Real Time
Audio / May 15, 2017

Original Webcast 2 August – 6 September 2002 Audio CD Released December 2002 Before the BBC relaunch of Doctor Who in 2005, it was primarily on the shoulders of Big Finish to keep up any sort of official adventures while the BBC tried to figure out just what exactly it wanted to do with the franchise following the failed backdoor pilot featuring Paul McGann. Following the first official BBCi webcast ‘Death Comes to Time’ featuring Sylvester McCoy, the BBC teamed with Big Finish to offer the much-maligned Sixth Doctor a more official chance at redemption by bringing Colin Baker back into the public consciousness. Fortunately, ‘Real Time’ succeeds admirably in that regard, removing Colin Baker from the behind-the-scenes turmoil that plagued his tenure on television and portraying the arrogance and sense of grandeur that so defined his character in an overall softer and more amenable light. The script wisely does not eliminate the more contentious aspects of this Doctor here, but it admirably explains why such divisive mannerisms and actions that would seem out of place for any other incarnation are perfectly logical and perhaps for the greater good in their own right. This is perhaps best explored when the…

Industrial Evolution
Audio / October 12, 2016

Released March 2011 Wasting no time with exposition, ‘Industrial Evolution’ concludes the latest Thomas Brewster trilogy with a busy plot in nineteenth century Lancashire with the Industrial Revolution in full swing at Samuel Belfrage’s brass mill. As Brewster struggles to get a fair deal for his fellow mill workers, the public’s fears that the machines are taking control prove more insightful than anyone thought. ‘Industrial Evolution’ brings the atmosphere of the time to life fantastically, and the assortment of underprivileged workers, garrulous MPs, upper class woman taking the workers’ side, and overbearing fathers all fit in with expectations perfectly. Wisely, though, writer Eddie Robson doesn’t simply rely on stereotypes to flesh out his world, and each character has a determined realism and rationality about them that helps give an emotional meaning to their plight. For although the workers are grateful for the employment that the mill and copper extrusion techniques have offered, they and the general public are rightfully upset that their bodies and appendages are at such high risk. Back in his own time to start a new life, Thomas Brewster takes it upon himself to lead a strike in a call for better working conditions. Evelyn and the…

The Feast of Axos
Audio / October 10, 2016

Released February 2011 Although the villainous Axons featured in the very satisfying ‘The Claws of Axos’ and created some of the most lasting visuals of the Pertwee era, the intriguing foes have appeared only once- in the 2010 comic ‘The Golden Ones- prior to Big Finish’s ‘The Feast of Axos.’ The lack of appearances is perhaps due to the rather visual nature of the stringy monsters and golden hues, but ‘The Feast of Axos’ proves that the Axons are capable of existing in a nonvisual medium even if this particular story is ultimately a sequel that isn’t completely necessary. Bernard Holley effortlessly reprises the resounding voice of the menacing Axos after all of these years, and Big Finish manages to recreate the sound and ambience of this tale’s predecessor wonderfully. A dried husk still trapped in the Doctor’s time loop trap, Axos has become a point of focus for billionaire Campbell Irons who intends to revive Axos in order to transmit its power back to Earth, thus solving the planet’s energy crisis. As such, the story provides an intriguing twist on the plot of the original while also throwing in plenty of references to space programmes and exploits of other…

The Crimes of Thomas Brewster
Audio / October 8, 2016

Released January 2011 Big Finish kicks off 2011 with a bit of self-indulgence, employing trusted author Johnathan Morris to bring back not only popular audio companion Evelyn Smythe to rejoin the Sixth Doctor but also recurring Big Finish creations Thomas Brewster and DI Patricia Menzies. With a new gang leader known only as the Doctor operating in contemporary London, Menzies again crosses paths with Colin Baker’s Time Lord, startled to find that his previous adventures with her have not yet occurred in his personal timeline. It’s refreshing to hear Maggie Stables back alongside Colin Baker, furthering her case to be his definitive companion. The two clearly respect and admire each other, and they share arguably the deepest connection of any TARDIS pairing, both able to confide in each other fully while unafraid to jest and cajole each other as well. Taking Evelyn back to a time before the tragedies of Cassie, her heart, Rossiter, and the Word Lord is a reminder of just how well-written and strong she is even without the incredible turmoil she would come to experience. Here she wishes to remain in ignorance of all o fthe events that have been occurring, the Symbios gaining control of…

A Death in the Family
Audio / October 4, 2016

Released October 2010 Following the rather unfortunate misstep with ‘Project: Destiny’ the revitalization of Big Finish’s Seventh Doctor stories resumes with ‘A Death in the Family,’ picking up from the intriguing cliffhanger and bringing back the fascinating Word Lord first introduced in the 2008 ‘Forty-Five’ anthology collection. In terms of hyping this release, Big Finish did a masterful job. Highlighting Ian Reddington’s Word Lord in place of the presumably dead Hex on the cover art, Big Finish then teased on the day of release that Philip Olivier was involved, only to then say that one of the leads would die. With Hex rightfully traumatized by the duplicity of the Doctor and the dreadful events concerning his mother, the Doctor and Ace return to the ruins of the Forge to reclaim a Time Lord sarcophagus, shockingly finding an older version of the Doctor inside and unintentionally releasing the captive World Lord upon a very word-filled world that continues to amplify his power. The increasingly powerful Nobody No-one reintroduces himself and explains the rules by which he exists and plays quite quickly, defaming the Doctor by stating that someone else always makes the ultimate sacrifice for his plans to succeed. Although the…

Assassin in the Limelight
Audio / July 3, 2016

Released May 2008 It’s Good Friday in Washington, D.C., in 1865, and conflicting sentiments about the recently-concluded Civil War still run rampant. Against that backdrop, Oscar Wilde is attempt to gain backers for his new play, The Importance of Begin Earnest. With the current run of American Cousin garnering such positive press for Ford’s Theater, President Abraham Lincoln himself has decided to take in the show personally. Yet as Evelyn Smythe anticipates experiencing one of history’s greatest tragedies firsthand, the Doctor is more concerned with how Wilde- who should be ten years old at this time- is producing a play that shouldn’t be written for another thirty years. Robert Ross returns to the main range for his third story, and though he states that he did not set out to write a trilogy originally, ‘Assassin in the Limelight’ does act as a conclusion for the actions displayed in ‘Medicinal Purposes’ and ‘Pier Pressure,’ the latter of which was met with rather unenthusiastic reviews. Oscar Wilde, perhaps unsurprisingly, turns out be Dr Robert Knox, returning once more to change history, this time by killing John Wilkes Booth and averting Lincoln’s assassination. As a result, this is a rare opportunity for Doctor…

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…

The Nowhere Place
Audio / May 21, 2016

Released July 2006 Space is a frightening concept, infinitely large and so much of it devoid of anything at all, and always holding the threat that there could be something quite sinister further out away from Earth. Of course, this is the basis for any number of stories and franchises in various mediums, and ‘The Nowhere Place’ brings something so dangerous that even the Doctor is frightened by it, a concept by itself that is enough to carry a story. In the near future 2197, Damocles fighters from the space station Valiant are fighting aliens that are attacking human operations. One of the squadron’s very best fighters has inexplicably suffered a nervous breakdown, hearing a ringing bell that is audible to nobody else. The Doctor, taking Evelyn to visit some friends, hears the bell as well and soon finds that Earth’s history has been changed with absolutely nothing past 2197. Strangely, the source of the bell is a train on Earth in 1952, and more and more people aboard the Valiant throw themselves through a door leading to nothing as they begin to hear the bell and suffer from its maddening effects. There is a stark contrast in portions of…

Pier Pressure
Audio / May 9, 2016

Released January 2006 Robert Ross assumes writing duties for Big Finish for the first time since ‘Medicinal Purposes’ with ‘Pier Pressure,’ two stories that share a very similar style and that both succeed and fail in similar fashion by providing a jagged combination of humour and horror. Lacking in any of the clever ideas from his first release, ‘Pier Pressure’ instead relies on ages-old cliches. Ross does a good job in building an engrossing environment and atmosphere, the home of a dead magician at a deserted pier in Brighton providing a great setting for the piece. Doctor Who stories are, for the most part, built upon the strength of the foe at hand, but unfortunately the aliens possessing people in ‘Pier Pressure’ are quite dull and never really given much definition. These beings who feed off of emotion are built up by the Doctor as an apocalyptic threat, with most essential information being given in one lengthy dialogue-driven scene, but their defeat by a piece of wire undermines their credibility. The bigger issue, however, is that there just isn’t much natural buildup to the underwhelming denouement. Though there are some nice sentiments about the human spirit, the predictable sacrificial climax…

Thicker Than Water
Audio / May 2, 2016

Released September 2005 ‘Thicker than Water’ serves as a sequel to 2004’s ‘Arrangements for War,’ and though plot itself becomes somewhat incidental, it provides an utterly engrossing and emotionally fueled chronological finale for Evelyn Smythe, wonderfully rewarding listeners who have come to know and enjoy this fantastic companion. This is a monumental release for Big Finish, and the script takes full advantage of the fact that Evelyn’s eventual fate is still unknown until the end. The Sixth Doctor is traveling with Mel, at the outset of this story, Evelyn having previously decided to stay on Vilag and begin a life with Rossiter whom she has now married. Evelyn and the Doctor didn’t always have the easiest of relationships, and the script wisely takes the time to resolve many of their underlying issues as well as her heart condition. Surprisingly, it’s the cameo from the Seventh Doctor at the end of this tale that carries the most emotional weight when he tells her that at least a modicum of good has come from their travels together as his companion Hex is Cassie’s son, allowing her legacy to continue. Evelyn’s reaction is pitch perfect, and serves as a definitive closing moment on…