UNIT: Assembled
Audio / May 26, 2017

Released May 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Through three boxsets, the UNIT audio range has already established itself as one of Big Finish’s most enthralling and engaging, perfectly blending the mannerisms and sensibilities of both classic and modern Doctor Who while proving more than capable of standing tall without the help of the wayward Time Lord. For the much-anticipated fourth set of stories, UNIT: Assembled seamlessly brings together members of both eras of UNIT, highlighting the similarities that span generations as Earth’s original ruling denizens once more awaken to wreak havoc. Matt Fitton’s ‘Call to Arms’ opens the set on a more reflective and personal note to allow the audience to become at least somewhat familiar with the post-UNIT lives of John Levene’s John Benton and Richard Franklin’s Mike Yates, the two who quite explicitly serve as a doorway to the much beloved Third Doctor era of Doctor Who here. As characters and Doctors move on, it’s rare to revisit past companions and acquaintances, especially in their more mature years, but even taking the small step to reveal that Benton moved on from selling cars to owning a pub is a welcome piece of information that further defines such a well-liked…

Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Episode / November 15, 2016

Aired 12 January – 16 February 1974 In its early years, Doctor Who often told overly ambitious stories that the budget and effects couldn’t quite match. In fact, it’s part of the distinct charm of the classic series in general, and while there will always being certain episodes and moments that suffer from this more than others, very rarely does the credulity of the effects really affect the story being told. The transition of the Pertwee years to a more Earth-centric format alleviated this to some extent, the thought being that the budgeted effects would be more prominent and distractive in colour, but ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’- by its title alone- draws intense focus to the effects bringing the dinosaurs to life in modern-day London, letting down fans expecting to see something more realistic and even failing to meet the expectations of the production team. Looking past the puppets, costumes, and Colour Separation Overlay employed for the dinosaurs that are so clearly the root of this tale, ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ is one of the few Pertwee tales to really embrace the concept of time and time travel. Here, a group of people is determined to rewind time back to…

Robot
Episode / February 3, 2016

Aired on: 28 December 1974 – 18 January 1975 Replacing Jon Pertwee, the longest-tenured actor in the lead role to that point after an impressive five-year run, was never going to be an easy task, and so it makes sense that ‘Robot’ is essentially a Pertwee episode complete with his familiar UNIT family and a threat to contemporary Earth in order to ease the audience’s transition to new leading man Tom Baker. Of course, nobody could have predicted just how instantly Tom Baker would make the role his own and quickly take the title as the definitive Doctor in many fans’ eyes. As a result, though, this makes ‘Robot’ feel a bit as if it is constraining its new lead rather than allowing him to fully find himself. Even Ian Marter’s Harry Sullivan, a character who was explicitly brought in not only to provide a male-female companion dynamic as in the earlier years of the programme but also to cover the possibility of having to be the a more physical male presence should the Fourth Doctor ultimately not be able to perform that task, quickly becomes redundant presence as Baker far exceeded all expectations right from the start. Still, there’s…

Planet of the Spiders
Episode , Reviews / January 28, 2016

Aired on: 4 May – 8 June 1974 ‘Planet of the Spiders’ brings to a close the Jon Pertwee era, offering a satisfying but far from flawless final adventure for the man who had seen Doctor Who through a major transition in 1970 and dominated screens for five seasons of adventures since. Although his final season has featured fewer UNIT-based stories, ‘Planet of the Spiders’ brings the organization back into the fray to provide a look back at so much of what has made Pertwee’s tenure so successful as well as to provide a heartfelt farewell. In a time before story arcs became commonplace, ‘Planet of the Spiders’ offers plenty of callbacks to previous episodes. Aside from the Brigadier and Benton being back as part of UNIT, Mike Yates returns to satisfactorily atone for earlier traitorous actions in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs,’ Jo Grant gets mentioned as she returns the Doctor’s wedding present, and another immense chase scene featuring almost every vehicle imaginable occurs. Perhaps the programme has earned the right to indulge in its lead’s penchant for physicality and love of vehicles, but far too much time is spent with gratuitous action sequences that utlimately do not affect the…