Month: April 2014

There Goes the Galaxy…

Big Finish, Part 83 – The Apocalypse Element, by Stephen Cole

At a conference on Archetryx between major temporal powers, the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn discover that Romana has been missing for twenty years and that the Daleks’ newest weapon — the Apocalypse Element — threatens not only the Time Lords but the entire galaxy. This time, genocide is only the beginning… (more…)

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Moor Trolls

Big Finish Folly, Part 82 – The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, by Nicholas Pegg

Ooh ‘eck. There’s trouble up on t’moor. The archeological dig is haunted by ghostly goings-on and, when the Doctor and Evelyn turn up, a certain former UNIT Brigadier is looming large on the scene. Add to that the peculiar behaviour of Sir Archibald Flint and a sudden surge of pyschic power from under the excavated burial mound, and it’s clear that there’s more at stake here than neolithic spear heads… (more…)

New Companion Time!

Big Finish Folly, Part 81 – The Marian Conspiracy, by Jacqueline Rayner

Caught at the nexus of a temporal anomaly, Professor Evelyn Smythe is ceasing to exist. Somebody is tampering with her family’s distant past, and only the intervention of a passing Timelord can prevent her from disappearing completely. But in bringing Evelyn back to the mid sixteenth century, to unravel a conspiracy against the Queen herself, it is possible that the Doctor is responsible for the paradox himself – and Evelyn’s fate may be sealed – as a prisoner in the Tower of London…  (more…)

Fab (number) Five!

Big Finish Folly, Part 3a – Fanfare For The Common Men, by Eddie Robson

1963: Fanfare for the Common MenThe Doctor remembers the Sixties. That’s why he’s taking Nyssa on a trip back to November 1963. Back to where it all began. Back to the birth of the biggest band in the history of British music. Back to see those cheeky lads from Liverpool…

Mark, James and Korky. The Common Men. The boys who made the Sixties swing with songs like Oh, Won’t You Please Love Me?Just Count To Three and Who Is That Man.

The Doctor remembers the Sixties. And there’s something very wrong with the Sixties, if the Beatles no longer exist… (more…)

Wrath of the Wrath!

Big Finish Folly, Part 80 – The Acheron Pulse, by Rick Briggs

The Acheron PulseThirty years ago the great war between the royal houses of Gadarel and Sorsha ended in tragedy, and the infant Cheni was raised to the throne of the Drashani Empire. But dark forces gather on the horizon, threatening the life of the Empire itself: the warlord Tenebris seeks revenge, justice and destruction, alongside the terrible armies of the Wrath, and the have a weapon that warps the very fabric of reality itself – the Acheron Pulse. This time the Doctor will have to descend into hell to save the Drashani…

The second part of a multi-Doctor trilogy first issued in 2012 (featuring Five, Six and Seven in successive stories), the Acheron Pulse has a lot to live up to – the first tale, The Burning Prince, was one of Big Finish’s stand-out releases of that year and hammered away with a relentless energy.

The Acheron Pulse is a little less concentrated, flitting between the surface of the planet Cawdor, an orbiting space station, and some nether region of a dimension known as the Undervoid, as well as splitting the story more evenly between the Doctor and some of the supporting cast. That said, it is still just as bloodthirsty as its predecessor, as the first couple of episodes makes clear – cast members die horribly with alarming regularity. Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor is far more sturdy than Davison’s leg-spinner however and the tempo and violence reflect a Doctor who isn’t afraid to use his elbows and fists if need be. On his own, with nobody to soften his edges, this is the Doctor practising medicine in the field, so to speak.

Just as in The Burning Prince, few of the characters are without flaws of their own, and some of those flaws are fatal. Cheni is fixated on the fairy-tale doomed romance of Kylo and Aliona, while her diplomatic staff are dismissive of the “barbarians” of Cawdor. At points you can see the chopper coming from a mile off.

Where The Acheron Pulse falls down is the resolution. Without spoiling it, suffice to say that Tenebris really ought to count himself lucky. Fancy such a place being available just when you need it! I suppose the real problem is that Rick Briggs has had to leave matters set up nicely for the concluding part of the trilogy, and that means not tieing up some of the loose ends.

Now you’ll just have to wait for another 12 months until I get around to The Shadow Heart (or, if you’re reading this in the indeterminate future, just click this handy link that wiill have been activated by then!)
***½

Buy it here

Dial D For Doctor

Big Finish Folly, Part 79 – Urgent Calls, by Eddie Robson

Lauren is ill. She’s trying to telephone for help. Fortunately, she dials a wrong number. Yet somehow it’s also the right number. What are the odds of that, eh?

Tacked onto the previous three-parter is this little curio. Urgent Calls is one of those single-episode stories that revolves tightly around a concept and so has just enough time to state, investigate and then conclude. This time the McGuffin is a virus that has shot to Earth in 1974 and somehow spreads through the telephone network (explained away by a nifty piece of handwaving), but the actual concept is that the Doctor is never physically present. It’s been done before, you might say (in the TV episode Blink) but here the Doctor is permenantly “off-screen”, unseen at the other end of a telephone line.

The telephone serves to change the dynamic between the Doctor and Lauren with each scene. In some ways you could see this as a three-hander, with the telephone as the third character (though yes, there are more than two characters in this play, but I’m not being literal here). Paradoxically, the more the Doctor and Lauren talk, the further away from each other they are, despite Lauren’s increasing need to know more about her almost anonymous saviour – the limitations of the telephone act as a sort of Berlin Wall between them.

The concept itself is well presented, and Eddie Robson has done a good job of switching moods between this and ID, but he also reflects Lauren’s own dissatisfaction and need to know more almost too well, and the listener is left wishing that there was something more. The Doctor might well save the day, but he doesn’t always leave fulfilment behind him…
****

Buy it here

The Scavengers

Big Finish Folly, Part 78 – ID, by Eddie Robson

It’s a giant junkyard, filling with the fallen technology of decades gone by. If it ever had a microchip, or some form of program, it’ll end up here in time. And where there’s storage, there’s undeleted data. And where there’s undeleted data, there’s people who’ll try to make a swift buck from it. But this time the scandroids have found something more than just bank details and incriminating photgraphs. This time they’ve found Priority Data. Never mind a swift buck, whoever has this data will make a killing…. (more…)

Something Fishy?

Big Finish Folly, Part 77 – Peri and the Piscon Paradox, by Nev Fountain

507-periandthepisconparadox_cover_largeThe Fifth Doctor and Peri have come to Earth to defeat the bizarre machinations of the evil Piscon Zarl, who intends to take the planet’s entire water supply. But it appears that Zarl actually wants the Doctor to defeat him. He’s desperate, in fact. Now that’s odd enough, but watching  from the sidelines is another Peri – older, wiser, and jaded, and apparently working for an anti-alien paramilitary organisation. So what’s going on? Why is Peri here, in the 21st Century, when she ought to be happily married on a far-off world? Why is Zarl such a wuss? And why does he look exactly like a man in a fish costume? (more…)

Slight Return…

Big Finish Folly, Part 76 – Her Final Flight, by Julian Shortman

With the Tardis behaving erratically, the Doctor arrives on a desolate backwater world to find Peri living with the locals. The priest sees the malfunctioning Tardis as a gateway to the gods, but Chronon radiation threatens to kill off everything in the area. Somehow the Doctor has to save Peri and get the leaky Tardis away from the planet – but he keeps blacking out himself, and cannot understand what is hapening to him. And suddenly he is presented with a stark choice: Peri, or the Tardis. He cannot save both… (more…)

Ratings War, Rated

Big Finish Folly, Part 75 – The Ratings War, by Steve Lyons

It’s the reality show of the century! Two brainless young things compete in a pointless contest to find out which is more popular! Absolutely everyone is watching it, dahling! Subliminal messages? Clarion calls to mass destruction? Nope, none of them ’round here. Just this lovely cute & furry little fella, name of Beep… (more…)