Out of Time has been an interesting little trilogy of stories, held together by the rather simple premise as the Tenth Doctor meets one of his previous incarnations and they have to fight a big villain. These releases were all recorded in 2020 when lockdown began and released annually with Wink being the final installment featuring the Tenth Doctor, the Sixth Doctor, and the Weeping Angels.
Originally announced as a four-part series, Big Finish have returned to Chris Boucher’s creation of Kaldor City for two more volumes (at least — is it greedy to hope for more?) of director Ken Bentley’sThe Robots, an ambitious, sprawling, politically-charged audio drama extrapolated from concepts originally introduced in the Tom Baker-era classic The Robots Of Death, principally starring Nicola Walker, reprising her role as Eighth Doctor companion Liv Chenka, and Claire Rushbrook as her sister, Liv. Continue reading →
There is something interesting about the way UNIT: Nemesis has been developing. The first set was quite a nice surprise with an introduction to the basic players and what makes them work. It was also good to see Kate and Osgood given more in depth characterisation than anything that Steven Moffat gave them. UNIT Nemesis: Agents of the Vulpreen moves beyond setting the stage and characters, giving us a look into what the four set miniseries is actually trying to accomplish and the story it is trying to tell. This is essentially UNIT’s chance to prove itself at thwarting a large alien conspiracy to invade the Earth, this set seeing the preliminary invasion being the main thrust of the story. It picks up fromBetween Two Worlds and explores what the ark is, what the Eleven was doing, and what happens to the captured Jacqui McGee who almost immediately returns in the first episode. It’s somehow a more focused set than Between Two Worlds as well, with only one episode feeling as if it is more of a diversion from what the set as a whole is attempting to accomplish for the furthering of the Nemesis story arc. The nemesis of the title is heavily implied to be the Eleven, who has his presence somehow increased here despite being in quite a lot of the first set.
Survivors: New Dawn sees three further adventures for Abby Grant and Jenny Richards. Some twenty years on from the initial outbreak of ‘The Death’, this sequel series has caught us up with the two remaining central characters from the show.
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 Adventuressto 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.
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.
Out of Time was a release that couldn’t have come at a better time: we were reaching the fall and the COVID-19 pandemic was still getting worse and lockdowns were getting to people and Nicholas Briggs brought together Tom Baker and David Tennant in an exciting adventure with the Daleks. It was a fun release and with David Tennant’s availability due to the pandemic being more available to record from home, two further releases were announced where the Tenth Doctor meets the Fifth and Sixth Doctor set to be released in June 2021 and 2022 respectively. Well, it’s June 2021, if only by two days and Out of Time 2: The Gates of Hellsees the Fifth and Tenth Doctors in Paris, 1944 facing off against the Cybermen in the Catacombs. There’s also a Time Agent calling herself grapefruit but French. This is a script from David Llewellyn and he packs a lot into a single hour, almost too much for a single story to do. As the title is ‘Out of Time’, the idea is that Cybermen have been using the Transit of Venus, whenever the planet Venus passes directly in between the Sun and another planet (in this story Earth, obviously). It’s actually a really interesting idea with a piece of alien technology from the Cybermen being sent back in time and essentially being put into the hands of aristocrats to weasel their way to survive. This is a Cyberman story after all and it just feels right, though if there is one big and glaring issue with the story is that they don’t actually feel like a threat.Continue reading →
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.
As February continues on, Big Finish’s monthly range reaches its penultimate installment, and it becomes clear that the end of the range is meant to parallel its beginning. As the second story was a Fifth Doctor and Turlough adventure, so is The Blazing Hour, making the total number of adventures to feature this specific TARDIS team in the Monthly Range to reach the large number of five. It makes The Blazing Hour one of those rare opportunities to see a rare all-alien TARDIS teams; placing the Doctor and Turlough in a story that reflects on the absolute worst of humanity. This is a story where one should not judge the release by it’s cover. The cover from Tom Webster is strikingly surreal; boasting Turlough in a wheelchair, the Fifth Doctor barely standing, a disfigured figure, and flames in the background. While all of these things occur in The Blazing Hour, instead of telling a story of surrealism, James Kettle provides a story all about the greed that humanity succumbs to and how that can corrupt genuinely good ideas and advancements in technology. The first episode of this story spends quite a bit of time on speaking against the idea of nuclear power in a manner close to sounding like a Luddit;, as Kettle focuses on the ease at which nuclear energy could go awry. While Kettle intends it to be cautionary and foreshadowing, it isn’t as clear here that he is speaking on what happens when negligence and greed become the main point of running a power station.