audio drama

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.

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REVIEW: “Missy – Series 1” (From Big Finish Productions)

MISSY01_slipcase_1417SQI adore Missy (Michelle Gomez). She is, perhaps, my favorite incarnation of Doctor Who in the history of the entire show. Literally, every episode of the Peter Capaldi era that featured her was immediately made better by her being in it. Gomez brings this wonderful energy to the role, balancing genuine pathos with the Master’s typical crazy, evil behavior. So, when Big Finish Productions announced they were giving Missy her own series, I was absolutely excited for it. Four stories with Missy as the main character? Sign me up! These stories – A Spoonful of Mayhem by Roy Gill, Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated by John Dorney, The Broken Clock by Nev Fountain, and The Belly of the Beast by Jonathan Morris – make up this utterly superb first series of audio adventures for Missy. Each episode has a completely different tone and method of exploring Missy as a character – and I adore each of them.

Missy… alone, unleashed and unfettered. What does she get up to when the Doctor isn’t around? Well, Missy has a plan. And to carry it out, she’s going to have to break some rules. And people. And planets. Look out universe, Missy is on a mission. And nobody is going to stop her…

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REVIEW: The Diary of River Song – Series 5

drs05_slipcase_1417sqOver the years, River Song (Alex Kingston) has had adventures with every (living) Doctor from the classic run of Doctor Who and those adventures have been a whole lot of fun. With that in mind, it was only a matter of time until she started meeting some of the Doctor’s biggest enemies. And now, she meets, perhaps, the Doctor’s greatest enemy. And several incarnations of them, to boot. Namely, Missy (Michelle Gomez), the Burnt Master (Geoffrey Beevers), the War Master (Derek Jacobi), and the Master from the TV movie (Eric Roberts). With this lineup of actors and characters, you’d expect quite the exciting set of adventures and I’m happy to report that this box set is every bit as good as you’d hope it would be.

The Doctor isn’t the only Time Lord River runs into on her travels up and down the timeline. The Master, in all of his – or her – guises, also has a chequered history with Professor Song. And whenever they meet, it’s a close call as to who comes out on top… It’s something River must get used to: there are three people in her marriage – at the very least!

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REVIEW: “Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds – The Musical Drama”

war-of-the-worlds-coverH.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds has always been a better premise than it has been a story. The premise is just so interesting and malleable that it can be adapted and readapted into any number of different permutations. It’s this ability, more than the content of the actual story, that has allowed the novel to stand the test of time. Most of the well-known adaptations of the novel bear strikingly little in common with it – Orson Welles’ radio drama moves the action to America in the 1930s, and the two major film versions do the same thing, just in different time periods. One of the most well-known adaptations – that also skews pretty closely to the content of the original novel – was Jeff Wayne’s musical adaptation of the story. First released as a concept album in the 1970s, his adaptation has seen massive popularity in multiple worldwide tours. On the fortieth anniversary of the original release of that adaptation, Audible has released a new adaptation of Jeff Wayne’s musical – an audio drama featuring music from the musical and a new script. Is it as good as the musical? Well, I’m not sure I’d quite go that far, but it is pretty darn enjoyable.

When H. G. Wells first published The War of The Worlds in 1898, the novel quickly became a sci-fi classic. The story of extraterrestrials from Mars invading Earth captured the public’s imagination, inspiring a famed 1938 radio broadcast with Orson Welles, several feature films, countless video games, and a best-selling musical concept album by Jeff Wayne in 1978, among others.

Immersing listeners in a world that is as thrilling as it is desolate, Jeff Wayne’s eerie and pulsating score brings the suspense, drama, and urgency of Wells’s original novel to a fever pitch in this Audible Original Drama. Michael Sheen headlines an ensemble cast of talented performers that also includes Taron Egerton, Adrian Edmondson, Theo James, and Anna-Marie Wayne.’

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REVIEW: Doctor Who: “The War Master – The Master of Callous” (Big Finish Box Set)

warmaster2masterofcallousartwork.jpg_cover_largeThe War Master: The Master of Callous is one of my least favorite box sets from Big Finish Productions. It’s a shame, too, as I really love Derek Jacobi as the Master and I enjoy stories that focus on the Master doing dastardly things. I enjoyed the first War Master box set, Only the Good, quite a bit, mostly because it felt like the writers had something to say about the War Master and had something for him to do. That box set went a long way towards tying the Master from the classic series (and Eighth Doctor audios) and the Master from the revived TV series together. This box set, on the other hand, features none of that interesting writing. Here, it doesn’t feel like the writers had anything new to say about the character, nor did it feel as though the character actually had anything to do. In fact, he’s barely in two of the four stories! Needless to say, I’m not a fan of this box set. (NOTE: There will be spoilers ahead.)

(Written by James Goss and Guy Adams)
On the mining colony Callous, Elliot King struggles to meet the demands of its governor, Teremon. The odds are stacked against him, and his options are running low. The world that once promised dreams now offers only despair. A wild Ood stalks the forests, carrying an antiquated phone. The caller promises much – he claims he can change the world – but he always speaks a devastating truth. He is the Master and the Ood will obey him… but to what end?

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REVIEW – “The Diary of River Song – Series 4”

drs04_slipcase_1417sq_coverI am really enjoying these Diary of River Song box sets from Big Finish Production. River Song is one of my favorite characters that Steven Moffat created for Doctor Who. I love how her story ended up in the show and I love getting to see (or hear) more from her via these box sets. It’s a lot of fun hearing her interact with Doctors from the classic era, and her interactions with the Fourth Doctor in The Diary of River Song – Series 4 is no exception. But before we get to hear her meet the Fourth Doctor, she must first travel through time and space to escape the Discordia – a race of time traveling aliens who look like the common image of the Devil and are bent on ruling all of time and space. So, basically another Tuesday for River Song.

When River Song (Alex Kingston) visits a place where time has vanished, a genie escapes its bottle… the Discordia are freed – nihilistic time pirates, in devilish form, altering the past to make sure they never lose.

This time, River may have met her match. And involving the Doctor (Tom Baker) can only make things worse…

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REVIEW: The Diary of River Song, Series 1-3

the-diary-of-river-songIn celebration of this week’s release of series 4 of Big Finish Productions’ The Diary of River Song, I figured it was about time I finally listened to the first three series. Starring Alex Kingston (reprising her role as River Song from Doctor Who), The Diary of River Song features the continuing adventures of our favorite archaeologist from the new series of Doctor Who. Each series features four new stories, all tied together by an overarching plotline, with River facing another dangerous threat, often with the help of one of her husband’s many different faces.

Alex Kingston reprises her hugely popular River Song character for Big Finish, starring in a new series of adventures in the Doctor Who universe…

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REVIEW: “Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles” from Big Finish Productions

bfp11thccd01_the_eleventh_doctor_chronicles_sq_cover_largeWhen it was announced that Big Finish Productions had been given the license to create new audio dramas featuring characters from the revived series of Doctor Who (in addition to the classic series license they already had), we all knew it was only a matter of time before they started doing new adventures with some of the Doctors from the new series. Unfortunately, with the exception of David Tennant (as the 10th Doctor), Big Finish has been unable to lure any of the new Doctors to do audio dramas yet. In their absence, Big Finish has still created new stories featuring those Doctors in the form of audiobook/audio drama hybrids, where an actor who can impersonate that Doctor performs the narration, the voice of the Doctor, and the voices of some other characters while a guest actor or two from the TV series comes in to provide their own voice. They did this first with the Nicholas Briggs led Ninth Doctor Chronicles, then a second time with the Jacob Dudman-led Tenth Doctor Chronicles, and most recently with another set led by Jacob Dudman, this time featuring the Eleventh Doctor. The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles features four stand-alone stories from parts of the Eleventh Doctor’s era.  (more…)

“Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor – The Time War 2” Isn’t Quite as Good as the First Box Set, But Still Rather Enjoyable

DW8DTW02_slipcase_1417SQOverall, I’m just really, really pleased with these Eighth Doctor Time War sets. The Eighth Doctor is one of my favorite Doctors and the Time War is one of my favorite elements of Doctor Who mythology, so I’m really pleased to see it explored so well in these audios. Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor – The Time War Series 2 is the second Big Finish Productions box set in a series of four featuring the Eighth Doctor’s adventures during the Time War. Starring Paul McGann as the Doctor, Rakhee Thakrar as Bliss, Jacqueline Pearce as Cardinal Ollistra, Nikki Amuka-Bird as Tamasan, and Julia McKenzie as the Twelve, The Time War 2 sees the Doctor and Bliss continue to fight for survival during the Time War. As the Time War gets more treacherous the Time Lords and Daleks become more desperate and they’ll use anything and anyone at their disposal… the Doctor and Bliss can only hope to avoid the crossfire. (NOTE: There may be spoilers in this review… read ahead at your own risk!)  (more…)

Big Finish’s “Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor – The Time War 1” Finally Makes the Time War Feel Like a Time War

bf___time_war_1__new_logo_version__by_pej72-dc9boxdIn light of the recent release of Volume 2 of Big Finish’s Eighth Doctor Time War series (review coming later this week), I figured I’d finally give the first set a listen. I really should’ve done this earlier, because it’s the first piece of Doctor Who that’s really made the Time War feel like a Time War. Written by John Dorney and Matt Fitton and DIrected by Ken Bentley, Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor – The Time War Series 1 is the first in a run of four boxsets that serve as a prequel to Big Finish’s four War Doctor boxsets. In Series 1, the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) is pulled into the events of the Time War, a war he has been avoiding as long as he possibly could. A terrible war is being waged through space and time, as two powerful enemies rip the cosmos apart in a final struggle to the death. The Doctor stands apart from this conflict: he is not a warrior, but a healer. But the Time War is snapping at his heels, and soon he will have no choice but to turn and face its horrors… (Warning: spoilers ahead!) (more…)