Doctor Who – Big Finish Catch up

Things have been a bit crazy here in Geeksville, but I haven’t forgotten about Doctor Who and Big Finish.

I have a lot of catching up to do. The BLACK/WHITE  TARDIS saga came to a conclusion back in September.  I’ll be honest, I got this back when it came out, but there was new Doctor Who on TV, and I was busy with a lot of things at Comicbooked.com, then there was New York Comic Con to get ready for.
But I recently went back are re-listened to it.

But you really don’t care about all that, do you?  Lets get to it, shall we?

DOCTOR WHO MAIN RANGE

164 – GODS AND MONSTERS
Starring: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, and Philip Olivier
Featuring: John Standing, Maggie O’Neill, and Amy Pemberton
Written by: Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes
Directed by:Ken Bentley

 A story 13 years in the making!

If you enjoyed the McCoy era, you’ll love the conclusion to the most recent arc of Big Finish’s monthly range, Gods and Monsters.  This story is filled with ties to those late 80′s episodes, most obviously The Curse of Fenric, but with nods to Delta and the Bannermen, and Dragonfire too.  There are plot points here that have ties going back through 10 years of Big Finish stories as well.

If you are casual fan of Big Finish, you might not pick up on all of them.  Not that it will detract from your enjoyment of the story. However, this is definitely the third act of a triology. If you haven’t listened to Protect and Survive and Black and White, stop right now, and go listen to those two first, otherwise you will be completely lost (Multiple and different colored TARDISes? New Companions?)  That there is this story’s greatest strength and its biggest flaw.  It’s heavy use of continuity.  I love a great story that builds on all that comes before it.  I don’t like to have to constant dig through footnotes to figure out what is going on.  This play walks the line very deftly, but there are times it feels if you don’t have an Ph.D in Big Finish history, you’re missing out on something.

That all said,  this story does bring everything together very nicely, with some unexpected character development for Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Hex (Philip Oliver).

So long time fans, get you headphones and jump right in to this trilogy of plays (which get progressive better as they went)  But casual listeners may want to forgo this arc, and maybe pick up one of the other plays reviewed this month.

My Score: B

DOCTOR WHO – The Lost Stories

Doctor Who - The Lost Stories: The First SontaransSeries 3.6 – THE FIRST SONTARANS
Starring: Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant
Featuring: Anthony Howell & Dan Starkey
Written By: Andrew Smith
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Ever wonder where the Sontarans came from? How their militaristic clone race came into being? That is the story that The First Sontarans is ostensibly about.

Originally planned for the 22nd season, this story was abandoned when Sontaran creator Robert Holmes would come back to the series to write The Two Doctors (which also featured the Sontarans.)  It is not a straight forward origin story a la Genesis of the Daleks. Rather, the brutish clone race’s back story serves as the catalyst for this story.

Set on 19th Century Earth (in England, natch), the Doctor and Peri discover a small group of alien refugees hiding, fully acclimated to life in Victorian London, the Kaveetch.  Why are the Kaveetch hunted? What do they have to do with the Sontarans? And what was is their relationship with the Sontarans’ mortal enemies, the Rutans?

The script by Andrew Smith (who was going to write the original story in 1985)  doesn’t make any attempt to reconcile various on screen Sontaran appearances, and that’s good, as trying to reconcile such a long history that doesn’t always agree can be problematic.  Instead this story stands well on it’s own.  Big Finish, which is not allowed to directly reference the new series, did however cast Dan Starkey, who played several Sontarans in the modern series, to play one here as well.

Of all the Doctor/Companion pairings the Six/Peri relationship has been the most enjoyable. Their on screen relationship was always a bit adversarial.  There were times when I wondered why the Doctor put up with her, and why she would want to travel with him.  But in the audios, they really are quite the pair.  Best friends even, with all that entails.  They poke fun at each other, but never mean spiritedly.  It’s their relationship that makes the Lost Stories enjoyable.  You can really tell that Baker and Bryant get along in life.  I think I could listen to the two of them reading the phone book.  So any Doctor Who the two of them do is fine by me.  While this story wasn’t quite …Ish (my Favorite 6th Doctor Audio). The First Sontarans is a fun enough adventure.

My Score: B

Series 3.7 – THE MASTERS OF LUXOR
Starring: Carol Ann Ford and William Russell

Featuring: Joseph Kloska
Written by: Anthony Coburn
Adapted by: Nigel Robinson
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

The Lost Story range turns it attention back to the William Hartnell era. Farewell, Great Macedon/The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance are among my all time favorite Lost Stories.  So I was very excited to see that Russel and Ford would be doing another story together.

The Masters of Luxor captures the feeling of those early Doctor Who serials from 1963. The story behind this lost script is almost more fascinating than the actual script, as its was bumped around the first season, eventually being delayed when The Daleks was moved from the 5th to the 2nd story slot.  Eventually the story was moved to second season production schedule before finally being dropped all together.

The story, a world where robots have developed on their own, seeking to evolve into a perfect being, more like their living creators were, is a bit pedestrian.  Like The First Sontarans, this is a story made better by the performances. Russell and Ford do an amazing job of bringing depart cast members Hartnell and Hill back to life, respectively.

Who knows how the series’ history would have been effected had this story been produced, and aired before the introduction of those dastardly pepperpots?  Luckily we’ll never known.
My Score  B+

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