Review – Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon

The Dimension Cannon gives the character Rose Tyler her own series, in four audio dramas by Big Finish Productions. Billie Piper reprises her role as the first of The Doctor’s travelling companions in 21st century Doctor Who.

Shop girl turned sci-fi action hero Rose Tyler is consigned to a parallel universe with her mum, Jackie (Camille Coduri) and a parallel version of her dear departed dad, Pete (Shaun Dingwall). They’ve turned their attention to helping protect not only their world from extraordinary threats but also many other Earths. They’re following in the footsteps of Rose’s beloved Doctor: the charismatic, time-travelling space alien whose defence of Rose’s Earth left her separated from it – and him.

The Dimension Cannon offers Rose a chance to bring The Doctor back into the fight – and into her life again. For short periods of time the cannon allows her to visit other parallel universes that offer clues to the whereabouts of The Doctor. On her first trip she’s reunited with a parallel version of Clive, a conspiracy theorist who was murdered in Rose’s universe. Bark Benton reprises the role of Clive throughout the set and it’s good fun to have him back.

The four stories take us to four new parallel versions of London, where we’re introduced to startling alternate versions of the well-loved characters that head up this series. This collection of audios is not so much a spin-off from Doctor Who as it’s a spiritual follow-on from ‘Father’s Day,’ the episode that introduced us to the ‘original’ Pete Tyler and led us through dark times leading up to his death.

Chasing The Doctor inevitably means getting to know the locals in each different London and Rose finds she already knows many of them all too well. She gets personally involved in the lives of the people she meets, encountering Jackie, Pete and others in slightly different forms. It makes arriving in each universe a treat for the listener – and leaving each of them is tough all round.

Big Finish tie-in plays lure us into the audio realm by offering us characters and situations that are proven successes on television. They honour these successes with intriguing stories that at least equal their predecessors in quality. Rose’s story in Doctor Who has a lot of heart – and heartbreak. These new tales are equally engaging character pieces.

By presenting so many alternate versions of the original roles played by the cast, the normally-invisible work of the actors gets a bit of a peek into the limelight. I was properly immersed in and moved by the drama here but I also enjoyed listening for the subtle differences between the characters parallel to each other.

I’m very much opposed to more for more’s sake; I hate seeing delightful series run down by commercial supplements. You’ll find none of that here in Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon. This box set revisits the Tylers in a clever way that gives us more of what we’re counting on in ways that constantly surprise.

Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon is available now from Big Finish.

Review-Torchwood: The Hope

The Big Finish Torchwood range is always advertised with “This release contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners” never has that statement been truer, than with this release. One of the many things James Goss excels at, is bleak. After giving us all nightmares with Corpse Day. He’s back with The Hope.

Megwyn Jones is one of the most hated women in Britain. She used to run a home for troubled children in an isolated part of Snowdonia called The Hope. For a long time there were rumours about what was happening there, and then one day it was realised that the children had gone missing.

Ever since, Megwyn’s kept her peace. Is she innocent? Is she guilty? Where are the bodies?

An audio play about a convicted child-murderer is never going to be an easy listen. However, James Goss has carved something of a masterpiece here. This is an audio that definitely rewards repeat listening.

Burn Gorman and Tom Price had such brilliant chemistry, in Corpse Day that I’ve been waiting impatiently for a follow up, ever since. Their chemistry is still present and their scenes together are pure gold. Andy’s eternal optimism is a perfect foil for Owen’s eternal pessimism. They also get a chance to shine separately, in scenes that are up there with the most horrific in Torchwood’s history. Siân Phillips is mesmerising as Megwyn Jones, you instantly dislike Megwyn-but you’re also fascinated by her.

The Hope couldn’t be any further away in tone, than last month’s ‘Serenity’. But that’s what makes this series so great. I enjoyed Torchwood on TV. But Big Finish Torchwood, is Torchwood at its absolute best.

Review-Torchwood:Serenity

Serenity Plaza is the most exclusive gated community in South Wales.

Jack and Ianto have gone undercover as a happily married couple. There are rumours that something’s wrong at Serenity Plaza and they’re determined to investigate. But the problem is that Serenity Plaza is just so rigidly normal.

Suddenly, Jack and Ianto have to confront the problems that normal couples face. Sharing a house together, doing the washing up, entering the residents’ baking contest, and hoping to win the Best Kept Lawn.

Competition is fierce. Because this is Serenity Plaza. And you’d kill to live there.

Torchwood: Serenity is James Moran’s first Big Finish audio, so it’s fitting that it’s a sequel to his series 2 episode ‘Sleeper’ and this does what any good sequel should, it develops the threat originally presented and adds layers and complexities-all whilst playing to the strengths the medium of audio allows. Moran has crafted a continuation, that logically feels like the next step in the story.

Jack and Ianto’s relationship has always been popular with fans, so it’s great to have an outing featuring the pair. John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd are clearly having a lot of fun here. The script is full of innuendo, with GDL playing Ianto as a Stepford Wife-type. He even gets to turn his Welshness up to 11.

I laughed a lot and I laughed hard with this audio, this is one Torchwood fans won’t want to miss.

Big Finish review-Torchwood: Goodbye Piccadilly

Sgt Andy Davidson wakes up in the 1950s. He’s chained to a bed, his clothes are missing and the building’s on fire. Norton Folgate needs his help. The streets of Soho are swarming with gangsters, rumours and betrayals. Somewhere out there is a mysterious alien artefact, and Andy and Norton have to get to it first. Because tonight they’re going to save Torchwood.

I’ve been looking forward to another adventure with Andy and Norton, since last year’s Ghost Mission. There’s just something about this pairing that works so well.

Goodbye Piccadilly is absolutely gripping, from start to finish, the script is sensational. The direction is smooth, the sound design is flawless. Tom Price, Samuel Barnett and the supporting cast all give pitch-perfect performances.

What’s great about this audio, is that all of the London events-bar the alien invasion and the time travel, are real.

James Goss took his research for this story extremely seriously, he looked at books such as ‘hidden London’ for inspiration and it shows. The life drawing class, the police raids and, gay men being hosed down are all things that actually happened in the 1950’s.

Big Finish has once again proved that Torchwood Big Finish, is Torchwood at its best.

Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners.