Review: The War Master: Self-Defence

Review by Jacob Licklider


The Trial of a Time Lord 2: Electric Boogaloo is not the title of the release I am reviewing today, but perhaps it should be and I mean that lovingly. The War Master: Self-Defence was announced on the hook that the War Master would be sharing a story with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, and with this announcement I stopped paying attention to the releases of plot summaries which is why it threw me for a loop when at the end of the first episode the War Master is put on trial by a race of god like beings from before the Time Lords after an introductory adventure in the set sets up the premise. The middle stories are flashbacks, though one feels like it may just be a flash forward a la Terror of the Vervoids. There is also no adherence to the format of A Christmas Carol looking explicitly at past, present, and future, just an opener, what’s used by the prosecution, the defence, and the final verdict which brings the Tenth Doctor into the story. Like the best installments of The War Master: Self-Defence is hung on a very solid story arc where each episode serves some sort of purpose to layering the plot to a point that explores the genuine depths the War Master will go to get his way. Like Master of Callous before it, Self-Defence is one where everything is re-contextualised at the end and an emotional hit is pulled off that although you can see it coming from a mile away, it just clicks and enhances both the performance of Derek Jacobi as well as the side characters.

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Review: Doctor Who – Mind Of The Hodiac

Review by Jacob Licklider


There isn’t often the opportunity to see some of the first work of an author that has gone on to make an impact. Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson had both early works published in some form (Jordan’s being published by hid wife and Sanderson publishing a first draft as a Kickstarter reward), yet with Big Finish it’s almost surprising that something like Mind of the Hodiac hasn’t happened sooner. Russell T. Davies found the initial script for Part One and storyline for Part Two in a box in 2020 when Emily Cook was doing the Lockdown watch-alongs on Twitter which he wrote at some point between 1986 and 1987 before even making it into TV, the first script he sent to the Doctor Who Production Office which was, of course, rejected. In finding the script, pictures were posted on Twitter of some of the pages as a treat and in Davies’ mind that was the end of that. But then Scott Handcock, director and writer for Big Finish, contacted Davies with Emily Cook in tow as one of the newer producers to acquire a copy of the script (apparently physically and not just scanned into a computer if the behind the scenes interviews are correct in its implication). Continue reading

Review: The Lone Centurion – Volume 2 ‘Camelot’

Review by Jacob Licklider


Mild spoilers…..

 

The Lone Centurion was kind of a dark horse for Big Finish Productions, coming in under the radar with a premise of being a spin-off set in between The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang, in Roman times with Rory trying to survive while guarding the Pandorica and Amy inside of it. Because of an already vague premise it meant that the writers could really do anything with the premise, the first volume being a three part miniseries in the Roman empire while The Lone Centurion: Camelot does what it says on the tin, a three part miniseries in Camelot. There is one overall issue with the set, it follows the same formula as the first set to the letter with the first story being mostly set up of the world ending with Rory in a position of power that he doesn’t quite want, the second being an interlude leading to an ending with Rory at a low point, and the third being the finale ending with a large set piece as a conclusion before Rory moves on to pastures new. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, formulas work for a reason and there are plenty of amazing stories that follow established formulas, but for a spin-off it isn’t something that can always be relied upon to the letter. Going forward Big Finish will have to mix things up if the want this spin-off to stay interesting. That isn’t to say the formula can’t be followed, it just needs to be mixed up a bit, especially if there is going to be a third box set. The Lone Centurion: Camelot also has an interesting setting, being mostly fictional and not really based on anything in history while doing three stories in a pure historical mood. There aren’t any science fiction elements outside of the Pandorica being a McGuffin that the villain of the set is after, the fact that Rory is an Auton. Some of the science seems a bit too advanced for the era, but there are no instances of magic or sorcery that you would expect from a King Arthur legend.

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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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Review: I, Jacobi – In Conversation with Derek Jacobi

Review by Ian McArdell


I, Jacobi is the latest in of the occasional ‘Big Finish In Conversation’ series, which offers a long-form interview with one of their stars. In this instance, it’s stage and screen legend Sir Derek Jacobi, (though he eschews the honorific and suggests “Del-boy” instead!)

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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

Big Finish brings lost Russell T. Davies story to life

A long-lost Russell T Davies Doctor Who story with some unfinished business is being brought to life on audio by Big Finish.


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Review: The War Master – Hearts of Darkness

Review by Jacob Licklider


The War Master since its inception in 2017, has become one of Big Finish Productions’ most consistent ranges, with three of the four previous sets being released to critical acclaim with only one falling short. The range has been characterised by an exploration of darker themes throughout the Time War, giving Derek Jacobi one of the darkest incarnations of the Master to portray and explore. War is the prominent theme and how war changes people and planets, the hopelessness associated with a war to end all wars such as the Time War, and the atrocities which arise from two societies being pushed to their limit. The audio format is perfect for this type of story as it allows the cast and crew to go as dark as possible, using the power of suggestion to depict such atrocities and the listener’s mind is responsible for the gruesome images, all the while never having to restrict themselves to an adult only audience. These types of stories were best explored by the first, third, and fourth sets, while the fifth sets, Hearts of Darkness, instead decides to focus in on how the war is most effecting the two Time Lords set to survive the Time War, the Doctor, here played by Paul McGann, and, of course, the Master. Keeping the established format of four stories written by two authors, in this case David Llewellyn and Lisa McMullin, telling a linked tale over the four-hour period. Unlike previous sets, Hearts of Darkness employs several plot twists which recontextualises what has come before in the set, making it near impossible to separate each episode from one another. Things change, and like any good story, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Continue reading

Review: Doctor Who – The Lovecraft Invasion

Review by Michael Goleniewski


In the midst of an explosive unseen adventure, the Sixth Doctor and his TARDIS team of Philippa “Flip” Ramon and Constance Clarke are tracking a malevolent mind parasite through the Time Vortex. Joined by an interstellar bounty hunter, the group soon end up in 1937 Rhode Island hoping to capture it before it does any real damage. But they aren’t quick enough to stop it from attaching itself to a maligned author of the day but one with significant impact for the future: H.P. Lovecraft. As the monstrous gods of the ‘Lovecraftian’ universe including Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep emerge in full force to turn Earth into a nightmare-infested hellhole, the Doctor and Flip venture into the mind of the famed author himself while Constance remains behind to keep an eye on him. As the TARDIS team is thrown into a world of madness, racism, and death, it’s going to take everything they have to keep their minds intact whilst the end of days threatens to destroy the planet itself…..

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Review: Torchwood – Dinner and a Show

Review by Jacob Licklider


Mild spoilers

Gareth David-Lloyd contributes this month’s release; implying it is set sometime during Series 2 of the show.  This releases character focus is looking at the ‘sensible’ halves of the relationships on the show, Toshiko Sato in the Tosh/Owen relationship and Ianto in the Ianto/Jack relationship.  A performance of the opera Faust invaded by aliens, many of whom are simply looking to appreciate a different planet’s culture and an alien performer.  It’s also Valentine’s Day and both Owen and Jack have essentially ghosted their significant others.  It is implied that Jack isn’t available and Owen is still being Owen, going off and being unable to grapple with his own emotions.

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