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Decent Novelization of OK Story

What:The Awakening (Target novelisation)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 3 August 2018
Rating:   5

Eric Pringle has stuck closely to his original teleplay for this novel. The Doctor and companions are off to visit Tegan's grandfather in the quaint little village of Little Hodcombe. However, the village is running a re-enactment of a battle from the English Civil War, a re-enactment that is getting all too real. The basic premise of the story is fine enough. Where it goes off the tracks is that Pringle keeps adding more and more so that the plot becomes rather unwieldy, all built around the harnessing of "psychic energy." Pringle's novelization keeps most of the dialogue and all of the scenes from the original, while adding mostly light interior monologue that helps the reader understand the motivations of the characters.



Superb Superb Superb Superb

What:Breaking Bubbles (New Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Thursday 2 August 2018
Rating:   10

Breaking Bubbles starts the quartet of stories off brilliantly. It gives us a nice entertaining nugget that considering its packed into just half an hour is superbly paced and has some great character moments indeed. Colin and Nicola as ever need no mentioning as they are always sublime. It touches on the pointlessness of war and battle in an engaging way.

Of Chaos Time The is a brilliant paradox tale. Its not remotely difficult to follow like some of the Moffatt era paradox stories and at its core is a very good emotional little core. It has again some great characters and some superb sound design that all just add to the feel of this set being very special indeed.

An Eye For Crime is another delightful story this time a bit of a pseudo historical, and the Doctor gets to do some good stuff trying to not be conspicuous in an all female college! And the menace in this story is awesome and definitely very intriguing. And the setting is very believably conveyed from the superb sound design and production I really do love Una McCormack's writing. She has a gift for characterisation in particular that really connects with this listener.

But the definite treasure of the set is The Curios Incident of the Doctor In The Night Time, which I feel is superbly written by Nev Fountain and so far easily his best story for big finish, and that's really something as this is only a single parter. But this story shines brilliantly, it tackles a very poignant subject with me as I happen to share the affliction the central character of this piece has. I find the story not insulting or derogatory at all. In fact its a brilliant little heart warming tale that should get an award. This is what these tales of the unexpected style one parter Doctor Who stories should all be like. Nev has hit the nail right on the nose with this superb little emotionally charged ditty. In fact I might even go as far as to say that this is my favouritest ever single episode drama that Big Finish has ever done. It really is that good.



Very different but very very welcome

What:The Scapegoat (Eighth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Thursday 2 August 2018
Rating:   10

This story is to say the least strange. But it is the best possible strange you can get. For a start it has a great turn from Samantha Bond, who is yet again sublime in her role. It has Paul McGann quite possibly at the apex of his game as the Doctor. And it has the awesome Sheridan Smith as his sidekick. Im not too sure as to what kind of genre you'd place this story in. Its part pseudo historical, part farce, part shock gore for a Robert Holmesian dash of the black comedy. Its a great mix that comes together well and the story flows along well and the characters all seem 3D and believable. I am a massive fan of the eighth doctor and Lucie. They just work so well as a team. And throw them into a weird and wonderfully characterised story like this, and you have a great time indeed! This story is far better than Pat Mills earlier eighth doctor adventure, and that was superb enough!! And yet again it really goes without saying that the sound design and production are top notch. A brilliant little adventure



Eighth Doctor Robert Holmes Style

What:The Beast of Orlok (Eighth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Thursday 2 August 2018
Rating:   10

This story feels like it should be a Tom Baker Phillip Hincliffe produced story. It has all the nice and nasty horror elements mixed in with a great sci fi twist that makes it immensely enjoyable. It has some superb character writing and the villain is nicely baroque and grotesque and horrible in the extreme. And to top that we have it with the Doctor and Lucie back together and amazing as heck yet again! I love Paul McGann, and he shines in a period pseudo historical like this which I must say has been perfectly written by the very talented Mr Barnaby Edwards. This is a great little story that adds a hammer horroresque touch to the third series of eighth doctor adventures. And its very very welcome indeed!! Yet again the sound design and production add to the realism of the piece and the setting is chilling and foreboding. One of the finest stories from the third series for sure.



Superb and compelling storytelling

What:The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Series 7 Volume 1 (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Tuesday 31 July 2018
Rating:   10

The Sons of Kaldor does what all the best sequels to previous stories do. It takes a completely different slant to the original story but still remains excellent. The Sons of Kador is a sequel to the legendary Robots of Death, which to me actually isn't as brilliant as its made out to be by so many I found myself vaguely disinterested by the whole original story if I'm honest, and thought it rather bland. But gladly the Sons of Kaldor at last sparks my interest in the Voc robots. Andrew Smith's script is very slickly written, the pace is excellent and the performances are top notch. I like the different slant Andrew gives to the robots in this story. This definitely makes for another superb offshoot from the original story, the other brilliant offshoot being Nick Brigg's superb Robophobia a few years back. But here the development of the robots is very nicely portrayed and makes for some very interesting listening indeed.

The Crowmarsh Experiment then gives Louise Jameson the superb chance to be centre stage for an hour. The story is really well written and gives her character a great dilemma to deal with. I really like how the emotional side of Leela of the Sevateem's nature is explored in this story. And despite the fact that Tom's fourth Doctor may be sidelined, he is still most certainly palpably present in this story so it doesn't feel like its lack in tooth and curls. I really like the ending of the story, and its a little on the sad and gutting side again as again Big Finish add layers to a companion's nature and psyche. The Crowmarsh Experiment makes for some superb listening indeed.

The Mind Runners and The Demon Rises would have most certainly had Mary Whitehouse have kittens had they have been televised adventures! John Dorney yet again gives us a story dripping with atmosphere and zeal. And also starkly superbly rounded characters. And there are some really deliciously nasty characters in this story. And some moments that would have been gruesome in the extreme if shown on TV. The core of these four stories too riffs on the superb talents of both Tom Baker and Louise Jameson, and together with John Leeson they make a totally brilliant team of the TARDIS. John's story has them as strong as ever, and the way this story unfolds is brilliant and the ending is suitably epic and yet again the sound design and production values add to the sense of complete enjoyment with this superb first half of the seventh series of Fourth Doctor adventures! These are four superb entries indeed!



Well-written & under-rated.

What:Dancing the Code (Missing Adventure)
By:Hugh E. Oxburgh, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 29 July 2018
Rating:   6

I was a bit puzzled by Harry-Ross Gorman's review. How can you give a pretty good rating & then try to justify it in one sentence? By way of contrast, although David's review is too hard on the story, he does at least try to justify his stance. While I don't agree with his second paragraph (especially), he does at least show you where he's coming from. I don't enjoy criticising other people's literary styles, but I really can't see how you can sum up a book in just one sentence. This is Paul's best "Doctor Who novel.



An outstanding sequel!!

What:The Shadow of Weng-Chiang (Missing Adventure)
By:Hugh E. Oxburgh, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 29 July 2018
Rating:   10

I cannot disagree strongly enough with David's review of the story. It is BRILLIANT & as he says, Mr Sin was one of the best villains from the Tom Baker era, not least because he doesn't speak.( Which is why I thought the original Autons & The Malus were so good). Although sequels don't always work (especially in films) this one most certainly does, and it is a LOT better than "Face Of The Enemy.



Much under-rated !

What:The Quantum Archangel (BBC Past Doctor book)
By:Hugh E. Oxburgh, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 29 July 2018
Rating:   7

I would pretty much agree with what Dan Mould & Trevor Smith have said about this & take issue bigtime with the reviewer who criticised Craig Hinton's style. Although it is a bit mind-boggling & a pretty good knowledge of the show's backstory is certainly needed, I think it was a highly creditable sequel to "The Time Monster"-in fact, I think it has a better storyline. I'm not a great fan of the character of Mel, mainly because I'm old enough to remember the actress from the "Just William" TV shows and I saw Mel as an equally annoying adult version of her character. I am however most definitely a fan of Colin's portrayal of the Doctor, and like the other PDAs & MAs that feature the Sixth Doctor, this novel does justice to him in a way that the BBC scripts never did.



An interesting story with relevant theme

What:The Fate of Krelos (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 29 July 2018
Rating:   10

The Fate of Krelos is actually to me rather a decent breath of fresh air compared to many of the other Big Finish Tom Baker stories in that this story is allowed to unfold at a slightly easier pace. Its great at the start to see the team of the Doctor and Leela totally at ease and getting on so very well with each other in the TARDIS. It these scenes that really stick in your mind as some great character building occurs.

Also the other few characters in this story you genuinely start to care for very early on. Michael Cochrane is again superb in his role here as Geralk. The character is really just a great and pleasant character which makes a great change to some of his more gruff Big Finish appearances in the past. It is easy to start to really feel for him as the story unwinds. Yet again the sound design and production too are first rate. The first episode in particular you could have maybe started to believe that maybe the Doc and Leela will get a rest for once. But the steady build up of K9's erratic behaviour is superb, and you know something big is coming on the horizon.

By episode two the pace is greatly increased, as the situation turns quickly but slickly into a great little cliffhanger with the obvious return of a great enemy of the Doctor's!

There is also a great scene in part two where the Doctor reasonably states his reasons why he cant always do everything a companion would wish and save absolutely everyone. It is a great scene of a clash between the moral codes of the Doctor and Leela. A morally grey decision that just makes you feel the Doctor's obvious pain and unease at the situation. I love these scenes when the Doctor actually calls into scrutiny his actions I like this always with his character, in that he knows he isn't perfect like most other super heroes. Its that bite and realism that sets him apart from most other fictional heroes. The Fate of Krelos is a superb opening to this two part story that brilliant continues in Return To Telos.

And the themes of the actual effects and a society's total reliance on advanced technology is superbly explored and does make one think a lot. The death of the city of Krelos is very effectively portrayed, and gutting too. It packs quite a punch. Yet another great great Fourth Doctor adventure!



Benighted Again

What:The Wishing Beast (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Thursday 26 July 2018
Rating:   4

Paul Magrs really loves the word "benighted." It has to pop up in just about everything he writes. It does so here. This is a 3+1 package, a 3-part main story and a 1-part extra. The main story, "The Wishing Beast" has much of what I really do not like about Magrs writing - attempted camp whimsy at the expense of a plot that makes any sense. "The Wishing Beast" is a cross between "The House in the Woods" and "Arsenic and Old Lace." Two eccentric, geriatric, old dears lure unwary space travelers to their house in the woods on an asteroid (how is that even possible?) to kill them by feeding them to The Wishing Beast. The rock is haunted by the ghosts, or remaining essences, of those they have killed, but not to worry because they have some kind of quantum vacuum cleaner that can suck them right away. It is all typical of Magrs' "wouldn't it be funny if..." manner of creating a plot. The 1-part story is "The Vanity Box," a sort of sequel which has The Doctor pose as an old lady in the North of England so he can investigate strange goings on in a 1960s hair salon. It is actually a little more entertaining to me than the main story is.



Slow

What:Warriors of the Deep (Target novelisation)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 14 July 2018
Rating:   4

The TV version of Warriors of the Deep was unnecessarily slow because of the voices of the Silurians and Sea Devils and because the said monsters' costumes were cumbersome. Terrance Dicks' novelization of this story allows one to imagine the dialogue and movement happening faster, but still cannot make up for a rather cumbersome plot. In the near future, the world is divided into East Bloc and West Bloc, each loaded down with proton missiles, which destroy life but leave the buildings intact. In a wild series of coincidences, Sea Base Four becomes the site of counter espionage, the Silurian plans to wipe out humanity, and the Doctor accidentally arriving in the middle of it all. Mostly, this is a base under siege story in which nearly everyone dies and for no real point, which is the point. Dicks steps out of his usual role as merely remove dialogue tags from the script and calling it a novelization. There are some explanations, mostly there for the younger readers.



Doesn't Quite Work

What:The Five Doctors (Target novelisation)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 2 July 2018
Rating:   5

Aiming for publication simultaneous with the 20th Anniversary 90-minute special, Terrance Dicks' novelization of his script adds little to what was on the TV. The story itself is rather thin, a race-to-the-center plot spread across too many characters. In an attempt to get "everything" in that might satisfy fans, the story becomes sacrificed.



Doctor Who Tom Baker Season 1

What:The Collection: Season 12 (BBC classic series DVD)
By:Justin Barnes, st.louis , United States
Date:Sunday 24 June 2018
Rating:   10

This is such a wonderful treat, the Blu-ray quality is top notch, the extras and all are very good. Wish the US release had a booklet in stead of just a 2 sided page, but still this Wonderful.
For any Doctor Who fan wanting to start a Blu-ray Classic Doctor Who Collection
this definitely the way to go and the perfect 1st season to see.
I won't give any spoilers but I will say that its worth every penny spent.
Also this is 1080/4:3 HD not SD they somehow did it and 2 of the 5 stories has a optional 5.1 surround sound soundtrack option!
Enjoy and have jellybabies on standby!



Better Novel Than TV Serial

What:The King's Demons (Target novelisation)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 19 June 2018
Rating:   6

Originally a two-parter on TV, "The King's Demons" gets a bit of fleshing out in Terence Dudley's novelization of his script. The novelization sticks pretty closely to the script in the details and most of the dialogue. Dudley has added some dialogue and altered a few lines. Mostly, he has added novelistic touches such as interior monologue and a few narrative intrusions for explanation. The story itself involves The Master's attempt to alter history by having King John deposed before he signs the document that will become Magna Carta. It is difficult to say what The Master hopes to gain from this plan other than some chaos with Earth history. It's a mid-level adventure.



Great series for 2013

What:The Complete Seventh Series (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Shawn Diehl, El Paso, United States
Date:Thursday 24 May 2018
Rating:   10

This series was amazing. The great episodes and specials are really worth watching.



Almost Great Series

What:The Complete Sixth Series (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Shawn Diehl, El Paso, United States
Date:Thursday 17 May 2018
Rating:   9

I found this extremely great but found The Girl Who Waited silly and avoidable. Otherwise, the finale was a BBC America co-production but not too American. I know because I'm American, I didn't even know anything wrong or it was a BBC America co-production until the credits were it said: "BBC America / BBC Cymru Wales Co-Production) Otherwise, Great Series



A superb start to a superb series

What:UNIT: Extinction (Miscellaneous audio)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 13 May 2018
Rating:   10

I am a huge fan of Jemma Redgrave. She's a fantastic actress and I love several of her TV roles she's performed in over the years. I am also a huge huge Ingrid Oliver fan now too. Love her fun streak and zestiness and the way she wears the clothes the Doc used to wear It honestly is a brilliant idea making this UNIT spin off series. Big Finish don't half make awesome series I can tell you. And its also a stroke of genius to have UNIT face off against the Autons in the first series.

Here the autons are full on nasties. And they still use all the same scary effects such as their arm guns and dropping wrists! The whoosh of the guns scared the hell out of me when I was younger!

UNIT is a superb and very entertaining drama indeed. Its a shame the UNIT team aren't presented like this more often on the new era of Doctor Who, as it feels like its only Kate and Osgood that keep UNIT these days from being totally faceless and forgettable. But here the characters in UNIT are all very well rounded and each have a good character. Extinction is quick to get off the mark and never lets up with the great action and great set pieces. Its great hearing the autons rampaging too. Such a brilliant foe.

The characters all develop too, and the chemistry between the actors is gripping and believable. You are thrown head first into an awesome set of four stories that never pause for breath. And the final episode is suitably climactic indeed. The Nestenes had two awesome stories in the seventies, and its great at last they now have another after the sad lamentable episode that was Rose on TV. Here the nestenes are back to their devious and cunning ways. And not all the UNIT members will get out without being seriously changed by events!

This is a terrific start to the UNIT series from Big Finish. Jemma is simply amazing as the Brig's daughter and Ingrid Oliver is so intensely lovable and dependably cool as well. Makes me wanna get the rest of the series as soon as possible. It is literally that superb. PLASTIC FANTASTIC....



Great Series

What:The Complete Fifth Series (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Shawn Diehl, El Paso, United States
Date:Friday 11 May 2018
Rating:   10

Quite a more different season than Series 4 but it stands out and achieves the goal. I quite liked how they handled the finale of the series too.



Exxtremely effective drama indeed

What:Doom Coalition 1 (Miscellaneous audio)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Thursday 10 May 2018
Rating:   10

The Eleven introduces the Time Lord of the same name. Mark Bonnar is simply sublime as the Time Lord whose previous regeneration voices all jostle around in his head. It makes him a very unique villain and devilishly scray as heck. He has the right voice for the fear factor.

Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka is a stonecold classic companion if ever there was one. She is just like strawberries and cream when paired with Paul McGann. I really love her caring nature and her ever present defiance of any jerk off who comes up against her and the Doctor.

And then in the Red Lady we get the introduction of another stirling performer. This time in the shape of Hattie Morahan as the equally loveable and enjoyable Helen Sinclair. She is instantly extremely appealing as a character and already a scene stealer that bodes well for her next adventures with the Doctor and Liv.

The Red Lady also boasts a superb script from John Dorney. Its a genuinely unsettling and effectively chilling episode. What I love about stories of this kind is the villain is left unnamed and unknown. Just it has a very powerful and menacing presence through the episode. Its a brilliant debut for Helen and very creepy indeed.

The Galileo Trap then displays oodles of what it is that to makes Marc Platt one of Big Finish's most gifted contributors. he always makes you instantly care for his characters within the play. And its awesome once again to hear John Woodvine in a Doctor Who story again. And after his superb portrayal of the Marshall of Atrios with Tom Baker's Doctor, his warm characterisation of Galileo is welcome and great to listen to. The aliens in this story too are revoltingly sadistic and unpleasant. And also the bond between the Doctor, Liv and Helen is already going from strength to strength.

The Satanic Mill brings the first Doom Coalition to a an energy charged conclusion. The Eleven rears his evil and unsettling head and the stakes are pretty monumentally high in a great and easy flowing and accessible script by Edward Collier. The stories in this set are all superbly paced and never feels rushed at all. Paul McGann is on superb form and cements further clear evidence that he is indeed a ruddy amazing Doctor. And the cameo from
Sylvester McCoy in the opening story is nicely unexpected too!

Altogether Doom Coalition One whets the appetite rather a lot and leaves one waiting and eager for more. And the team of the Doctor, Liv and Helen is one of Big Finish's stellar successes indeed.



So-So Ending

What:Dark Eyes 4 (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 4 May 2018
Rating:   7

"Dark Eyes 4" has the problems that plague productions of this kind: ending a story of epic sweep with a small cast. Matt Fitton and John Dorney, by now stalwart writers for Big Finish, were tasked with closing the story of Eminence, the Dalek Time Controller, and the corrupted time lines. In the end, we learn that the whole of "Dark Eyes" has more or less been Molly O'Sullivan's story all along. It begins with the best of the four stories, "A Life in the Day." This is a Doctor Who take on Ground Hog Day that would fit well in Steven Moffat's Doctor Who. It's function in the whole set is to reintroduce the Daleks to the story and to set the main rationale for the rest of the series - find the TARDIS. This moves us from 1920s London to 1920s Paris in "The Monster of Montmartre." Here, we get the Doctor Who take on "Moulin Rouge," with starving artists, disreputable customers, a bit of rearranged Debussy for soundtrack music, and a shady hostess at the place that has replaced the Moulin Rouge, The Red Pagoda. Next, the Doctor has to nip off forty years into the future to confront the Dalek Time Controller and The Master. Alex Macqueen has settled nicely into his bon vivant version of The Master, with both the actor and the character simply loving being The Master. Since "Master of the Daleks" is primarily a linking story, it has much action that does not add up to much. Also, it strangely leaves things behind. For instance, what was the device that Rastel so thought would free him from the Daleks? Molly hides it, and it is never mentioned again. Why make a big deal over something that is not used? Similarly, the Sontarans in general are underused, being there mostly to supply the Daleks with someone to fight whenever the plot needs it. The last story is "Eye of Darkness," which tries to tie up all the loose ends of the whole series. Unfortunately, just about the only thing that gets proper attention is the origin of the Eminence, and even with this it is handled with too much "it just is" logic. And, I'll say it again, the Eminence is a supremely boring foe. The real problem is the corrupted time line problem. At the end, all we are told, through a suitably worked up Dalek Supreme, is that the time lines are "shifting" again. I suppose we have to take it on trust that they are shifting to their proper place. As usual with Big Finish of the 2010s, the cast is superb. Sorcha Cusack makes a superb older Molly. Nicola Walker is uncannily convincing as Liv Chenka (and why hasn't the Doctor Who television series found a role for her, because wow is she good). To conclude, "Dark Eyes 4" feels like a bit of a rush job. It may not have been, but there was not quite the attention to detail that made earlier "Dark Eyes" series work as well as they did.



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