It’s an absolute delight to be living in a world where Christopher Eccleston is acting in new Doctor Who stories featuring his Doctor. Like Paul McGann, Eccleston’s time on the show was brief but full of promise. So, it’s quite nice to see him return to the role after a nearly sixteen-year absence in a new series of audio dramas for Big Finish. Unfortunately, the first set of these stories, Doctor Who: Ravagers, isn’t the home run it could’ve been. It’s not a bad set, or anything, just an underwhelming one. It’s a three-part story that’s stretched across two-and-a-half hours and, honestly, the story just doesn’t support its length. But still—it feels like a story that might’ve aired during the Ninth Doctor’s era. Plus, Christopher Eccleston was always going to be the selling point of these sets and he doesn’t disappoint here. (3 out of 5 wands.)
(NOTE: Minor spoilers for Doctor Who: Ravagers follow. Major plot points are not spoiled, but read at your own risk.)
“Doctor Who: Ravagers” (written by Nicholas Briggs) 1.1 Sphere of Freedom – On the Sphere of Freedom, the Doctor is about to shut down an evil Immersive Games business empire. He’s assisted by a valiant galley chef called Nova. But his plan spectacularly fails… And who exactly is Audrey?
1.2 Cataclysm – Nova is dislocated in time while the Time Eddies are out of control. Meanwhile, the Doctor is about to face the end of the universe. Or is that just the Battle of Waterloo?
1.3 Food Fight – The TARDIS is starting to get a little crowded! Audrey finds herself haunted by a ghostly Doctor.
If there are two things I feel are overused in current Doctor Who expanded universe material, it’s the Tenth Doctor and the Daleks. So, it’s kind of weird that I’d find myself so excited for Dalek Universe, the newest series of Tenth Doctor audio boxsets from Big Finish Productions. Truth is, I’m interested in it because it reminds me a bit of the (infamously missing) First Doctor story, “The Daleks’ Masterplan.” That story was, partially, an attempt to flesh out the Dalek universe, introducing The Space Security Service, multiple planets/governments, and a universe that’s constantly at war with the Daleks. It’s one of those Doctor Who things that has always begged for further exploration, and it’s bonkers to think that the show has never really returned to it. This is why it was so exciting to see Big Finish leaning into it as hard as they are with Dalek Universe. This first volume of Dalek Universe feels like a prelude for stories to come. It’s an exciting, sweeping space opera that reintroduces elements from Classic Who into the world of New Who. It features fantastic sci-fi ideas, David Tennant’s best Big Finish performance to date, and a captivating throughline that makes me eager to hear the rest of the series. Plus, if you’re like me and a bit tired of the Daleks, then fret not. The Daleks barely appear in this. (4.5 out of 5 wands.)
NOTE: There will be minor spoilers for Dalek Universe 1. Nothing major is spoiled, but read at your own risk.
Doctor Who: Dalek Universe 1 (written by John Dorney and Andrew Smith) Time has gone awry. The Doctor is lost, without his TARDIS. But he’s not alone. The Space Security Service agents Anya Kingdom and Mark Seven haven’t always been on his side in the past, but now they are here to help him. And he’s going to need them – because the oldest foes of all are waiting to strike. Ready to take down their greatest enemy…
The Fourth Doctor is probably the most popular Doctor from the classic era of Doctor Who. Similarly, the Tenth Doctor is probably the most popular of the modern era. So, it only makes sense that Big Finish, who has the license to make audios with all Doctors but the 13th, would finally make an audio drama where these two beloved incarnations meet. The result? Out of Time, the first in a series of audios pairing classic Doctors with the Tenth Doctor. Written by Matt Fitton, Out of Time is a fun romp with two fan-favorite Doctors. Featuring great performances from Tom Baker and David Tennant and a fun and intriguing plot, it’s a great listen for all Doctor Who fans. (4 out of 5 wands.)
(NOTE: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.)
Doctor Who: Out of Time 1 (written by Matt Fitton, directed by Nicholas Briggs) The Cathedral of Contemplation is an enigma, existing outside time. It turns through history, opening its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need.
Occasionally, the Doctor drops in – when he’s avoiding his destiny, it’s an ideal place to get some perspective. Only this time he’s already there from several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide.
And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, two Doctors (Tom Baker and David Tennant) must unite to stop them – or face extermination twice over!
We’ve reached the final box set in the Dark Eyes series, and everything comes to a head as the Doctor (Paul McGann) and Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) make their final stand against the Daleks and the Dalek Time Controller. Dark Eyes 4, written by Matt Fitton and John Dorney and directed by Ken Bentley, picks up shortly after the end of Dark Eyes 3. Molly has been returned to her own timeline by the Time Lords – or so the Doctor thinks. He’s landed in post-war England in search of Molly but stumbles his way into a new mystery that may end in destruction. Bringing together the Daleks, the Eminence, the Sontarans, and the Master (Alex Macqueen), Dark Eyes 4 brings the Dark Eyes series to an explosive finale to a strong series from Big Finish. (There are spoilers ahead!) Continue reading →
I wonder if people knew that the first Dark Eyes box set was the first in a series of four sets that explored the storyline. The first set isn’t really written like it’s supposed to be the first in a series of box sets; the real villains of the series aren’t even introduced until the 3rd episode of Dark Eyes 2, after all. Either way, Dark Eyes ended up being a pretty darn good start for the Dark Eyes series, so how does the second box set fare? From the Big Finish website: “When the Doctor (Paul McGann) defeated the Dalek Time Controller and its Time Lord ally, the timelines shifted and events changed… but the danger is far from over. And new threats to the continued safety of the universe are emerging. Molly O’Sullivan (Ruth Bradley) carried on with her life as a nursing assistant in World War One. She probably thought she would never see the Doctor in his ‘Tardy-box’ again… From theDalek-occupied planet Nixyce VII through Earth’s history and to the very edge of the universe, the Doctor’s footprints across eternity are being tracked by foes old and new. But when did it all begin and when will it end? Living his life through the complexities of time travel, the Doctor can never be quite sure if he’s experiencing his life in the most helpful order. The only certainty appears to be the advance of the powers of evil and the oncoming threat of a fight to the death against forces that would destroy everything the Doctor holds dear.” (Spoilers follow; don’t read further if you haven’t listened to the box set!)Continue reading →
With Doctor Who off the air (I promise the review for the last two episodes of this season will be up soon!), it’s time to explore some of the audio offerings from Big Finish! After finally finishing the Eighth Doctor Adventures, I was finally ready to start Eight’s first series of box sets, Dark Eyes and oh boy am I happy with it. Written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, Dark Eyes follows the Doctor directly after the events of the series 4 finale of The Eighth Doctor Adventures, To The Death. The Doctor (Paul McGann) is looking for hope. But instead, he finds himself on a mission. The Time Lords have uncovered terrifying fragments of an insane plot to destroy the universe. And somehow, at the center of that plot is one, random female in Earth’s history, Molly O’Sullivan. Soon, the Doctor and Molly find themselves thrown headlong into a series of dangerous and terrifying adventures, with the dreaded Daleks never far behind them. (Spoilers ahead!) Continue reading →