Review: The War Doctor Begins – Battlegrounds

Review by Jacob Licklider


Perhaps one aspect of The War Doctor Begins I have found myself undervaluing is the format. While the first set is a three episode miniseries about the immediate aftermath of the regeneration of the Eighth Doctor, the second established itself as its own self-contained miniseries, though early in the War Doctor’s life. Battlegrounds, the third set in the series, follows this pattern as well cementing the fact that this range isn’t going to be an actual miniseries, but four sets exploring early parts of the character’s life. This third set has the linking theme of exploring war and the various battlegrounds war is waged upon: physical, mental, and spiritual. Three scripts from three stylistically different writers each tacking a different type of battleground makes The War Doctor Begins: Battlegrounds three episodes with very different tones and a focus on character pieces above everything else which keeps the link strong, but each of the stories can find themselves separate. The other link throughout the stories is the directing from Louise Jameson, who should be singled out for being responsible for how The War Doctor Begins sounds. Her directorial style is distinct and steeps the sets in this almost ethereal atmosphere where things feel ever so slightly out of phase to give the Time War this mythical quality.

Continue reading

Review: The War Doctor Begins – Warbringer

Review by Jacob Licklider


It’s most definitely a coincidence that Big Finish Productions would have two releases within a week of each other that tells its story in a non-linear fashion, but it is interesting that it’s happened so soon after Stranded 3’s What Just Happened? inspired my review to be told backwards. The War Doctor Begins: Warbringer is presented as non-linear in the way each of its episodes are presented, beginning in media res, going to a conclusion, and then flashing back to the beginning to deal with a character’s amnesia. This decision assists in making the themes of Warbringer come front and centre with each of the three episodes having single word titles: Timothy X. Atack’s Consequences, Andrew Smith’s Destroyer, and Jonathan Morris’s Saviour. These titles make the set feel much like three episodes of a complete story. While Forged in Fire also acted as a miniseries, Warbringer is a three-part story. It feels like Atack, Smith, and Morris all had the time to communicate with each other in telling the same story.

Continue reading

Review: The War Doctor Begins – Forged in Fire

Review by Jacob Licklider


The War Doctor range was one of the Big Finish ranges sadly cut off due to the passing of Sir John Hurt.  A fifth box set was actually planned and some of those scripts have been used in other ranges such as The War Master, at least in similar premises.  Now that time has passed, the character has been recast with Jonathon Carley, most well known for several fan Doctor Who productions, and instead of continuing John Hurt’s legacy as the character which may have been insensitive if done incorrectly, goes back to the beginning of the character to explore what the War Doctor actually kind of means.  The War Doctor Begins was announced as four box sets, starting release in June 2021 all looking to lead to essentially where their War Doctor releases began.  Forged in Fire sports a beautifully painted cover by Claudia Gironi featuring Daleks and Thals and a younger John Hurt.  It also is a set which sets up something interesting for the character, taking a step away from what Steven Moffat implied with the character, that he was the version of the Doctor who went against everything that the Doctor stood for, that his purpose was to be a warrior.  There is something to be said to the recast; Carley joins Jon Culshaw’s Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sadie Miller’s Sarah Jane, and Elliot Chapman’s Ben Jackson (among others) in Big Finish’s roster of perfect recasts.  Carley worked closely with director Louise Jameson to ensure that his impression was more than just an impression, but really embodying the younger version of the character.  He makes it his own and Jameson’s direction is also a welcome change as her touch makes the entire set have a different atmosphere to Big Finish’s usual output. Continue reading

Review: The 8th Doctor – Time War (Vol 4)

Review by Jacob Licklider


The Eighth Doctor: Time War was announced by Big Finish Productions as a four box set prequel series to Big Finish’s War Doctor range in 2017 after the passing of John Hurt. It is now 2020 and the miniseries is coming to an end with Time War: Volume Four which is incredibly fitting as the world has gone into lockdown, much like Gallifrey has become at this point in this set where the Time War is over after the events of Time War: Volume Three. Continue reading