Let’s be honest. None of us saw this coming. This time last year, we’d have thought the announcement was a cruel joke. It seemed so unlikely. But Sixteen years after his thirteen episode run reignited the Doctor Who franchise and brought it into the consciousness of a new generation. Christopher Eccleston is back and it’s about time.
The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Ravagers, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, is the first in a four-volume set of audio adventures.
I’ll admit, that I’ve struggled with this review. On one hand, Ravagers is an impressively ambitious set. Eccleston’s return is arguably the biggest coup Big Finish has achieved since Tom Baker returned in 2012. Billie Piper once said that when she was last in Doctor Who, she spent 3 hours looking in a mirror unable to find Rose. Eccleston doesn’t have that problem, he slips right back into character. It’s an utter joy to hear him back in the role that made me a Doctor Who fan. It’s like he’s never been away. The supporting cast is all outstanding, especially Camilla Beeput and Jayne McKenna as Nova and Audrey. Dan Starky puts in a fun performance as Marcus Aurelius Gallius. The music and sound design are flawless and match the pace of Briggs’ excellent direction. His love, passion and enthusiasm for this era of Doctor Who absolutely shines through. However, the biggest flaw is the plot. It’s a really decent 45-minute episode, stretched to 2hrs 30mins. On the bonus disc, Briggs talks about how he entered “several blind alleys” whilst trying to write this. What we end up with, is an amalgamation of various stories he couldn’t get off the ground and I think it shows.
We join the Ninth Doctor in the middle of an adventure and we work backwards, which I think is a risky move. Big Finish excels at non-linear storytelling, they do it a lot. But for many people, this would have been their gateway to the world of Doctor Who on audio. I consume a lot of Big Finish, (at least two full box sets a day) and even I, at times, struggled to keep up with the convoluted non-linear narrative. I found myself constantly rewinding a minute or two, just to see if I had missed something. At one point, I even thought I had started the wrong episode.
Overall, Ravagers is a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoyed the set, but I’d have prefered if they had gone with three individual stories. I’m excited for the future of this range.
Covid 19 has been an utter horror, but it has given Doctor Who fans content we wouldn’t have gotten without it. Not only did we get a Sarah Jane Smith finale written by Russell T Davies, we also got the news that Christopher Eccleston has signed up to Big Finish.
It also enabled Big Finish to bring forward their release of Out of time 1. This was recorded entirely in lockdown and only happened because the events of this year cleared out David Tennant’s insane schedule.
Out of Time is the first, in a trilogy of original audio adventures that sees the Tenth Doctor pit himself against his most iconic foes, with a former Doctor by his side. In this story he’s joined by The Fourth Doctor, played by the legendary Tom Baker.
Multi-Doctor stories are nothing new, but this is the first time these two incarnations have met and it’s absolutely joyous. There’s the standard bickering we get when two Doctors meet, however there’s more love and mutual respect between these two.
Writer Matt Fitton perfectly manages to balance the tonal difference between two entirely different eras of the show. Ten and Four bounce of each other spectacularly well. Both lead actors absolutely soar in their respective roles.
Howard Carter’s music perfectly compliments the drama, punctuating the actors performances. The supporting cast are all on top form and Nicholas Briggs takes on a dual role as actor and director, he does both with absolute vigour. This is clearly a passion project for all involved, a love letter to Doctor Who and its fans.
Out of time may well be the best multi-Doctor story yet. I can’t wait for the second and third instalments.
In which Martyn, Sam, and Chris talk about the 1967 episode of Doctor Who ‘The Moonbase’.
The Moonbase is the half-missing sixth serial of the fourth season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 11 February to 4 March 1967. The story features the return, and first redesign, of the Cybermen.
It was the fifth incomplete Doctor Who serial to be released with full-length animated reconstructions of its two missing episodes.
The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to;
We’re back after our summer break, Martyn is joined once again by Sam Michael and Chris Walker-Thomson, as the trio discuss the 1999 Doctor Who parody ‘The Curse of Fatal Death’.
Obvisouly, with this being the podcast it is. They don’t stick to the subject for long.
Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death is a Doctor Who special made for the Red Nose Day charity telethon in the United Kingdom, and was originally broadcast in four parts on BBC One on 12 March 1999 under the title Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death. Later home video releases are formatted as two parts and drop the “and” in the title. It follows in a long tradition of popular British television programmes producing short, light-hearted specials for such telethon events.
The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as-but not limited to;
It’s sometimes strange to think that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been off the air, longer than it was ever on. Yet it continues to capture the imagination of the original audience, as well as picking up a new generation of fans a long the way.
Buffy began life as film, then became TV series-launching a successful spin-off, Angel. There have been variations of Buffy comics over the years, but they mostly carried on the adventures seen on TV. Boom! Studios have bravely decided to reboot the entire story, it’s still the Scooby gang. But with subtle differences, they’re teenagers in 2019-Willow is more confident than she ever was in the show and she’s gay from the get go, Robin Wood is a teenager and not the school principal, Joyce has a boyfriend, Cordillera is nice, Drusilla isn’t crazy, Xander is a tad geekier and to an extent, so is Buffy.
There’s no big introduction to Giles, he’s just there. Willow and Xander meet Buffy in a very different way, all of which allows for less exposition.
Jordie Bellaire has successfully captured the uniqueness of Sunnydale, the personalities of the characters, the shorthand in which Buffy, Willow, and Xander speak to each other. All whilst crafting a new story. That’s no easy task.
If you’re a fan of the Buffy TV show, you’re sure to find this entertaining. It can however, take a while to forget everything you know about the series. I’ve read this twice, because my first read had me stopping every page saying “Well, that’s different”. But, Boom! Studios has hit the ground running, with this reboot. This first issue is exhilarating.
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.
One of the most interesting character’s in Doctor Who’s history is, Captain Jack Harkness. The con man-come immortal-time traveling adventurer, with a wink and a swagger.
Altough we got to see more of the character in Torchwood, I’d always wanted a Captain Jack spin-off. I wanted to know what happened after The Doctor and Rose left him. Finally, Big Finish have answered that question.
The Year After I Died by Guy Adams.
As the title suggests, this story takes place a year after ‘The Parting of the Ways’. We’re presented with a very different Jack, he’s tortued, trying to lead a quiet life, he’s living alone and has shun human contact. He’s also trying to figure out how he survived the Dalek attack and why The Doctor and Rose abandoned him.
His quiet life is turned upside down when a young reporter named Silo Crook (Shvorne Marks) comes investigating, he again finds himself tasked with saving humanity.
‘The Year After I Died’works extremely well as a direct sequel to ‘The Parting of Ways’. It builds on the story told in the series 1 finale, but doesn’t fall into to the sequel trap of telling the same story. As far as opening stories go, this is a great installment. John Barrowman shins in this, delivering the most subjude/reluctant version of captain Jack we’ve ever seen. This is a very well-written story, with great performances. I would like to see more set in this timeline.
Wednesday’s for Beginners by James Goss.
After reprising her role as Jackie Tyler for ‘The Ninth Doctor Chronicles’, Camille Codouri returns as everyone’s favourie mum.
The first 15 minutes focus on Jackie Tyler, as she pushes the story forward with monologue. We learn what happens when Rose is away and we experience the true pain and lonliness she feels, it’s heart breaking.
Soon after, she meets her “handsome American stalker” (Captain Jack) and the story really kicks into gear.
Jackie and Jack make a great duo, Barrowman and Coduri have chemistry to spare and clearly had a blast recording this. Fun and flirtacious inuendo are a bounded around and it’s an absolute joy to listen to.
Jackie’s feeling of isolation and loneliness really resonates and is perfectally juxtaposed with the adventure angle.
Deep down, this is a fun adventure that will have you howling with laughter.
One Enchanted Evening by James Goss.
This story takes place mere minutes after the Doctor leaves Jack in the bar in ‘The End of Time’.
It turns out the Tenth Doctor wasn’t just trying to get the pair laid, he had an ulterior motive.
Jack and Alonso are both in dark places, Jack had just murdered his grandson, Steven, to save man kind and obviously feels a lot of guilt. Alonso had just walked off the Titanic, a broken man. Feeling he should have been braver, more like The Doctor.
The pair bond over the course of an hour, as they work to save a spaceship from being destroyed. The villain is voiced by Katy Manning, whois camping it up no end and clearly having the time of her life.
Although the villain feels very generic, character wise this is the best in the box set. Captain Jack and Midshipman Frame both help each other exorcise their demons.
This is a character driven story, that allows both characters the redemption they feel they need.
Month 25 by Guy Adams.
This is the story we’ve spent 12 years waiting for. When we were first introduced to Captain Jack (12 years ago!) we learned he was a former time agent, with two years of his memory missing. Now, we’re finally getting some answers. We even learn his real name..
I’m a long time fan of Guy Adam’s work with Big Finish, but this could well be his best story. It’s gripping spy/conspiracy drama, that some how manages to be laugh out loud funny. This is well-written and well acted. Barrowman perfectly manages to speak the way we imagine a twenty-something Captain Jack would speak.
‘The Lives of Captain Jack’ is a remarkable set, which I highly recommend. John Barrowman delivers some absolutely stunning performances.
James Goss and Guy Adams have managed to take such a well-known character and find new ways to make him to grow and mature, as well as answering questions fans have had for well over a decade.
It’s a must have box set, let’s hope this becomes an annual release. Maybe Jack could even meet a certain Professor Song…
Your opinion on John Wick: Chapter 2, will depend entirely on what you enjoyed about the original.
If you loved the simplistic nature of the storyline, then you may be a little disappointed with this outing. However, if you loved the world building that took place in the first movie. I think you’ll love this.
The first film can be explained in a lift, one week after his wife dies of cancer, a retired hit man is randomly targeted by the son of Russian gangster-which results in the death of John Wick’s dog and the theft of his vintage mustang. Grief-stricken and angry, he seeks revenge.
John Wick: Chapter 2, is a little harder to summarise, it’s essentially a film of four parts.
Part one picks up a few days after the events of John Wick. Wick is clearing up his unfinished business with the Russian mob. He wants his beloved 1969 Mustang returned to him. He faces off against Peter Stormare, as the brother of Viggo (the mob boss from the first film).
Part two: The next morning Wick is visited by Italian mobster, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who presents him with a “marker” from a previous debt. His mission is to assassinate D’Antonio’s sister.
Part three: The sister is protected by probably the only man who could be considered John Wick’s equal, Cassian (Common).
Part four: After completing his mission, Wick is double-crossed by D’Antonio; who puts out a contract on him, worth $7 million. He’s now targeted by Cassian and every other assassin in New York.
Winston (Ian McShane) has a bigger role, as the operator of “The Continental” a luxury hotel that is a safe haven for people who would otherwise be killing.
Reeves and Common both have a burning commitment to their roles. The martial arts choreography is a sight to behold. They also share a number of incredibly humorous scenes, one of which involves both men discreetly trying to shoot each other, with silencers across a busy New York subway station.
Everyone involved in the film gets how absurd it is. But they fully commit and take it seriously. Many of the people involved in this project, also worked on The Matrix and that visual style and chorography shows. The audience is encouraged to laugh at its excesses.
It does what any decent sequel should, it justifies its reason for being and, expands on the established mythology.
It plays to Reeves’ strengths. He may be an actor of limited range, but when you need a moody good-looking action hero, there’s few better.
Forget Neo, forget Ted. Keanu Reeves will forever and always be John Wick.
John Wick:Chapter Two is out in the UK 17th February 2017.
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