What’s always fascinating for a range is what happens when a cast member cannot return for a range.Time War: Cassis one such release, continuing the Eighth Doctor releases from Time War: Volume Four but without the character of Bliss due to scheduling conflicts with Rakhee Thakrar.Luckily, unlike the issues that arose with Dark Eyes and the scheduling conflicts Ruth Bradley faced, the setting of Time War: Cass is one where due to the universe being in a constant state of flux due to the Time War.This is something that the writers of this box set are keenly aware of with each of the three stories featured doing something with the ‘time’ element of the Time War which is already a recipe for success when dealing with this era.There is a clear reason (or at least an appearance of a reason) for why Bliss isn’t there, though the details of this are not given to the listener partially for intrigue and partially because there is not a guarantee that she will be available to record with Big Finish anytime soon.Instead this set picks up some time after the cliffhanger ending of Time War: Volume Four with the Doctor traveling with Alex Campbell, once again played by Sonny McGann, with an unspecified amount of time having past and this is an interesting premise since when we last saw Alex he was dead.Continue reading →
Big Finish did the impossible; they made Class one of my favourite Doctor Who spin-offs. Prior to hearing Secret Diary I was well accustomed to the first two volumes of the audio stories set within Coal Hill Academy, and I absolutely adored them and hold them up as a pair of Big Finish’s best New Series era boxsets. They have stories which explore new ideas, really interesting small scale sci-fi threats, and have outstanding character development and characterisation. As of time of writing I am yet to hear the later two series of stories, I have been put off due to the recasts, but the finale of Volume 4 was penned by one Blair Mowat; composer extraordinaire who has done Big Finish’s best musical suites as well as composing the excellent score for Class’ TV series. In recent years he has stepped into the world of writing, first with Queen of Rhodia and now with Secret Diary of a Rhodian Prince. Which, with no word of exaggeration, is the best Class story and an easy early contender for favourite release of 2023.
The Audio Novels range after three releases has taken a very important step. Big Finish Productions has deemed it profitable to publish an audio novel without a returning villain such as the Cybermen or the Daleks. The Dead Star doesn’t have a returning villain and that alone would be enough to get me excited, but then Big Finish made my New Adventures loving heart sing with the triumphant return of Kate Orman to Doctor Who. Orman is perhaps my favorite writer of Doctor Who and for a whole new generation of fans (and several old generations of fans) this will be their introduction to just what she does oh so well, and what an introduction. The Dead Star is going right into new territory for Orman, her first story to feature the Second Doctor and only written because Orman and her husband and frequent collaborator Jonathan Blum were watching the recent animations. While Orman in the behind the scenes doesn’t mention which animation in particular inspired this story, there is a great sense of a direct continuation from The Power of the Daleks as well as The Macra Terror specifically for its aesthetics.
The final Big Finish release of 2022 is upon us; the latest entry in the Paul Spragg memorial competition. This yearly event has gifted us with some genuinely fantastic talent, each and every story does feel genuinely fresh and new so it’s great to see that tradition is being upheld by The World Tree from Nick Slawicz. This story has a lot of DNA in common with stories like Landbound or The Last Day at Work where the primary story is all about how a single person has their life shifted by a meeting with the Doctor. The Doctor in question is Eleven, who I think Big Finish have done excellent work with this year as Geronimo was a real highlight. The World Tree further shows how Big Finish really want to push the limits of the stories you can tell with this Doctor, and Slawicz story is successful at demonstrating the depths of Eleven’s character.
The War Master range has easily become one of Big Finish’s finest spin-offs, certainly one the most popular at any rate. But it may shock you to hear that prior to this boxset I had never heard any of Jacobi’s audio boxsets. I had listened to the War Master’s adventure in River Song’s audio series, and really loved it and the characterisation of this particular incarnation of the character but I never went on to get any of his solo outings. But that all changed with Escape From Reality, which I absolutely had to hear due to it being a spiritual successor to The Mind Robber from Troughton’s era of the TV show which happens to be my favourite all time Doctor Who television story. Getting to see the Land of Fiction become corrupted by an evil presence was always going to be interesting, the fact that it got to be Jacobi’s Master is an added bonus.
Perhaps the saddest thing about UNIT: Brave New World is that it is only two box sets long and is currently the only thing announced to use this particular UNIT team.Seabird Onewas already an excellent set and start to the miniseries bringing back Angela Bruce’s Winifred Bambera, but it’s up to Visitants, the second set, to take all the open threads and tie them up.The miniseries is one that genuinely feels different from the other Big Finish ranges, taking what Battlefield started bringing in a new cast of characters that through the great script editing from Robert Valentine and brilliant direction from Scott Handcock.Producer Emily Cook has also really gotten to come into her own in her role as this is a range that is essentially all her own.
If Chimes of Midnight has taught us anything it’s that Big Finish fans love a good ghost story over the Christmas period. Nothing quite gets you in the festive spirit that a good fright, and Torchwood audios over the past couple of years have treated us to sci-fi scare for tide us over until the next holiday season. This year’s entry into that collection is from veteran of the Sherlock Holmes audio stories Jonathan Barnes, slipping into his comfort zone of the Victorian period to give us a series of short horror vignettes with Queen Victoria. But this story ultimately ended up leaving me more frustrated than frightened.
Of the many iconic moments across the four-year run of Blake’s 7, the closing moments of the Series B finale ‘Star One’ ranks high. Finally tracking down the heart of the Federation’s control system, a series-long quest, the rebels achieve their objective… only to find that they are opening the door to a larger, interstellar threat. After Travis ultimately betrays humanity, the episode ends with Avon ordering Liberator into the breach against a flotilla of alien invaders.
Thunderbirds has been a long standing television love of mine, it was something introduced to me in my childhood and ever since and I the artistry of the show has always stuck with me. Great puppet and model work ensured that the show would stick in the mind, plus the Barry Gray music and vocal performances lend a further level of perfection. Last year Big Finish began to produce full cast adaptations of the novels by John Theydon, much in the same style as the excellent Spectrum Files which were done to bring Captain Scarlet to audio life. But Big Finish, in collaboration with Anderson Entertainment, this year started to produce full cast audio drama adaptation of the comic strips that would appear in the likes of TV Century 21. The first set, Thunderbirds vs The Hood came out earlier this year and was such a fun time for me because it took me back to watching episodes like City of Fire and Vault of Death on DVD. Now this new set, Fire and Fury, continues the quality of the previous set and makes me itch to want more stories in this style.
Back in the early days of the Doctor Who Monthly Range we would get a bunch of audios that experimented with the medium of audio itself; Whispers of Terror,Scherzo, Special Features and You Are The Doctor to name but a few. Now that same lovingly daring spirit has been revived in the Torchwood monthly range and are often some of my favourite stories done by the company full stop, especially Cascade and Made You Look. A few months ago we got to see Ianto star in one such experimental stories and here he is again in a spooky story exploring one of the most interesting audio phenomena, the number station. Naturally for a release like this one I really think everyone should go in blind so I am going to attempt to speak as vaguely as I can so I don’t ruin the experience for those on the fence about picking up the story.