Review: The First Doctor Adventures (Volume Five)

Review by Jacob Licklider


There is something odd about the First Doctor Adventures Big Finish range. As it features the cast from An Adventure in Space and Time in the roles of the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara it is classified as a range for the New Series, however, each set has been in some way or another a fitting tribute for the television show’s first few years, especially Season 1, where each story essentially alternates science fiction and pure historical with the occasional a la The Space Museum or The Edge of Destruction thrown in for good measure. Each episode even is given its own individual title as the first three seasons would often do, and they move directly one into the next, with The First Doctor Adventures: Volume Five even ending implying that there will be a volume six. This is also a range which has lost the novelty of having full cast First Doctor stories, which isn’t a bad thing, and was indicated by the previous volume including the Daleks in a sequel to the very first Dalek story. Volume Five goes back away from bringing back any returning elements, though the second story does take some cheeky nudges to future stories and events for the Doctor in particular, selling itself on two very interesting titles and the promise of a story with William Shakespeare and pairing a veteran writer with a new writer.

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Review: Time Lord Victorious- Echoes Of Extinction

Review by Jacob Licklider


Echoes of Extinction is a release with a troubled history. Originally announced for a November 2020 release with the final Big Finish release for the Time Lord Victorious event as a download and vinyl exclusive at certain UK supermarkets, boasting Paul McGann and David Tennant both portraying the Doctor before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it, making the vinyl exclusive to Big Finish’s own website. Now it is April 2021 and Echoes of Extinction has finally been released, making it the final installment in the event to actually be released in the event. It is also interesting as being made for vinyl, it is essentially two interconnected stories, each approximately 28 minutes to accommodate the vinyl’s limitations. This is also a multi-Doctor story in the vein of Heart of TARDIS, where each Doctor’s plot affects the other’s while never actually meeting each other. The story follows the same format as the main range story Flip Flop which each disc could be listened to individually and in either order. For full transparency, I listened to the story in the order they were presented in the Big Finish app, with the Eighth Doctor’s story first followed by the Tenth Doctor’s story, rounded off with the customary bonus interviews as is with these ranges.

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Review: Doctor Who – Dalek Universe 1

Review by Jacob Licklider


The Dalek Protocol started off the Dalek Universe miniseries with a fairly standard but enjoyable tale with no real connection to what would become the series at least based on the first set. And a day later, Dalek Universe begins itself properly with the first three stories in the miniseries being released to acclaim. To make what’s most likely going to be a long review short, Dalek Universe 1 is a brilliant start to the miniseries and if you haven’t already, go do yourself a favour and buy it. This is one of those sets that I cannot critically evaluate without losing my restraint on spoilers so from this point forward. You have been warned. Each installment of Dalek Universe 1 is truly part of a miniseries, blending together which helps as two of the episodes are from John Dorney, and the third deals with the character fallout from the previous two episodes before moving along to what will eventually become the conclusion of the set while transitioning into the second set. An interesting note, this set barely features the Daleks, like The Dalek Protocol before it, they are an off-screen presence bar a few scenes, the writers instead electing for setting this around the time of The Daleks’ Master Plan and dragging the Tenth Doctor out of time into his own personal timeline.

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Review: Dalek Universe – The Dalek Protocol

Review by Jacob Licklider


Hype is an interesting phenomenon. When Big Finish Productions announced Dalek Universe, of course there was going to be hype: it’s three whole box sets starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, the return of Anya Kingdom, and a two-hour Fourth Doctor prologue with Leela and K9 to boot. This is the type of release that is designed to build hype, yet now that it is April and the first release is out, The Dalek Protocol starring Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, and John Leeson, and some of the trouble with extreme hype is that is can actually put off listeners. For The Dalek Protocol it is imperative that before you purchase or listen, you understand that it was never actually intended to be part of a bigger series. Recorded in 2018, the behind the scenes on the release are enlightening as Nicholas Briggs was simply commissioned to do what he loves and tribute Death to the Daleks while bringing back Anya Kingdom. This means that the ending of the story feels final, the Doctor and Anya don’t get to reunite which is important as the Doctor hasn’t even met her yet, and that there really aren’t apparent threads which will be carrying over to Dalek Universe proper. As a part of the series, it seems the most disconnected which is fine as it was never written to be a part of a greater whole, so listeners should be wary of those expectations before going in as you will not enjoy it nearly as much when that is in play.

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Audio Review: Carolyn Seymour in Conversation

Review by Ian McArdell


Carolyn Seymour in Conversation is the latest in an occasional range of in-depth interviews with Big Finish’s biggest stars. Perhaps best known in cult television circles for her starring role in the first series of Terry Nation’s Survivors, Carolyn Seymour has worked extensively on both sides of the Atlantic, on both stage and screen. In 2014 she reprised her role as Abby Grant in the audio continuation of Survivors, and has since appeared across a number of their ranges, most notably the Doctor Who spin-off Counter-Measures, where she plays the returning villainess, Lady Suzanne Clare.


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Review: The Lone Centurion (Vol. 1)

Review by Jacob Licklider


With David Tennant joining Big Finish in 2016, and the recent return of Christopher Eccleston in a series of four box sets, the New Series representation at Big Finish increased; yet Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor has thus far been relegated to Short Trips and The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles due to only Alex Kingston’s participation in Big Finish. However, an announcement of a two volume spin-off following the Auton Rory Williams while he guards the Pandorica in a now deleted universe brings Arthur Darvill back to the worlds of Doctor Who in a release that nobody was quite expecting. Rory Williams is one of those characters which you really don’t know what to expect, often taking a back seat in episodes and only given companion status by the start of Darvill’s second series in the role. Rory is essentially comic relief and on the surface relegated to supporting roles, so The Lone Centurion is something which doesn’t actually have anything to go on in terms of what it can accomplish, complicated by the fact that as an Auton Rory is more difficult to kill as this takes place in between The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. The premise is intriguing: the Pandorica has gone missing meaning that Amy has gone missing, and Rory is attempting to find it, shenanigans ensue. Continue reading

Review: ‘Master!’

Review by Jacob Licklider


With the acquisition of Eric Roberts returning to the role of the Master in The Diary of River Song, Ravenous 4, and Masterful, it became a matter of time before Big Finish Productions gave him his own spin-off box set.  Announced in 2020, Master! is essentially a precursor to Big Finish’s new three disc box set model for releases going forward.  Eric Roberts’ Master is also a character who does not actually have a fully fleshed out character.  He is a character who was over the top and camp in his one television appearance, under the guidance of a director who simply did not understand who the Master was and didn’t allow Roberts to actually give any menace in his performance.  Big Finish obviously worked to correct this in his first three appearances, but giving him a full length box set audiences finally get the chance to explore just what this version of the Master is and what he actually stands for.  Master! contains three stories from three writers, all telling an overarching story of how Eric Roberts’ Master escaped the time vortex and was eventually tracked down by an assassin and the Daleks, and of course escaped.  Interestingly unlike The War Master and Missy where the Master is a protagonist, Master! actually plays it with the Master directly the role of the antagonist, with each story essentially following other characters interacting with the Master and essentially trying to stop him from succeeding in each episode’s plan as things escalate towards the eventual conclusion.

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Review: Torchwood – Lease of Life

Review by Jacob Licklider


Aaron Lamont got his start with Big Finish Productions with the Dark Shadows audio drama The Haunted Refrain, a story set in a house dealing with the destruction of a once happy marriage as someone wastes away and Quentin Collins is trapped on a gramophone record. Lamont’s script is characterised by character drama as someone wastes away, not taking advantage of the life that they are privileged to have. I bring this up because the first story where Lamont steps away from the Dark Shadows range, Torchwood: Lease of Life, plays with a similar theme in an almost more horrific way. The entire conceit is based on bad roommates, something that every adult has experienced in one way or another at some point. The opening of this audio doesn’t even include Owen, this releases lead, it just takes the necessary time to establish the relationships between Ellie, Seren, and Nye, the three flatmates whose flats is a large fixer-upper. Ellie is stuck home with a hangover, being annoyed by Nye who has been blaring rock music while locked in his room, and Seren is just trying to get to her job. These are people who if not stuck in a living situation would probably be close friends, but the flat just doesn’t allow them to really get along and a surprise inspection from the ‘council’ and Owen Harper makes things worse. There is a dangerous mould encroaching on their living space, the landlord is nowhere to be seen, and Ellie’s hangover is only causing problems. The mould, of course, is an alien coming to consume the house through the Rift and essentially the audio transforms into an hour long horror play in a trapped location. Continue reading

Audio Review: Blake’s 7 – Lucifer Genesis

Review by Ian McArdell


Lucifer Genesis is the final instalment in the late Paul Darrow’s trilogy of Blake’s 7 stories, charting the ongoing exploits of the character he so memorably brought to life: Kerr Avon.
First published by Big Finish in 2015, it has been recorded as an audiobook by Darrow’s colleague, Stephen Grief. Grief, of course, played the role of Travis in the television show’s first year. Up front, it is worth saying that I have not read either of the other Lucifer books, but it does not seem to matter – Lucifer Genesis is a relatively self-contained epic. It is also one that has a tremendous scope, with an intricate plot charting Servalan’s rise to power, then weaves in and out of established onscreen Blake’s 7 events. Throughout Avon is positioned as Servalan’s nemesis, with characters such as Blake and Travis merely diversions to be handled along the way.

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Review: Doctor Who – The End Of The Beginning

Review by Jacob Licklider


So here we are. March 2021 and the end of The Monthly Range of Doctor Who. Over 20 years and 275 releases, and Big Finish Productions have decided to give their flagship range on final multi-Doctor send-off adventure. Relative newcomer Robert Valentine was given the task of writing The End of the Beginning, a story which harkens back to the very first release in the range, The Sirens of Time, telling three connected adventures for three Doctors before bringing them together for the final episode in one big overarching plan. Each episode adds to the drama and ends with the Doctor (and this time companion) in some sort of danger while everything builds towards some universe breaking danger. The production of The End of the Beginning is put in the hands of Ken Bentley, one of the range’s most prolific directors, and the sound design and music by Wilfredo Acosta. This is an entire story based on making an homage to the range; including appearances from range exclusive characters for one last hurrah before Big Finish moves into a new era of box-sets and new adventures with different Doctors and companions. There is at least one Monthly Range release which is still coming as it was delayed, but this truly is the end of an era for Big Finish Productions.

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