Monday, September 29, 2014

RIP Maggie Stables

Like all Big Finish Doctor Who fans, I am very sad to hear about the death of Maggie Stables. I have made no secret that I absolutely love the Evelyn character. I am hard pressed to accept any Doctor Who/Companion pairing was ever as effective or ever will be as effective as that of the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn. While I give a lot of credit to Gary Russel and company for conceiving such a different idea for a companion, a lot of the credit must go to Maggie for breathing so much life into the wonderful Dr. Smythe.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Caretaker

I enjoyed another funny Gareth Roberts episode. I didn't like it quite as much as "Listen" or "Time Heist" but it was very, very funny. I was tickled by the Pink Floyd whistle. Is it just me or is something up with Danny? It seemed very implausible that he figured out that the Doctor looked like the Matt Smith-alike and then changed to a Scotsman. Also, his somersault jump stretched credibility a bit. I am hoping there is more to him than there seems.

I utterly failed to listen to "Davros" this week. Sorry about that. I will try hard to get back into the Big Finish groove this week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Time Heist

I loved this one. A very fun Ocean's Eleven type story done in Doctor Who style. (Spoilers!) 

I was really looking forward to the payoff and figured it would make or break the story, and I found it satisfying. They may be going to the "monster that isn't really a monster" well a bit often lately, but it worked ok. I kind of figured the Doctor was the the Architect. 

I just love Capaldi's Doctor. Every time he is on screen I just find myself mesmerized him. The Doctor hasn't been this enigmatic in a long time, but it's done so well that it doesn't alienate the audience - or at least not this member of the audience. Looking forward to Gareth Roberts' story next week. 

Sorry for the slowness of reviews lately. Been out of town some two of the past three weeks, so I haven't been listening as diligently as normal. Hopefully I can listen to and get a review up for "Davros" before or on this weekend. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


The first time I ever became aware of Big Finish was back in 2003 when Outpost Gallifrey posted a news story about a new "villain trilogy" they were about to release. The trilogy promised to do a deep dive on the back stories of each villain and all featured a different Doctor. I remember being intrigued by this and was unaware that there was a company even making audio dramas of Doctor Who. For all I know, I may have even thought at the time that these three releases were the first audio dramas they had released. In any event, some weeks or maybe months later I was intrigued enough to order two of the stories. I decided to buy "Davros" and "Master" because I always found them far more interesting villains than silly old Omega. So, it would be a year or more later before I actually heard the best of the villain trilogy.

This is the first Big Finish story written by Nev Fountain - and thankfully not the last! Ian Collier, who voiced Omega in "The Arc of Infinity" returns to reprise the role here. It's the right choice as he has a distinctive voice and is immediately recognizable as Omega from his first few words of dialog. A lot of the story consists of the Doctor and Omega conversing, and the chemistry between Collier and Davison works quite well. There is also a lot of humor from some amusing characters and the backdrop of a historical tour where they do dramatic reenactments of famous historical figures (in this case Omega). It's interesting to have a setting like this where Gallifreyan history is the subject of common knowledge and gawkers come from all over to check it out.

Amongst the humor are some grim and violent scenes. Omega is back - seemingly in non-corporeal form - and seems repentant and wanting to simply get back to his anti-verse he worked so hard to escape from. But, there are flashes of madness, and it takes a while before you realize just how mad he is. This story is probably most famous for its big twist. It truly is a fantastic moment. Revisiting the story, there are quite a few clues given to the nature of the twist. I admit, that my dull mind never saw it coming. The big reveal at the end of part three was a true jaw dropper for me and even listening to the story for a third time, I got goose bumps listening to the big cliffhanger.

The story also serves to give a lot of back story to Omega, and a bit of surprising history of the Doctor. Aside from the big twist, there are a couple of other surprises in the story revealed towards the end. One is pretty hilarious involving the two annoying old ladies who generally serve the bulk of the story as comic relief. The revelation at where the name Omega came from is very satisfying, and very well written and performed. Omega was always a villain you had some sympathy for, and Fountain maintains that in this story, while still making him frightening.

As a whole, I like this better than the other two stories in the villain trilogy. This really feels like the final story in a trilogy for Omega. It gives a satisfying back story for the character, but also is a satisfying conclusion for the character until someone decides to bring him back. Peter Davison is in fine form, and really works well without a companion. It's certainly quite a contrast from the bulk of his television stories where the TARDIS was crammed with them. My one gripe with Omega is it does feel quite long. To its credit, it never gets dull, but you are every bit aware that they nearly filled both CDs to full capacity to tell this story. With many laugh out loud moments, and some really great plot twists, this is a great debut for Fountain, and I like his next story even better!

Rating: Great


Loved it. Finally Capaldi gets a classic (at least on first blush) story! Creepy, funny, and touching. The surprise at the end was really something. I continue to really enjoy Clara - more than most it would seem. I really need to watch it again.

Hope to have a review of "Omega" up tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Robot of Sherwood

Another enjoyable episode. These sorts of historical romps have become familiar in New Who, and while they are never brilliant, they are almost always fun. This one was particularly funny, and for most of the first half I was laughing hard at the Doctor's antics. I also enjoyed the performances behind Robin Hood and the Sheriff. I was intrigued to see how the mystery of Robin Hood being real would be revealed and was perfectly satisfied by the simple result. Still waiting for a truly brilliant story in this new series, and I am hopeful we will get that next week.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Jonathan Morris has written quite a few Doctor Who stories for Big Finish and other mediums, but "Flip-Flop" is definitely my favorite. It's one of the more unique takes on time travel, changing the past, and living with the future. I remember being surprised when I got this years ago and saw that there was a black CD and a white CD, but no enumeration for either one. I think I even went online to find out which one I needed to listen to first. I was stunned to find out that it really didn't matter. How in the world could that work? ... OK, before going on, if you've never heard "Flip-Flop" this is probably one of those times where you need to trust me that this is brilliant, stop reading the review, and just buy the story. It's a brilliant time travel convoluted mess (in a good way), with some great humor, and is unquestionably my favorite 7th Doctor story. (Now, stop and don't spoil yourself. You have been warned.)

I can't imagine how hard it was for Morris to plot this one out. Just coming up with the two parallel realities in the present, and managing to juggle two different versions of four characters existing in both is a bit head spinning. Oh and go ahead and throw a little bit of time travel back an hour just to make the present even more confusing. To do it in a way that once you've heard both discs, completely makes sense is just brilliant. This is one of the best examples of parallel universes ever. It's amazing how nearly perfectly symmetrical each reality is with each other, with almost every scene lining up perfectly from one CD to the next (... or previous). The fact, that it's done with such great humor is another accomplishment.

Once again, I find myself enjoying McCoy paired up with Mel. Given how dreadful their TV season was, it's amazing how often their audio pairings work out so well. This is just the perfect story for the 7th Doctor. It brings out his quirky, humorous side, as well as his brilliance beneath the clownish facade. It's nice to have the 7th Doctor swept along in events, and not the dark manipulator as well. Bonnie Langford is great here too. I love the moment where Mel sends up the awful line from "The Trial of a Time Lord". It's one of many very funny moments for both of our leads. The other huge source of laughs, is the obsequious conquering race of villains, the Slithergees. It's so absurd for a race to have conquered with political correctness induced guilt, but it's very funny, and a welcome jab at the overly politically correct society we lived in back then and still do now.

In many ways, "Flip-Flop" is another example of how Big Finish can do a story that just couldn't quite be done in a book or on TV. As much as I would love the new series to rip this idea off, it just wouldn't work as well since one reality would have to be established first. It's just a brilliant take on time travel and parallel universes. I love to ponder the fact, that by the end of the story (or each story) the Doctor and Mel have swapped universes with their counterparts, and they don't even seem to realize it. I've listened to this a few times over the years, and I think I like it more and more each time. Now, if I could only remember to listen to the black one first next time... or was it the white one? This is a pretty nice run of releases for the 7th Doctor, that I am not sure Big Finish has matched since.