Review: Charlotte Pollard – The Further Adventuress

Review by Jacob Licklider


My first Big Finish Audio Drama was Storm Warning, it was 2014, and Big Finish had at some point previously put the first fifty main range on sale for $2.99. Charlotte Pollard was my first companion and now, twenty years later, Big Finish are releasing Charlotte Pollard: The Further Adventuress to commemorate India Fisher’s Charley Pollard and taking the Eighth Doctor back to his early days. Paul McGann is clearly having a blast in all four stories, giving life to an Eighth Doctor unblemished by the loss of friends or the Time War, something which we haven’t seen since Big Finish revisited the Lucie Miller era in 2019. Whenever they decide to revisit this version of the Eighth Doctor, McGann breathes a new life into the character and reuniting him with India Fisher helps the nostalgia of that era bleed into the tone of each of the stories. None of the stories are particularly dark or disturbing, they all at least reference the arc of the time that Charley Pollard should have been killed on the R-101, but most importantly they allow two friends a chance to perform together for the first time in nearly a decade since the 50th Anniversary in The Light at the End.

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Review: Doctor Who – Watchers

Review by Jacob Licklider


The Audio Novels range is the newest Doctor Who range from Big Finish Productions, essentially taking over from their original printed short story collections which ran until 2009 when they lost the license to print Doctor Who books. Several of the short stories would find their way as Subscriber Short Trips, four released a year, but with the ending of The Monthly Range and the normal Short Trips range being moved to box sets 2021 saw the introduction of The Audio Novels with Scourge of the Cybermen, essentially released every six months in January and July. The second installment is also an interesting contribution as it isn’t from an established writer, but an actor. Matthew Waterhouse wrote Watchers, a seven-hour audiobook set after The Keeper of Traken and exploring the final days of the Fourth Doctor, in universe, bridging the gap to Logopolis. It is an interesting look at the end of the Tom Baker era from a meta-textual standpoint as Waterhouse uses it to ultimately comment on how each of the three producers during the run produced the show, and especially how stark a contrast Season 18 was in respect to the end of the Graham Williams era. Gone was the previous era’s characteristic humour, brought into stark contract as Season 17 was script edited by Douglas Adams and was an out and out comedy.

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Review: Bernice Summerfield – The Weather on Versimmon

Review by Jacob Licklider


As The Two Jasons was brought forward from its initial January 2022 to October 2021, Big Finish Productions commissioned two further Bernice Summerfield audiobooks to replace that slot plus an additional slot for February 2022. The January slot was taken by The Weather on Versimmon by Matthew Griffiths, a novel released during the box set era of the Bernice Summerfield range to coincide with the release of Road Trip, the second box set. Luckily, unlike the initial five Bernice Summerfield novels, while plot points are referenced, but not integral to understanding that box set or the events of this book. This is essential as I have not heard any of the box sets yet. The plot sees Benny with Ruth searching for her son Peter who has gone missing. They find themselves on the planet Versimmon which is essentially a world of ecological artists, but the weather seems to be going haywire. There’s a hailstorm as climate change begins to ravage the planet for reasons that nobody is entirely sure of why as fauna has begun to join the flora.

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Audio Review: Survivors – Ghosts and Demons

Review by Ian McArdell


Ghosts and Demons is the latest story from the world of Terry Nation’s Survivors. While the audio dramas have pushed the timeframe on to the late 1990s with New Dawn, this story is firmly lodged within Series 1 of the television show (set around the time of the episode Something of Value). Indeed, the challenges our heroes face during the story are rooted in the events of that episode. As with some of the best of the full-cast range, Ghosts and Demons offers us multiple ways into the story by following the experiences of the characters through the early stages of “the death”. In most cases, it’s tragedy; for others, it’s freeing.

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Review: Doctor Who – Forty

Review by Jacob Licklider


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic making time feel incredibly compressed, it is now 2022, and with 2022 comes Big Finish Productions’ new format for release, something that had been slowly introduced throughout 2021. Everything’s a three-disc box set and the first release of the year, like the first release of 2021, is a celebratory anniversary set, this time celebrating Peter Davison’s 40th anniversary as the Fifth Doctor with the first of two box sets under the umbrella label Forty. The premise of what is essentially the Fifth Doctor’s consciousness being catapulted across his timeline in no particular order, both forwards and backwards from his second story, Four to Doomsday, to Season 20, and as the brief for the second set implies, Season 21. Unlike last year’s Masterful, Forty isn’t a single story, but a series of interconnected stories with this volume containing the four-part Secrets of Telos and the two-part God of War with the second not currently having all of its story details announced (only one story has a title, The Auton Infinity). The story arc of the sets doesn’t actually get close to an explanation, ending with the Doctor still being catapulted around his timeline. There is a nice thematic through-line for the first set with the Doctor being taken in the first story to a time after Earthshock where he finds out Adric’s fate while going back in the second story to several stories below the young companion’s demise meaning the Doctor has to face the fact that he knows where Adric is going and actively has to move him towards that fate. Continue reading

Review: The Year of Martha Jones

Review byJacob Licklider


 

The Year of Martha Jones is the third Big Finish Box Set spin-off featuring a companion from Russell T. Davies’ run as Doctor Who’s showrunner. Recorded in February 2020, but not released until December 2021, this release was a long time coming, having been leaked on performer’s online CVs, but it was only announced in 2021. While certain forums have speculated what kept this release on the back-burner for so long (only Tom Baker’s banked releases, which have been kept back for a number of years, and the missing Fifth Doctor/Marc Monthly Range stories, which were pulled due to the pandemic, have had this kind of a delay in even being announced), yet the only concrete development can be gained from the behind the scenes mentioning that it was originally planned to be a four disc set, reduced to three, and that the same month that this was being recorded, Freema Agyeman reprised her role as Martha Jones in Torchwood: Dissected.

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Audio Review: Survivors – New Dawn 1

Review by Ian McArdell


New Dawn 1 is the first of two 3-story boxsets which picks up the tale some fifteen years after we last heard from Terry Nation’s Survivors.
Although it eschews a move into double figures, making a fresh start with the subtitle New Dawn, this is effectively the tenth audio series. With six new episodes adding to the thirty-six already released, there’s now more Survivors on audio than were made for television in the mid-1970s, which is a remarkable achievement. However, it’s not the Seventies that we are concerned with here; though it’s not specified, by my reckoning the events of New Dawn occur somewhere in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Abby Grant returns: Fifteen years after she went into hiding, having prized her conflicted teenage son Peter from the clutches of the quasi-military operation he’d become a part of, and despite his crimes, the pair fled.

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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.

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Review: Doctor Who – Stranded 3

Review by Jacob Licklider


Stranded as a miniseries ended its second set with the Doctor being thrust into the future with companions Liv, Helen, Tania, and Andy where the Earth has come under a fascist dictatorship run by Divine Intervention. Stranded 3 picks up where Stranded 2 left off and with any of the multi-set series from Big Finish, and especially for the Eighth Doctor Adventures, this is not going to be a set aimed at newcomers. It continues the character driven nature of the other sets and the general Earthbound nature of the previous two sets, but the TARDIS is now working enough so the Doctor can actually travel in time, none of the episodes being set in a normal 2020/2021, the closest we get being John Dorney’s finale dealing with some of Divine Intervention and setting up the final box set. As with the final story having the gimmick of starting at the end and going back to the beginning, that is how this review will be structured. We will be starting at the end and working our way back to the beginning as Stranded 3 brings something very different to the standard box set, even by the standards of Stranded making it some of the more interesting sets from Big Finish. Continue reading

Review: The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Lost Warriors

Review by Jacob Licklider


Ravagers introduced Christopher Eccleston to the world of Big Finish as the Ninth Doctor through a miniseries.  Respond to All Calls switched gears towards three thematically similar stories with the idea being the Doctor, battle scarred and hardened, is always there to help.  The third set follows the format of Respond to All Calls, three stories tied around a theme, but that theme is a little subtler and is perhaps why some people haven’t gelled as much with this set as a whole.  Lost Warriors is a title which sets up the set with a subconscious exploration of the remnants of the Time War, and that’s there, but only in the last story and in the way the Ninth Doctor is characterised.  Each story has a warrior at its centre and each is an exploration of a different reaction to a war, one from a modern human war, one from a human war in the past, and one from an alien war, while the Doctor representing the Time War in all three of the stories.  It’s interesting as the Time War isn’t really directly mentioned in any notable capacity throughout the set, it’s in the background and simmering, but not actually being the driving force of the stories.  It’s a set about other warriors and other people as a reflection of the Doctor and not a direct parallel.  Eccleston’s portrayal of the Doctor is incredibly subtle here with the trauma and in each of the three stories he is absolutely brilliant in the role.  Some have complained he is too close to Tennant, but this is an odd set where the Doctor is actually the connection to the audience which usually is the companion’s job.

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