Absolution
Audio / June 16, 2016

Released October 2007 ‘Absolution’ is an important release for Big Finish as the Eighth Doctor prepares to enter a new era. This is the story that sees C’rizz die, and the production certainly manages to evoke the feeling of a spectacle event to mark the occasion. The scope of this story is absolutely tremendous, and the imagery of the settings and action-packed battles certainly make it easy to envision as a television adventure. C’rizz has been hearing a new voice on top of the multitudes he saved, one begging for him to help more people on a dying world, and when Charley opens his religious Absolver in his room, all of Hell breaks loose as the Doctor’s sins threaten to catch up to him. As the TARDIS console room explodes in a shower of blood, the Doctor manages to land the TARDIS in a fortress standing in a desolate and burning landscape. With demons populating the land, C’rizz has somehow become an apprentice to a devilish warlord. This is very much a story about C’rizz and the eventual sacrifice that he makes, but this focus comes at the detriment of two other facets of the story. The first is that,…

100
Audio / June 14, 2016

Released September 2007 Big Finish reaches a tremendous milestone with the aptly-titled ‘100’ for its one hundredth main range release. While ‘100’ is not a story that will shake the foundation of Doctor Who or the audio medium, it is nonetheless a hugely enjoyable- if perhaps self-indulgent- series of four individual one-part stories featuring arguably the most popular audio pairing of the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe. The collection begins with ‘100 BC’ in which the Doctor and Evelyn arrive in Rome around the time of Julius Caesar’s birth. After accidentally intruding upon a romantic evening between Senator Gaius Caesar and his wife, the two hop forward in time nine months just in time for the birth of the child. However, the child is a female and named Julia rather than Julius. This revelation creates a rift between the two friends, the Doctor determined to fix history and ensure it runs its proper course and Evelyn determined to push forward women’s rights by ensuring one of history’s most influential men remains a woman instead. Fortunately, the story is written in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner in which the Doctor and Evelyn continually try to one-up and outdo the other in order…

Memory Lane
Website / May 30, 2016

Released October 2006 ‘Memory Lane’ begins on a perfect summer day in an idyllic English neighbourhood, an ice cream truck rolling down the street and snooker playing on the television. Unfortunately, what seems to be a peaceful and unassuming place houses a much greater secret, and writer Eddie Robson slowly increases the mystery and sense of unease to create an enjoyably unsettling but still lighthearted experience. With a shorter running time than most Big Finish main range releases, ‘Memory Lane’ moves along at a very brisk pace with minimal padding. Tom Braudy, a ten-year-old boy, starts off as the focus of the intrigue as he builds a spaceship out of Legos. Strangely, though, he appears to be much, much older than his age would suggest, and his Nan seems completely undisturbed by the appearance of the TARDIS which is then promptly stolen by the driver of the ice cream truck. Yet finding the TARDIS proves rather difficult as every house in the unending neighbourhood is the exact same, each filled with its own Tom’s Nan and each one’s television playing a video of astronauts trying to escape from a creature aboard their ship, one of the astronauts sounding eerily like…

Something Inside
Audio / May 19, 2016

Released June 2006 ‘Something Inside’ eventually turns out to be a rather enjoyable tale, but unfortunately it has to muddle its way through several cliches while dealing with the fact that the Eight Doctor once again has amnesia to get there. Even the Doctor admits that the amnesia is a stereotypical response for him, but it’s sadly becoming all too common for this plot contrivance to drive forward Paul McGann’s stories. It’s refreshing, at the very least, to have C’rizz and Charley slightly more knowledgeable than the Doctor, but none of the three know much beyond the fact that they are in a prison designed to hold psychic soldiers while running from someone that tear out memories, itself a truly fascinating and terrifying concept. Essentially, ‘Something Inside’ boils down to a typical base-under-seige plot. While this is a very effective format to use, especially in the audio medium, the issue is that so much time is spent running around throughout the entire story that the small collection of supporting characters has little meaningful time to develop. Thus, as the danger and threat levels increase and ultimately start costing people their lives, there is little emotional investment in seeing these characters…

Other Lives
Audio / May 6, 2016

Released December 2005 The TARDIS trio of the Eighth Doctor, Charley, and C’rizz has been one met with overall mixed reviews despite some genuinely intriguing storylines and character development. However, ‘Other Lives’ completely mixes things up by offering a more light-hearted story in which each of the characters has a double in 1851 Britain. Stories with doubles are nothing new in the long history of Doctor Who, but Gary Hopkins pushes this idea to the limit with all three having doubles, and the result is easily one of the best releases from Big Finish’s 2005 catalogue. While the doubles of Charley and C’rizz are interesting enough as French aristocrats who end up taking the TARDIS, the inherently more intriguing aspect is the double of the Doctor as the missing and married Doctor Marlow. Seeing the regulars assume these lives, the Doctor posing as Mrs Marlow’s husband to keep her from losing her home and Charley and C’rizz posing as the aristocrats to prevent a revolution is both written and acted well by everyone involved. Of course, a Eutermisan in Victorian England is sure to raise eyebrows, and C’rizz experiences a hauntingly effective journey as he is brutally introduced to the…

Scaredy Cat
Audio / May 2, 2016

Released October 2005 The core of ‘Scaredy Cat’ in which a more advanced civilization creates a base among a more primitive society is certainly nothing new even to Doctor Who, but the exploration into evil as well as the scientists’ experiments as they try to physically burn out the very essence of evil from people ensure a unique spin on a classic formula. ‘Scaredy Cat’ takes those elements and goes a step further with the presence of Galayana, the living embodiment of the planet’s morphogenic field and the last living being after an alien race’s biological weapon destroyed everything else. Interestingly, the story posits the idea that all young planets have such a consciousness, revealing the fact that Time Lords are forbidden from traveling to such planets for fear of interfering with development. With C’rizz coming from a universe without time, this is the first story in which he sees the Doctor bound by the laws of time, cause and effect, and non-interference. When the Doctor and he travel back several million years to see just how the planet came to be in its current state and the Doctor later allows him to give the cure to those people knowing…

Terror Firma
Episode / May 1, 2016

Released August 2005 Doctor Who returns from its interesting but ultimately flawed Divergent universe story arc with ‘Terror Firma,’ a story that picks up the cliffhanger ending of ‘The Next Life’ as the Doctor, Charley, and C’rizz are confronted by Davros right from the outset. Joseph Lidster is tasked with scripting this unwelcome return to the normal universe, unsurprisingly using a flashback-fueled narrative since meeting Davros would normally be a mid-story cliffhanger rather than a starting point. Surprisingly and intriguingly, though, these flashbabcks go back to well before Paul McGann’s Big finish audio debut in ‘Storm Warning’ and attempts to rewrite all of the Eighth Doctor’s adventures as part of a bigger plan of revenge by Davros. Big Finish has already taken the initiative to fill in Davros’s story between ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ as well as between ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ and ‘Remembrance of the Daleks,’ and so it’s not surprise that his time immediately following his last televised appearance is the focus here. Other media have explored this time period in Davros’s life before, but Lidster combines threads from those earlier televised stories and puts forth the view that Davros eventually becomes the…

The Next Life
Audio / April 18, 2016

Released December 2004 Whether because Big Finish feels that the time has naturally come or because of the arrival of the new televised Doctor Who coming in 2005, the Eighth Doctor’s adventures in the Divergent universe come to an end in ‘The Next Life.’ The end result is a satisfying tale that addresses and wraps up several lingering plot threads for the previous two seasons and successfully reintroduces the Doctor back to the normal universe. ‘The Next Life’ has many positive attributes, but there are some negative worth noting as well. Unfortunately, this is another story in which the Doctor speaks to himself in order to handle the exposition of the story, and though this is becoming an increasingly infrequent problem with Big Finish scripts, it is nonetheless just as jarring. The exposition is not handled that well with Charley or C’rizz either, both confiding to loved ones they know to be false in a sort of virtual reality experience. This approach ultimately provides a little bit of background for both companion characters but does little to advance the plot, giving the sense that ‘The Next Life’ is simply treading water before allowing itself to get on with its big…

Caerdroia
Audio / April 18, 2016

Released November 2004 Lloyd Rose finally gets the chance to write for Paul McGann himself after authoring two Eight Doctor novels, and the resultant ‘Caerdroia’ is superb, finally allowing the Doctor to directly confront the Kro’ka and to discover who gives him his orders while firmly setting events in motion leading into the series finale. The Kro’ka finally becomes the primary antagonist for the first time since his introduction so long ago, and Stephen Perring makes the most of the opportunity. There’s an added dimension to the Kro’ka beyond simply typical malevolance, though, as he is clearly stressed with the need and desire to please his masters. The Doctor, Charley, and C’rizz pick up on this fact quickly and play on his innate fear by criticizing his efficiency and realizing that they cannot be moved between Bortresoye’s zones while the Doctor is asleep. The Doctor threatens to put himself into a trance to effectively stop any progression of the Kro’ka’s plans, realizing that he is now seemingly immune to the Kro’ka’s mental attacks he experienced in ‘The Creed of the Kromon.’ Perring effectively switches from tones of triumph to terror as he subsequently falls into the Doctor’s trap, cornered in…

The Last
Audio / April 18, 2016

Released October 2004 The Eighth Doctor audios present a wholly unique situation and opportunity for Big Finish. Even with the audio-exclusive companions that each of the other classic Doctors now has in tow, those eras are still at somewhat bound by televised continuity. There are, of course, ways in which the continuity could be skirted or bypassed altogether, but that’s not a decision that needs to be made with the Eighth Doctor era. Charley and C’rizz are both open books with no guaranteed survival at the end of their stories. Despite Big Finish’s reluctance to part ways with Charley in ‘Zagreus’ and the relative new addition of C’rizz to the team, it’s still a shocking twist- albeit one that’s completely undone by story’s end- for new writer Gary Hopkins to kill off both companions and to handle the Doctor’s emotional response to the dramatic turbulence he experiences as a result. Accordingly, this is a script that makes incredible use of Paul McGann’s superb talents. After Charley is injured and paralyzed, the softer and more romantic side of the Eighth Doctor shines through as he optimistically supports her and tells her she’ll be fine. It’s a very poignant and touching moment…