Review: The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Back To Earth

Review by Jacob Licklider


Old Friends ended the first series of Ninth Doctor Adventures with a genuinely brilliant series finale that felt like a lead in to Rose, something my review of that set had some pushback since it had already been announced that Series 2 would essentially be continuing where Series 1 left off with the Ninth Doctor still travelling alone. Now Series 1 spent quite a bit of time developing the idea that this was one continuous series, including by designing the covers to mimic the single DVD releases of Series 1 of the show. Series 2 seems to be less a full series with a central character arc for the Ninth Doctor and more of a series of themed box sets with new styles of cover art, this first one being from the wonderful Caroline Tankersley, with the theme of going Back to Earth. It’s three stories set at various points in Earth’s history, mainly in the past ranging from the early 17th century to the early 1990s, with one story having some pieces in the modern day, but not really. All three of the authors here do an excellent job of taking their piece of Earth and doing something interesting with it, overcoming my initial hesitation of going into a set not really following up the character development of the Ninth Doctor within the first few minutes of the first story.

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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: Doctor Who – Peladon

Review by Jacob Licklider


The 1963-1989 run of Doctor Who is fascinating in the fact that in the 160 serials (including The TV Movie in 1996), there are few stories that are direct sequels to previous stories, much less sequels within the same production team. Generally the closest you would get are stories like Attack of the Cybermen doing a sequel to The Tenth Planet and Attack of the Cybermen over a decade after the prequel’s release or Snakedance to Kinda and Mindwarp to Vengeance on Varos essentially being extensions of the themes of the previous story, but doing its own thing. The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon are an oddity as they both share the same setting, several of the characters, and feel like a natural extension of the same story. Peladon being the setting of both is a big factor in why the two stories feel so connected, the sets are the same and it feels like the planet is evolving and changing. The Curse of Peladon aired as the second story from Season 9 beginning at the end of January 1972, so as it is the 50th anniversary of Episode One while I am writing this, Big Finish Productions are celebrating with Peladon, a four story box set revisiting the planet throughout its history as well as continue the spirit of Peladon stories in reflecting the politics of the real world using allegory for a stark contrast of the good and bad of today’s world.

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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: 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

Audio Review: The Worlds of Blake’s 7 – The Clone Masters

Review by Ian McArdell


The Clone Masters once 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.

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Freema Agyeman reprises Martha Jones role in new audio adventures from Big Finish Productions

Freema Agyeman returns in her own triumphant trio of audio adventures, to be released in December 2021.

After more than a decade away from the TARDIS, the Tenth Doctor’s companion, Martha Jones, is returning to the world of Doctor Who, in a brand-new box set of full-cast audio drama from Big Finish Productions.


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Review: The Third Doctor Adventures (Volume 7)

Review by Jacob Licklider


Big Finish Productions with the Third Doctor Adventures have perhaps taken the greatest risk since the inception of the range with Tim Treloar replacing Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, and that’s releasing a box set without any returning cast members from the Third Doctor’s era. Katy Manning’s Jo Grant is not present nor John Levene or Richard Franklin. Fans of Jo Grant, fear not, she will be reappearing in Volume Eight, as Volume Seven brings one story from Season 7 and one from Season 11, meaning that they include Liz Shaw and Sarah Jane Smith as companions, bringing back Daisy Ashford and Sadie Miller in those roles as well as Jon Culshaw as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Taking this step (and announcing Miller’s involvement in Volume Eight) means that Big Finish are not afraid to use their recast performers in the ranges resulting in fully recast casts instead of having at least one original cast member present. The Third Doctor Adventures Volume Seven also brings two new authors into the range: Big Finish veteran Mark Wright (although not writing with his usual writing partner Cavan Scott) and, in his first four part story, Tim Foley. This takes the range into new territory as Big Finish goes headfirst into its new box set led era of stories.

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Review: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield (Vol. 6) – Lost in Translation

Review by Jacob Licklider

Mild spoilers!


The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield is one of those Big Finish ranges which slips under the radar of quite a lot of people. Bernice Summerfield is one of those characters who has a big role in the greater Doctor Who universe, as the companion most associated with the Virgin New Adventures range of novels and the character which gave Big Finish Productions their start. Benny’s own range has been running since 1998 through eleven series of single releases and five box sets before being rebranded in a box set series of ‘New Adventures’; fitting considering where the character came from. The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield has been releasing one box set each year since 2014, with a small hiatus in 2018 to celebrate 20 years of Big Finish by reviving the classic range. 2016’s The Unbound Universe took Benny out of her universe while 2017’s Ruler of the Universe brought the character and the David Warner Doctor, right back into our universe. Now, two volumes later, Big Finish are finally dealing with the fallout in Lost in Translation, as Benny and the Doctor spend a set on the run from the Time Lords who have deemed the Doctor an aberration, unfit to exist. Continue reading

Review: Torchwood – Tropical Beach Sounds and Other Relaxing Seascapes #4

Review by Michael Goleniewski


Torchwood as a spinoff and as an organisation is no stranger to bouts of experimentation. In the course of its existence both on and off-screen, the series has delivered some of the oddest sci-fi stories ever created answering questions such as ‘what would happen if people stopped dying?’ to ‘what would happen if there was sentient gas who existed on the energy of orgasms to survive?’ But ‘Tropical Beach Sounds and Other Relaxing Seascapes’ is perhaps the most experimental Torchwood story yet; answering the question: what would happen if you made a sci-fi adventure out of a self-help stress release tape without any of the main cast and only one voice moving you through?

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