Review: The Diary of River Song – Two Rivers And A Firewall

Review by Jacob Licklider


If there has been a Doctor Who spin-off range from Big Finish Productions that consistently managed good stories while still being very reliant on past pieces of Doctor Who lore, it is The Diary of River Song. Ten series have gone by and only now we have an announcement of a box set with absolutely no returning elements coming out in January 2023. Now luckily the previous nine box sets have had some through line, a story arc or just a simple theme linking all of the stories together, but Two Rivers and a Firewall, the tenth series has a problem, and it’s a big one.

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Review: Classic Doctors New Monsters 3: The Stuff of Nightmares

Written by Cavan Gilbey


‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ has been a novel concept for a range, both previous boxsets have been inventive with their match ups and often taken their chosen monsters into new and exciting territories; Judoon in Chains being the easy stand-out from those first sets with how it creatively uses it’s monster of choice. Weeping Angels, Sycorax, Racnoss and Carrionites are all obvious choices for the range but this third volume does plumb the depths a little bit; I mean who is really asking for Balhoon or Tivolian stories? Although I must admit a two parter involving the Dream Crabs is pretty inspired as you have the potential to create some truly surreal audio landscapes. But that aside, the four stories we get are all great fun thus making this a set that really is more the ‘Stuff of Dreams’ rather than Nightmares.

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Review: Doctor Who – Emancipation Of The Daleks

Review by Jacob Licklider


The Audio Novels have released their third installment and instead of continuing to stay in the classic series it adds to the rather low number of Twelfth Doctor novels with Emancipation of the Daleks by Jonathan Morris, a book set in the middle of Series 10. Jonathan Morris was brought on to write the novel and depart from the previous two instalment’s format of six, one-hour episodes. The length is the same with approximately six hours of an audiobook, but it is shifted to three, two-hour episodes roughly the same word count as a televised episode according to the behind the scenes interviews. I’m bringing this up so early since the format of this novel is one of the releases biggest issues, the length of the episodes make it so that a lot of it drags and doesn’t feel like a book. This has been a slight problem with the previous two releases but as Scourge of the Cybermen and Watchers have double the chapters and double the points where the narrative stops and listeners can take a break. And with Jonathan Morris treating each part of Emancipation of the Daleks as it’s own episode, it’s paced as if it is supposed to be a full-cast episode and not an audiobook which makes everything throughout drag. Morris structures the book as three distinct ideas each following a distinct version of Bill Potts, with the inciting incident of the story being Bill Potts from 20 years in the future showing up on her own doorstep in the present before a Dalek spaceship crashes into St. Luke’s University.

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Review: Torchwood – Restricted Items Archive Entries 031-049

Written by Cavan Gilbey


Ianto Jones, on one of his many routine cataloguing trips to the basement, finds himself stalked by a ghostly presence while he lets out some demons of his own.
The premise of Maddie Wilson’s debut story is shockingly simple; she takes one of our beloved Hub crew members and sends them off to deal with a spook on their lonesome. We’ve seen this quite a lot with Ianto specifically in this range, and they always come out as being exemplars of what the range can do with character development. James Goss’ Fall To Earth and The Office of Never Was are both excellent delves into the man Ianto truly is; just a guy who wants to be liked and seen as one of the team. But Wilson goes above and beyond the call of duty and gives possibly the best solo Ianto story the Torchwood Monthly Range has ever received. Equal parts tragic and unsettling, the story is a fresh exploration of the secret hero of Torchwood Three.
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Review: UNIT – Brave New World 1 – Seabird One

Review by Jacob Licklider


Brigadier Winifred Bambera is a Doctor Who character who is interesting. Appearing on television in Battlefield played by the wonderful Angela Bruce and created by Ben Aaronovitch, had the show lasted past Season 26 there was a good chance she would reappear especially since Andrew Cartmel had what would become the ‘lost story’ Animal in his head as a story at the time. So it became puzzling that in the Virgin New Adventures, while UNIT featured heavily especially in books like Blood Heat, No Future, and Eternity Weeps, Bambera herself would only appear twice, in Head Games and The Dying Days as cameos. The UNIT stories of the New Adventures were more concerned with deconstructing the UNIT family and the Pertwee era as it was the era many of the writers grew up with and were fond of. She had a similar cameo in the novelisation of Downtime by Marc Platt, but after that didn’t appear in any of the novels by BBC Books. Then in 1999 Big Finish acquired the Doctor Who license and begun their takeover of Doctor Who dominating the early 2000s until the revival, yet Bambera only appeared in Animal released in 2011. So it became a surprise with the success of the UNIT spin-off, Angela Bruce was brought back in the second set of UNIT: Nemesis as a backdoor pilot for UNIT: Brave New World, a currently two set release giving Bambera her own UNIT team in the late 1990s post-Battlefield, focusing on incursions from Earth itself and not the standard alien invasions.

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Review: Doctor Who Interludes – The Haunting of Bryck Place

Review by Jacob Licklider


The Haunting of Bryck Place is the third and final Interlude for 2022, being a bonus release attacked to The Seventh Doctor Adventures: Silver and Ice, at least as far as announced Interludes go. There could be further installments or bonus goodies with future releases, especially as none of the Doctors have had their second sets released, though their titles have all been announced. This is also the only Interlude to not make use of a new narrator, with Sophie Aldred taking the narration of the story and she does wonderfully, though with her narration you are aware that this is an audiobook and not an audio drama which has been what the Interludes have been marketed as. There is some extra music and sound design, so it is an enhanced audiobook, but still an audiobook and written as an audiobook and not as a scripted drama, using the format to great effect to tell a story cantering on Ace and her growth as a character. Now, using Ace as a character is nothing new, the Virgin New Adventures from 1991 to 1997 kept her as companion for over half the ranges run and Big Finish themselves have done several story arcs exploring Ace, but Georgia Cook’s script does something a little different, explores an early adventure for Ace where the Doctor isn’t attempting to manipulate her for one of his grand schemes.The_Haunting_of_Bryck_Place_audio_story

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Review: Doctor Who – Beyond War Games

Written by Cavan Gilbey


Season 6B is something of a controversial subject amongst fans; many like the use of the Doctor as a Gallifreyian agent being part of his punishment prior to regeneration while others see it as undermining the very effective and emotional ending of The War Games (a personal favourite of the regeneration stories, narrowly beaten by Logopolis). Personally I’m relatively indifferent to Season 6B since, or at least until this boxset, it was something that just seemed slightly lame. But now I must admit I am fully sold on telling stories during this sub-season since Beyond War Games is shockingly compelling and some of the best Second Doctor material Big Finish have published in a long long time; not since The Black Hole have I been this enthusiastic about dedicated releases from one of my favourite Doctors.

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Review: Doctor Who – Silver & Ice

Review by Jacob Licklider


18 months. It has been 18 months since Big Finish Productions has released a solo Seventh Doctor audio with Sylvester McCoy in the role. The Grey Man of the Mountain was released in December 2020. It is now June 2022 and in between we had one small cameo in The End of the Beginning and a Short Trip read by Sophie Aldred, but that has finally changed. Silver and Ice has been released after a long time coming and it’s honestly not entirely what I expected. While every other Doctor’s set has been tied around some theme with Forty, Water Worlds, and Beyond War Games all work around a theme with The Annihilators and The Outlaws featuring central stories. Silver and Ice is odd as the two stories it contains, Bad Day in Tinseltown and The Ribos Inheritance really have no connection outside of being two stories featuring the Seventh Doctor and Mel. They almost feel as if there was an intention for them to make up a Main Range trilogy, especially if the second set, announced to be Sullivan and Cross – AWOL, continues the format. This disconnect makes me feel a bit odd about giving the set as a whole a rating as these are essentially two stand alone stories and perhaps would have been more effective had they been released as two single releases.

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Celestial Toymaker’s Audio Adventures at Big Finish (retrospective)

Written by Cavan Gilbey


So the Celestial Toymaker may very well be returning to the television; rumoured to be portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris, although previously played by Michael Gogh of the Burton Batman fame.

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Review: The Fourth Doctor Adventures – The Nine

Review by Jacob Licklider


The Fourth Doctor Adventures: The Nine has a weird title. Originally announced years back as simply The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Series 11: Volume 2 following the naming scheme of Series 7-10, but with the transition of the greater Big Finish output going to box set releases with their own individual subtitles is given the title The Nine because the character of the Nine appears in the first story, The Dreams of Avarice, alone. The other two stories, Shellshock and Peake Season, are completely unrelated adventures for the Fourth Doctor, Peake Season not even meant to be released in this series as it was added later and recorded in 2020 and not in 2017-2018. A more fitting subtitle would have been Solo Volume 2 since this is a set which contains three stories where the Fourth Doctor is travelling alone after The Deadly Assassin and a friend of mine suggested on Twitter that this series was similar to the run of Virgin New Adventures which in the span of four books would pitch a potential companion, with Bernice Summerfield being the companion chosen. For this series it would be Margaret in the winning role but The Dreams of Avarice, Shellshock, and Peake Season have characters who feel as if they are meant to be companion candidates which would have enhanced the set had this been called Solo Volume 2.

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