As Big Finish retired their 16 episode miniseries for the Eighth Doctor, late 2021 saw the start of UNIT: Nemesis, a revival of their New Series UNIT range specifically chronicling an escalating threat to the planet Earth in the present day. Between Two Worlds began the miniseries by setting up the threat of the Eleven and the arches, Agents of the Vulpreen chronicled the first bouts of violence between Earth and the Vulpreen, and now we have Objective: Earth setting up the conflict for a final resolution in the fourth set.
Heroes and Villains is the latest release from The Worlds of Blake’s 7 range from Big Finish. Exploring the universe away from the Liberator, boxsets so far have focussed on fellow freedom fighter Avalon, the mysterious Clone Masters, Colin Baker’s bombastic villain Bayban the Butcher and theinsidious criminal organisation known as The Terra Nostra. Each of these releases have seen members of the show’s original cast appear.
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.
The latest ‘behind-the-scenes’ release from Koch Media – The Doctors: The Tom Baker Years Behind the Scenes Volume 1 is available now on 2-disc DVD and is described as the definitive set of interviews with the production team who brought the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who to life.
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.
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’sDestroyer, and Jonathan Morris’sSaviour. 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.
The original UNIT mini-series from Big Finish Productions brought back Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, but only for its opening and closing instalments and is generally regarded as a weak miniseries.It would be shelved and not picked up again bar UNIT: Dominion in 2012, but 2015 saw a long running revival bringing for the first time New Series elements were allowed to be used.The series ran for eight box sets from 2015-2019, ending, but being revived this month just a week before Kate Stewart returned to televised Doctor Who, Big Finish released the first of a four set miniseries subtitled Nemesis, beginning with Between Two Worlds, where the UNIT has to contend with the Eleven, trapped on an alien planet and scheming to gain power on Earth.He is the through line for these four stories and Mark Bonnar plays the role brilliantly throughout, the set using the time to flesh out the different personalities of the Eleven with many of them getting to shine throughout.Bonnar is a constant undercurrent providing a clear and present alien danger for UNIT to face, moving away from an older perception of UNIT as only fit to deal with threats like the Bandrils.Continue reading →
The War Doctor range was one of the Big Finish ranges sadly cut off due to the passing of Sir John Hurt.A fifth box set was actually planned and some of those scripts have been used in other ranges such as The War Master, at least in similar premises.Now that time has passed, the character has been recast with Jonathon Carley, most well known for several fan Doctor Who productions, and instead of continuing John Hurt’s legacy as the character which may have been insensitive if done incorrectly, goes back to the beginning of the character to explore what the War Doctor actually kind of means.The War Doctor Begins was announced as four box sets, starting release in June 2021 all looking to lead to essentially where their War Doctor releases began.Forged in Fire sports a beautifully painted cover by Claudia Gironi featuring Daleks and Thals and a younger John Hurt.It also is a set which sets up something interesting for the character, taking a step away from what Steven Moffat implied with the character, that he was the version of the Doctor who went against everything that the Doctor stood for, that his purpose was to be a warrior.There is something to be said to the recast; Carley joins Jon Culshaw’s Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sadie Miller’s Sarah Jane, and Elliot Chapman’s Ben Jackson (among others) in Big Finish’s roster of perfect recasts.Carley worked closely with director Louise Jameson to ensure that his impression was more than just an impression, but really embodying the younger version of the character.He makes it his own and Jameson’s direction is also a welcome change as her touch makes the entire set have a different atmosphere to Big Finish’s usual output.Continue reading →
The Dalek Protocol started off the Dalek Universe miniseries with a fairly standard but enjoyable tale with no real connection to what would become the series at least based on the first set. And a day later, Dalek Universe begins itself properly with the first three stories in the miniseries being released to acclaim. To make what’s most likely going to be a long review short, Dalek Universe 1 is a brilliant start to the miniseries and if you haven’t already, go do yourself a favour and buy it. This is one of those sets that I cannot critically evaluate without losing my restraint on spoilers so from this point forward. You have been warned. Each installment of Dalek Universe 1 is truly part of a miniseries, blending together which helps as two of the episodes are from John Dorney, and the third deals with the character fallout from the previous two episodes before moving along to what will eventually become the conclusion of the set while transitioning into the second set. An interesting note, this set barely features the Daleks, like The Dalek Protocol before it, they are an off-screen presence bar a few scenes, the writers instead electing for setting this around the time of The Daleks’ Master Plan and dragging the Tenth Doctor out of time into his own personal timeline.