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.

Episode 204: Shaft (2019)

Martyn and Gerrod only had 15mins spare when they recorded this, so here is a very brief review of Shaft (2019).

John Shaft Jr. may be an FBI cyber security expert, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education that only his dad can provide. Absent throughout his childhood, the legendary John Shaft agrees to help his son navigate the heroin-infested underbelly of Harlem, N.Y. Besides, the locked and loaded Shaft has his own score to settle — both professional and personal.

The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as-but not limited to;

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Review-Stan & Ollie

I adore Laurel and Hardy, I remember the first time I discovered them-age 10, in 1992. I was captivated, I would memorise scenes and try to get my friends to act them out with me. It’s clear that the team behind “Stan & Ollie” love them even more.

The film opens in 1937 with Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) making the classic ‘Way our west’. The duo are at the height of their careers. They’re popular, happy and enjoying a good-natured chat about alimony, filming schedules and attending a party with Clark Gable.

We then flash forward 15 years with the pair reuniting after a creative break-up, hoping to use a series of live performances to generate interest in a film they want to make.

The tour doesn’t get off to a good start, they’re staying in a second-rate hotel, whilst the youngster on reception tells them how much her mum loves them, highlighting their fall from grace. The audiences is sparse and their tour manager is more interested in promoting Norman Wisdom.

Steve Coogan and John C Reilly both put in tremendous performances in this ambitious film.

Coogan has Laurel’s mannerisms down to a T, he even sounds like him. Switching between an American accent when filming and a transatlantic accent when not (Stan Laurel was originally from Yorkshire). Reilly brings a light touch to Oliver Hardy and captivates in every scene. Watching the two of them re-enact classic sketches is an absolute joy to see.

Nina Arianda and Shirley Henderson star as Laurel’s and Hardy’s wives-respectively. They hold their own throughout and are portrayed as equal partners, as well as the most important people in either man’s life.

Stan & Ollie is a wonderfully sweet film, a proper love letter to true Hollywood icons. See it on the big screen.

Stan & Ollie will be in cinemas, 11 January 2019.

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

Episode 160:The Blair Witch Project

Gerrod and Martyn sit down to discuss the 1999 horror movie, The Blair Witch Project.

The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 supernatural horror film written, directed and edited by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez.

It tells the fictional story of three student filmmakers—Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard—who hike in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The three disappeared, but their equipment and footage is discovered a year later. The purportedly “recovered footage” is the film the viewer sees.

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Doctor Who: The Churchill Years

Reprising his performances during Matt Smith’s era of Doctor Who, Ian McNiece is back as Winston Churchill. Big Finish’s new box set departs from their well-honed format of unmediated aural adventures, with McNiece narrating as well as performing in each episode. The narration does cover a few bits that I felt it shouldn’t, notably an action sequence in the first story and the introduction of a famous historical figure in the third. I mention this to balance what I think has been a refreshing experience and a success overall.

Churchill’s narration includes recounting the words and actions of the first three new series Doctors. This has the brilliant effect of bringing the Christopher Eccleston Doctor to Big Finish, complete with the Ninth Doctor signature tune. As The Doctor changes, the title music changes. Across the stories one can spot the different speech patterns of each Doctor, even as related (and occasionally imitated) by McNiece.

There’s still plenty of full-cast audio action aboard, moved along nicely by the ‘companions’ of Churchill. As his new secretary, Hetty Warner (Emily Atack) leads many scenes apart from Winston and works well with both her employer and The Doctor. Kazran Sardick (Danny Horn) returns from Dr Who’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and provides good contrast to the 20th century way in which Churchill reacts to being dropped into Roman Britain. In the final piece, another supporting artist from a Matt Smith Christmas special returns, Holly Earl As Lily Arwell. She looks after Winston at a particularly action-packed point in his twilight years.

The first story is the most conventional, with an alien object dropped into wartime Britain. The second shatters that mould as we find Churchill’s Black Dog – his controversial mental issues – woven into the story. In the third, Winston lives amid the subjects of his own historical books and the statesman’s fascination for butterflies is rolled rather surprisingly into the fourth adventure. Additionally, there’s a nice bit of Nick Briggs’ Dalek voice work in this set.

Doctor Who: The Churchill Years brought a delightful, fictionalised Sir Winston into my home over a couple of winter evenings. So pleasant was it that I might just sit down with Churchill’s own writing for just a bit more time with this true-life legend from long ago.

Big Finish review-The Yes Men

The Yes Men is the first in a new four part series of full cast audio stories called ‘Early Adventures’. These adventures are focusing on the second Doctor and his various different companions.

Fan favourite Frazer Hines reprises his role as Jamie and also plays The Second Doctor. Anneke Wills acts as narrator as well as reprises her role as Polly.
As Michael Craze sadly passed away in the late nineties, the role of Ben Jackson has been recast with Elliot Chapman.

The story starts with the Doctor wanting to visit his old friend Meg Carvossa, on the Earth colony of New Houston. Shortly after arriving, team TARDIS find that Meg has died in a mysterious way. That’s not the only problem, the helper robots have started acting a bit shifty.

What follows is a suspenseful tale of suspicion and death.

I know a lot of hardcore fans are unhappy with the recasting of pivotal roles, I am not one of them. I want Early era Big Finish stories and this is the only way we’re going to get them.

Elliot Chapman is phenomenal as Ben. It’s as if Michael Craze never left us, Chapman plays the role with the upmost respect for Craze, yet he also manages to make the role his own. The result is mesmerising.
I’m a huge fan of Frazer Hines, so I hate to type this. But, I don’t rate his turn as The Second Doctor. He can do a really decent impression of Patrick Troughton but that doesn’t really work for a 2hr audio play.
Other than that, everything else is up to the high standards we’ve come to expect from Big Finish. The script is solid, the direction is flawless and the music adds to the atmosphere. Stephen Critchlow is excellent as the mono toned Yes Men.

I look forward to hearing what the next set of Early Adventures brings us, but I’m especially intrigued to see what Elliot Chapman does with Ben Jackson.

Episode 82:Sweeney Dredd

In which Martyn gets drunk and he and Gerrod discuss the 2012 films, The Sweeney and Dredd.

This is a raw, unedited discussion by two drunk people. Enjoy. Play along at home, by listening out for Gerrod’s ghost and our secret word ‘mouse’.

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Direct Download

Episode 69: The Dark Knight trilogy

In which Martyn and Ash are joined by Martyn’s friend, Chris. The trio are joined by Phil from the who’s he podcast.

They discuss Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

The show can be accessed via different places, including Miro, Stiticher, Blubrry and Itunes.

Check out one of Ash’s other podcast Hammered Horror

Episode 66: Shaun of the Dead

In which Martyn and Gerrod attempt to review Shaun Of The Dead.

WARNING: without Pete or Ash this episode turns filthy, fast.

The show can be accessed via different places, including Miro, Stiticher, Blubrry and Itunes.

Follow the Bad Wilf team:

Martyn – @BadWilf

Pete – @BeeblePete

Gerrod – @ingerrodsmind

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