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CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

I had an idea for a Big Finish script ("You have a Big Finish script?" "I have SEVERAL.") where the Doctor comes across a distress signal that turns to be from a Sontaran Special Forces squad who just pulled off a suicide mission...the capture of a live Dalek for experimentation and vivisection.

Naturally, they're being chased by a very pissed off Dalek fleet. "ONLY DALEKS CAN EX-PER-I-MENT ON DALEKS!"

I'm just a bit bummed that my two favorite alien races in the show have been reduced to the two aliens in a semi-comedic three-member investigation squad and THAT'S how modern viewers see the Silurians and Sontarans...

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Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

Hey, Karn, what do you say to console someone who just got Thought Erased? You give up? "Need a hand?"


Hohohoho: http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...hreadid=3707113

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.


May you find yourself facing the Ice Climbers in a Final Destination, No Items Brawl. And you’re playing Gannondorf.

Edit Whoa...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/corporate2/med...erience-reopens

The new Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff...had its storyline written by JOSEPH LIDSTER?!?

CobiWann fucked around with this message at Mar 19, 2015 around 18:59

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Cleretic posted:

I still stand by the idea of introducing the Sontarans into a story about a more primitive war. As far as the Doctor's enemies go, sure, the Sontarans aren't threatening, but they're trigger-happy and advanced enough to intrude on someone else's war and utterly curbstomp both sides without actually caring about the outcome. Give them a historical set in the American Civil War or something of that general era, you've got a good story going.

I agree they shouldn't ever be shown as on anything approaching the same level as the Time Lords or the Daleks (the joke about the Sontarans being pissed off they weren't invited to the Time War was hilarious), but there is no reason they can't be involved in a more traditional war - in fact that is what they SHOULD be used for. Doesn't need to be a historical or set on Earth, but just one of the many battlefield fronts in the endless war between the Sontarans and Rutans would be fun to get a look at.

Davros1
Jul 19, 2007

You've got to admit, you are kind of implausible

CobiWann posted:

I had an idea for a Big Finish script ("You have a Big Finish script?" "I have SEVERAL.") where the Doctor comes across a distress signal that turns to be from a Sontaran Special Forces squad who just pulled off a suicide mission...the capture of a live Dalek for experimentation and vivisection.

Naturally, they're being chased by a very pissed off Dalek fleet. "ONLY DALEKS CAN EX-PER-I-MENT ON DALEKS!"

I'm just a bit bummed that my two favorite alien races in the show have been reduced to the two aliens in a semi-comedic three-member investigation squad and THAT'S how modern viewers see the Silurians and Sontarans...

Listen to "Master of the Daleks" for some Dalek/Sontaran goodness.

Astroman
Apr 8, 2001



CobiWann posted:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/corporate2/med...erience-reopens

The new Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff...had its storyline written by JOSEPH LIDSTER?!?

Well it's about time they reopened it after the costumes for 5, 6, and 7 disappeared during the 50th.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


CobiWann posted:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/corporate2/med...erience-reopens

The new Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff...had its storyline written by JOSEPH LIDSTER?!?

During a brief scene where the Doctor leaves the room, Lidster appears on screen and declares that your dad ran over a hitchhiker when you were a toddler and dumped the body in the river and ran away, and that it has haunted him every moment of his life since. Then he runs off and the Doctor returns and the Experience continues, with no reference made to this again at any point.

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

Hey, Karn, what do you say to console someone who just got Thought Erased? You give up? "Need a hand?"


Jerusalem posted:

During a brief scene where the Doctor leaves the room, Lidster appears on screen and declares that your dad ran over a hitchhiker when you were a toddler and dumped the body in the river and ran away, and that it has haunted him every moment of his life since. Then he runs off and the Doctor returns and the Experience continues, with no reference made to this again at any point.

At then end of the ride, Lidster takes the lovely souvenir toy you got out of your hands, throws it on the floor, and stomps on it, just after the Doctor has already left, so that he can do nothing about it.

I started writing the big long wordy reviews for Big Finish stories, but I feel like this thread already has too many, and also, I go through them way too fast and would flood every page (today, I heard the end of one story, the entirety of another, and started on a third, because I had to walk to a board meeting for a board I belong to, and because the train was slow coming in this morning). I may post one every once in awhile when the thread seems kind of dead or if somebody mentions a story I happened to have gotten through, and if it seems worth the effort of redoing all the formatting.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


It's always fun to read somebody's take on something, so please feel free to post a write-up whenever the fancy strikes you.

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


In a Joseph Lidster story, you're not having fun until a companion is crying... and this time, the companion is YOU! (A "Find Your Fate" Book)

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

A Good Day to
ACTION DUCK


Doctor Spaceman posted:

Some sort of invasion of time perhaps?

Invasion of TIme...



OF DEATH! *twaaaaaaaaaang*

Forktoss
Feb 13, 2012

I'm OK, you're so-so

Ian Levine just busted out some TRUE FACTS on the lost season 23 on Facebook:

quote:

Doctor Who - THE ABORTED SEASON 23 - THE TRUE FACTS.

SOMEONE NEEDS TO FINALLY SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT.

HERE IS MY LETTER ABOUT IT TO GALLIFREY BASE.

I absolutely HAVE to wade in here and put the record straight. During this period, I was around JNT and Eric almost every day, and I knew absolutely everything to do with the production at that time, including who was writing what.

The DVD documentary about the aborted season 23 is flawed in the extreme, and nobody ever talked to me, the one and only person who knew what all six stories were. Eric has a memory like a sieve, and remembers nothing of that period, but I have a photographic memory, which mercifully was not affected by my stroke, and it still pains me to read such inaccuracies. The six stories of season 23 were as follows...

THE NIGHTMARE FAIR
THE ULTIMATE EVIL
MISSION TO MAGNUS
YELLOW FEVER
THE HOLLOWS OF TIME
GALLIFREY

There is no doubt about the accuracy of this. Eric was writing Gallifrey. After the cancellation, JNT and Eric had a furious row because John wanted to carry on with the same scripts. Eric said that it needed a new fresh approach so he refused to complete Gallifrey. In a classic fit of pique, John commissioned Pip and Jane Baker to write it to Eric's storyline. After one week, Eric made such an almighty stink that the commission was withdrawn, but I believe the stigma of this action led to Eric's finally walking out a year later. Eric finds this period so painful he has forgotten half of what happened, but Bob Holmes had offered the guidance of a mentor to Eric to write a story about con men, deposed Presidents, and sleeper agents with a hint of The Manchurian Candidate thrown in. Eric discussed the entire plot with me prior to the cancellation, but it never made it past the original story ideas as it would have been the last of the six stories to go into production, but Julian Glover was considered as the machiavellian arch villain President.

The Children Of January was a spare script and would only ever have made it to season 24, if ever used at all. Eric hated it.

As for Yellow Fever, I had a photocopy of the original scene breakdown of all three episodes, given to me by Eric. Indeed at one point Eric was hired to write it for the Doctor WHO book range, and got paid an advance, which he later returned.

The Rani was never to be in this story. Kate O'Mara was still doing Dynasty, and there was no mention of her in the story breakdown. This was a story about The Master, The Brigadier, UNIT, and Benton. The first half was set in London, with an Auton Prime Minister, the second half in Singapore. It would have been wonderful, especially with Graeme Harper directing.

I am really sick and tired of people spouting fantasy mistruths about this cancelled season. I always regretted its loss,down to being JNT's mouthpiece to Charles Catchpole of The Sun, and the dreaded Doctor In Distress, and I reconstructed three of the missing stories myself on audio, and did detailed visual recons on DVD of all six stories, with Nicola Bryant, Julian Glover, Milton Johns, Jon Levene, Waris Hussein, John Leeson, Nigel Plaskitt, Ian Fairbairn, and many many more. I am incredibly proud of them. Both Yellow Fever and Gallifrey were totally faithful to the original storylines.

I can 100% assure you all, no matter what anyone says to the contrary, that Gallifrey WAS to be the sixth story of that aborted season. And Yellow Fever's tag "And How To Cure It", was a Bob Holmes joke and never seriously intended to be a part of the title. That imagined cover featuring The Rani is just plain WRONG on so so many levels.

And I think this screencap from his "detailed visual recon" of Yellow Fever he posted speaks for itself:

computer parts
Nov 18, 2010

PLEASE CLAP

My new favorite thing about long plane rides is that I can justify buying more audios. Now I have four more.

Fil5000
Jun 23, 2003

HOLD ON GUYS I'M POSTING ABOUT INTERNET ROBOTS


Forktoss posted:

Ian Levine just busted out some TRUE FACTS on the lost season 23 on Facebook:


And I think this screencap from his "detailed visual recon" of Yellow Fever he posted speaks for itself:



Somewhere there is a universe where Ian Levine is right. And that is the worst universe.

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

Fil5000 posted:

Somewhere there is a universe where Ian Levine is right. And that is the worst universe.

Well, time CAN be rewritten...

Box of Bunnies
Apr 3, 2012

One day, we'll know all the secrets of the skies, and we'll stop our wanderings.


Ian Levine is an endless fount of entertainment.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Ian Levine is a fascinating, fascinating man

Fil5000
Jun 23, 2003

HOLD ON GUYS I'M POSTING ABOUT INTERNET ROBOTS


Jerusalem posted:

Ian Levine is a fascinating, fascinating man

Has that story about him chasing Gary Barlow out of a music studio in the dead of night been confirmed as apocryphal?

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

Jerusalem posted:

Ian Levine is a fascinating, fascinating man

Sometimes, I feel like I might be slightly obsessed with Doctor Who.

Then I remember that I have never once in my life gotten upset over the specific details of a season of a then running-television series that was NEVER produced.

I mean, good on Levine for being a passionate fan but, but...I bet the guy hates Peter Capaldi's Doctor with the fury of ten thousand suns for some oddly specific and unfathomable reason relating to some throw-away acting choice from Peter Davidson during Season 19...

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


He probably hates Capaldi for being insulted in Doctor Who Magazine before he was.

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

After The War posted:

He probably hates Capaldi for being insulted in Doctor Who Magazine before he was.

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

Hey, Karn, what do you say to console someone who just got Thought Erased? You give up? "Need a hand?"


How on earth do you type a sentence which begins "I absolutely HAVE to wade in here" and not have the self-awareness to reconsider what you are writing? If the Absorbaloff was a parody of Ian Levine, it was too kind.

Wheat Loaf
Feb 13, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Forktoss posted:

And I think this screencap from his "detailed visual recon" of Yellow Fever he posted speaks for itself:

You'd think someone with as much money as Levine is supposed to have would be able to get something better than that.

Davros1
Jul 19, 2007

You've got to admit, you are kind of implausible

Levine went out and made his own animated version of Shada, featuring some of the original actors. He did this on his own, wasn't commissioned by the BBC or anything, then threw a fit when the BBC said no to it for the Shada DVD.

He's critical of BF because, in his opinion, they should be doing animation, and not straight audios.

He seems convinced that Phil Morris (the guy who found Web and Enemy) is hoarding the rest of the missing episodes . . . and that Morris is a liar who doesn't have any more missing episodes. Honestly, it varies from day to day.

He was on a Doctor Who forum, and when most of the members posting refused to kiss his rear end, he left, claiming a lack of respect from people, even though he told one poster to take cyanide and kill themselves. He also tried to out a moderator on another Who forum as being gay, even though he's gay himself.

He called Moffat a liar, because he said Moffat told him that Series 8 was going to be 13 eps and a X-Mas special, and not 12 eps and the X-Mas special.

Honestly, he's a sad little man who so desperately wants to be seen as this wholly important and influential figure in Who lore, when he is, at best barely worth mentioning.


Oh yeah, he also boasts that his has, in his possession, every single comic book DC has ever produced.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Davros1 posted:

He called Moffat a liar, because he said Moffat told him that Series 8 was going to be 13 eps and a X-Mas special, and not 12 eps and the X-Mas special.

It's a pity Doctor Who fans can never reach a consensus view on anything, because it would be fun if everybody just continually insisted to Levine that there WERE 13 episodes - how could he forget the episode between Kill the Moon and Mummy on the Orient Express where the Doctor takes on a Silence as a companion?

Especially since Forget Me Not was considered the best, most moving and emotionally powerful episode of the season.

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

Hey, Karn, what do you say to console someone who just got Thought Erased? You give up? "Need a hand?"


"I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of episodes that were made known to the BBC as being recovered episodes and who nevertheless are still unavailable within the BBC's programming Department."

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Jerusalem posted:

It's a pity Doctor Who fans can never reach a consensus view on anything, because it would be fun if everybody just continually insisted to Levine that there WERE 13 episodes - how could he forget the episode between Kill the Moon and Mummy on the Orient Express where the Doctor takes on a Silence as a companion?

Especially since Forget Me Not was considered the best, most moving and emotionally powerful episode of the season.

And let's not forget the Big Finish licence!

No idea why they sent out all those blank discs, though.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


I just got the digital downloads..... huh that's weird, nothing in that directory anymore, I could have sworn I downloaded them...

|||| ||

Wheat Loaf
Feb 13, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Davros1 posted:

Honestly, he's a sad little man who so desperately wants to be seen as this wholly important and influential figure in Who lore, when he is, at best barely worth mentioning.

There was also the time he described Christopher Eccleston as "lower than a cockroach" when he said he was leaving at the end of season one.

I think either in the last thread or earlier in this one there was something about him ruining northern soul as well?

Gaz-L
Jan 28, 2009


Gordon Shumway posted:

I started on The Ghosts of N-Space and stopped midway through, but not because of the audio, I just got super busy and never got round to resuming it. But the first part felt very much like a Big Finish audio, and it was good to hear Nick Courtney, Lis Sladen, and Jon Pertwee together again. And I'm mistaken, there's only two of them, Paradise of Death and Ghosts of N-Space. Pertwee unfortunately died before they could finish the third one.

N-Space is a train-wreck. Paradise of Death feels like they couldn't be sure which part of the Pertwee era to do, so they did it all, but it's solid.

Davros1
Jul 19, 2007

You've got to admit, you are kind of implausible

Wheat Loaf posted:

There was also the time he described Christopher Eccleston as "lower than a cockroach" when he said he was leaving at the end of season one.

I think either in the last thread or earlier in this one there was something about him ruining northern soul as well?

Found that "lower than a cockroach" post

Ian Levine posted:

Although I've been avidly glued to Outpost Gallifrey for the many weeks leading up to the new series, I stayed incognito and never posted here until now.

But I'm so angry, that I had to vent my spleen.

We FINALLY get a return to Doctor Who's Golden Age - the best set of episodes since Philip Hinchcliffe. Russell T. Davies has done THE most superlative job. I adored Rose, having watched it fifteen times, which is about twelve more times than ANY Sylvester McCoy episode. But from what I've seen, episodes 3, 6, 8, 9 and 10, are even better. I venture to guess, having had the privilege of seeing lots of clips, that 3 is gonna be better than Pyramids of Mars and Talons Of Weng Chiang rolled together.

Then the announcement of a second series of thirteen episodes and a Christmas Special, and we were all on Cloud Nine.

But now this......
I saw it coming but refused to believe it.
I could not accept that an actor like Eccleston, ONE WHO ASKED RUSSELL FOR THE ROLE, could betray all the fans so badly by jumping ship just as things were getting good.

Ten and a half million viewers, a bright future, a second series guaranteed, and he has to ruin it for everyone.

There was no need for this.

I adore his acting, but my opinion of him as a person has sunk lower than a cockroach.

When I THINK how hard we all fought back in the early nineties to try to save the show. When I THINK how we've suffered for sixteen years, and also really my opinion of the twelve years prior to that is public knowledge. When I THINK that we after so so so so long had a return to the glory days and had something to celebrate, yet this selfish individual has done his best to spoil it for everybody, MY BLOOD BOILS.

I put it to you all that he had no moral right whatsoever to take on this role, if he was gonna quit after thirteen episodes.

What a slap in the face and a betrayal of the trust that Russell placed in him.

And how unfair to Russell, who has been Doctor Who's messiah, in not only bringing the series back, but giving us a series worthy of being proud to be a fan.

If Eccelston cared at all, he wouldn't have even considerd quitting till at least two years had passed.

But NO, he's worried about his precious reputation.


He seems to be of the mindset that Doctor Who should and is made entirely for him and him alone.

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

Hey, Karn, what do you say to console someone who just got Thought Erased? You give up? "Need a hand?"


at the caps on MY BLOOD BOILS.

2house2fly
Nov 14, 2012

You did a super job wrapping things up! And I'm not just saying that because I have to!

Don't make fun of the guy's blood boils.

cargohills
Apr 17, 2014



I'm pretty sure Ian Levine watched "Rose" more times in the week it came out than I've ever watched an episode of Doctor Who, apart from maybe "Remembrance of the Daleks". What the hell does he do with his life?

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

Hey, Karn, what do you say to console someone who just got Thought Erased? You give up? "Need a hand?"


cargohills posted:

I'm pretty sure Ian Levine watched "Rose" more times in the week it came out than I've ever watched an episode of Doctor Who, apart from maybe "Remembrance of the Daleks". What the hell does he do with his life?

Someone post the gif to answer this question.

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

Bicyclops posted:

Someone post the gif to answer this question.

Some things should remained buried.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


cargohills posted:

I'm pretty sure Ian Levine watched "Rose" more times in the week it came out than I've ever watched an episode of Doctor Who, apart from maybe "Remembrance of the Daleks". What the hell does he do with his life?

The middle row of this old comic should answer things clearly for you



The 80s was a weird time for Doctor Whoeverybody

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

Hey, Karn, what do you say to console someone who just got Thought Erased? You give up? "Need a hand?"


I enjoy that, although he is drawn entirely human, there is something about the way Ian is sketched in that comic that reminds me of the large literal rear end in a top hat judge from Pink Floyd's the wall.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


I'm ashamed to admit that I only just now noticed the "and Jane!" joke for the first time.

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CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.



Three years after Világ was all but laid waste by the Killorans, the Doctor is back alongside a different companion. And a lot has changed.

Now elected Principle Triumvir, head of a tripartite government, Rossiter is working to secure a peaceful future for the planet by researching the technology the Killorans left behind. But he has to contend with opposition from his daughter, Sofia, who heads a public campaign demanding the destruction of all alien artefacts.

Politics has caused a rift between father and daughter, and as if that weren't enough, Sofia doesn't approve of her new step-mother either. Emotions soon boil over into violence, a violence that seems to have gripped the entire city.

Friendships bind people close, but they say that blood is...

Colin Baker is the Doctor in Thicker Than Water

X X X X X

Cast
Colin Baker (The Doctor);
Maggie Stables (Evelyn Smythe)
Bonnie Langford (Mel)
Gabriel Woolf (Principal Triumvir Rossiter)
Rachel Pickup (Dr Sofia Rossiter)
Patrick Romer (Dr Andrew Szabó)
Simon Watts (Dr Sebastian Lawrence)
Matt Dineen (Jenner)
James Parsons (TV Interviewer)

Written By: Paul Sutton
Directed By: Edward Salt

Trailer - http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/p...-than-water-239

X X X X X

My five favorite new stories of the revival, in order of broadcast date:
 
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
School Reunion
Midnight
The God Complex
Flatline
 
(The sixth, for the record, is The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky)
 
School Reunion is a standout episode for me, and not just because of Anthony Stewart Head playing a fantastic villain.  It’s the return of the iconic companion Sarah Jane Smith (and therefore, Elisabeth Sladen) to the show after nearly thirty years.  This particular moment early in the episode is one of my favorite Who moments of all time.
 

 
Before School Reunion, once a companion departed the TARDIS, that was usually the last the viewers saw of their characters.  There were a few exceptions, such as Harry Sullivan’s one-off appearance in The Android Invasion, but in most cases once a companion left, they were gone for good.  School Reunion showed viewers for the first time how a companion’s travels with the Doctor affect their lives AFTER they leave the TARDIS, as Sarah Jane admits to the Doctor how she thought he had died after not seeing him for nearly thirty years, but how their travels together shaped her into the fiery and investigative woman she had become.  It’s a unique insight into the nature of a companion’s post-TARDIS life…and a topic Big Finish touched upon as well just one year before.
 
Thicker Than Water isn’t about the overall plot, a simple one involving alien technology and genetic experimentation.  It’s also not a story about the supporting characters, where some was paper-thin cutouts, some standout, and once again Mel has her moments, both good and bad.  What Thicker Than Water IS about is the relationship between Evelyn and the Doctor, set a few years after Evelyn has departed the TARDIS for a new life on a new planet.   And in that regard, it succeeds in spectacular fashion.   
 
After saving the lives of yet another group of Earth colonists, the Sixth Doctor is feeling pretty good about himself.  Mel pokes fun at his ballooning ego, but the Doctor tells her he used to be much worse, until his travels with Evelyn Smythe helped smooth out his rough edges.  Mel scoffs that she would very much like to meet this woman the Doctor always talks about, and on impulse, the Doctor offers to take her to the planet of Vilag, where Evelyn has settled down with Rossiter to begin a new life.  But things on Vilag are not as tranquil as one would hope.  The planet is still recovering from the Killoran invasion three years earlier.  Where Evelyn firmly believes that the alien technology should be studied to help scientific advancement, her stepdaughter Sofia Rossiter believes that the technology should be destroyed before it can be weaponized.  As the public debates between stepmother and stepdaughter grow more heated, little do either know that someone close to both of them has taken a “third option” when it comes to the Killorans…
 
For Paul Sutton's second Big Finish story, a direct sequel to Arrangements for War, Sutton focuses much more on the character interactions than on the bare bones plot. There is talk about alien technology, genetic manipulation, and Vilag's recovery from the Killoran invasion, but those aspects are given lip service at best to drive for the villain's “the ends justify the means” mentality. Sutton's script does sprinkle some fine character moments throughout the story, such as a backstory between Sofia and Sebastian that explains some of their actions. While Sutton is showing that he can play with the chords of emotions better than most Big Finish writers, where Arrangements for War was a series of events that happened because the story needed to move along, Thicker Than Water suffers from a wraparound plot that's there solely to place the characters in harm's way. I say this because while the individual pieces of the story are interesting, the way they weave together to the villain's revelation is incredibly shoddy. The villain of the story is obvious from a mile away, even with a red herring or two tossed about, and the isn't any sort of payoff regarding the medical experimentation that are inflicted upon the Killoran prisoners. While it's fine for a story to put character over plot, the plot itself still has to carry the action, and in this story, the plot trips and falls on its face during the story's climax...which concludes with over ten minutes left in the story!

This is the first story I’ve listened featuring Maggie Stables in 2014.  It definitely affected the way I listened to this audio, as I was prepared to start getting a bit emotional at the first sound of her voice.  But when her public debate with Sofia Rossiter quickly turned toward anger and frustration, with Evelyn throwing her microphone down and walking offstage, I was shocked.  THIS wasn’t the Evelyn Smythe I knew!  What the heck had HAPPENED during the two years since her and the Doctor had parted ways?  Sutton jumps back and forth over those two years throughout the story, filling in the gaps of what happened between Evelyn, her new husband Rossiter, and how she adapted to her new home.  While the driving force behind Thicker Than Water is the story between Evelyn and the Doctor, they barely spend any of the runtime with each other.  While Colin Baker and Maggie Stables have great chemistry and I wished they had more interaction, listeners are allowed to see just how Evelyn is affected by the lack of the Doctor’s presence in her life.  In the new series, the Doctor just drops in and out of his companions lives all the time, Eleven and Twelve taking this to an art form with the Ponds and Clara.  But here, the Doctor has left, and Evelyn doesn’t quite know what to make of it.  She makes a life for herself, of course, but she wishes she could come to terms with the Doctor himself about how things ended between them.  When Maggie is on, during her time alone side Mel and during her flashbacks, the retired teacher-turned-actress is ON.  Determination, anger, fire, weariness…it’s all in her performance.  What makes Stables’ performance so wonderful in the part is that when other characters talk about her, they talk about her merits AND her flaws.  Evelyn isn’t perfect, but she is a full-blown character which Stables fleshes out, wishing to see the Doctor again even as she’s moving on with her life (an idea listeners will get to see the other side of in the upcoming Five/Tegan story The Gathering...).
 
Sometimes, the Doctor gives in to his impulses.  Even if he can’t quite come to terms with seeing Evelyn again, as soon as she’s kidnapped, he leaps into action to save her.  Colin Baker’s character development for the Sixth Doctor, with Big Finish at his side, has been remarkable, and having Evelyn Smythe as a companion contributed immensely to the rehabilitation of the Sixth Doctor’s reputation.  The Sixth Doctor isn’t perfect – he still suffers a bit in the area of social graces when introducing Mel to Evelyn, and he’s not quite blessed with tact as he directly accuses characters (with the proper logic) of being involved in Evelyn’s kidnapping.   Baker gives the proceedings a sense of desperation, the Doctor putting on a brave front as he tries to find where Evelyn has been taken to, going to far as to donate his very own blood to save her life as she lies on the operating table during the story’s climax.

Mel is the companion for this story, and those who don't care for Mel will enjoy the physical abuse she takes during the events of Thicker Than Water. She spends most of the story's runtime separated from the Doctor, being choked by her kidnapper, slapped by Rossiter's daughter (and I know Mel is cheerful and forgiving, but the slapping scene threw me for a bit, especially with how casually Mel forgave her), and being assaulted by the main villain and tossed into an elevator shaft! That said, Bonnie Langford is once again pretty drat good in a Big Finish story. She possessive the fiery and inquisitive nature that she should have been allowed to show on television as she takes charge of her “half” of the investigation/story. She does suffer a bit from writer-induced idiocy as she falls for the villain's transparent charms which leads to her losing a fight with gravity. But! For the first time in Big Finish, listeners are treated to a (lower in volume, thank God!) pitch perfect Melanie Bush scream as she falls down the elevator shaft. Langford, after surving by having the Doctor break her fall, somehow delivers the phrase “I found the big bad guy who's behind everything, and he thew me down a LIFT SHAFT!” with a mix of “I know who the bad guy is,” “I can't believe I fell for his plan,” and “I'm going to throw HIM down a lift shaft!” I don't know why, but I replayed that scene ten times or so...

The supporting cast is solid, but could have been a bit better. Gabriel Woolf (of Sutekh and the Creature in the Satan Pit fame) returns as Principal Triumvir Rossiter, and the chemistry between him and Maggie Stables sells their October-romance. There's a new fire in his eyes with having to help rebuild his home planet, and when he finds out somehow has kidnapped Evelyn, hell hath no fury. Woolf shows us the kind of man Rossiter is, a man for whom Evelyn would leave everything on Earth, and in the TARDIS, behind to start a new life, which is a critical relationship that helps make this story work. Patrick Rommer, best known for his recurring role on the BBC drama Casualty, plays the obvious villain Szabo, and by obvious, it's apparent from the moment there IS a villain in the piece just who it is. He's smooth and charming, but doesn't quite hit those tones in the way a villain should. Rachel Pickup's Sofia Rossiter could best be described as “wicked stepdaughter,” as her anger towards Evelyn is barely tempered by the story's events, even with the death of her misguided friend Sebastian, played by Simon Watts, who does well in his small role as the person who does what he thinks is best for the person he thinks is best, but ends up in way over his head. Matt Dimeen plays bodyguard Jenner, and he finds the right balance between “by the book jerk” and “human feelings lead to bodyguard failings,” come off as incredibly competent, a bit dry in terms of humor, and playing the part of the cavalry with aplomb.

I have to give props to the production crew for this story, as they take two of Sutton's plot points and turn it into something chilling; a group of Vilag citizens who have been experimented upon to the point of insanity, with their screams and rage as they try to break into the Doctor's hiding place, and a group of Killoran prisoners who have had their very DNA twisted to the point that their minds are broken. So broken, their gibberish can't be properly translated by the TARDIS! These two groups and the way they're presented on audio show how Big Finish has transcended the “three people muttering equals a crowd” cliché that marked some of their earlier productions.

The heart of Thicker Than Water is all about the relationship between the Doctor and Evelyn. To me, THIS is how Rose and Ten's friendship should have been handled. I was prepared to not like Rose after finding out that a former pop star was playing her, but Billie Piper won me over as Rose turned out to be a pretty awesome companion. But when she left the Doctor, Ten spent so much time pining for her that it drove Martha away. He ended up sending a clone of himself to be with Rose in another universe. One could say that the Time War changed the Doctor's priorities vis-a-vis his companions, but it just was so out of place and over the top...especially considering how Donna's time in the TARDIS ended.

When Evelyn and the Doctor say “goodbye” for the first time, it's not goodbye but a quasi-breakup. After Jubilee, ...and the Pirates, and Project: Lazarus, the events of Arrangements for War are the last that Evelyn can take. The Doctor knows what's coming...but this is not only the Doctor, but the Sixth Doctor. There's talk of “see you again” and what not, but deep down inside the Doctor knew he made a botch of the whole situation. So, he jumps at Mel's suggestion to see her again. And there's no jealousy on Mel's part. It's a straight forward “you had old companions, you talk about them, I'd like to meet the one you talk about a lot.” It perfectly fits Mel's character. Mel and Evelyn get along great during their time together, Evelyn joking that Mel was the “latest model” and Mel just laughing it off. There wasn't a hint of underlying jealousy like that kind of, sort of was with Rose and Sarah Jane during their still-drat-amazing on-screen time during School Reunion. At the end of the story, the Doctor and Evelyn hash everything out, but it's not a big drawn out melodramatic moment. It's quiet and poignant, as the Doctor is there for an important moment in Evelyn's life, as she hoped. There's no pining, there's no holes-in-hearts to be filled. It's what happens when someone truly and deeply misses a friend, a friend who was there in your life at JUST the right time when they were needed most, and Evelyn was just the friend the Doctor needed, after the Trial of a Time Lord and losing Peri. Friends move on, friendships fade away...but THOSE friends, the ones you can drop in on five, ten years down the line and pick up right where you left off, or the friend you could dial up at 3 in the morning and, because it's your name on the phone, they're going to pick up...and for Six and Evelyn, I got the sense of quiet delight as a teacher sees a favorite students after all those years and knows the impact they had upon their life.

Now, there's one other thing to mention...and that's the big “twist,” as the Seventh Doctor drops in Evelyn where she's recovering from her surgery. Sylvester McCoy's appearance caught me completely off guard, much like his cameo at the end of The Wormery, but it ties into the story very nicely. The Seventh Doctor gives Evelyn a piece of good news – that his newest companion, Hex, is actually Thomas Scofield, aka “little Tommy,” aka Cassie's son. It's a great little scene that underlines just how much of an effect Evelyn had on the Doctor's life and how Seven isn't afraid to bend the laws of Time to make sure everything works out and Evelyn understands that life goes on, with the Doctor, as always, trying to do his best. It's a very lovely moment...but a little more explanation would have been nice, as there might not only have been listeners who had no idea who Hex/little Tommy was (and if you're one of them, for God's sake go pick up The Harvest from Big Finish), or might not have remembered who Cassie was, as it had been over two years since the release of Project: Lazarus.

Thicker Than Water is a great end to Evelyn Smythe's story, with the character interactions overcoming the flaws in plotting and story. Along with School Reunion, it's a great peak into how companions deal with their time with the Doctor after leaving the TARDIS, and Maggie Stables simply nails the heartache and joy of seeing the Doctor once again. Note, however, that this isn't Maggie's last story with Big Finish. Her and the Sixth Doctor still have several upcoming adventures. This is just the second-to-last one chronologically. The last one? Well...without going into detail, there's a reason it's called A Death in the Family...

SynopsisThicker Than Water sees how Evelyn Smythe deals with her departure from the Doctor's side in a story where character interactions trump the throwaway plot and listeners realize just how much Maggie Stables will be missed. 4/5.

Next up - "LIVE 34 ­all news, all day, every day |­ LIVE 34."

"Reports are coming in of an explosion..."

"On the line now is the leader of the FDP..."

"The President is about to begin his address..."

"We can see bodies in the wreckage..."

Sylvester McCoy is the Doctor in...LIVE 34.

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