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     DWM #380: The Bonus CD  View Printable Version  
     Author:  DarthSkeptical
     Dated:  Tuesday, March 13 2007 @ 06:40 AM EDT
     Viewed:  1,924 times  
    DW ReviewsWIth issue #380 of Doctor Who Magazine comes a free CD. In the past, these have mostly been short full-cast adventures. This time around, it's mostly a promotional affair. Each of the recent Radio 7 dramas is previewed, along with the latest adventures from eac of the Doctors' CD line.

    Such blatant advertising would be disappointing, were it not for the fact that the disc also includes four nifty little conversations between the Big Finish Doctors and newly-installed producer, Nick Briggs.

    Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and even the usually interview-shy Paul McGann all took time from Summer 2006 recording sessions at BF to have a chat with Briggs. All told, the disc includes about 40 minutes of fresh interviews with the classic Doctors.

    Now to be sure, I don't think the CD justifies picking up the latest issue of DWM on its own. But as a bonus, this "informally newsy" approach to the bonus CD does directly extend the value of DWM. At the same time that the magazine is giving the latest news about TV's series 3, these interviews remind us that Doctors 5-8 are still currently relevant to Doctor Who.

    (continues below)

    read more (129 words) 3 comments
    Most Recent Post: 03/21 05:48AM by DarthSkeptical

     "The Sontaran Experiment" on DVD  View Printable Version  
     Author:  DarthSkeptical
     Dated:  Saturday, March 10 2007 @ 12:23 AM EST
     Viewed:  1,094 times  
    DW ReviewsSomewhat obscured by the release of the newly complete Pat Troughton serial, "The Invasion", the so-called "vanilla" release of "The Sontaran Experiment" has received little attention from fans wowed by "Invasion"'s black-and-white animation.

    Nevertheless, "Sontaran" is hardly an also-ran. It features not only a great story that's the same length as an RTD episode, but a cracking good commentary between co-writer Bob Baker, producer Phillip HInchcliffe and actress Elizabeth Sladen. As the commentary reminds us, "Sontaran", and not "Ark in Space" or "Robot", actually opened the Hinchcliffe era on Doctor Who. It also showcased the first "returning villain" in Tom Baker's era.

    On top of all that, it was, like Barry Letts' first story, a technical innovation. Where Letts' "Spearhead from Space" had been the first all-film serial, this was the first to be shot entirely on location.

    Consequently, the commentary bubbles over with all sorts of interesting tidbits, both technical and personal, which quite transformed the overall importance of the story for me. While I'd always liked the story, I'd never thought of it as a milestone of any sort until this DVD release.

    The DVD also includes a documentary on the Sontarans which runs longer than either of the two included episodes.

    Considering that "classic vanillas" now have a lower price point, "The Sontaran Experiment" delivers surprising value for money.

    Most Recent Post: 03/11 10:10PM by DarthSkeptical

     The Return of the Brigadier  View Printable Version  
     Author:  DarthSkeptical
     Dated:  Thursday, March 01 2007 @ 05:49 AM EST
     Viewed:  1,121 times  
    DW ReviewsIf you're not a regular subscriber to Doctor Who Magazine, but you are a fan of the classic program, you may wish to seek out issues #378-380 for a reason you may not expect: the comic strip.

    In the first "Roseless" adventure since her debut in issue #355, the part of the companion is played by none other than Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (retired).

    It marks the first encounter between an RTD-era Doctor and the Brigadier. It's only the second time that an RTD Doctor has encountered a past companion.

    Filled with lots of neat continuity touches, and some damned good characterizations, the story portrays the Tenth Doctor's relationship with the Brigadier as quite multilayered one. By turns exhuberent and somber, the Tenth Doctor here relates to the Brigadier much more as a military man than he ever has.

    Despite having the ability to draw the Brigadier from any point in his long career, this version of the Brigadier is roughly Nicholas Courtney's current age. Thus, for the Brigadier, the adventure definitely happens sometime after his last appearance in "Battlefield", and possibly after the Big Finish Eighth Doctor story, "Minuet in Hell".

    This makes the Brig probably the oldest companion the Doctor has ever had in a story, and the writers don't miss the opportunity to have some fun with the idea. Far more than simple age gags, though, the Brig's age has a character point--somewhat akin to Kirk's age issues in The Wrath of Khan.

    While the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip has been, at its worst, little more than an afterthought in the history of Doctor Who tie-ins, "The Warkeepers Crown" continues the recent tradition of providing high quality, series-relevant fiction.

    The concluding part of "Crown" goes on sale March 1 in the UK.

    Most Recent Post: 03/01 10:50PM by Louis

     Big Finish 091 - Circular Time  View Printable Version  
     Author:  DarthSkeptical
     Dated:  Wednesday, January 31 2007 @ 02:44 PM EST
     Viewed:  2,731 times  
    DW ReviewsPeter Davison as the 5th Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.
    In a format departure, the opening release of 2007 sees the 5th Doctor and Nyssa in four one-part adventures instead of one adventure in four parts. While the stories could be heard individually, they all do revolve around a common theme, much as the Big Finish series of Side Trips books have.

    The change is such a refreshing one, one wonders why Big Finish have waited so long to test the format in their audio range. Forced to focus their story ideas into 30 minute blocks, writers Paul Cornell and Mike Maddox give us what is the most satisfying release from the Fifth Doctor line since the Big Finish productions began. It may even be the best Big Finish Doctor Who ever.

    Like many classic televised stories, the four episode audio format does often lead to padding around the last half of episode three. Those doldrums are neatly avoided here, simply by virtue of the format switch. Yet, Cornell and Maddox somehow seem to avoid the trap of inconsequence. Not only is there much of substance here, but the stories are so relevant that one is awfully tempted to immediately add them to one's idea of personal canon.

    (continues below)

     Big Finish V – Return Of The Daleks (Big Finish Subscriber Bonus Play)  View Printable Version  
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 01:01 AM EST
     Viewed:  2,283 times  
    DW Reviews Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor. Gareth Thomas as Karlendorf and Sarah Mowat as Susan Mendes

    I have to say right off the bat that this story was a terrible disappointment.

    Written and acted in by Nicholas Briggs it adds some colour to the Dalek Empire series. I have heard some criticism of the Dalek Empire plays which I have always felt unjustified. They were good stories which were well acted by some very credible actors (David Tennant) but the biggest problem for me when I was listening was the absence of their nemesis. The Daleks conquer the galaxy and the Doctor was not mentioned once?

    Gareth Thomas and Sarah Mowat return to reprise their roles as Kalendorf and Susan Mendes to good effect and the play appears to be set early to midway through the Dalek Empire series. One of the things that puzzled me in that series was the slow meltdown of the Karlendorf – Mendes relationship and to some extent this play provides some insight into the breakdown of that relationship. The play bridges the gap betwixt the Doctor Who series and the Dalek Empire series falling more to being a lost Dalek Empire series than the former.

    That having been said; the origins of this story are definitely Doctor Who. The play is a continuation of the 3rd Doctor story “Planet of the Daleks.” In that story the Daleks occupied the planet Spiridon and studied the occupants to discover the secret of their genetic invisibility so they could use it for themselves. The 3rd Doctor learned of their plans and also discovered an invasion force in a huge underground cavern. The 3rd Doctor caused the invasion force to be buried under molten ice before escaping.

    (continues below)

    read more (273 words) 3 comments
    Most Recent Post: 01/14 04:12PM by tarashnat

     Big Finish 090 – The Year of the Pig  View Printable Version  
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 12:53 AM EST
     Viewed:  2,060 times  
    DW Reviews Colin Baker as the 6th Doctor with Nicola Bryant as Peri

    In some ways this is entirely appropriate title for the last play of 2006.

    The Doctor and Peri during a “reading week” discover “Toby the Sapient Pig.” The concept of Toby was inspired by the scenes in Aliens of London where the Slitheen used a pig to confuse the authorities and I have to say that this play has had the same effect upon me. Whilst I admire the idea in the writers mind’ on listening to the play I could only find one question: Why? I think that the idea may have been farce or just outright comedy but whatever it was, it was totally lost on me. Other than that I really don’t have that much to say. Colin baker and Nicola Bryant play their parts adequately without stretching themselves as do the remainder of the cast and script. I honestly cannot find much to recommend this play.

    As I said above in some ways this has been a pig of a year for Big Finish listeners. Whilst there have been some high points (The Reaping: The Settling Time Works) Big Finish seems to have got itself into a rut.

    The Eighth Doctor seems to either continually visit prisons like some bizarre time travelling outreach worker or trap others in his mind like a psychic game show host.

    (continues below)

    read more (262 words) 4 comments
    Most Recent Post: 03/26 05:22PM by tarashnat

     Big Finish 089 – No Man's Land  View Printable Version  
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 12:47 AM EST
     Viewed:  1,609 times  
    DW Reviews Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor with Sophie Aldred as Ace and Phillip Oliver as Hex.

    I could almost cut copy and paste my review for The Settling (BF – 082) and call it “done” here.

    The 7th Doctor together with companions Ace and Hex materialize once again in a war zone.This time the year is 1917 and the war is “The Great War” or sometimes known (incorrectly) as World War I.

    The story is prefaced with the information that the Doctor has materialized in a live battlefield and along with his companions was rendered unconscious and imprisoned by the British army. Upon regaining consciousness the trio learns that they were expected and shortly thereafter receive orders to investigate a murder that won’t be committed for another 24 hours.

    This Doctor particularly enjoys a mystery and immediately begins to investigate quickly discovering that they have been taken to a battlefield hospital which not only treats the wounded but has an interesting sideline in brainwashing the patients to mould them into more efficient killers. As has become par for the course with this incarnation of the Doctor one of the companions is tortured.

    (continues below)

    read more (259 words) 2 comments
    Most Recent Post: 01/14 02:15PM by BadWolf

     Big Finish 088 – Memory Lane  View Printable Version  
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Saturday, December 30 2006 @ 12:27 AM EST
     Viewed:  1,076 times  
    DW Reviews Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor with India Fisher as Charley and Conrad Westmaas as C'Rizz

    What an unfortunate title for this Big Finish play. A very short trip down memory lane finds that only a short five Big Finish stories and one Eighth Doctor story previously this doctor materialised the Tardis inside a prison. I'll bet that you can't guess where he is for this play?

    Whereas Something Inside (BF – 083) was a very dark story for this incarnation of the Doctor, Memory Lane is much lighter and (dare I say it) almost fun.

    The Doctor Charley and C’rizz land in the living room of a house that appears to be English suburbia in all of its mind numbing uniformity; except that in this case every house is actually identical.

    Once the Doctor and his companions step outside for an ice cream they realise that they have not only lost the Tardis but also the house where it materialised. After knocking on several doors they learn that not only are the houses identical but so are their owners.

    (continues below)

    read more (266 words) 3 comments
    Most Recent Post: 02/04 08:56AM by DarthSkeptical

     Big Finish 87 – The Gathering  View Printable Version  
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Sunday, October 08 2006 @ 11:20 PM EDT
     Viewed:  1,933 times  
    DW Reviews Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor with the return of Janet Fielding as Tegan.

    The much vaunted second part of Big Finish’s "Cyber – duology" arrived hard on the heels of "The Reaping" and was always going to have its work cut out for it. The Reaping was one of the best Doctor Who stories to come from the Big Finish stable in some months. It had twists and turns; a Cyberman, a wonderful plot and arguably the best actor to make the most of the script.

    The Gathering seemed to have everything going for it: The return of Janet Fielding as Tegan; the same writer and another cyber story. Unfortunately these were the very things that made this story so disappointing.

    The Gathering was a bit like waiting impatiently for that second album from Van Halen.

    It is not a bad story and could just about stand alone but as the second part of a highly anticipated story the listener is left to wonder about what might have been.

    (Continues below)

     Big Finish 086 – The Reaping:  View Printable Version  
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Saturday, September 23 2006 @ 01:04 AM EDT
     Viewed:  1,860 times  
    DW Reviews Colin Baker as the 6th Doctor with Nicola Bryant as Peri

    Firstly I would like to extend my thanks to Big Finish for waiting until they had a two issue month and then sending me a note with the first to say that my subscription had ended. It is nice to see that the idea of customer service is still dead in my home country!

    The Reaping seems to be part one of a two story special (seems to be because without hearing the next issue....) with both the 5th and 6th Doctors. What I can tell you is that when listening I thought that the episodes seemed to be longer than usual and later confirmed that this has only two instead of the usual four with episode 2 being some 75 minutes long. If this sounds strange that I didn't notice it illustrates the flow and grip of this story.

    (continues below)

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