Omega
Audio / March 31, 2016

Released August 2003 Omega is unquestionably one of the most interesting and powerful foes in the long history of Doctor Who, but his two televised appearances in ‘The Three Doctors’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’ never managed to fully explore that power and the incredible backstory he possesses. As such, there was understandably some trepidation about what Big Finish could do with the character in the opening installment of their villains trilogy that also includes the likes of Davros and the Master, but author Nev Fountain quickly puts those reticent thoughts to rest with a powerful and engaging story that brings back Ian Collier to voice his memorable character. There’s an underlying theme about stories, both history and legend, that works exceedingly well. Depending on one’s viewpoint, it’s equally valid in thinking that the public can only cope with history through television and movies or through factual books. The pros and cons of both mediums are made obvious, but Fountain is not afraid to take a jab at Doctor Who itself as it is stated that historicals on television often focus more on entertainment than on fact. At the same time, what are presented as facts can quite possibly be the…

The Snowmen
Episode / March 31, 2016

Aired 25 December 2012 Doctor Who returns to screens with its annual holiday special, but Steven Moffat also uses it as an opportunity to set plot threads in motion for the show’s upcoming fiftieth anniversary series, in the process focusing less on the Yuletide setting than any previous special. With a long-forgotten foe returning, a new title sequence hearkening back to the face-including sequences of the Second through Seventh Doctor eras, and an updated TARDIS interior that also evokes some memories of past iterations, there are several hints already in place that 2013 is going to be a tremendously nostalgic time for the programme. Having previously appeared in the Patrick Troughton episodes ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ and ‘The Web of Fear,’ the Great Intelligence makes a welcome return as he shows off his formidable psychic power while trying to find a physical form. Richard E Grant adds a sinister air of gravitas to the role during his limited appearances, and it seems inevitable that greater things are in store for the Great Intelligence- though perhaps not with Grant as its host- going forward. Yet as intriguing as the villain is, it’s ultimately Jenna-Louise Coleman who is again going to be the…

Flip-Flop
Audio / March 31, 2016

Released July 2003 Following very successful storytelling format experiments with ‘Doctor Who and the Pirates’ and ‘Creatures of Beauty,’ Big Finish continues to toy with expectation with Jonathan Morris’s ‘Flip-Flop.’ Advertisements for the story make it abundantly clear that either disc of two episodes can be listened to first and still create an organised and sensible story. Big Finish even takes the additional step of packaging each disc in a separate case to further drive this point home, and so the question remains if the planet Puxatornee- as the Seventh Doctor and Mel arrive to find a once-thriving human colony struggling to survive- is on the brink of extinction or a place where the alien Slithergees have covertly infiltrated important positions. Perhaps it is both. To make this concept work, Morris focuses on alternate realities, examining the effects of Puxatornee’s President Bailey both living and dying at a certain point in time. Sequences on both discs develop similarly, but it’s the perception of characters that changes depending on which disc is listened to first as they and events are cast in a slightly different light on each. In some respects there are similarities with ‘Creatures of Beauty’ in that, even…

The Angels Take Manhattan
Episode / March 30, 2016

Aired 29 September 2012 The Doctor’s admission that he tears out the last page of book so that the adventure never has to end provides all the setup that is needed for this adventure, poignantly foretelling of the permanent departure of Amy and Rory from the TARDIS that has been teased for so long. Amy has been the longest-serving companion of the new era of Doctor Who and Steven Moffat’s time as the showrunner has largely been about exploring Amy more than anyone or anything else. She saw him as a child, dreamed of his return, formed a strong comradery with the Doctor as she traveled with him, and even became his mother-in-law. Along with Rory who has increasingly become more prominent and affable, it was never going to be an easy task to say goodbye to such a beloved duo, but ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ certainly provides an emotional and fulfilling sendoff. The story begins with an ill-fated private eye whose investigations reveal an unscrupulous collector, a hotel with a hidden secret, and the Weeping Angels themselves, including one in plain sight that is certain to draw just as many criticisms and praises. This sequence effectively reiterates how dangerous…

Project: Lazarus
Audio / March 30, 2016

Released June 2003 It’s inevitable that in this fortieth anniversary year Big Finish would commission a multi-Doctor story, and while the upcoming ‘Zagreus’ promises to make use of all four of the current audio Doctors, ‘Project: Lazarus’ offers a more surprising combination of the Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Impressively, after starting as a direct continuation and sequel to ‘Project: Destiny,’ by its end it becomes wholly its own entity that makes impressive use of its two leads. When the Doctor finds a cure to the twilight virus, the Doctor and Evelyn materialise in Scandinavia but find that they are too late to help Cassie. The Cassie they find is an embittered, hardened woman who has had to endure two tough years of scavenging and evading Nimrod. It becomes increasingly clear that Cassie has lost that battle, though, as the Forge appears and Nimrod greets her as his colleague Artemis. Cassie’s story doesn’t continue to the end of the tale, though, as Nimrod kills her once she realises that she has no memory of her son and that Nimrod has been controlling her in a more sinister fashion than she believed. After setting the scene with the Huldran legend of Scandinavia…

The Power of Three
Episode / March 30, 2016

Aired 22 September 2012 After many excursions to the past, to the future, and to distant planets, Doctor Who returns to modern-day Earth with an offering that feels like an homage to the Russell T Davies era complete with a sinister global threat that slowly builds as the episode progresses, newscasters explaining the global reaction to and ramifications of the threat, and even some further exploration of the Doctor as well as Amy and Rory. The multitude of very ordinary cubes forms the ominous focus of this episode, a very slow invasion force that initially captures the world’s interest before becoming commonplace paperweights and junk due to their apparent meaninglessness over several months. It’s not until they’ve been accepted as a normal item that their threat is eventually revealed. As events slowly played out over the course of almost a year, it helped to portray the sense of just how long the cubes are present before doing anything interesting. And as Amy warns that the world is taking them for granted sure enough a countdown appears on the faces of each and every one. The return of UNIT to help reinforce the global security concern is a welcome touch, and…

A Town Called Mercy
Episode / March 29, 2016

Aired 15 September 2012 ‘A Town Called Mercy’ provides a rare trip to the Wild West for the Doctor, continuing the cinematic scope that recent episodes of Doctor Who have attained with a location shoot in Spain and unafraid to show off its gorgeous setting throughout the story. The oft-advertised cybernetic gunslinger quickly makes an appearance, promptly killing someone to cement the severity of the threat he poses, and events continue in rapid succession from there. Even if American accents continue to be somewhat of a downfall for Doctor Who casting, the town of Mercy is brought to life exquisitely even with its purposeful anachronisms, and the classic plot device of a strange man in a stranger land works very well here as the Doctor, with all of his Time Lord and British sensibilities, walks into a saloon and asks for a cup of tea. The Doctor soon becomes entwined in events as he finds out about the mysterious gunslinger as well as another alien doctor in Mercy, the subject of the gunslinger’s hunting. Adrian Scarborough plays this other doctor, Kahler Jex, and brings him to life quite well. He’s a man who has done some truly awful things, events…

Creatures of Beauty
Audio / March 29, 2016

Released May 2003 In what seems like a very repetitive phrase, Big Finish again proves that it is willing to play with format and expectations to deliver a unique experience with its Doctor Who audios. Here, writer Nicholas Briggs brings possibly his most ambitious, philosophical, and frankly ingenious script to life, though one can only imagine that it must have been a tireless exercise in actually writing it. Although Doctor Who inherently has one of the most malleable formats of any programme, all too often the scripts stick to the familiar formula of the Doctor and/or companion arriving, escaping capture or death, and ultimately stopping an evil plan. It’s a trusted formula that delivers immense satisfaction, to be sure, but Briggs presents his tale in a completely non-linear fashion, neither beginning at the beginning nor ending at the end. Though the premise of an ecological disaster and its effects on the population is nothing too new, the result is an immensely satisfying experience for those willing to listen to it and try to piece the chronology of events together; despite certain events being revealed much earlier than they normally would be in a ‘regular’ adventure, there are still plenty of…

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
Episode / March 29, 2016

Aired 8 September 2012 Doctor Who‘s promise of a weekly cinematic blockbuster continues with ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,’ an obvious nod to Snakes on a Plane. Although the tone is a bit lighter and the story itself doesn’t quite reach the height of its predecessor ‘Asylum of the Daleks,’ it still offers an enjoyable tale that’s unafraid of exploring some darker territory as well. The programme has become increasingly confident in setting the scene for the tale to come, and that’s no exception here as, before the opening theme plays, the Doctor has recruited some friends to travel with him and established that there’s a missile closing in on a ship that they need to stop. This allows for a strong cast of guest starts to flex their muscles, though the sentimental standout is undoubtedly Rory’s father Brian Williams, played masterfully by Mark Williams. The interplay between Arthur Darvill and Mark Williams is superb, perfectly capturing the father-son dynamic while Brian brings a more grounded and practical viewpoint to proceedings. Rupert Graves’s bombastic big game hunter Riddell and Riann Steele’s confident Queen Nefertiti make a formidable pair in their own right as well. The ship itself ends up being a…

Doctor Who and the Pirates (Or The Lass Who Lost a Sailor)
Audio / March 28, 2016

Released April 2003 Big Finish has proven time and time again that it’s a company unafraid to experiment with format in its Doctor Who releases, and that has never been on display more than in ‘Doctor Who and the Pirates (Or The Lass Who Lost a Sailor). The title might give an indication that the audience is in for something unique, but the inclusion of a strong musical element certainly sets it apart from any other story. In what seems like a bit of a random prologue until events are explained later in the story, Evelyn visits one of her students at her home and starts telling a tale about time travel and pirates. Evelyn is determined to tell her story even if Sally doesn’t want to hear it, and those disparate feelings make for an intriguing mystery as events are recounted. And while ultimately it is Sally who demands the most focus even though the pirate tale takes up the majority of the running time, Sally is able to be the voice for the listening audience, commenting whenever Evelyn or the Doctor try to influence the story through individual perspective or assumptions. In the recounted tale, the Doctor and…