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Big Finish (non-Blake's 7)
Spaceship Dispatcher
Just finished listening to the first series of Torchwood audios from Big Finish, and honestly feel that it delivers the most consistently high standards of audio specific storytelling the studio has ever managed. Even this last episode, more of an action run about than the previous five, has a very grown up emotional depth. These first six plays, and they have very much been plays, set an incredibly high bar for series two.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Listened to Doctor Who: Infernal Devices last week, and enjoyed it but not as much as the previous story. There was more conflict, less emotional content, and a bit too much going on for my tastes; I preferred the more considered, philosophical first story. John Hurt and Jacqueline Pearce were brilliant, meaning the episodes were always entertaining to a degree, and it was nice to hear David Warner and Zoe Tapper too. Endless zombie plots was however the reason why I cancelled my Big Finish subscription before, with almost two out of three Doctor Who productions at one point involving animated corpses somewhere in the stories, and so I was disappointed to find this plot device used yet again. This isn't quite in the same league as Dalek Empire for me yet, but I'm liking Hurt and Pearce in the leading roles!
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
BradPaula
Must get the War Doctor audios #2 now. #1 was amazing with the combined talents of Jacqueline Pearce and John Hurt. Such a joy to hear two well-seasoned actors doing their stuff.
 
timdalton007
Brief Review Of The Tenth Doctor Adventures Volume 1

(Some Spoilers)


So during my driving last week I finished listening to the recent Tenth Doctor audios from Big Finish. I'll be giving my thoughts on them in full on an upcoming Stories From The Vortex but I'll say this for now: Rarely have I heard such talent wasted on bland, forgettable and underwhelming storytelling.

Well Tennant and Tate were great, how could they not be? The problem I have is with the writing. Technophobia has a great central idea but the execution is lousy and comedy alien menace has become a cliche at this point. Time Reaver has a great idea and setting...until you realize Big Finish did the same things decade plus ago in their 100th Main Range release and the Garazone Bazaar featured in a number of stories. Even the central premises of Death And The Queen (the one of the three I liked the most which isn't saying much) can be found elsewhere in the Big Finish canon including Stones Of Venice from 2001. I can't fault them as productions as performances and sound design are both solid but I can fault them for scripts that are less than original and lacking in execution.

The three are stories are far, far from Big Finish's finest hour and a serious disappointment.

timdalton007
 
Gauda Cheese
https://www.bigfi...old-fusion

Oops
http://stwco.word... Stuff and things written by me.

My podcast: http://GATM.buzzs...
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
The Avengers: Steed and Mrs Peel volume one

*one small plot spoiler*

Well, I’m two episodes into the first audio collection starring Julian Wadham and Olivia Poulet and absolutely loving every minute so far! The style of production, in terms of the direction and sound or music mixing, appeals to me; the atmosphere of different locations is evocative without the ‘soundscape’ overwhelming the actors, who I believe should be the main component of audio drama. Julian Wadham plays Steed pretty much exactly as he does in his episodes alongside Anthony Howell, and that brings a consistent quality that might lead me to actually mix the Emma episodes in amongst the Dr Keel ones next time around; the idea that Steed divides his time simultaneously between Keel and Emma is one that cannot work on television but could do here, thanks to the even style between the respective Big Finish recordings. Olivia Poulet is magnificent as Mrs Peel, and not what I was expecting after reading some negative reviews. She plays the role with a lighter, fruitier (in both relevant uses of the word) and more coquettish tone than Diana Rigg, but also has a husky quality and a gentle lisp in her delivery that’s effective and easy to listen to. Diana Rigg, while a great actress and obviously the ‘definitive’ Mrs Peel, has never really been my own cuppa; Olivia Poulet’s interpretation on the other hand is exactly the kind of heroine I could listen to all day, and do when I listen to actresses like India Fisher or Emilia Fox read audiobooks, and so this audio Mrs Peel is heading at the moment towards being my personal favourite Emma and one of my favourite Avengers characters from the wider canon. Return to Castle De’ath is likewise, on first listening, now one of my favourite Avengers episodes! Stories in that setting, remote Scottish castles (or islands) and especially with a tourism aspect, work for me generally and this sounded great. Not overdone, just evocative of the country. The guest cast were all suitably just a little larger than life, but I enjoyed all of the performances and especially Simon Greenall as Colonel Augustus-Smyth (played in a Warren Clarke sound-a-like voice that I loved) and Ruby Thomas as the playful but plucky Countess Beatrice of Burgundy! The Miser was a good follow up, early elements reminding me of a Basil Rathbone film called Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror but the middle and final parts of the story having a very traditional Avengers narrative structure. The fake Dick North was another larger than life cad that I could imagine just as easily in a colour era Emma or Tara episode. Overall I have been impressed with the production values and style of the set so far, raising the Avengers even further as my favourite of all the Big Finish ranges*

*and that’s quite a statement; even after giving about a hundred and fifty disks away, I must still have about five hundred disks of Big Finish audio productions…
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
The Avengers: Steed and Mrs Peel, continued...

The Golden Dresses and The Norse Code are possibly the most traditional Avengers style episodes on the set, with charming but utterly eccentric plots and characters. The humour is there all the way through, a hallmark of the television series, rather than being dispensed with for the climax of the adventure and is especially sparky and fun between these two leads. Julian Wadham and Olivia Poulet continue to impress me, and November suddenly feels a long wait! Jacqueline Pearce was worthy of special note as main protagonist in the third episode, fashion designer of the titular golden dresses, and seems to have hit a late second peak in her career on the evidence of her recent audio work. The way that science fiction fantasies are woven into conventional espionage and crime stories, but at face value and without getting tangled up in trying to explain or justify the technologies, is another accurately recreated hallmark of the classic series. The episode set in the Norfolk Broads with the historical Viking aspect was my favourite of the two episodes here; I’m watching a factual travelogue series called Hidden Villages at the moment, and the way the historical society is presented in the story feels exactly right and not demeaning as it could have been. The geology is dubious, but that’s probably a fault of the source material and essential to the story. Minor quibble though, because I loved listening to all of these episodes so much!
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
JustBrad
Paul Darrow and David Tennant together in BF's The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.

https://www.bigfi...y-released
 
timdalton007
Doctor Who - Philip Hinchcliffe Presents Volume 2: The Genesis Chamber ***Possible Spoilers***

I have to admit that I've been on something of a hiatus from Big Finish for the last couple of months. Having found myself bitterly disappointed by the recent Tenth Doctor audios and unimpressed by a number of other recent releases, I needed a story to get me going again and remind me of what Big Finish is really capable of. The Genesis Chamber, the second release from the Phillip Hinchcliffe Presents range of Fourth Doctor tales, was just the ticket.

A large part of what makes this release work so well is its script. The teaming up of Fourth Doctor era producer Phillip Hincliffe and writer Marc Platt proved to be a winner with the first box-set back in 2014 and this new story was no exception to that rule. Much like Hinchcliffe's TV era, Genesis Chamber takes familiar ideas and puts a new spin on them, this gives them a feeling of freshness they might otherwise lack. There are echoes of TV stories such as Face Of Evil, with two very different human societies separated by a technological gulf threatened by an outside force, plus the titular device is almost certainly a variation on the looms idea from Platt's own legendary (and near impossible to find) novel Lungbarrow. What makes this release stand out is what the pair do with those basic ideas and how this Doctor and companion combination react to them, including an outside threat and the story's ultimate resolution. “There's no such thing as new ideas,” someone once said, but there is the configuration of older ideas into something fresh and this release goes a long way to proving that can work well.

Perhaps because of Hinchcliffe's involvement, both Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson's Leela have rarely sounded as good as they do here. Baker's Doctor alone is worthy of the price of admission as he gives what might very well be his best Big Finish performance to date taking in the full scope of the role from humorous to serious (the best bits of the story may be when the Doctor ends up on the proverbial warpath) in a way that has seemed lacking from many of the other Big Finish Fourth Doctor Adventures. Jameson's Leela meanwhile also get the chance to shine with a script that makes fine use of both character and performer, including some nice character moments and wonderful interactions between the pair. It really does feel like it's tea-time 1977 all over again, just as Big Finish promised back when their Fourth Doctor audios began.

The supporting cast is solid as well. Though perhaps under-utilized, Jon Culshaw (famous for his Fourth Doctor impression from BBC radio series Dead Ringers) does a good job with the material he's handed playing the leader of a city increasingly under siege. Gyuri Sarossy's Volor is an interesting characters with quite a few layers to him both literally and figuratively, which make him a fine villain in the best tradition of the Hinchcliffe era. Jemma Churchill does a nice job playing both Culshaw's wife and the voice of the all important InScape computer, keeping them different enough that it was only when I looked at the cast list that I realized it was the same actress. The supporting cast is rounded off nicely by Hannah Genesius as Ana, Dan Li as Grillo, and Arthur Hughes as Shown. Though some are underused it's still a fine cast who do an admirable job filling out the world of the story.

Last but not least is the sound design and music of Andy Hardwick. Hardwick brings the settings of this story to life, from the city and commune where much of it takes place and other locations in-between. Hardwick also has the unenviable task of portraying some very visual elements on audio which he proves more than up to. Hardwick's score is interesting as well since, unlike the original Hinchcliffe Presents set, it doesn't take after the Dudley Simpson scores of the era but instead has a far more orchestral sound. In fact there are times when the score echoes that of the New Series in a way that the Tenth Doctor audios simply didn't. Hardwick's work is simply the icing on the cake of this release.

On the whole, The Genesis Chamber is one of the strongest Big Finish releases in recent memory. From the excellent story from Hinchcliffe and Platt to its performances and sound design, it could well be the company's best Fourth Doctor release to date and is an all around showcase for what Big Finish can do. Here's hoping there's more to come from the Hinchcliffe Presents range, especially if they continue to be of this quality.

9/10

timdalton007
 
Ela
JustBrad wrote:

Paul Darrow and David Tennant together in BF's The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.

https://www.bigfi...y-released


I bought the CD of that ages ago and very much enjoyed it. It's an odd story, not to everyone's taste, I've found, but I really liked it.
 
timdalton007
***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

The Third Doctor Adventures: Volume 2


One of my favorite Big Finish releases of 2015 was the first volume of Big Finish's The Third Doctor Adventures. Like so many out there, I was initially skeptical of Tim Treloar effectively slipping into the large cape left behind by Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, but I was won over just minutes into the set. All of which left me waiting for the second volume. So, did it live up to the high standards of the first set?

Well Treloar certainly did. The Welsh actor builds on his successful performance in the first release, once again going from strength to strength. The vocal inflections are all there, the tones, the pitch, all of it to the point that I found myself forgetting on one or two occasions that I wasn't actually listening to Pertwee himself, especially in latter parts of the second story. Then there's his chemistry with Katy Manning's Jo Grant which harkens back to the best moments from that era as the two play off each other so beautifully. While he might not be totally spot-on for some, there is no doubting that Treloar has captured the spirit of this Doctor superbly and it's something that makes listening to this set an absolute pleasure.

Indeed, the performances are solid throughout. Katy Manning is in fine form as Jo, seeming to have better captured her more youthful voice than she sometimes has in previous releases. Both stories have strong supporting casts including major female characters in the form of Richenda Carey's Mother Finsey and Sandra Voe as Miss Barnett. Bernard Holley, a veteran of the Third Doctor's TV era, is featured in the first story playing a suitably stress inducing corporate manager in charge of a major project. Alongside him there is also Nigel Peever and Karen Henson. The second story meanwhile features a suitably alien sounding George Asprey alongside Big Finish regulars such as Clare Buckfield as Jo's cousin and Richard Earl (perhaps best known to Big Finish listeners as the Dr. Watson of their Sherlock Holmes range) playing a very nice police inspector, with Alex Lanipekun as the younger police sergeant. Like so many of their releases, this one benefits greatly from the quality of acting talent that Big Finish brings to bare.

Like its predecessor, this volume contains two stories with one set out in space and the other on Earth. The Transcendence Of Ephros by Guy Adams is the opener with the Doctor and Jo arriving on the titular planet to find a religious group and Galactux Power Inc both awaiting an incredible event that ought otherwise to be impossible. While it gets off to a slow start, Transcendence Of Ephros quickly gathers strength as it presents one twist and cliffhanger after another alongside some neat callbacks to the era on TV. The second story is the Earthbound The Hidden Realm by David Llewellyn which seems to fit into the era perfectly as the TARDIS team head off to Bramfield New Town where the husband of Jo's cousin has become just the latest in a series of disappearances dating back decades. It's a tale that calls to mind adventures like The Daemons and Spearhead From Space, as well as elements of Nigel Kneale's Quatermass II, while also putting Llewellyn's own twist on it. That being said, the two stories perhaps suffer from being paired together as they both ultimately work around a very similar plot point in their latter half, something that perhaps nulls enjoyment of the latter story somewhat.

Elsewhere, as well, I found myself missing things from the first set here. One of the things I loved about volume one (but that other listeners did not apparently) was the narration that Treloar supplied alongside his duties as the Third Doctor, something that gave it the sense of being like a missing story from the era, ala the BBC TV soundtrack releases. Despite being a long-time Big Finish listener, I found myself having a hard time adapting to their usual format being played out with this Doctor for some reason. There's also the matter of the music which in that first release so wonderfully evoked the era, but here only half succeeds as the score to Hidden Realm sounds more like something out of the McCoy era than Pertwee's. These are largely minor niggles I admit but they are something that perhaps takes this release down a peg for this reviewer.

While I can't quite put it up on the same pedestal as I did volume one, volume two of the Third Doctor Adventures holds up well indeed. Tim Treloar continues to be an exemplary Third Doctor, capturing both the spirit of Pertwee as well as his chemistry with Katy Manning and both stories are solid outings that evoke very different sides of the era, though also perhaps sufferer from being paired together. If you're aching for more Third Doctor to experience, you could do a lot worse than check out this set.

timdalton007
 
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