REVIEW: “Doctor Who: The Eighth of March”

DWSP8MARCH_slipcase_1417SQI enjoy stories about the Doctor’s companions. The Doctor is always great and all, but they frequently pick up some pretty stellar companions, too. And some great friends in general. This year, on International Women’s Day, Big Finish Productions released a box set featuring four stories celebrating the ingenuity and all-around wonderfulness of the Doctor’s friends and companions and, I gotta say, it’s another home-run for the studio. This box set is great, featuring a variety of stories all showing off the power and brilliance of the women of the Doctor Who universe.

Scattered through all of space and time, there are many women whose paths have crossed that of the Doctor.

Some were once fellow TARDIS travellers, some staunch allies defending the Earth, and one was the Doctor’s wife…

From Victorian London, to an intergalactic convention, from the offices of UNIT, to an impossible university library – on the 8th of March, four very different adventures will unfold.

The Eighth of March is one of those rare sets from Big Finish Production that has no overarching storyline whatsoever. Most sets have some kind of overarching story, however slight it might be. This one does not. And it’s one of the few times I am 100% okay with that fact. While I normally find it a bit tedious to sit through four totally unconnected stories, I didn’t encounter that feeling at all with The Eighth of March. This probably boils down to the fact that each story in the set is completely different from the previous, featuring an entirely different cast, an entirely different tone, and an entirely different monster. And, boy, do I like it. It’s a marvelous way of showcasing the sheer variety of stories that Big Finish produces under the Doctor Who brand and it’s something I hope they continue to do as it can be a lot less overwhelming to sit through a box set of four separate stories from different titles (this set features a story that would fit in The Diary of River Song range, one that would fit in the Main Range with the Seventh Doctor/Ace/Benny, one that would fit in The Paternoster Gang range, and one that would fit in the UNIT range). By having these tasters of each of the ranges, it makes those stories a lot more accessible to new listeners, and it might incline them to look into some of the individual ranges.

This is one of those box sets where each story is great. There is no weak link in this set; sure, you might find yourself drawn to one story over another, depending on which characters are in which story, but each story is wonderfully written, delightfully acted, and marvelously atmospheric. Each story shows off its lead characters brilliantly, showing off the best of these characters to listeners. Each story also perfectly matches the tone of the various ranges being represented. The first story, Emancipation, feels exactly like an episode of The Diary of River Song feels, bringing forward the very best of the tropes used within that series. The same is true for the second story, The Big Blue Book, representing elements of the Main Range with Ace and Benny; the gothic horror of the third story, Inside Every Warrior, perfectly fitting the tone of other stories from The Paternoster Gang; and in the fourth story, Narcissus, and its more political thriller leanings, perfectly representing the UNIT range.

As I mentioned earlier, this set was released in celebration of International Women’s Day, so, naturally, it focuses on the strength and resilience of a bunch of the women in the Doctor Who universe. That’s not to say that they are presented flawlessly here; rather, they are presented as three-dimensional people in these stories. We see them strong and vulnerable, we see them victorious and we see them defeated. In these stories, we get a sense at how hard these women have to work in this universe; how many of them aren’t taken as seriously as their male friends – such as the Doctor, himself; how many of them aren’t taken seriously by the villains of their stories. In each story, these women have to overcome quite large odds in order to save the day, and in each story, that’s exactly what these women do. This box set sets out to display how valuable each of these characters are to the Doctor Who universe. It seeks to put their immense abilities on display for all to witness. It’s a set that celebrates what each of these characters can do and it’s all the more beautiful for that.

All in all, The Eighth of March is a delightful box set from Big Finish Productions. With four completely stand-alone stories, listeners will surely find at least one story they can latch onto. Each story celebrates the strength of the women of the Doctor Who universe, giving each of them their own stories to star in, obstacles to overcome, and moments to shine. It’s a box set that displays not only the best that the various Big Finish ranges have to offer, but also the best of many of the characters found in those ranges. It’s a box set that’s celebratory, moving, and deeply entertaining. Check it out and let’s hope that Big Finish will make more of these in the future!

5 out of 5 wands.

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