a great dynamic, but it just didn't get explored as much as I wanted. Sad, that after only 5 weekends, I now have to wait 3 months for new Who. (And I really hope they don't delay the rest of the season after the Xmas special.) Farewell Ponds!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Power Cubed

I really enjoyed "The Power of Three" last weekend. It reminded me a lot of an experimental Davies episode, like say "Love and Monsters" - only MUCH better. I liked the idea of an invasion taking months and months before it got started. I loved the Doctor going stir crazy sitting still in the domestic life of the Ponds. I loved the return of Rory's dad, which is making me long for a kind of Wilf thing where somehow he becomes a companion of the Doctor. The villain was quite creepy and would love to see him/it return in the future. Most importantly, they really set us up for a heartbreak in the next episode. I can't believe we are about to have to endure a couple more months without new Who - it feels like these 4 (soon 5) episodes have flown by.

In other old news, in the 1-2 months before my move, I got so far behind in reviewing the audios I was listening to, that I put a Big Finish embargo on myself until I was all caught up. I really assumed I would get this all done before I moved, but as we all know, that just didn't happen. With tonight's upload of the "Dust Breeding" review, I have finally caught up. This means, I can finally resume listening to Big Finish again! So tomorrow I will start "Bloodtide" (Colin + Evelyn = ME HAPPY~!). I hope that the reviews will come from me a bit more frequently now, but I won't make any promises. I do really appreciate those of you who take the time to read the blog.

Dust Breeding

(With this blog it kind of goes without saying, but spoilers ahead. I generally try to avoid dropping big spoilers in these reviews, but it's impossible to discuss this story without revealing something. If you haven't heard this then I would just check out the rating and move on. Suffice it to say, you should check this story out. OK, the big spoiler is in the next sentence, so this is your last chance!)

"Dust Breeding" is perhaps most famous for bringing back Geoffrey Beevers in the role of the Master. Big Finish had plans to bring in Antony Ainley to reprise the role of the Master, but Ainley made big demands on money, script control, and casting control which ultimately made it impossible to bring him in. Frankly, while Ainley terrified me as a kid, his portrayal of the Master doesn't do nearly as much for me now. I actually find myself enjoying Beevers' portrayal in the "Keeper of Traken" much more (not to mention Ainley's good-guy portrayal of Tremas), and think it's a shame they didn't just carry on with Beevers in the role. Beevers has the wonderful, silky smooth, yet evil timbre to his voice, which makes him even more perfect to be the Big Finish version of the Master. The big reveal in the cliff hanger of part 2 is simply amazing and is something to hear.

The story has a lot of interesting ideas in it. Sentient dust from an alien weapon that spends centuries trapped in the painting "The Scream", the Krill from writer Mike Tucker's Doctor Who novel "Storm Harvest" (co-written with Robert Perry), the Master, and the Doctor showing up to save (ahem, steal) "The Scream" before its destruction. Actually, that last thing is somewhat interesting. It seems a bit out of character for the Doctor to sneak in and take a work of art before it's "historic disappearance or destruction". This seems like the kind of rationalization that the Meddling Monk or Braxiatel would use. Besides, it's not like the Doctor ever just sneaks in and out of somewhere without interfering. He would seemingly be involved and responsible for the events that caused the work of art to go missing in the first place!

Also cast in this story (in part to try to keep the reveal of the Master a secret) is Beevers' wife Caroline John. John, of course, was Liz Shaw in the first season of Jon Pertwee's Doctor. Here she is (sadly) not returning as Liz Shaw, but is instead recast as the nefarious art dealer Madame Salvadori. It would be safe to say that John's accent and performance are a bit over the top, although that isn't to say she isn't entertaining. Also returning is Louise Fualkner as Bev Tarrant who featured in Tucker's first Big Finish play "The Genocide Machine". I never found Tarrant to be a particularly interesting character, but she was included in this to have a surrogate companion for the Doctor without needing to introduce someone new to the Doctor and Ace, so it works fine. Speaking of "The Genocide Machine", the Daleks are also featured in this story (in a way). The old legend of the planet Duchamp 331 (where most of the story is set) is that the odd screaming always heard in the background is not the sound of "dust sharks" (the rational explanation), but that a Dalek saucer crashed on Duchamp 331 many years ago and the Daleks were sucked down into the omnipresent dust covering the planet. The sound (which is clearly the screams of Daleks) does add quite an impressive atmosphere to the outside scenes. It's quite a thing to hear to constant cries of Daleks - not something I've heard before or since.

The Master's plan is to bring the Krill, to lure out the sentient weapon (the "Warp Core" which was designed to destroy the "all powerful" Krill) and harness its power. As with many of the Master's plans, it doesn't all go quite as planned, and the Doctor intervenes. It's neat that Big Finish did not set this in the Master's past (before Traken), but explained that the Master had his stolen Traken body stripped away in his first encounter with the Warp Core and reverted back to his emaciated form. My one issue with the story is that when Ace, Bev, and the Doctor are trapped near these supposedly lethal Krill, they don't come off as being all that lethal.

That complaint aside, this is a pretty fun story, with a lot of good performances. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Johnson Willis' portrayal as madman Damien. It's quite good, and gets even madder when he joins with the Warp Core. Ian Ricketts is also enjoyable as the haunted, grizzled, and heroic Guthrie. I don't think I like the plot of this one as much as "The Genocide Machine" but hearing Beevers recreate his nasty portrayal of the Master is a delight, and this one is not to be missed.

Rating: Great

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


"Loups-Garoux" is the first story penned for Big Finish by Marc Platt, who wrote the popular, bewildering "Ghost Light" from the McCoy era of Doctor Who. This story features werewolves and a huge performance by Nicky Henson as the main villain, Peter Stubbe. It also features notable guest actors Eleanor Bron (who played Kara in "Revelation of the Daleks") and Burt Kwouk (Lin Futu in the woeful "Four to Doomsday", but more importantly Cato in the classic Pink Panther movies). The story features the 5th Doctor and Turlough, and I think it's probably the strongest Turlough story Big Finish has done. It's a very strong Big Finish debut for Marc Platt, and we'll definitely be hearing more from him in later releases.

The story centers around a group of mostly benign werewolves in Rio who are led by the matriarchal Ileana. Her son Victor (whose father was human) is "ill" (caught somewhere between human and wolf) and Ileana has hired the nefarious Dr. Hayashi to treat him. Suddenly, Ileana receives word from old flame Peter Stubbe and they all flee in terror of this sort of "King Werewolf". Henson is just tremendous as Stubbe. You can easily call his performance over-the-top, but I think he just nails it. He just exudes power, ancientness, and confidence in his voice. You can feel how amused he is by the fact that his beloved has the effrontery to run away from him, and have some "pups" around her for protection. Stubbe is both terrifying and charming and always seems to be laughing at all the other characters who he doesn't take seriously.

Of course the Doctor and Turlough get swept up in the events. Turlough gets a lot of good exploration in this story. When a few of the wolves prank Turlough with the "mirror trick" Turlough, rightfully is terrified, and it's fitting to think of Turlough being scared of seeing his darker side given his introductory role in the show as the villainous, potentially murderous companion. When he flees the train and meets Rosa, these quiet scenes between the two are really quite lovely. It's certainly implied by the story that they had quite a romantic night together, which is the sort of thing that they would never try on the classic series.

The story becomes a lot of fun once Ileana chooses the Doctor as her "champion" against Stubbe. The Doctor's horror when he realizes the full implications of what being her champion would entail is pretty amusing. I also really enjoy the way the Doctor defeats Stubbe, by physically removing his connection to the Earth. The lore Platt builds up for these wolves is pretty fascinating in general, from their connection to nature, and their manipulation of human perceptions. The performances are generally very good. I already mentioned Henson, but Bron really gives it her all too, and is quite committed even when making snarly growls as she threatens to transform at one point in the play. I'm not sure if I can listen to Kwouk and not think of him as Cato, so you'll forgive me for finding the scene where the wolves hunt him as hysterically funny.

After the run of McGann stories (which ended with a thud) it's great to hear the 5th Doctor and Turlough again. Sadly, it would be a while before Mark Strickson would return, but this story does more with his character than perhaps any other. Davison is of course teriffic here as always. I like the lore of these werewolves, and find it more interesting than the alien invader wolf we went on to meet in (the excellent) "Tooth and Claw".

Rating: Great

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I admit to being disappointed. I had high hopes for the bad ass cyborg vs. Sheriff Doctor. Not awful or anything, but definitely my least favorite of the first three episodes. The locations looked great, and it was shocking to see the Doctor actually drag Jex out of town and hold a gun to his face. But, ultimately, the ending just sort of seemed like a cop out. Oh well, it's preferable to "The Gunfighters" I suppose....

I seem to have failed utterly to get a review written this week. I'll try to do better this week as things are finally calming down around here. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dinosaurs... On a spaceship!!!

I admit I didn't have very high expectations for this one going in. It just seemed like it would be another dull romp like "Curse of the Black Spot" (my least favorite from last year). But, I was pleasantly surprised. The special effects were pretty impressive for the most part. I enjoyed the guest cast. I liked the idea of the Silurians doing an Ark much like their human counterparts would go on to do much later. I also liked the bad-ass way Matt Smith murdered Argus Filch... er the baddie at the end. So, fun all around.

Things are sort of settling down in the new house. My wife seems to have almost unpacked everything she is in charge of. While I, still have countless boxes of DVDs, video games, CDs (including Big Finish CDs), and electronics that need unpacking. Still, I hope to continue with the reviews this week if work doesn't drive me too crazy. Hopefully, at the very least I'll get "Loups-Garoux" and "Dust Breeding" reviewed this week. Thanks for your patience, if you have any left!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Asylum of the Daleks

So my wife and I have moved into the new house. While the move itself went well, and we are thrilled with the new house, there were many series of misadventures for me involving assembling, attaching, or fixing things. Oh, and despite spending the overwhelming majority of the past several days indoors, I also managed to get poison ivy for the first time in about 25 years. I also had an epic war with cable trying to get my internet and TV working at the new place. I finally got cable and internet going yesterday, so late last night I finally got to see the series 7 premiere of Doctor Who.

Briefly, I thought it was great. The surprise was quite unexpected, and it will be interesting to see how it ends up tying into the series later. As for the story itself, it was a lot of fun, and nice to see the Daleks be scary - even if they still can't shoot straight. I also wonder if there will be any long term affects for Rory or Amy from being exposed to the "cloud". So anyway, thumbs up from me, and I'm excited to see the remainder of the half season this month!