River Song has had a bit of a fandom redemption I feel thanks to Big Finish, sure she had a ton of fans thanks to her TV outings (myself included) but the Classic Who fans and those who weren’t massively enamoured with Moffatt’s writing style would probably need a lot of convincing to like Doctor Song. That’s where the Diary of River Song range seems to come in, offering a fun bridging of the worlds of Classic and New Who along with plenty of original stories. I’d heard the second, fifth, and sixth volumes before coming into series 11. I had really positive experiences with the former two but was hugely disappointed by what felt like fanservice for the sake of fanservice in volume 6. But Friend of the Familyoffers a new avenue for the series; a distinct absence of Doctor Who elements. Previously we’d either have had a prior Doctor, companion or foe but here we have a completely original and stand-alone story which gives River the time to shine she deserves.
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 →
If there has been a Doctor Who spin-off range from Big Finish Productions that consistently managed good stories while still being very reliant on past pieces of Doctor Who lore, it is The Diary of River Song. Ten series have gone by and only now we have an announcement of a box set with absolutely no returning elements coming out in January 2023. Now luckily the previous nine box sets have had some through line, a story arc or just a simple theme linking all of the stories together, but Two Rivers and a Firewall, the tenth series has a problem, and it’s a big one.
Out of Time has been an interesting little trilogy of stories, held together by the rather simple premise as the Tenth Doctor meets one of his previous incarnations and they have to fight a big villain. These releases were all recorded in 2020 when lockdown began and released annually with Wink being the final installment featuring the Tenth Doctor, the Sixth Doctor, and the Weeping Angels.
Originally announced as a four-part series, Big Finish have returned to Chris Boucher’s creation of Kaldor City for two more volumes (at least — is it greedy to hope for more?) of director Ken Bentley’sThe Robots, an ambitious, sprawling, politically-charged audio drama extrapolated from concepts originally introduced in the Tom Baker-era classic The Robots Of Death, principally starring Nicola Walker, reprising her role as Eighth Doctor companion Liv Chenka, and Claire Rushbrook as her sister, Liv. Continue reading →
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.
My first Big Finish Audio Drama was Storm Warning, it was 2014, and Big Finish had at some point previously put the first fifty main range on sale for $2.99. Charlotte Pollard was my first companion and now, twenty years later, Big Finish are releasing Charlotte Pollard: The Further Adventuressto commemorate India Fisher’s Charley Pollard and taking the Eighth Doctor back to his early days. Paul McGann is clearly having a blast in all four stories, giving life to an Eighth Doctor unblemished by the loss of friends or the Time War, something which we haven’t seen since Big Finish revisited the Lucie Miller era in 2019. Whenever they decide to revisit this version of the Eighth Doctor, McGann breathes a new life into the character and reuniting him with India Fisher helps the nostalgia of that era bleed into the tone of each of the stories. None of the stories are particularly dark or disturbing, they all at least reference the arc of the time that Charley Pollard should have been killed on the R-101, but most importantly they allow two friends a chance to perform together for the first time in nearly a decade since the 50th Anniversary in The Light at the End.
Philip Hinchcliffe Presents is a Big Finish range that is tangentially related to The Lost Stories in that it is a range from the mind of a previous writer doing stories that fit in line with that era of the television show, but not actual ideas which were ever proposed. Philip Hinchcliffe, enjoying the work done adapting his lost story The Valley of Death, began to work with Marc Platt to produce his ideas, alternating a six and four part story. Four stories were released across three releases between 2014 and 2017, so imagine the surprise when a fourth release was announced for August 2021. As described in the behind the scenes interviews, The God of Phantomsis a story that just came to Hinchcliffe and has been in development at Big Finish for a while as Platt worked and reworked the outline into a usable form. Recording actually happened in February of this year, not too long before it was officially announced, and like any Philip Hinchcliffe Presents release is one focused squarely on mixing gothic horror and science fiction. While the range itself has been incredibly varied with stories like The Ghosts of Gralstead and The Devil’s Armada being classic horror and The Genesis Chamber being more straight science fiction, The God of Phantoms actually most feels like a story produced by Hinchcliffe’s successor Graham Williams in The Stones of Blood.