Just over one year ago, in March 2021, the Main Range ended from Big Finish Productions as the box set format took root before being firmly established for 2022. Now, one other long running institution from Big Finish Productions is at an end, the 16 part, four disc set, Eighth Doctor miniseries which has been the format of Eighth Doctor releases for nearly a decade. Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition, Ravenous, and Stranded have all been released to acclaim and here we are with Stranded 4, the final set in this style.
This has been a review that I’ve let percolate in my mind for a few days. The first season of The Ninth Doctor Adventures has come to a close in a perfect parallel to Series 1 and building from genuinely humble beginnings. It is also quite difficult to discuss as it’s serving as a prequel to Series 1, ending with Old Friends implying a lead into Rose. This along with Lost Warriors, and to a lesser extent Respond to All Calls, have been an examination of the Ninth Doctor’s trauma along with other characters he meets on his lonely travels. Old Friends is a contemplative box set with two stories, a single hour long episode and one two episode serial, both parallels to Boom Town and Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways. This has been a long time coming and is honestly an odd box set to review, because it’s a box set that almost blind sided me with what it was doing and how things ended up the way they were. The covers of the sets have been mimicking the four individual releases of Series 1, from blue to red to green to purple for the finale. This ended up being an interesting example of priming listeners for what exactly to expect with these sets.
“Cycle of Destruction” continues the “Dalek Universe” adventures with an audio counterpart to “House of Kingdom” from the prior set but this time focusing on the other component of this saga’s main trio. Roy Gill’s script wastes no time in jumping right back into the fray, albeit in a way that feels more like a necessary diversion rather than a substantial addition to the main thrust of the arc. The premise is a strong one overall and it’s nice to see Mark himself get the same amount of attention and backstory that Anya did previously. But the plot and writing contain tons of technical exposition that (while interesting in how it handles the aspects of the ALARK facility and the intensive lives of the people working within it) grinds the pacing and excitement at hearing these characters again to a screeching halt. Still, the writing also touches on deeper questions as to the nature of Mark Seven and the androids themselves as well as contains major flashbacks to Mark Seven’s past which is as harrowing as one would expect. It’s in those moments and in the tension between members of the TARDIS team as to how and why they got there in the first place that the story truly shines and not necessarily in the immediate details of what’s going on in the plot. Continue reading →
Stranding the Eighth Doctor on Earth was by no means a new idea, it had been done in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, but making him a landlord with Liv and Helen made for an interesting change. Stranded 1 was released way back in June 2020 when we were all in lockdown and the future releases were sadly delayed, with Stranded 2 moving from its original November release date to March 2021. Stranded 1 was one of those releases while where I enjoyed it quite a bit, I felt slightly underwhelmed by the premise as it was very much Doctor Who does a soap opera, but sitting down to listen to Stranded 2 made me acutely aware of how I have missed this ensemble cast and their interactions. Like Jon Pertwee’s second season bringing some time travel back, Stranded 2 still contains four earthbound stories, it is the first to actually bring these new companions and residents of Baker Street into the TARDIS and exploring their history and interpersonal relationships. This premise allows it to stand out from the first set and the Pertwee era in a number of ways which makes it incredibly fun. As Stranded 2 is still kind of like Doctor Who does a soap opera, this review may contain minor spoilers for certain plot developments in the characters. This review was also written with each section right after listening, so each section may not reflect how any story arcs happen.
The Paternoster Gang as a spin-off has suffered from a bit of an identity crisis through its first three volumes. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a spiritual successor to Jago and Litefoot or a straight out character driven comedy or a serious Victorian drama and examination of Victorian culture. The subtitle of the first four sets being ‘Heritage’ implies the later, but the first two sets don’t really examine the idea of heritage or the theme.
One of Big Finish Productions’ sleeper hits of 2019 was February’s Missy box set starring Michelle Gomez as Missy on her own causing mayhem and murder throughout the universe. Gomez made for an excellent lead and the stories brought in several different types of stories from a Mary Poppins style satire, to a film noir by Nev Fountain, and an encounter with Rufus Hound’s Meddling Monk. The premises and possibilities for storytelling warranted the set to become a range as Missy: Series 2 becomes Big Finish Productions most recent release; this time mixing in two sequels to the first set and two original stories, from a set of four authors. Each story has a different flair and remains self-contained from the others; allowing new viewers to pick this set up as their introduction to the range.
As a spin-off series, The Diary of River Song is one which has perhaps relied the most on it’s connections to Doctor Who as a parent show. The first four series were promoted by prominently featuring the Fourth through Eighth Doctors, Series Five featured four distinct incarnations of the Master, and Series Six heavily featured the eras of the first four Doctors revisiting classic stories in prequels, mid-quels, or sequels.
Victorian London harbours many secrets: alien visitors, strange phenomena and unearthly powers. But a trio of investigators stands ready to delve into such mysteries – the Great Detective, Madame Vastra, her resourceful spouse, Jenny Flint, and their loyal valet, Strax. If an impossible puzzle needs solving, or a grave injustice needs righting, help can be found on Paternoster Row. But even heroes can never escape their past…
Getting David Tennant to reprise his role as the Tenth Doctor is one of the biggest successes in Big Finish’s recent years and after two successful volumes of adventures, they are back with Volume 3. The main draw to this box set is the return of Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott in the first release of the set and as always bringing Tennant and Catherine Tate together will get fans excited.Continue reading →