Review-The Diary of River Song 4

After adventures with the eighth, seventh and sixth Doctors. River Song finally meets with the legendary Fourth Doctor, in The Diary of River Song Series 4.

When River Song visits a place where time has vanished, a genie escapes its bottle… the Discordia are freed – nihilistic time pirates, in devilish form, altering the past to make sure they never lose.

Emma Reeves and Matt Fitton’s Time in a bottle, has a fascinating story idea. There’s a place in space with no time. That’s such an interesting concept for a story. However, I can’t help but feel this story is wasted in a box set format. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s a strong concept, with great writing and a superb cast, with writers at the very top of their game. I just feel the time constraints of a boxset limit the stories true potential.

This would’ve made a very interesting four-part story in its own right.

Regardless, it’s a solid introductory adventure that sets up the premise and introduces the main villain. It also takes the interesting angle. It feels like a good old fashioned pulp adventure. James Bond-esque in places. It pits River against her intellectual rival and shows her at her most Doctor-like state.

7/10

‘Kings of Infinite Space’ may not have the most original plot, but it is very entertaining and rewards repeat listening. It’s easily the strongest of the set. It’s well paced, paradoxical and fun. Alex Kingston and the rest of the cast are on top form. It feels like a Moffat era Doctor Who story. There’s action, humour, with a great use of the vortex manipulator and the locations that time travel opens up. It’s everything you could want from a River Song audio.

8/10

‘Whodunnit’ is an oddity in this boxset. Now, that isn’t me saying it’s bad. Far from it. The concept is interesting, with some thought-provoking philosophical discussions, the characters are three-dimensional and it’s well paced. However, it just doesn’t fit this box set. Like time in a bottle, this would’ve made a great main range story. Given more time to fully explore the premise, this could’ve been great. But I felt it interrupted the flow of the story ark.

That said, it’s an interesting listen with a fun take on the cliches of murder mysteries.

7/10

Someone I once knew, is the big one. The season finale, the one fans are excited for and it delivers. John Dorney brilliantly subverts expectation and puts an interesting spin on the River/Doctor dynamic.

Tom Baker and Alex Kingston have an instant rapport and a naturally brilliant chemistry. I would welcome future stories with this duo. Their chemistry is so natural, it’s difficult to believe they only met on the day of recording.

7/10.

Series four of ‘The Diary of River Song’ perfectly meshes the unique styles of the Steven Moffat era and Big Finish originality.

Not every story works completely and suffers from what most prequels do. Giving River companions is always going to be tricky, as we’ve never encountered or heard mention of them in the main show, you know they’re a goner the second they’re introduced.

At times the fourth Doctor feels more like a plot device, than an active companion. But this set is an absolute joy to listen to and has left me excited for series 5.

Written By: Emma Reeves, Matt Fitton, Donald McLeary, John Dorney

Directed By: Ken Bentley

Cast:

Alex Kingston (River Song), Tom Baker (The Doctor), Adele Lynch (Gammarae), Fenella Woolgar (Professor Jemima Still / Formidian Queen), Josh Bolt (Spod), George Asprey (Melak), Nicholas Asbury (Dante), Ewan Bailey (Human / Alien / Robot Voices), Tim Bentinck (Franz Kafka / Samsa), Alex Tregear (Miss Vermillion / Vermillion), Christopher Naylor (Lord Simon Whist / Captain Bartholomew / Discordia Underling), Shvorne Marks (Cissy / Thelma Sketch), Nigel Anthony (Rakkezar / Drayl), Nathalie Buscombe (Garen / Galerayna). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer David Richardson

Script Editors Matt Fitton, John Dorney

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs.

Missy to get her own audio series

Big Finish announced today that Missy will be getting her own audio range.

Michelle Gomez, who played the Doctor’s best friend and wicked enemy, Missy will be reprising her role in some brand new audio adventures from Big Finish Productions made in arrangement with BBC Studios.

Throughout her time on Doctor Who, Missy – an evil incarnation in the guise of a Victorian nanny – was a delightful devil, at one point sentenced to death for terrible crimes against the universe. And now we get the chance to hear more of what she is really capable of.

These new adventures see an unleashed Missy bringing the universe to wrack and ruin. We can’t wait for its release in February 2019!

Michelle Gomez told us about letting Missy loose on the people of the universe:

“I was very excited to return to Missy’s world via the medium of audio because along the way I’ve always had a lot of fun with Missy; her voices and her rhythms. I absolutely love capturing it and distilling it down to the word on the page.

I’m absolutely delighted! She’s such a ridiculously brilliant character, and hopefully that earns her that moment in the spotlight. To find myself centre stage with these Missy adventures is thrilling – I’m very grateful.”

And (whilst evading the Doctor’s clutches) Missy will encounter another enemy of her ‘boyfriend’ as she crosses paths with the Meddling Monk played by Rufus Hound.

David Richardson, producer of these adventures added:

“Missy’s own series is just like the Time Lady herself – anarchic, funny, unpredictable and wildly imaginative. It’s absolutely glorious to have Michelle returning to the character at Big Finish, and our recording days have been filled with so much laughter.

And we haven’t even met face to face yet! Michelle’s busy filming the new Sabrina series in Vancouver for Netflix and so we’ve been pairing studios down the line; Michelle thousands of miles away while we’re in London synched up with her. It’s been a joy to make. And just wait until you hear the collaboration of Missy and the Meddling Monk!”

Missy is available for pre-order now ahead of its release in February 2019 at £23 on CD or £20 on download from www.bigfinish.com and will remain at this price until general release when it will be available for £35 on CD or £30 on download.

Sheridan Smith returning to Big Finish!

After last weeks Twitter tease, Big Finish has confirmed that Sheridan Smith will be reprising her role, as Lucie Miller in four new adventures with the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) in an exciting new box-set, due for release next year.

Lucie started her journey with the Eighth Doctor back in 2007 and was an instant hit with fans.  She went on to feature in three more series alongside Paul McGann, until she left in 2011. Fans have been demanding she come back, ever since.

Big Finish executive producer, Nicholas Briggs said:

We’ve always had it in mind to bring back Lucie, we only let her go in the first place because we could see Sheridan’s stratospheric career path approaching.But thanks to Big Finish producer Ian Atkins, we discovered that Sheridan was really keen to return. And so, script editor Alan Barnes (who created Lucie in the first place), producer Scott Handcock and I started devising The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller.”

Lucie Miller’s further adventures are:

The Dalek Trap by Nicholas Briggs
The Revolution Game by Alice Cavender
The House on the Edge of Chaos by Eddie Robson
Island of the Fendahl by Alan Barnes

The Further Adventures of Lucie Miller, which includes four adventures and a disc of extended extras, will also be released in July 2019 and can be pre-ordered now for £25 on CD or £20 on download, only available from Big Finish.

Price: £9.99

Big Finish review-The Siege of Big Ben

Jackie Tyler has everything she’s ever wanted: a loving husband and two children. But a terrible, far-reaching plan is underway, and only Jackie and a single friend stand in the way of it.

But the Doctor isn’t the man he was…

The Siege of Big Ben is a highly anticipated release. Ever since we left the Tylers and the meta-crisis tenth Doctor at the end of series 4, (10 years ago!) fans have wondered what happened next. Thankfully, Big Finish has given us some answers with this release.

This can’t have been an easy thing to write. Not only did Joe Lidster have to tell a gripping story that lives up to the fans expectations. He had to re-introduce us to the parallel Earth, or “Pete’s world”.

A base under siege scenario is a stablemate for Doctor Who. But Lidster manages to beautifully subvert what could be a repetitive format and turn it into a glorious character piece.

The script draws parallels between The Doctor being more human, and the human, being more like The Doctor we know and love. Having Jackie be the most Doctor-like character in the story adds an interesting dynamic.

The script is sharp, the direction is smooth and David Roocroft’s sound design is inspired. All in all, The Siege of Big Ben is a story about love, loss and the difficulties that come with moving on. You feel all of these things whilst listening. Camille Coduri oozes charm and instantly reminds you, why we all love Jackie Tyler.

This world is waiting for further exploration and I hope, this leads to some full-cast adventures.

10/10.

The Siege of Big Ben can be purchased here.

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.

REVIEW: BIG FINISH: JENNY — THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER

She’s got planets to save, civilisations to rescue, creatures to defeat… and an awful lot of running to do!

It’s difficult to believe the character of Jenny debuted in Doctor Who 10 years ago. Since then fans have wondered whatever happened to The Doctor’s daughter?

The character was rife for further exploration and it’s amazing the BBC never thought to bring her back.

Thankfully, we have Big Finish. They’ve taken the character and given her a range of her own.

The scripts are sharp, funny and perfectly honed. A lot of work and love has clearly gone into this box set. The stories are kinetic and full of real world allegories; which in lesser hands could’ve come across as clunky.

Georgia Tennant and Sean Biggerstaff have an instant chemistry as Jenny and Noah. A personal highlight, is the fact that they allow Jenny to be fun. She makes jokes, which work well and relives tension in scenes. The mystery surrounding Noah is intriguing and you finish the audios with even more questions about him.

Big Finish have done it again. The Doctor’s daughter is fantastic, a breath of fresh air. The theme music is epic. familiar but different. It perfectly encapsulates the Doctor’s nature in Jenny. The stories and the cast are engaging. The sound design is flawless.

Jenny-The Doctor’s daughter is firing on all cylinders. A perfect synergy between cast and crew. I’m practically begging for series 2.

Written By: Matt Fitton, John Dorney, Christian Brassington, Adrian Poynton

Directed By: Barnaby Edwards

Cast

Georgia Tennant (Jenny), Sean Biggerstaff (Noah), Siân Phillips (COLT-5000), Stuart Milligan (Garundel), Sarah Woodward (Vesh Taralesh), Clare Corbett (Lukaku), Arabella Weir (Angie Glazebrook), Silas Carson (Ood Leader), Rosalyn Landor (Vanessa Elledge), Olivia Darnley (Emily Cole), John Dorney (John Macguire), Pik-Sen Lim (Old Woman), Arina II (Shoon-Wei), Sara Houghton (Alitta), Paul Courtenay Hyu (Po), Adèle Anderson (Dreyda), Anthony Calf (Cal). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Producer: David Richardson
Associate Producer:Georgia Tennant
Script Editor:John Dorney, Matt Fitton
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Big Finish review-Torchwood: We always get out alive

Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams are on the run from a cataclysm. They’re the only survivors, and they’re driving away from the disaster as fast as they can. They’ve got to get away, they’ve got to warn the authorities, and they just can’t be late for the babysitter again.

Dim problem. After all, they’re Torchwood and they always get out alive. But this time there’s something in the car with them. Isn’t there?

This is actually a difficult audio to review, it’s an absolute joy to listen to. But, I really don’t want to reveal too much about the storyline.

We always get out alive, is another example of perfect synergy between writer and director.

Guy Adams and Scott Handcock have crafted an imaginative story, which in lesser hands could’ve been very boring. 98% of it is just Rhys and Gwen sitting in a car, but it’s gripping and epic-but at the same time keeping it a small, intimate story.

This is strong character driven piece, in which we get to know more about Gwen and Rhys’ family life.

Guy Adams truly delivers here, he uses the natural chemistry between Eve Myles and Kai Owen, the constrictive nature of being in a car and, the medium of audio, to the stories full advantage.

Once more the monthly Torchwood range delivers, this is a must-listen.

10/10.

Big Finish Review-Torchwood:Believe

The Church of the Outsiders believe that mankind is about to evolve, to reach out into the stars. Owen Harper believes that Torchwood has to do whatever it takes to stop them.

Ever since Big Finish obtained the licence to Torchwood, fans have wanted the original team in a full-cast audio and now, we have it. Sort of.

The full team are indeed back together, However the actors recorded their parts separately. For instance, John Barrowman lives in Palm Springs, California, so he recorded his side in America.

But, you can’t tell. It’s flawless. Your ears and your brains will fully believe the team are united and, it’s joyous.

Set someone before the end of series 2; Guy Adams perfectly manages to encapsulate that era. There were moments where I believed I was listening to a previously unreleased episode from 2008.

John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori and Gareth David-Lloyd all shine here. Each character gets a decent amount of time to develop, but I think my personal highlight is the Owen/Tosh relationship. Owen makes Tosh do unspeakable things, all whilst trying to prove he can lead a mission.

Prequel stories are notoriously difficult, there can’t be anything in the way of peril, for the original characters-we know their fate and, anyone new is likely to die, as they’re never mentioned in the main series.

However, such is the quality Guy Adams’ script and the performance of Gareth David-Lloyd, there was one moment in particular when I was genuinely concerned for Ianto.

2018 is shaping up to be a great year for Torchwood on audio. 10/10.

Written By: Guy Adams

Directed By: Scott Handcock

Cast

John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Burn Gorman (Owen Harper), Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato), Mac McDonald (Steve Ross), Lois Meleri Jones (Andromeda), Mali Harries (Val Ross), Arthur Darvill (Frank Layton), Rhian Blundell (Erin), Chris Rankin (Val’s Assistant), Lloyd Meredith (Davey Russell), Jennifer Sims (Grey), Aled ap Steffan (Grey). Other parts played by members of the cast.

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

Producer James Goss

Script Editor Steve Tribe

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Price: £19.48
Was: £30.00

REVIEW:BIG FINISH-Torchwood-The Last Beacon

In Torchwood: The Last Beacon. A signal in a Welsh mountain is calling an ancient battlefleet to Earth. Owen Harper and Ianto Jones head up into the Brecons to stop it.

This story is lighter in tone, than most of the Torchwood stories, in the Big Finnish range. It’s also probably the funniest. This is a buddy comedy. The pairing of Owen and Ianto is an inspired idea. The story pits them against each other, they’re in a small Welsh community-Ianto is in his element. These are his people, whilst Owen is a fish out of water, the locals take an instant distrust to him. Having Owen on the ropes, allows for some deeper character exploration for this mis-matched pair.

Torchwood on Big Finish, is Torchwood at its best and The Last Beacon is quintessentially Big Finish Torchwood.

This is a fun story, which further develops the relationship of its leads. It’s difficult to believe this is Gareth David-Lloyd’s first foray into writing an audio play, the story flows like it’s written by a seasoned pro. Let’s hope he writes another. Highly recommended.