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The Colin Baker Era


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Showing 26-50 of 64 posts in this discussion
Posted on 24 Jun 2014, 17:22:38 BST
Doctor Who - Timelash [DVD]

Back in the day, I used to go to Doctor Who Appreciation Society local meetings. The one following Timelash sticks in my memory primarily because of the way I was treated. The question was asked of me, "What did you think of Timelash?", to which I replied that I enjoyed it. Much scorn was heaped on me and thus began the start of my disaffection with organised fandom.

In retrospect I think all parties in that exchange were wrong. There are parts of Timelash that are enjoyable... just not many of them. Whereas Twin Dilemma is instantly forgettable, Timelash sticks out in the memory both for its good and bad parts.

Plot: It is an interesting idea: H.G. Wells being inspired by the Doctor into writing his stories and it is a shame that more is not made of this. In particular Wells doesn't really spend a lot of time in the presence of some of the inspirational elements in order to be inspired. Other than Wells, the plot seems somewhat formulaic with a hidden dictator who banishes people on a whim, rebels who want to kill the Doctor/Companion and villains who are hoist by their own petard. The plot failings are a major contributor to the dissatisfaction with the whole story. The insertion of Pertwee and Manning into the story seems forced and might have been better with a generic Doctor (as in Twin Dilemma) or someone more familiar to the original viewers - Peter Davison or Patrick Troughton perhaps.

Script: Absolutely terrible! And that is the nicest thing that can be said about it. Of prime concern is the large amount of arguing going on between the leads that does neither of them any favours. It might have been possible to get away with this early in the season and put it down to a Doctor suffering from a bad regeneration, but here it just seems out of place. What is worse it seems poorly acted as if neither of the leads had their heart in it (not surprisingly). The rest of the script is pretty forgettable.

Design: A mixed bag here. The costume design is very good, in particular the Guardoliers and the Android. The set designs are very functional, but not particularly spectacular, though a lot of care seems to have been lavished on Herbert's living room, making it the best of the sets, despite only a brief appearance. The Timelash itself doesn't work, either with the entrance in the main hall or the interior as seen by the Doctor and Herbert. With the exception of the Borad, the monsters just don't work. The Bandrils appear so small on the screen that one is not sure what one is watching. They are just not menacing. In addition their lips don't move in time with their dialogue. The Morlocks suffer an even worse fate - clearly a badly made puppet on someone's arm. It looks like something off of Blue Peter, not Doctor Who, though kudos to Nicola Bryant for acting as though it were totally real. Unfortunately overall the bad and the mundane overwhelm the good and there must be a general thumbs down to the design.

Acting: There are actually some very good performances on show here. David Chandler is delightful, making one wish that he would become a regular (although his annoying optimism might have to be toned down). Jeananne Crowley is very good and contributes to the lovely moment when she walks serenely across a room to cover while everyone else is rushing. Paul Darrow chews the scenery a bit. When he is not channelling Shakespeare he is rather good as a villain and according to the making of his performance was toned down at the insistence of JNT, so I dread to think how it might have been. Others provide good performances and credit should be given to Robert Ashby for making the Borad completely deranged while remaining intelligent. Dean Hollingsworth's Android is also very well done, with his movements, emotionless face and spoken lines coming across very well.

Direction: Pennant Roberts makes the best of a bad lot. There is not much else to say about this that I haven't already mentioned.

4/10

Posted on 25 Jun 2014, 09:35:03 BST
Wendy says:
I enjoyed Timelash too, to a degree (and not just for Paul Darrow and his Richard III impression). I agree with your summary of its flaws though. I never understand why people get SO exercised about it...

Posted on 25 Jun 2014, 21:03:27 BST
Murmurs of Earth in Short Trips: Volume 3 (Doctor Who: Short Trips)

A nice little short story, featuring an encounter with an alien survivor on the edge of the Solar System. Some nice ideas, but really nothing of significance. The story is read by Colin Baker, who does a good job with the exception of Peri who somehow comes across with a Brooklyn accent.

6/10 (7/10 for the disc as a whole)

Posted on 26 Jun 2014, 12:16:03 BST
Last edited by the author on 2 Jul 2014, 10:25:03 BST
Doctor Who - Year of the Pig (Big Finish Adventures)

This is something of a curiosity. I doubt very much that 80's who would have done a story like this, not just because of the requirements of having a talking pig without it looking stupid but because of the need to have a vintage car chasing a train.

Having said that, it works as a Doctor Who story and this is primarily because it is left to our imaginations as to what it going on.

Plot: While holidaying in Ostend shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, The Doctor rescues Inspector Chardolot from drowning and then gets persuaded by the matronly Miss Bultitude to visit Toby, who turns out to be an intelligent pig with a somewhat suspect past, who is on the run from a 'doctor'. The whole plot is convoluted and interestingly steers away from the need to tie up all loose ends meaning that the whole thing seems somehow more real.

Script: Great script with plenty for the regulars to do and full of interesting characters and events. In particular the sudden appearance of raw cow meat on a beach is discussed almost as a throwaway event, only to be explained later in the story. The constant references to food and hunger by Toby and Chardolot's sneaky eating all add to the fun.

Other: There is great casting here. The four main guest stars all have plenty to say and seem to relish their roles (no pun intended). In particular Paul Brooke's Toby comes across so well.

This is a great piece of Big Finish, a superb little stand-alone story with a stand-alone cast.

9/10

Posted on 26 Jun 2014, 12:19:58 BST
Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks [1985] [DVD]
Doctor Who : The Davros Collection (8 Disc BBC Box Set - 10,000 Numbered Limited Edition) [DVD]

Revelation is easily the best that the Colin Baker era has to offer, but unfortunately both the Doctor and the Daleks are sidelined in the story, both seemingly just passers by in a story of other people's greed and complicity. The trouble is more of the Doctor and the Daleks would probably have sidelined the supporting characters and in the process would have lost much of the flavour that makes this one of the great Doctor Who stories.

Plot: Doctor Who does black humour! And very good it is too. It's big failing is that both the Doctor and the Daleks seem incidental to the plot, with Orcini/Bostock taking on the normal Doctor/Companion role and Davros (despite spending most of the story as a moving head) taking on the role of the villain. But even there the roles are slightly blurred. Orcini is no Knight in Shining Armour, while Davros is doing much good in the galaxy (while hiding his bad). Kara and Vogel start out seemingly good, but quickly revealed to be as much evil as Davros, while Takis and Lilt move from torturing Grigory to surviving to bring new life to Necros. The inclusion of a memorial statue to the Doctor is the only sour note. It adds nothing to the plot and seems to exist only to showcase (badly) the memorial.

Script: This is a superb script, taking the plot and breathing life into it by giving each character clear motivation and words that bring out that character. None of the supporting cast is left out of this and even the Doctor and Peri get some good lines that move their relationship forward (particularly after the death of the mutant). Davros, relegated to a talking head for much of the story gets the chance to shine with the Daleks moving into the background for this story. Double-acts abound: Natasha/Grigory; Takis/Lilt; Jobel/Tasembaker; Kara/Vogel and especially Orcini/Bostock. Some great moments here, from Davros' laughter at the plight of the Doctor, to Jobel's "Pretty, pretty" and Vogel's obsequiousness.

Acting: Once again the acting comes up trumps, each character lovingly brought to life by people who know their craft. It is not possible to single out the best performances because they are all the best performances, with actors playing off each other and producing something really special, my personal favourites are William Gaunt and John Ogwen, but to emphasise them is to diminish the others, which does them a disservice. Personally I'm not a fan of Alexei Sayle's DJ, but he still commands your attention.

Design: A superb job, with the functional corridors made to look different merely by having people walking down them in different directions. The addition of random bits of statue seems to hint at something different in the past. Davros' lair looks the part. Costumes are a bit bland on the part of the Necros worker's, but it actually works well in the setting. The new 'Imperial' Dalek design looks really good, especially in comparison with the original Daleks.

Direction: Graeme Harper once again does an outstanding job and it is a shame that he didn't contribute again for 20 years. Harper, either in his choice of actors, or in his ability to encourage them gets a superb cast to play it all so well. The sequences are all well handled and while this is much more subtle than Caves, he still comes up trumps with shots that continually entrance the viewer.

The finest story in the Colin Baker era is let down primarily by having the Doctor as a spectator to much of the story. 9/10

Posted on 30 Jun 2014, 14:02:10 BST
Season 22

Having finished this season, it worth looking back on it as a whole.

Apart from Timelash and possibly Mark of the Rani, the season has some good stories, though most seem to have moved from the old four-part story to producing two-parters that are padded out to fill the time available.

Colin's Doctor has his ups and downs, though on the whole I was warming towards him by The Two Doctors, but Timelash seems like a a step back in time to a post-regeneration version. Despite this, this arrogant incarnation does fare better on audio than on television, the arrogance being toned down and thus making him more sympathetic.

There is is plenty of scope for this Doctor, but alas we were never to see it fulfilled. I sometimes wonder if someone like Cartmel had come in earlier, the sense of mystery regarding the Doctor might have worked even better with Colin than it does with Sylv. Who knows?

Posted on 30 Jun 2014, 14:23:16 BST
Last edited by the author on 1 Jul 2014, 14:39:54 BST
The Phantom Season 23

Season 22 was supposed to have ended with Colin saying to camera, "I know, let's go to Blackpool!", but the cancellation of the series ensured that the last word was removed and the trip to Blackpool never materialised on television.

The fact that the production team were willing to make the reference shows that some of the following season was already planned. The Nightmare Fair was well known as the opener, and a story set in Singapore featuring the Autons was also being talked about.

As time went by other stories began to emerge about the aborted season, so that we now know that some eight stories were in the planning stages, with two of these obviously going to be dropped at some point in the future.

Of these eight stories, three turned up as novelisations. I never thought much of these, only Mission to Magnus was a good read and the Ultimate Evil was forgettable.

The most intriguing is surely Yellow Fever and How to Cure It, mainly because so little is known about it, though the need to include Nestene/Autons, The Master and the Rani as well as a Singapore location and a holidaying Brigadier does make me wonder if it would have been just too much.

What can be said is that once again the series seems to be spending too much time wallowing in its own past. The Celestial Toymaker as the season opener is good, and Sil making a return seems like an obvious choice, but did we need Ice Warriors, Autons, the Master and the Rani as well, in addition to whatever was going to end the season. The overdose of the past in Season 22 looks as though it was going to continue. Originality seems to have been chucked out of the window in favour of Doctor Who's greatest hits (or rather the B-list monsters).

We will never know how this season would have fared, which seems something of a shame as it can take time for an actor to get into the role (Patrick Troughton was continually trying out things for most of his first season).

On the other hand, Big Finish have now produced audios of most of these lost stories (6 of the 8 stories in planning, plus two others that turned up). Only Ultimate Evil (because they couldn't come to any agreement with Waly K Daly on his script) and Yellow Fever (because the story had not been developed enough) didn't make it in.

I have mixed feelings about this series. It was originally written for a slightly more abrasive Doctor, so are we getting the Big Finish Colin in 80's plots or are they going to try and be a bit more authentic.

Time to find out...

Posted on 1 Jul 2014, 13:08:54 BST
Last edited by the author on 2 Jul 2014, 10:26:12 BST
The Nightmare Fair (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)

As a television story, this might have been a lot of fun - lots of running around Blackpool with various rides being given a showing. As an audio, this doesn't quite work. Thankfully John Dorney has ripped out the visual moments to spare us extended descriptions of characters running around Blackpool or enjoying the rides.

Plot: Actually a lot of fun and kudos to Graham Williams for providing not only a return for an unusual old enemy but an explanation of his origins that provides his motivation. In retrospect the Doctor's solution to the Toymaker is rather cruel. This is also a product of its time with video games at their height of popularity this would have had the Doctor playing some unknown video game to the bitter end.

Script: Rather good. It is unknown how much of this is Williams and how much Dorney, but it all comes across very well. Of particular note is a wonderful scene of Peri screaming.... Because she is on one of the rides :).

Other: This would have been a good season opener - the Doctor and Peri get involved in the plot pretty early on and there would have been lots of visual elements to keep us interested.

7/10

Posted on 4 Jul 2014, 11:46:04 BST
Last edited by the author on 4 Jul 2014, 11:46:24 BST
Mission to Magnus (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)

The return of Sil would have been much anticipated. Nabil Shaban's performance in Vengeance on Varos was so much fun and deserved a second outing. This would have been it, possibly third in the season after The Ultimate Evil. In addition the Ice Warriors would have returned in this story.

Plot: As with Varos, Philip Martin is using this story to make a point. This time it is primarily about feminism. There are moments when this gets heavy handed, but overall the point is made. The use of Sil is good and the Ice Warriors are an important part of the overall plot, even if they only appear at the end of the first episode. Only Anzor the `school bully' seems out of place as though it was an idea that had a larger role in the plot but which got sidelined by other things. The Ice Warriors seem a little underused, being the token alien invaders rather than having a specific role to play, much like the Sontarans in The Two Doctors.

Script: On the whole, very good as one would expect from Martin. Some of the sexist comments in the second episode seem a little OTT and the Doctor's response to Anzor is played for laughs, whereas it ought to have been dealt with more sensibly (as it was at the end of episode 2). Sil delights again, partly because of the script and partly because of Shaban's performance.

Other: Sil Returns! What more needs to be said : ). Nabil Shaban delights as always. Kudos to the actors who take on multiple roles for making each one sound different. I recognised Nick Briggs different versions mainly because he has appeared in Big Finish so many times, but the others did a superb job.

Not as good as Varos, 7/10

Posted on 7 Jul 2014, 15:24:17 BST
Leviathan (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)

This wasn't ever going to be part of season 23, but the script appears to have been fully developed for season 22 and then abandoned, perhaps in favour of the historical settings of Mark of the Rani. It is a shame as this could have been a cracking piece of Doctor Who. JNT seemed to have an aversion to older writers (see the making of Varos on the Special Edition DVD), but it is also possible that the presence of Herne the Hunter would have put it at odds with Robin of Sherwood appearing on the other side at the same time, while the fate of the chosen is too close to some of Revelation's darker moments.

Plot: An intriguing plot with the `Leviathan' of the title not turning up until the very end of part one and providing a suitable cliff-hanger. In the meantime we are treated to medieval villagers, rebels and a Baron who is not quite what he seems. The presence of Herne at the beginning, signals that this isn't going to be a plain historical and the revelations come thick and fast in the first half of the story and each time you think you may have gotten to the bottom of the mystery, something else comes up to keep you guessing. It is an incredible shame that Brian Finch never wrote for the series as this story shows that he has an understanding of what makes a story interesting. The Sentinels of the New Dawn make an appearance... sort of. In fact their presence seems superfluous to the plot, and they are given a bigger role in a Pertwee Companion Chronicle. If I were to guess, this feels more of a set-up for the Sentinels, with a pay-off to come in a later story.

Script: This has been rewritten (in a hurry by all accounts) by Brian's son Paul, mainly to convert the visual moments into something that can be heard instead. The whole thing comes across really well, but has possibly been informed by modern audio Colin, rather than the original season 22 version, unless of course that was the intention. Either way a good script.

Other: Once again kudos to the supporting cast. I didn't realise until after the event that all of the actors doubled up in some way, such is their talent at providing different voices.

One of those near perfect audios that keeps you guessing and is highly enjoyable 9/10

Posted on 11 Jul 2014, 10:04:33 BST
Last edited by the author on 11 Jul 2014, 10:05:38 BST
The Hollows of Time (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)

Christopher H. Bidmead has written some of the most complex and thought provoking scripts for Doctor Who. While you don't need a degree to understand them, his stories get better on repeated viewing as some of the nuances become clearer. The Hollows of Time is no different. I am coming at this for the first time and its complexities are evident on first listening. I suspect when I come back to this next time, perhaps in a few years the things I missed the first time will help make more sense of it.

Plot: Incredibly convoluted as one would expect from Bidmead, The Doctor and Peri visit Revd 'Foxy' Foxwell, an old friend of the Doctor's who is working with Professor 'Stream' on some time experiments. Needless to say Stream turns out to be the villain, using Tractators to fuel his time experiments and luring the Doctor in to fetch the Gravis from his resting place. In this story we never do find out who 'Stream' is, but it is clear that the great reveal has been prevented by the current BBC who at the time were featuring the return of another villain whose name is an anagram of 'Stream' and didn't want Big Finish to use the same character... which would have been difficult as the original actor has long since died. In the end this doesn't cause any problems with the plotting, except that there feels as though there is a gaping hole where the sudden reveal should be. The Tractators are also present, but unlike the last time their presence is important but does little to progress them and they are not the villains in this story. Over all I lost the purpose of the story part way through and stuggled to pick it up from that point onwards.

Script: Very good. Some wonderful lines, some very well realised characters and some great moments (the Doctor stuck in space in a Citroen for example). Possibly let down by an inability to convey everything to understand what was going on.

Other: This would have made a better television story with the chance to repeat view via video making up for the convoluted storyline. The music here is the best so far of the Lost stories, invoking the era it came from without sounding like it was just added on by the Radiophonics Workshop. Susan Sheridan as Simon was fantastic.

If Mark of the Rani loses out by having the Master in it, I think this probably loses out by not having the Master in it. The worst of the Lost Stories so far.

5/10 (+1 if the Master had been in it and another +1 had it been made and readily available for multiple watches)

Posted on 18 Jul 2014, 14:08:19 BST
Last edited by the author on 18 Jul 2014, 14:09:22 BST
Paradise 5 (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)

Rather than being a story from the lost season 23, this is a lost story from the actual season 23. Indeed it was supposed to have been the debut of Mel and fill the Terror of the Vervoids slot. I am actually at a loss as to why this wasn't made as it seems a perfectly good story to me and one that would have contributed something interesting to Doctor Who lore.

It has been adapted by Alan Barnes, removing the parts of the Trial that were originally in the script and replacing it with a preamble explaining how and why the Doctor and Peri get where they are.

Plot: This is well thought out with interesting motivation. The cherubs are a mystery to be worked out and the Elohim and their extra-dimensional battle are a clear case of a story that requires a second visit. Having lost Mel and gained Peri, we get some rather sexist costuming and a gratuitous bikini scene that I very much would have liked to have seen rather than have described.

Script: It is difficult to ascertain how much of this is PJ Hammond and how much Andy Lane, but the biggest failing here is the bickering. While there is an undercurrent of it elsewhere in the Lost Stories, here it comes out full force much like in Timelash and it does no favours to the actors. Having said that they seem to relish getting back to a past time and the performances from the leads are well done. There is a nice moment of reflection from Peri as to why she travels with the Doctor.

Other: As with its predecessor the music sounds both authentic and is quite good. The cherubs are well performed, particularly when one realises that they need to convey emotion and dialogue entirely through sounds rather than words. The villains, Gabriel and Michael (and to a smaller extent Lorelei) are very interesting too and their connection with the Elohim part of the mystery that is presented.

The Elohim deserve another outing, but this story isn't quite as enjoyable as it ought to be. 6/10

Posted on 1 Sep 2014, 11:32:48 BST
Last edited by the author on 1 Sep 2014, 12:09:24 BST
Point of Entry (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)

This isn't a lost story from the original season 23, in fact it is arguably not even a lost story at all, given that it is one of a number of proposals put forward by Barbara Clegg on the basis of Enlightenment. Despite this, like Enlightenment, it takes Doctor Who into strange territory and that makes it an interesting story.

Plot: Barbara Clegg has provided a very interesting idea full of interesting characters and something a little different from the normal Doctor Who of the period. I can't help thinking however that this would have been a difficult story to produce requiring out of body experiences of the whole of Elizabethan England. Arguably this delves into occultism, but with a sci-fi twist.

Script: This appears to be Marc Platt's script from Clegg's synopsis and Platt is a superb scriptwriter, providing some really good characterisation. I understand that it was his idea to insert Francis Walsingham into the plot, though this might be one historical guest star too far, given that Kit Marlowe plays a vital part in the story.

Other: Sadly I listened to this a month ago and due to holidays didn't write a review at the time. As a result I seem to have forgotten much of this audio story. I don't think it will be one that has a long term impact on me, even though it was reasonably enjoyable.

Reasonable, but I'm not convinced that this should have been part of the Lost Stories. 6/10

Posted on 1 Sep 2014, 11:35:57 BST
Wendy says:
W.D. - its gone wrong - where's your review??

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Sep 2014, 11:45:44 BST
In progress... Sorry I'm working and I started the post before getting bogged down.

Normal service will be resumed at lunch time :)

Posted on 1 Sep 2014, 17:00:21 BST
The Song of Megaptera (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories 1.07) [Audiobook] (Audio CD)

Of all of the Lost Stories for Colin Baker this one has the longest history, having been proposed as far back as Douglas Adam's script editorship. For some reason, Adams didn't like it but both Bidmead and Saward did and it kept being updated for each era. To be honest I don't know why this was never made: Not only is it an excellent script but with it dark, dank corridors it seems it would have been a reasonably cheap production.

Plot: A little heavy-handed anti-whaling message perhaps more appropriate for its time than now, it nevertheless still has an interesting plot that keeps changing the nature of the story as it goes along. There is a definite under-current of anti-whaling sentiment, but it does not come out in favour of primitive whaling either. On top of that there is a Jonah and the Whale style extra story which takes the second part in a different direction. While there is no failing here, some of the other versions were for a larger TARDIS crew (including an introduction for Turlough) and I don't think that would have worked quite as well.

Script: Pat Mills has already shown his script-writing ability on a couple of Eighth Doctor stories and here he goes back to an old script that shows the same level of insight into the characters. At least one role has been recast from the intended male to a female character, but not to the detriment of the script (and this sort of thing did occasionally happen on TV)

Other: The only scene that might have been difficult to show on television would have been when the Doctor, Peri and the Travellers are shot at while standing on top of a giant Space Whale. But in fact I think CSO was sufficiently far forward at that point that it could have been done by using an establishing shot and then close-ups for the detail, along with echoing voices.

A brilliant piece of Who that might could easily have been the Kinda of its day (i.e. brilliant story with dodgy effects). 10/10

Posted on 2 Sep 2014, 10:53:40 BST
The Macros (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories 1.08) [Audiobook] (Audio CD)

This one was certainly in progress, though it is difficult to determine whether it would have gotten made or not. Certainly it is an intriguing idea let down by a rather substandard script.

Plot: The Philadelphia Experiment, 40 years on. A wonderful idea that the experimentation in invisibility led to temporal problems which the Doctor and Peri chance upon, getting the TARDIS stuck and having to move between the ship and a microscopic other dimension. All good so far... but the microscopic dimension just comes across in a totally expected way - it could be another planet for all we care. This lets the rest of the story down.

Script: A non-entity, though there are a few well-realised characters, for the most part they are just predictable. This might have made a reasonable television show, but I think it likely that Saward would have gotten his oar in to spice up the dialogue.

Other: I am not sure whether this would ever have gotten made, though it might well have been a reasonably cheap production (filming on HMS Belfast for example). I can't help thinking that the principle villainess was written with Ingrid Pitt in mind and she might have done a reasonable job of it on television, but it probably wouldn't have made a huge difference as this is likely to have been the clunker of the season.

A great idea let down by a terrible script. This is undoubtedly the worst of the Lost stories. 5/10

Posted on 9 Sep 2014, 12:44:57 BST
The Lost Season 23

The Lost Series went beyond the original scripts for season 23 searching out stories that did not get made for one reason or another. Of the stories made only 3 would almost certainly have made it into the actual season (Nightmare Fair; Magnus and Hollows). Added to this we would have gotten Yellow Fever and Ultimate Evil and almost certainly Eric Saward would have written his own thing as he did for most of his run as script editor & judging by his past performance this would have been some major return such as more Daleks.

All told then, I don't see much improvement from the previous year in terms of content since only ultimate evil would have not contained anything from the past.

If only Leviathan or Song of the Space Whale (as it was then known) were made into stories would we have had some originality and some classic new who. I don't think it likely as the first would probably have been too expensive, while the second had gone through so many iterations that it is unlikely to have made it to screen.

The only hope I have is that the leading man, Colin, might have put his foot down about certain aspects of his character and possibly even had his costume modified to not be so bad (and not invite comparisons with a clown). This might have improved the overall feel of the show.

In an alternate universe Doctor Who never got put on hiatus and may have continued on for a few more years, perhaps two full seasons for Colin before being given the boot (the only good thing about that is that Sylvester took on the role and was magnificent).

No use crying over spilt milk, however. Big Finish have taken to fleshing out this Doctor's era and have been magnificent at it.

Posted on 9 Sep 2014, 17:33:10 BST
Doctor Who: Slipback (BBC Radio Collection)

Doctor Who on radio had been done before with Tom Baker as part of a schools program, but during the hiatus, Who's second outing on to radio was aired as part of Pirate Radio 4, a summer program for youngsters (and Doctor Who fans). Slipback is the first audio story to come close to the Big Finish style of adventures and gives Baker a chance to use his distinctive voice to provide the character of the Doctor.

Plot: This seems to be a combination of plot theft with Saward plundering his own past, particularly Earthshock to provide the overall plot as the Doctor and Peri arrive on a giant spaceship that eventually becomes a time travelling bomb. Also plagiarised is Hitch Hikers with a shipboard computer with way too much bonhomie and some dialogue and surreal ideas that Adams would have liked. Not surprisingly because of its short time, there is very little original here, but of particular note is the unpleasant Captain of the Vipod Mor who cultivates strange diseases on his body for the fun of it.

Script: As above Saward has plundered other sources for his script. This is not to say it is a bad thing as the script does work well, even if one is reminded of particular Doctor Who or Hitch Hiker moments regularly in each episode. The main characters are all well rounded and portrayed, though Grant does seem to roll over and admit his misdeeds far too quickly.

Other: Performances are fantastic in particular Valentine Dyal's captain is suitably revolting, while Jane Carr does a brilliant job at two polar opposite roles: the computer and the Voice. Other roles seem well cast, but only make you wish that the whole thing isn't over quite so quickly since there is more to explore in these characters and their lives. The only real let-down is the denouement which is stolen from Terminus and is a little unnecessary. The Doctor and Peri are also present during the story but in the final analysis don't contribute much to the solution to the problem.

On the basis of this story more Doctor Who should have been attempted on radio, not having to wait for Barry Letts' Paradise of Death almost a decade later. Radio Who could have complemented The Trial of a Time-Lord presenting more standard fare for the Doctor. We also know that Colin could have achieved something with this, his Doctor being the acknowledged breakthrough performance in Big Finish's output.

A missed opportunity 6/10 (would have gotten more if it hadn't stolen so much from others).

Posted on 15 Sep 2014, 11:55:42 BST
Last edited by the author on 16 Sep 2014, 11:34:20 BST
Moon Graffiti from Out of Darkness included in "Doctor Who", Tales from the Tardis: v. 1 (BBC MP3 CD Audio)

This actually takes place immediately following Vengeance on Varos, a fact not clear from any of the references to it, which explains why I am reviewing it now and not earlier.

Originally a short story in the BBC collection More Short Trips, it has ended up on Out of Darkness, a CD collection read by both Colin and Nicola.

Plot: An interesting story about the last days of the planet Earth where the survivors have gone into comatose hiding from the pararachnoids (giant robotic spiders). A crashed microscopic spaceship has awoken one of the humans from his slumber in order to get hold of its own means of escaping the planet. The Doctor helps the aliens, defeats the pararachnoids and wakens the human race... all in the space of one short story.

Script: Typical Dave Stone humour, with the microscopic aliens called the entirely silly wibliwee enhanced by Nicola's voice sounding as though she is breathing Helium. The big disappointment with this story is the promise of the title never being realised. The Moon Grafitti is referenced once as a means of setting the scene, but plays no part in the overall story.

Other: As one would expect Colin and Nicola play their respective parts, though bizarrely Nicola at least once reads Colin's lines. The action is split up fairly evenly so both get a reasonable amount to say with Colin explaining the Doctor's interactions with Kimo Ani (the awkened human) and the Pararachnoids, while Nicola deals with Peri and the Wibliwee.

Typically Dave Stone Bizarre, but in reality this isn't a great story, the worst of the three in this collection.

6/10

Posted on 16 Sep 2014, 11:32:38 BST
Last edited by the author on 16 Sep 2014, 11:33:34 BST
Whispers of Terror (Dr Who Big Finish)

It must have seen like a great idea at the time: Doctor Who on audio, so let's do a story where the enemy is only audible... but it doesn't work. The beauty of audio is that you are free to imagine scenes and villains and monsters. But none of that is necessary here and as such it seems a little bit uninspiring.

Plot: While recording some of his speeches at the Museum of Aural Antiquities, Visteen Krane commits suicide just before announcing his candidacy for president. His running mate makes use of the material recorded to fashion an endorsement of her own candidacy; but it seems that Krane has other plans, despite his death. It does seem strange that Krane is recording his voice for *antiquity* and it might have made more sense if this were some kind of ancient voice that is rising from the grave, rather than a voice only a few days old (I have a feeling one of the later stories does this). A clever plot, with sufficient mystery in early episodes about what is really going on, but overall it fails to grab the listener. Surprisingly this might have made a very good story on television - cheap to make, but interesting anyway.

Script: Very good, full of interesting characters and the Doctor/Peri relationship reduced to fun banter rather than outright warfare that plagued the actual series. This does feel like the two have a relationship that would last (and did).

Other: Solid performances from all in only the third of the Big Finish output. Peter Miles as the Curator does a brilliant job and while one can't help remember Nyder, the character is sufficiently different that it is not difficult to get over it. Lisa Bowerman puts in a great performance... but it is difficult not to think of Bernice Summerfield though when listening, particularly as the character is still current when listening to this (16 years of Big Finish).

It was exciting to have new Who being broadcast to our ears back in 1999, but Whispers of Terror is one of the poorer of the earlier output and hasn't stood the test of time, comparing unfavourably with much later audios.

5/10

Posted on 22 Sep 2014, 15:03:46 BST
Last edited by the author on 23 Sep 2014, 11:52:28 BST
..Ish (Doctor Who)

A disembodied voice going mad and a friend who turns out to be the villain of the piece, discovered by Peri... No it's not Whispers of Terror all over again, but the slightly different ...Ish. This feels like the sort of complex script that Bidmead would write except the complexity is not related to science but language. And quite clever it is too.

The similarity with Whispers of Terror makes me think that this story is actually placed much later in the chronology, after The Mysterious Planet, rather than here, where I have placed it.

Plot: Book is a constantly upgrading dictionary of every word in existence, but as his repertoire expands, he discovers the Omniverbum an infinitely long word with sentience and the ish is an affix to it that is a sentient meme that devours words. All very strange but this leads to some very intriguing ideas and the wonderful situation where everyone goes round with every utterance of `ish' being beeped out like a swearword. I liked this whole plot a whole lot more than Whispers.

Script: As one would expect there are a lot of long words in this script and Colin Baker seems to relish using them. This is not as boring as it might seem, but overall the complexity of the script does work against it with repeated listening being suggested purely as a means of determining what is going on. Characters are well realised with good motivations and interesting backgrounds that perhaps aren't explored or explained much.

Other: Good performances all around, particularly from Colin and Nicola. An archaic theme tune is still being used and I'd have expected this story (and Whispers) to have something more akin to Baker's era by now. It jars when listening to it.

A really good story, something completely imaginative and possibly too-clever-by-half but enjoyable nonetheless.

7/10

Posted on 16 Oct 2014, 14:00:15 BST
Recorded Time in Recorded Time and Other Stories (Doctor Who)

King Henry has a magic pen, err.. advanced technology, and is using it to rewrite history.

Plot: This feels like a fantasy short story turned into a Doctor Who story. The pen is some sort of time-lord temporal doo-dah, but really it is just another word for a magic pen that can write the future. For this to be of value it has to be some historical character and so Anne Bolyn is the target of the story, even having her extra finger being written as the Doctor and Peri watch. Henry VIII is the villain of the piece. This is a waste of a good character with a long and important history, just for a fluff-piece of a story. Very disappointing.

Script: Nothing spectacular, possibly even badly written - depending upon whether the OTT king is part of the script or the actor/director choice.

Other: Paul Shearer is simply terrible as King Henry VIII. An over the top performance that puts Richard Briers and Paul Darrow to shame. The same sort of behaviour in the recent Robot of Sherwood yielded the Doctor's "and do people slap you when you do that?" and such lines might have made made the whole thing better.

Terrible waste of good characters and possibly even a good plot. This might have worked better as a farce or something comical, but alas I cannot recommend it. The worst story on the disc.

6/10

Posted on 17 Oct 2014, 14:13:11 BST
Paradoxicide in Recorded Time and Other Stories (Doctor Who)

Timey-Wimey shenanigans with the Sixth Doctor

Plot: Doctor Who, despite being about a time traveller is rarely about time travel. This has been a good thing, as the tendency is to use time travel as a get-out-of-jail-free card to solve the unsolvable. For example the end of The Movie; The Big Bang and Time Heist. All leave one unsatisfied not because it is an invalid method, but because it begs the question as to why the Doctor doesn't always do that: rescue Adric for example. Once in a while the convoluted use of time travel works (Blink for example) and Paradoxicide falls into the latter camp. A time loop that is signposted nicely along the way (not least by the name of the episode) and which is a very enjoyable ride.

Script: Limited cast gives all a good set of lines and thus breathes life into each character, the protagonists a rare bunch of homicidal women are actually a lot of fun as the script implies that this is feminism taken to the extreme. It puts me in mind of Prison in Space and Mission to Magnus both of which deal with women in the same way (not in a good way).

Other: A short episode that leaves one satisfied when it finishes as having had closure. Brilliantly performed and Peri, in particular, gets some real meaty moments.

A brilliant use of paradox to tell a time-based story.

8/10

Posted on 18 Oct 2014, 11:48:32 BST
A Most Excellent Match in Recorded Time and Other Stories (Doctor Who)

...In which the Doctor proposes to Miss Peri Brown and doesn't get the expected answer.

Plot: A Doctor Who/Jane Austen hybrid that takes a turn for the worse when Hardy joins the mix. The story starts right in the middle as the Doctor is desperately trying to free Peri from a Jane Austen novel where some evil creature has taken up residence waiting for someone just like Peri to make his move. The story of two cousins trying to find a husband is both comical and serious. Which is why it works.

Script: Full of references to both Pride and Prejudice and Tess of the D'Ubervilles (and some Wuthering Heights), as well as a cockney wide-boy who seems to have little control over the world he has created, there are some great moments. One can imagine this as an actual episode with the whole thing set in the Austen world with Cranton presiding over the whole thing with a god-like voice.

Other: The contrast of novelists' ideas, particularly the upbeat Austen as compared to the depressing Hardy/Bronte keeps the whole thing interesting. Paul Shearer is back as Cranton, and does a good job here, compared to his OTT performance in Recorded Time and this is another excellent Peri story as Nicola Bryant gets to strut her stuff in a period drama while still being unmistakeably Peri.

A most excellent audio

7/10
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