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Big Finish (non-Blake's 7)
Gauda Cheese
Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:

Gauda Cheese wrote:

Lemme know what the Hinchcliffe stuff is like.

No problem - and I'll bear in mind that we enjoy very different aspects of the show, so will avoid just saying bits were good or not so good etc.


If we both enjoyed that era of the show I think we'll be fine Oops
 
Ela
BradPaula wrote:

Just completed listening to Dark Eyes, by Nicholas Briggs (written, directed and Dalek voices). Good solid Paul McGann episode with the addition of one of our favorite actors, Toby Jones. I'd recommend it highly. The story is interesting and engaging, the acting superb and now I'll have something to discuss with Nick when we see him at TARDIS con in November. -Paula


I enjoyed Dark Eyes, also. I have Dark Eyes 2 but haven't listened to it yet.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
BradPaula wrote:

@Alex: Did Molly's broad Irish accent put you off? Brad thought it was a bit over-the-top, but I liked it. Oh, to each his own. -Paula

Ruth Bradley's approach to the part was a factor - but not because it was incorrect, as there are people with that accent, but she was excellent as a series regular in Primeval and I was looking forward to hearing her in Dr Who; but her accent was so strong that it was hard to recognise her. My main reasons for strongly disliking Dark Eyes were the 100mph 'style over substance' narrative and the absurd historical errors that were not intended to be fantasy elements but imo were a lack of effort on Nick's part. Paul's previous series on audio were very much 'thought plays' or character dramas in a similar mould to Listen or The Caretaker, but DE for me was more like the worse excesses of the 'crash bang wallop' Matt Smith episodes; lots too much plot and not enough character exploration.
Edited by Spaceship Dispatcher on 03 October 2014 07:47:08
 
BradPaula
@Alex: I appreciate you frank appraisal of Dark Eyes and I can see your point of view. It was a bit 'crash bang wallop' as in the Matt Smith episodes, but I guess I'm easily amused and I'm also a fan of Mr. Briggs- so I liked it. Listening to the bonus documentary disc included in it all was very enjoyable as I love to listen to the actors as themselves and then bits of their performance and at least for me, I realize just what goes into being an actor and appreciate all their efforts even more. There are also lots of interesting stories which arise and are most entertaining. So thanks for your input! -Paula
Zil: Oneness must resist the Host.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Gauda Cheese wrote:

Lemme know what the Hinchcliffe stuff is like.

Listened to The Ghosts of Gralstead today, the first story in the Philip Hinchcliffe presents collection; at 3 hours in duration itís quite a story too! In terms of style itís spot on for the era that it claims to represent with the Doctor and Leela note perfect in the lines they are given, the way the scenes are directed, and in the performances by Tom and Louise too. The length and pace of the scenes, the choice and volume of the music, and the almost absence of the usual Ďsoundscapeí, mean that this actually does sound like a soundtrack of a lost season 14 story. The plot develops at the same sort of pace as a story like Weng-Chiang, and there are a lot of style similarities between that story and this; in plot and characters. It was really refreshing to find a Big Finish story with Tom Baker that took its time to progress the story like that era of the show used to; the actual 4th Doctor Adventures audio series hammers along too fast sometimes but this was a nice gentle meander with the emphasis on the Victorian style and atmosphere, and on spending time with the characters. In particular thereís an excellent comic scene involving a pot plant that was pure Holmes-era magic. If there is a small criticism itís in two aspects of the premise; these are not really spoilers as theyíre comments on the basic premise rather than specifics of the plot, but they are posted below in white font anyway. This story was very macabre and, even if he had intended to take the show in this direction as claimed by the publicity, it's very doubtful that this script would have been allowed in the 70s. Everyone is easy to tell apart, which is another bonus on an audio with such a large cast, and there's a great guest starring performance by Caroline Seymour of Survivors fame. Overall the style of writing and production are really truly authentic for the era, except for the two points below, and the acting is up to the same standard - 8/10



The whole thing revolves around a trope thatís synonymous with Steven Moffat rather than Philip Hinchcliffe; maybe heís just trying to keep up with the times, but it doesnít quite fit. Secondly, we end up with Big Finishís usual obsession with the Ďliving deadí attacking people Ė againÖ
 
BradPaula
I finally made time to listen to my Sapphire and Steel audio called The Surest Poison by Richard Dinnick. I purchased it mainly because of the actors- David Warner and Susannah Harker. Both do a very good job of portraying Sapphire and Steel. Harker, so much so, that I could imagine it was Joanna Lumley at times. Warner wasn't so much in the image of David McCallum, and who is, but he is an excellent actor in his own right and I loved the idea that they stayed very close to the original concept for the show and split it up into 4 episodes with the iconic theme song between each. Oh, and we get Richard Franklin (UNIT's Capt. Yates and Federation Trooper in Aftermath) thrown in to boot.

I'm particularly happy with this audio as not only did writer Richard Dinnick sell this particular audio to me personally, but he signed it for me and meeting him was an experience I'll treasure as he was so funny and kind.

Now looking forward to buying more Big Finish audios and meeting up with Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs, an others at November's TARDIS con. -Paula
Zil: Oneness must resist the Host.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Listened to The Devilís Armada today and found it very similar to Gralstead in some ways but also quite different. Itís another really well recreated historical setting, and quite dark too in the picture it paints. The principle protagonists of the Doctor and Leela are still note perfect and the pace and style of the script and direction is still right for the era, but this story even more than the other in the set makes me question the publicity that these are how the show would have continued if Philip Hinchcliffe had continued after season 14; this is incredibly visual and even The Mill would be hard pressed to keep up with much of it. That aspect aside though, itís more like a what if Tom had not left in 1981 than what if Philip had not left in 1977 to be honest with a script thatís more Eric Saward than Robert Holmes and a musical score that reminded me more of Peter Howell than Dudley Simpson; and the plot mechanism of the last episode is definitely the sort of thing Chris Bidmead would have done. But that doesnít mean the story isnít great because it is very, very good. Thereís a good mix of human conflict and alien menace, and itís a balance thatís maintained; often time Big Finish tend to concentrate on the humansí plot in the first hour and then switch to battling the invasion of the month in the second hour, but this keeps all the characters at the forefront all the way through. You get a real feel of the 16th Century in this, and it fits the mould of classic British horror/adventure films like Witchfinder General in terms of period atmosphere more than it does Doctor Who. Despite being a bit of a cocktail of styles and references the characters are all good and the regulars are especially well served again, the plot is a cracker and the production values are good and in the style of a radio play with very little effects sound. This gets another 8/10 from me.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
The Worlds of Doctor Who - 9/10

Posting a bit late on this one, but I listened to Big Finish's 15th anniversary audio release last week. It's called The Worlds of Doctor Who and comprises four short stories, each one from one of their current spin-off series: an episode of Jago and Litefoot, one of Counter Measures, one of UNIT, and the final episode hails from their Gallifrey series but also features a guest appearance by the Doctor himself, played here by Colin Baker. Of these, Counter Measures is the only one that I collect myself but I'm familiar with BFPs approach to Jago and Litefoot from the Companion Chronicle that reintroduced them and one 4th Doctor Adventure that featured them. The first two stories here were the best imo: the Victorian episode was full of mystery and suspense but was definately dialogue driven with plenty of good humour; then Counter Measures was a bit darker but still a cracking good stand alone adventure with a spooky atmosphere and a genuine sense of mystery. Sadly the UNIT episode is a very simple heroes chased by Zombies in a warehouse story (that's not a plot spoiler, that is the entire plot) and the final episode is perhaps a little crowded with the Doctor and Romana and Leela and Captain Yates as well the guest cast. What does stand in the overall story's favour is that the logic of the plot holds together well and everything is covered by the end as far as I could tell. We get gothic, supernatural, horror and sci-fi themes in the four episodes in that order which means there is a variety of style but those styles fit together nicely. The package seems accessible to anyone that picks it up since the internal story arcs of the respective series are dropped in favour of production that merely features characters from four seperate series, and it's certainly highly enjoyable. Even the weaker episode isn't bad as such, it's just a waste of an hour that could and should have been up to the standards of the other three episodes, so I'm giving this 8/10 as a drama with an extra mark for successfully realising the concept of linking the four series together.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
November's bundle of Big Finish audios arrived today...

Vienna s1 starring Chase Masterson
Night of the Triffids audio drama
Tom Baker at 80 interview CD
The Omega Factor novel read by original series star Louise Jameson

Comments to follow later in the month Grin
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Listened to the first story of Vienna series 1 today, a tale by Mark Wright called Dead Drop; not much to say about it really though. Its not that there was anything wrong with it, and it was a well produced and performed little adventure, but it was just so much running and action and monsters without much world building or character development going on; pretty nondescript imo, so a 7/10 with potential through good production values to improve if episodes two and three are bit deeper...

However - I followed that with Tom Baker at 80, a lovely conversation between Nick Briggs and Tom Baker that covers the latter's career and feelings about life in general; moving and heart warming, and highly recommended!
 
BradPaula
Has anyone listened to Frankenstein yet? It stars Arthur Darvill, Nicholas Briggs, Geoffrey Beevers, Georgia Moffet and Terry Malloy. I have read about it on Nick Briggs' site and it sounds very interesting.
Zil: Oneness must resist the Host.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
BradPaula wrote:

Has anyone listened to Frankenstein yet? It stars Arthur Darvill, Nicholas Briggs, Geoffrey Beevers, Georgia Moffet and Terry Malloy. I have read about it on Nick Briggs' site and it sounds very interesting.

Well, I had it on pre-order but last time I spoke to G4 it was late and still had not arrived in stock; otherwise I would have already listened. Now I'm waiting for the shipment of audios etc in the first week of next month that should now have that story...
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Why can't every audio drama be as brilliant as The Night of the Triffids..? Probably because the writers don't have the same amount of time to devote to writing an audio as the author here spent on creating the novel upon which this drama is based; but this really does set the bar exceptionally high! Just as the original Triffid story by John Wyndham told the story through the eyes of Bill Masen, this sequel shows us events entirely through the experiences of his son David; played here by Sam Troughton. There is a nice balance of first person recollection and full cast drama, but the way the two are cut together means there is a totally different sound to the read and acted passages. The story takes us on a journey, both across land and sea but also emotionally for David Masen, during which we meet and get to know on quite a deep level a cast of characters who all have their own feelings and motivations. There is action, but there are also lots of completely dialogue driven scenes that take listeners into a dark and post-apocalyptic world that still has enough colour and hope to give purpose to the lives and ambitions of the people we meet. This is quite possibly the best release by this studio in my experience as a Big Finish collector and giving it 10/10 does not express how strongly I recommend the production.

On the other hand, Vienna never got started for me; it bounces around between cliches while undermining itself with a plot that spends ages on exposition instead of the characters and yet fails to explain itself in any particular depth at the same time. As with the first episode, the writing and production values of episodes two and three are okay; but there's just something missing imo. An unsatisfying 6/10 overall.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
December's bundle of Big Finish audios arrived earlier this week...

Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles vol. 10
Blake's 7: Battleground full cast drama
Frankenstein starring Arthur Darvill

also delivered:

Dr Who: Carnival of Monsters read by Katy Manning
Day of the Triffids - the 1968 BBC radio serial




The Omega Factor - was a good release, with Louise Jameson an excellent reader and high production values. The book itself is mostly a novelisation of the very first episode, and taking five hours to describe fifty minutes of drama makes for a very slow boiling pot. However, that does not really work against it because its such a good story and merits the longer time taken to explore it; but it does require the reader/listener to be very patient! Enjoyed this one - 8/10
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Frankenstein really is a Big Finish Classic in every regard! Coming right after one of their very best ever productions in Night of the Triffids, this is another of their finest dramas. It features an all star Dr Who cast of Arthur Darvill, Nick Briggs, Geoffrey Beevers, Georgia Moffett and Terry Molloy along with five or six other equally talented actors and actresses who put in first rate performances all round. What really sells this, apart from amazing production values, is the courage of the studio in making this the three hour epic that it deserves to be and also the way it stays faithful to the original novel despite the obvious opportunities to modernise the work. The atmosphere is gloomy and Victorian, and conveys the continent wide nature of the narrative effectively. There is horror and some very gruesome desriptions, but first and foremost this was a seminal work of science fiction every much as the writing of HG Wells and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle; and this is very definitely an SF work more than its a horror story. What works for me is the way this drama is completely dialogue driven with long, almost Shakespearian passages of discussion and very few sound effects led scenes. Yes, imo this is one of the very best things BF have ever contributed to the audio medium. 10/10
 
clanger68
Good to hear Night of the Triffids is as good as I'd hoped it might be.
aquitar.blakes-7.co.uk/Animation/Scorpio_100.gif

Vila - "I plan to live forever - or die trying"
 
http://www.exewing.co.uk
Spaceship Dispatcher
Have spent today starting an epic relisten of Big Finish audio dramas! I'm planning to go through all eleven full length dramas that feature Caroline Morris as audio companion Erimem over the next few days and began today with The Eye of the Scorpion, The Church & the Crown and Nekromanteia; these settings covering ancient Egypt, an adventure set just after Alexandre Dumas' Musketeers novels, and a space opera in a galaxy far, far away. The first story was one that I really didn't get into first time around and, although I liked it more this time because of knowing about Erimem's future adventures, it still is not a favourite; the Egypt of this story is one of petty politics, war chariots, battles and alien artifacts rather than grandeur and mysticism. The second of these releases was much more fun, featuring other Musketeers but referencing the events of the famous novels and featuring the main political players. Its described as a comedy by Gary Russell, and as one of his favourite Big Finish productions, but there are still enough dark themes and genuine violence to maintain the level of threat faced by the protagonists. Again, first time round this was not a favourite of mine; but now, having seen this year's BBC series based on the Musketeers, the setting has more appeal and I got into it much better. The final story I listened to today was more in the line of the original novels printed in the 90s when the show was off air, with lots of darkness and creative fantasy concepts but still a fairly linear narrative without any timey-wimey twists. Its interesting to note the tone of the audios around this time, before the BBC Wales series became a reality and drew a younger fanbase to the show, as quite frequently the female companions are threatened with rape or are victims of sexually motivated physical violence - this is the case with Erimem in two of her three stories, and I believe in later stories too, and happens to Ace in Colditz released around the same time. Anyway, three stories down and eight more to go!

Re. Dr Who: Nekromanteia... this one had a B7 connection, as one of the principle guest cast was Glyn Owen.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Today's relistens were The Axis of Insanity, The Roof of the World and Three's a Crowd; the last of these was a personal favourite, so a good one to finish on this evening. The Axis is another fantasy realm similar to that of the Toymaker or the Land of Fiction, and the story has a suitably comedic style featuring Garrick Hagon as a lunatic Jester that can take on the form of anyone he meets. Not always coherent due to the setting being quite ambitious visually and maybe not ideal for audio, but a fun adventure and that's what is most important here. The next story in the Erimem sequence is much darker and deals with her death and mental possession at the claws of ancient demonic powers trapped for centuries within a Himalayan mountain. Quite a mixed bag this one as the writer sets up the plot in the first episode by making everyone extremely stupid beyond plausability, and the final episode suffers from the studios style of finale where all the actors scream and bellow into the microphones before a sound mixer tries to drown them out with post-production sound effects; but the middle two episodes are actually superb drama and make up for the short comings either side. The third story that went into my CD player this evening is one of the real gems of the range though. Three's a Crowd involves a colony where most of the population have never come out of suspended animation, and the children of the original settlers have grown up in complete isolation to the extent that seeing another person - even each other, never mind our time travellers - brings about massive panic attacks! Add to this alien lizards eating their way through the unawakened colonists and you have a tense and very rewarding adventure. The atmoshere is pure late-60s Doctor Who with domes and a deserted space station that are connected only by Trans-Mat cubicles and realised in such a way that you end up visualising the scenes in black and white; we even have Deborah Watling as the leading guest artist...
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Only one story today because of being at work later, but that's okay because The Council of Nicaea must be one of the very best dramas in the Big Finish range. This one is a pure historical, sadly not something they do all that often, but its also an amazing character piece and one of the best scripts written for Erimem as a companion. The whole story revolves around her efforts to change the future, and the concepts explored here are interesting: what if our past is the future for a companion from an earlier time period, and how strongly does the real world viewpoint of what is the 'present' in the show dictate the narratives? It was sort of touched on in the series' past with, for example, Jamie and his view of the world; but here it forms a focus for the story itself and is followed to a conclusion as the characters end the story discussing the point. In style terms, this story is also a winner for me because its very much a dialogue and performance driven production; there are very few special sounds, no aliens, no timey-wimey, no massive battle to end the story. The tale is resolved logically and as a progression of what has gone before in the previous three episodes, with words being the device used to both tell and conclude events. And words are the main strength of the audio medium, not canned explosions. Deep, emotional, meaningful, speculative science fiction. Top marks for this one, every time.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Yesterday's relistens were The Kingmaker, Son of the Dragon and The Mind's Eye; just one more Erimem audio drama to go then, hopefully this evening. The Kingmaker really does get better with each relisten! Its a comedy retelling of the mystery about the fate of the princes in the Tower of London, and the role of Richard III in their disappearance. To describe this story as timey-wimey alone would not quite explain what they did with this one, because the time travel elements are used to great comedic effect as the characters enter or just pass through the story at different points in time and cause mayhem along the way. The script digs at Doctor Who as a series and the Doctor as a character, the plays of William Shakespeare, the modern media and publishing industries, the acting profession, and British regional accents. With a clever plot that holds together reasonably well too, it's possibly the very best comedy from the Big Finish studio! Definately my favourite anyway. Son of the Dragon is another pure historical, the second to feature Erimem after the Nicaean adventure. This one sees the Doctor and his companions run into Prince Vlad of Wallachia, and it's remarkable how horrific this story is in its portrayal of violent execution; and Erimem's sexual desirability is, neither for the first nor last time, central to the plot in a way that the tv series would rarely dwell upon. This one is still a brilliant period drama that actually avoids portraying battles, even the ones that do happen in the story so kudos to Big Finish there, and focuses exclusively on the personal ambitions and motivations of the characters. In this regard, Erimem is a real advantage to the writer because she still does not see herself as a space and time adventuress so much as a displaced princess; thus when she becomes directly involved in the affairs of a prince, her motivation is not necessarily to flee to the Ship and escape. Following a comedy historical and then a serious one, The Mind's Eye is a rather wonderful space fantasy; but how to explain it? Think of the dream concepts explored in Last Christmas but on a planet that's a cross between Deva Loka (the Kinda world) and Spridon (Planet of the Daleks, with its carnivorous plants etc) and with a dash of Jurassic Park thrown in too. We join the story after the Doctor and his fellow travellers have landed and fallen victim to the aggresive hallucinogenic flora outside a research facility; initially we follow the base personnel as they find the Doctor and Erimem, bringing them into the relative safety of the base. The plot that revolves around the mission on the planet is kept simple, a government agency investigating illigal drug growing, while much of the running time of the episodes is given over to the Doctor's attempts to enter the dreams of his companions and wake them to break the telepathic link with the plants. Its all very good stuff, and three well told stories.
Edited by Spaceship Dispatcher on 30 December 2014 05:38:06
 
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