First off, it’s worth saying congratulations to all at Big Finish for reaching 200 releases on the Main Range of Doctor Who audio adventures alone. The Main Range is the core of the continuing adventures of the “classic” Doctors, as well as the main focus of the Folly. It’s not the only range we dip into, of course – the Lost Stories, Companion Chronicles, Eighth Doctor Adventures (eventually…) and more recently the themed boxsets (the Fifth Doctor Box, for example) have all wormed their way into this chronology – but seriously: two hundred adventures. There is quite literally something for everyone, whether you want totalitarian pepperpots, dark manipulative shenanigans, light-hearted romps, or journeys through canon and time.
And speaking of the latter…
Big Finish Folly, Part ∞ – The Secret History, by Eddie Robson
The Doctor should be taking Steven and Vicki to Ravenna, where General Belisarius has just won a great victory for the Roman Emperor Justinian. But this young man in cricket whites and blazer isn’t the Doctor, is he? Who is the time-sensitive girl Sophia? And why has Steven been spirited away to Constantinople by the scholarly and faintly sinister Quintus? There’s more at stake here than just the Roman Empire – the Doctor himself may rise or fall before this race is run… (more…)
Big Finish Folly, Part 103 – The Raincloud Man, by Eddie Robson
A greasy breakfast – at which Charlotte Pollard fully intends to confess the truth of her paradoxical nature – is interrupted by the presence of a 2012-minted coin in 2009. And so the Doctor is haring off to Manchester, in search of another time traveller. But this isn’t a simple case of lottery fixing and fraud, and soon the Doctor and Charley – and DI Menzies – are mixed up in an intergalactic war, where there can only be one solution… (more…)
Big Finish Folly, Part 99 – The Condemned, by Eddie Robson
The Doctor’s in the Grim North again – this time it’s Manchester, 2008. Ackley House is not a pleasant place to live in – the phones don’t work, the lights go out, there’s a prisoner is the basement. Meanwhile, in another flat, there’s a murdered alien. DI Menzies’s main suspect is the Doctor, but it seems that’s the least of his problems, because his new companion is a very odd woman called Charlotte Pollard… (more…)
Big Finish Folly, Part 98 – Industrial Evolution, by Eddie Robson
Thomas Brewster is just beginning to settle in to his new life in the sleepy industrial mill town of Ackleton. New job, joined the Union, getting attention from the local MP’s daughter… Yep, it’s bound to go horribly wrong. Industrial accidents give way to aliens, sentient machinery, and full-scale death and destruction before you can go t’foot of ‘is stairs. Lucky the Doctor is still keeping a weather eye on Brewster, even if he doesn’t want it. So, you say you want a revolution? (more…)
Big Finish Folly, Part 3a – Fanfare For The Common Men, by Eddie Robson
The 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…)
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…
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…)
So… how to follow The Emerald Tiger? It isn’t a task I’d envy, but Eddie Robson does the sensible thing by taking the crew – including the newly-rejuvenated Nyssa – back into space. In fact, to a rendezvous with a comet that orbits erratically between Jupiter and Earth, thus providing a sort of second-class parcel service for the two worlds. The company that runs the settlement built onto the comet’s back is facing trouble however – while the comet will be in perfect conjunction on this run, orbital synchronicities will fall apart on the next run, and their prospective customers know it. Bankruptcy beckons.