With each installment in Dalek Universe, the scope and tension has been building to unravel the mystery of just what’s happening with the universe that the Tenth Doctor is now before the Time War and with Anya Kingdom and Mark Seven. The initial promotion as a full fourth series for the Tenth Doctor was perhaps the most accurate description of the three box sets as a whole, all taking place right after The Waters of Mars; and Dalek Universe 3 sets up The Day of the Doctor, and actually helps transition the Tenth Doctor towards the end of his life. Like the first set, Dalek Universe 3 is only two stories, a single episode and two parts, essentially echoing the structure of one of his televised series (without the third two-parter to fill in the usual thirteen episodes as this is only nine episodes). And with any finale, this set is built around wrapping everything up from the heartbreaking installments at the end of Dalek Universe 2. This review will contain spoilers for Dalek Universe 2, so it is highly recommended to at least be caught up with the stories to this point before continuing. This is also a set which cannot be listened to in isolation, despite its high quality.
The Clone Mastersonce again takes a step away from the Liberator, providing another angle on The Worlds of Blake’s 7. Despite being framed as a spin-off, it actually stars two Blake’s 7 regulars, Sally Knyvette (Jenna) and Jan Chappell (Cally), and well as the recurring menace(s) of Travis in two aspects, as played by Brian Croucher and Stephen Greif.
Before we continue with this review for The Two Jasons, a little warning. This book deals with the fallout of the events of Series 8 of the Bernice Summerfield single releases and as such those spoilers must be discussed as well as certain plot threads from the Virgin New Adventures, mainly Death and Diplomacy and Happy Endings. If you have not listened to or read those stories, please be careful reading ahead as there will be spoilers in this review for those story arcs. It’s also a release with adult themes as it is a Benny book outside of her Doctor Who Big Finish audios so isn’t quite as family friendly.Continue reading →
With the first two series of Missy, Rufus Hound’s portrayal of the Meddling Monk appearing in one story for each set already becoming a standout, for Series Three the subtitle Missy and the Monk was given. Hound is featured as Missy’s own companion in each of the three stories, all travelling the universe together. Except because it’s Missy piloting the Monk’s TARDIS, the Monk is much more a hostage than say an active participant which is an excellent dynamic, making Rufus Hound the butt of the joke which is just a perfect dynamic throughout. Missy and the Monk is also notable for being from mostly new writers meaning that it’s a set with its own distinct flavour from the previous two with less emphasis on Missy as an evil ‘Mary Poppins’ (there aren’t any stories here with the Davis siblings) and more of her as the crazy version of the Master with the hair-brained yet genius schemes. Some complaints I have seen of this set are that ‘Miss’y and ‘the Monk’ are perhaps parodies of themselves, but I can’t really see that as Missy is already a character who doesn’t take the Monk seriously and is just keeping him around for her own amusement. That’s just their dynamic and it has been in the previous sets with Michelle Gomez and Rufus Hound playing off each other brilliantly. Though one slight issue with the set as a whole is that the incidental music, while always great, relies a bit too much on reusing the tracks from the first two sets.Continue reading →
The ‘Doctor Chronicles’ is one of those ranges that exists out of necessity, despite what certain corners of social media would have you believe. With the acquisition of the Doctor Who license up to Twice Upon a Time, but only David Tennant officially coming back to the role of the Doctor (and even then not as much as Big Finish would like due to his busy schedule), the types of stories with New Series characters that could be told became limited. Essentially there had to be spin-offs such as Torchwood and The Paternoster Gang, or Short Trips like The Jago and Litefoot Revival. But with The Companion Chronicles being one of Big Finish’s more highly acclaimed ranges, adapting the format to the Ninth through Twelfth Doctors with one narrator and one guest, beginning release in 2017. After one release for each Doctor, the BBC intervened and suggested that the series move away from the initial format and into a full-cast audio format, making this range the only full-cast adventures for the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors (as Eccleston has returned to the role and Tennant has increased his output). This change begins with The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles: Volume Two which stars Jacob Dudman in the role as the Doctor. While Big Finish use Dudman for the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors it is actually his Eleventh where his performance excels. Throughout this set he captures the voice of Matt Smith’s portrayal, while adding a depth that many of Smith’s episodes seemed to lack, an emotional core rarely seen during that period of the Moffat era. Each of these stories are set in between The Angels Take Manhattan and The Snowmen, and there is this something that Dudman can coax out of the character, it was seen here and in his cameo in Thin Time/Madquake last year. It is also perhaps important to note that this review is coming from the perspective of someone who is not the biggest fan of the Eleventh Doctor.
The 2020 Monthly Range releases from July to October were initially announced as the yearly anthology release Time Apart, followed by a trilogy of Fifth Doctor stories: Thin Time/Madquake, The Lost Resort, and Perils and Nightmares. These releases were recorded, edited, and ready for release until the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down and Big Finish Productions decided that one of these releases would not be suitable as it came too close to real world issues, so The Lost Resort and its follow up Perils and Nightmares were pulled from the release schedule, the other prepared main range releases The Flying Dutchman/Displaced was pulled ahead and plans were changed. So here we are, a year later and the pandemic while still ravaging the world, has an endpoint in sight with the development of the vaccines, Big Finish have released these three stories as a box set, capitalising on the idea of it as a continuation of the early 1980s era of Doctor Who in the wonderful video trailer as The Lost Resort and Other Stories.Continue reading →
There is often a complaint from Big Finish Productions that there are characters whom they put at one point before bringing them back making them confusing. The Eleven is one such character, being introduced in Doom Coalitionas a Time Lord whose previous regenerations are still living in his consciousness before appearing through the Eighth Doctor box sets to the end ofRavenous, and being brought back with other Doctors. They appeared in The Legacy of Time, Dark Universe, and the Time War box sets, though often in past and future incarnations, and the latest release is The Eleven, a three-episode box set where the Sixth Doctor and Constance Clarke encounter the Eleven on the planet Molaruss. Like any of the new Big Finish box sets which have been successful, it’s essentially a three hour miniseries chronicling the Eleven’s rise and fall from power. Setting up a box set as a miniseries of connected stories flowing from one to the next is a brilliant setup as it allows an avoidance of a lot of the issues of one hour stories not living up to their full potential, and in The Eleven each installment manages to tackle different things involving generally small casts of characters going from each scenario to the next.
Big Finish’s Torchwood Monthly Range is no stranger to taking deep cuts from Whoniverse canon. Within the span of its range, it’s made Tom Price’s PC Andy one of the most developed characters in the series, saw Murray Melvin’s Bilis Manger return to cause more chaos in several creepy adventures, and even threw a weird trilogy of Queen Victorian stories together that turned out to be some of the best of its respective canon. But ‘Empire of Shadows’is aiming to take the biggest stab of all at time of writing, bringing back a well-liked but not particularly noteworthy character from the biggest (and best) two-parter from ‘Doctor Who Series 2’, Captain Zachary Cross Flane, for a sci-fi conspiracy thriller involving the death of royalty and a potential opportunity for Torchwood to regain its influence on the Earth Empire….
Philip Hinchcliffe Presents is a Big Finish range that is tangentially related to The Lost Stories in that it is a range from the mind of a previous writer doing stories that fit in line with that era of the television show, but not actual ideas which were ever proposed. Philip Hinchcliffe, enjoying the work done adapting his lost story The Valley of Death, began to work with Marc Platt to produce his ideas, alternating a six and four part story. Four stories were released across three releases between 2014 and 2017, so imagine the surprise when a fourth release was announced for August 2021. As described in the behind the scenes interviews, The God of Phantomsis a story that just came to Hinchcliffe and has been in development at Big Finish for a while as Platt worked and reworked the outline into a usable form. Recording actually happened in February of this year, not too long before it was officially announced, and like any Philip Hinchcliffe Presents release is one focused squarely on mixing gothic horror and science fiction. While the range itself has been incredibly varied with stories like The Ghosts of Gralstead and The Devil’s Armada being classic horror and The Genesis Chamber being more straight science fiction, The God of Phantoms actually most feels like a story produced by Hinchcliffe’s successor Graham Williams in The Stones of Blood.