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After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Bill and Ted rules seem to apply to Time Lords - they generally run on Gallifrey Central Time and tend to live their lives concurrently with each other, especially when on Gallifrey. Obviously, this can be broken when the plot demands it ("No, not the time scoop!") and crossing over to a place he knows he'll already be is verboten, but this helps to make sense of everyone usually meeting each other in the same order. I think it's referenced in The Apocalypse Element where the Sixth Doctor arrives on Gallifrey in what should be the Eighth Doctor's era.

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Davros1
Jul 19, 2007

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

After The War posted:

Bill and Ted rules seem to apply to Time Lords - they generally run on Gallifrey Central Time and tend to live their lives concurrently with each other, especially when on Gallifrey. Obviously, this can be broken when the plot demands it ("No, not the time scoop!") and crossing over to a place he knows he'll already be is verboten, but this helps to make sense of everyone usually meeting each other in the same order. I think it's referenced in The Apocalypse Element where the Sixth Doctor arrives on Gallifrey in what should be the Eighth Doctor's era.

At the start though, they're not on Gallifrey.

I think it's more of a case where the TARDIS will always arrive on Gallifrey at the correct relative time.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Yeah, I've always figured that it must be a matter of time moves at the same pace/direction for all Time Lords regardless of where they are (a day for the Doctor is a day for all Time Lords, no matter where he is in time and space, etc). But that can be gotten around, though it is frowned upon/outright forbidden - basically Time Travel isn't supposed to be happen to Time Lord society itself.

M_Gargantua
Oct 16, 2006

STOMPIN' ON INTO THE POWER LINES

Exciting Lemon

I felt compelled to draw this.



I'm a little ashamed.

Facebook Aunt
Oct 4, 2008



Ham Wrangler

M_Gargantua posted:

I felt compelled to draw this.



I'm a little ashamed.

You're missing 3 balls.

Edward Mass
Sep 14, 2011



Hair Elf

Angela Christine posted:

You're missing 3 balls.



The Time War, from what I reckon, exists outside of time, so any attempt to say when it takes place is futile. Unless, of course, you're talking about the Doctor's timeline or the timeline of another Time Lord.

Big Mean Jerk
Jan 27, 2009

MENTALLY
DEFEATED


Grimey Drawer

When in doubt apply the MST3K theme.

Fil5000
Jun 23, 2003

HOLD ON GUYS I'M POSTING ABOUT INTERNET ROBOTS


Don't forget the transduction barriers!

The_Doctor
Mar 29, 2007

"The entire history of this incarnation is one of temporal orbits, retcons, paradoxes, parallel time lines, reiterations, and divergences. How anyone can make head or tail of all this chaos, I don't know."


Fil5000 posted:

Don't forget the transduction barriers!

Pfft, they're like the guard booth on a military base. Just there to stop you getting into Gallifrey without proper authorisation.

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:

Yeah, I've always figured that it must be a matter of time moves at the same pace/direction for all Time Lords regardless of where they are (a day for the Doctor is a day for all Time Lords, no matter where he is in time and space, etc). But that can be gotten around, though it is frowned upon/outright forbidden - basically Time Travel isn't supposed to be happen to Time Lord society itself.

Yeah, that's more or less how I figure it.

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.



"Yaranaa - it means literally, 'the soul of the vengeful' - those whose lives have been cut short early and died with empty hearts"

Millennia ago, the people of the planet Caludaar pledged never to set foot on their sister planet Endarra. But what secrets does the planet hold? There are laws even the Doctor won't break. And while C'rizz learns that some tragedies can't be averted, Charley must decide who the enemy actually is.

For death walks on Endarra, and this time she won't be denied.

Paul McGann is the Doctor in Scaredy Cat.

X X X X X

Cast

Paul McGann (The Doctor)
India Fisher (Charley)
Conrad Westmaas (C'rizz)
Michael Chance (Flood)
Arthur Bostrom (Arken)
Spencer Mclaren (Bronik)
Rosalind Blessed (Niah)
Ellis Pike (Eldrin)
Linda Bartram (Galayana)

Written By: Will Schindler
Directed By: Nigel Fairs

Trailer - http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/p...scaredy-cat-241

X X X X X

Scaredy Cat is such a disjointed and boring story that I can’t even be bothered to try to come up with one of my trademark meandering introductions.  A substandard plot with major pacing issues and actors who sound completely lifeless playing parts that suffer from poor characterization add up to a story that doesn’t hit the bottom of Big Finish’s barrel, but you sure can see it from where this serial lands. 
 
C’rizz wonders about seeing a newly formed planet, a virgin world untouched by man and civilization.  The Doctor obliges him, whisking C’rizz and Charley to Endarra, the uninhabited twin planet of Caludaar.  The people of Caludaar have pledged to never step foot on the surface of their sister planet.  But as the TARDIS hovers in the atmosphere, a strange experiment is taking place below, one who’s hypothesis concerns nothing less than the nature of evil itself, and the unknown history of Endarra is about to play a very vital part in its outcome… 
 
Scaredy Cat is Will Shindler’s second offering from Big Finish, the other being the Divergent Universe story The Twilight Kingdom.  That story suffered from a major case of “tell don’t show” throughout its runtime, compounded by a lack of follow-up or pay-off to several of its plot points, adding up to a story that only needed three episodes instead of four to be told.  Scaredy Cat takes those same problems, but heads in a different direction by being the shortest four-episode main range story, clocking in at 77 minutes…spread over 101 different “parts.”  Director Nigel Fairs would go on to spend most of his time doing the behind-the-scenes work and production on a wide variety of Companion Chronicles, but there's nothing here that shows a natural affinity towards such work as some scenes in this story clocked in at under a minute, with a few coming in under 30 seconds and one scene being 11 seconds total!  Scaredy Cats has some halfway decent ideas that could (and should) have been expanded on, but Shindler jumps from scene to scene, and therefore plot to plot, with barely any explanation or exposition!  It’s one thing to trust the listener enough to fill in the narrative gaps on their own, but with the story moving so fast, it’s like riding a rickety roller coaster with a leather strap for a seat belt.  You’re banging around so much from the turns and drops that you’re not getting a chance to process the sensations before being thrown into the next turn.  Oh, and the roller coaster isn’t that good to begin with. 
 
Paul McGann is “my” Doctor, and I say this with confidence even after re-watching the 1996 TV movie with my stepdaughter this weekend and having put up with the Divergent Universe arc.  At this point in McGann’s time with Big Finish, I have to keep reminding myself that the Eighth Doctor Adventures are right around the corner (and according to most fans, I have Other Lives and Memory Lane to enjoy before then), because I am just not digging the Eight/Charley/C’rizz TARDIS crew. I kind of think McGann wasn’t either by this point in his run, and was just showing up to cash a paycheck and have some of Big Finish's legendary catering. For a supposedly fast-paced story, the Eighth Doctor (and McGann) sound utterly bored during the entirety of the proceedings. A mystery in front of him, time travel, a creepy girl, C'rizz messing with the Web of Time...these events should elicit some kind of emotion from the Doctor, but the highlight of McGann's performance is a triumphant yelling of “bluetits!” I am not making this up. I know there are better stories and seasons in the future for the Eighth Doctor, and it's the only thing keeping me going at this point in his run.

Charley...I loved Charlotte Pollard's character arc from Storm Warning to Neverland, with Scherzo an interesting coda to that storyline. Ever since Scherzo, though, India Fisher has been reduced to the Liz Shaw role; a strong, smart female character who asks questions, hands the Doctor test tubes, and get put in grave peril time and time again. Once again, I know there are better stories coming up for Charley. But for now, I can't remember her being a major presence in ANY recent story beyond being “the female Companion.” In Scaredy Cat, Charley's contribution is being thrown in a holding facility with the story's villain at the end of the second episode and running away from him as he kills a scientist in the third episode. This whole story is simply a major disservice to India Fisher.

In LIVE 34, Hex gives a bit of background about his father and grandmother, and how they encouraged him to find a job there would always be a need for, which is how he ended up as a nurse. This little throwaway segment made me care more about Hex then multiple stories have about C'rizz! It's not Conrad Westmaas' fault. I feel like he's doing the best with what he's given, but the more he appears, the more I really wish C'rizz had been a one-off character in The Creed of the Kromon. His presence in this story is pretty much to be the butt monkey. First, the Doctor and he travel back in time 4 million years to when there was a new colony on Endarra, one whose presence is unknown to modern history. The people have been infected by an experimental biological weapon launched at the planet by a hostile alien race simply as a weapon test. With the colonist dying, C'rizz decides that it's up to him to save the colony, even though their fate is to die. The Doctor argues with C'rizz about this (in the most unemotional argument ever), and after C'rizz sneaks them the antidote, the Doctor simply takes C'rizz three months in the future where the colony lies empty because ...and that's it. The idea of C'rizz interfering with the Web of Time because he's sick of death is a topic that could have been spun out into an entire audio, but in 77 minutes, there obviously just isn't time other than a quick, unnecessary subplot that's easily wrapped up and has no other bearing on the story. Then, there's when C'rizz, the murderer, someone who has battled with this guilt for stories and stories, threatening the story's villain with “so, am I locked up in here with you...or are you locked up in here with me?” And the villain easily puts C'rizz in his place. Again, I know what's upcoming with C'rizz, so I'm willing to endure his stories until that final piece of absolution.

The supporting cast here...they're nothing to write home about. For most of them, this is their only Big Finish appearance – the head scientist whose twisted methods hide a need to cure evil, the willing female assistant who questions the morality of their work, the other scientist who finds himself in over his head, and the wannabe Hannibal Lecter villain who can't play suave or sophisticated, and doesn't even give the scenery a proper chewing. Even the creepy little girl, who's presence boils down to chanting “scaredy cat, scaredy cat” over and over again, doesn't elicit any sort of scare or discomfort in the listener. The only high point for this serial is, as usual, Big Finish's sound crew, who establish the setting of a virgin world with hooting natives, a dying colony infected with disease, and the sounds of minds under assault with their standard solid effort.

There's so much wrong with this story, and it's hard to write about because it's difficult to nail down the one key point. Scaredy Cat is just a poor story all around. The story is too short and jumps around from topic to topic without spending any time developing those topics. Does it want to talk about the nature of evil? The despoiling of nature? The harm colonists due to native culture? Interference in the Web of Time? Can planets hold memories, and can it use those memories to defend itself? By not grasping a single narrative and not giving the characters any real sense of motivation or emotion, Scaredy Cat fails to hold the listener's attention. For a fast paced story, that's the biggest sin it can commit.

(And this is with me glossing over the fact that the story's villain is defeated by the little girl, the manifestation of the planet's anger, chanting “scaredy cat, scaredy cat” at him over and over again...)

Synopsis – With a narrative that bounces all over the place, aimless characters played by bored actors, and several plots without any direction or development, Scaredy Cat is one of the weaker outputs from Big Finish, as well as one of the lower points of Paul McGann's run. 2/5

Next up - Time is fracturing and the Doctor and Turlough are at the heart of the chaos. History is about to change and the galaxy will burn in its wake...

Peter Davison is the Doctor in...Singularity.

Pesky Splinter
Feb 16, 2011

A worried pug.


After they cut short the 8th Doctor's Divergent Arc, it's like BF didn't know what to do with him; most of the remaining stories feel repurposed from stuff that would have happened in that arc.
I don't think it really recovers until the EDA.

Scaredy Cat I remember being pretty hard to slog through because, as you've put, it's just incredibly boring with pretty much zero payoff.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


In all honesty, despite listening to it, considering what I'd heard, and doing a write-up for it.... I still had to stop and think for a bit before I could remember what happens in Scaredy-Cat. It really is a wholly unremarkable and uninspiring story.

I really, really can't wait to get to the end of the 8th Doctor's monthly range stories, the Doctor and Charley are fine but despite my best efforts to keep an open mind, C'Rizz really is a pretty awful character.

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:

In all honesty, despite listening to it, considering what I'd heard, and doing a write-up for it.... I still had to stop and think for a bit before I could remember what happens in Scaredy-Cat. It really is a wholly unremarkable and uninspiring story.

I really, really can't wait to get to the end of the 8th Doctor's monthly range stories, the Doctor and Charley are fine but despite my best efforts to keep an open mind, C'Rizz really is a pretty awful character.

Yeah, I actually had to look it up and pry through my brain before I could remember having heard it.

And C'Rizz really is insufferable, unfortunately. They can't decide what to do with him, so he's forever a grumpy, gloomy nobody who always seems on the verge of betraying his companions through some form of brainwashing. Much though I like Charlie, Lucie Miller really is a better fit for Eight in a lot of ways.

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:

And C'Rizz really is insufferable, unfortunately. They can't decide what to do with him, so he's forever a grumpy, gloomy nobody who always seems on the verge of betraying his companions through some form of brainwashing. Much though I like Charlie, Lucie Miller really is a better fit for Eight in a lot of ways.

C'rizz just doesn't do ANYTHING for me. I'm listening to Other Lives right now and I'm more interested in "The Misadventures of Charlotte Pollard, Mistaken Victorian Prostitute" than anything C'rizz has done since Faith Stealer.

As much as I love Charley/India Fisher, her character arc ended in Scherzo. Ever since then, she's just been a flat character. Thanks to my OCD, I have to listen to the main range until The Girl Who Never Was and THEN I'll rip through the first season of the EDA's and second second of the FDA's before coming back to the main range.

I really want to get to Lucie "Bleedin'" Miller, and I'm prepared to race J-Ru to get there first!

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

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


CobiWann posted:


As much as I love Charley/India Fisher, her character arc ended in Scherzo. Ever since then, she's just been a flat character. Thanks to my OCD, I have to listen to the main range until The Girl Who Never Was and THEN I'll rip through the first season of the EDA's and second second of the FDA's before coming back to the main range.


Yeah, Charlie is fun, but it does feel like they spin their wheels for awhile late in their stuff. I listen in release order (the OCD is literal in my case), so I did the first EDA season a bit before the Girl Who Never Was, which was weird.

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


CobiWann posted:

Again, I know what's upcoming with C'rizz, so I'm willing to endure his stories until that final piece of absolution.

I see what you did there!

I quite liked Girl That Never Was. Getting Alan Barnes back was a good idea, since he oversaw the stories that made us fall in love with Charley, even if he does a few callbacks to Storm Warning which are juuuust this side of cutesy.

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.



Russia, the near future.

The Somnus Foundation knows the fate of mankind; they promise a tomorrow where humanity will evolve into a godlike form of infinite power. They will lead us there, to a destiny that spans the stars. This is how the future will unfold.

The Doctor knows the fate of mankind; the human race is destined to fight and struggle for their very existence, to survive disaster and war and carve an empire from an unforgiving universe. He has seen it with his own eyes. This is how the future will unfold.

Beneath the towering headquarters of the Somnus in the streets of Moscow, a dark power is building, and a conspiracy that stretches across eternity is nearing completion.

Time is fracturing and the Doctor and Turlough are at the heart of the chaos. History is about to change and the galaxy will burn in its wake...

Peter Davison is the Doctor in Singularity

Cast
Peter Davison (The Doctor)
Mark Strickson (Turlough)
Eve Polycarpou (Qel
Maitland Chandler (Seo)
Michael Cuckson (Cord)
Natasha Radiski (Lena Korolev)
Oleg Mirochnikov (Alexi Korolev)
Max Bollinger (Pavel Fedorin)
Dominika Boon (Natalia Pushkin)
Billy Miller (Tev)
Marq English (Xen)

Written By: James Swallow
Directed By: Gary Russell

Trailer - http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/p...singularity-242

X X X X X

I’m surprised it took this long for a non-prose Doctor Who story to be set in Russia.

Even if you ignore the Soviet era (indeed, Soviet spies tried to steal a codebreaking device in The Curse of Fenric), there’s just so much about Russia that could provide the background for an excellent story. The wilds of Siberia. The history of the Cossacks. The Grand Duchy of Moscow. Heck, the relentless determination of the Russian people to endure and survive, no matter what life throws at them, could give the Cybermen a run for their money.

Singularity, set in the heart of 21st century Moscow, touches upon the will to survive. A mysterious organization with powerful allies promises the next evolution of humanity, one that the Fifth Doctor knows isn’t due for a very long time. With Turlough at his side and a pair of Russian allies, the Doctor races to figure out the truth behind the Somnus Foundation. It’s a solid, classic Who story, with science gone wrong, innocent people caught up in a bad situation, a companion in peril, and the Doctor saving the day. After a string of “meh” serials and some experimental stories, this story’s few flaws (mainly slightly off-kilter characterization) are easily overlooked.

The Somnus Foundation knows the future of mankind, and invites humanity to join it to work towards and obtain the next stage of human evolution. The Doctor knows that mankind’s history lies along a different path, Turlough knows that the Doctor is going to stick his nose in where it doesn’t belong once again, Max knows that the tendrils of the Foundation reach to the highest levels of government, Lena knows that her brother Alexi has been enticed by the Foundation’s lies, and Alexi knows that his acceptance into the Foundation shouldn’t have included his personality being transferred into a creaking body of rotting flesh and rusting metal…

James Swallow is a VERY prolific science fiction writer. His work spans countless fields, from video games (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) to novels (several in the Warhammer 40k universe) to television (Star Trek: Voyager) and even to audio dramas (Blake’s 7). With regards to Doctor Who, he’s done several novels, short stories, and the Big Finish Companion Chronicle Old Soldiers with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. With such a veteran wielding the pen, it’s no surprise that Singularity is one of the better scripts in Big Finish’s recent output. Not only does it contains all the classic elements of a Who story, but it pulls in several elements from science fiction in general, and by pairing the two together “genres” together, Swallow delivers an interesting tale. The new Russian economy mixed with old Soviet paranoia. The ties of family versus the need to belong. Poking your nose in seemingly making things worse. The will of the crowd against the strength of the individual. And several hair-raising scenes, including Turlough’s “fate” mid-way through the third episode and the “experimentation” on the TARDIS. The highest praise I can give this story is this; while driving to RegenerationCon, a normally two hour drive from Fredericksburg to Baltimore, I never stopped listening Singularity, spending the last ten minute sitting in the hotel parking lot because I HAD to know how the story ended. And without giving anything away, the ending to this story might be the closest Doctor Who comes to the classic (and heartbreaking) Futurama episode Jurassic Bark. AKA, the one with Fry’s dog.

(I’ll pause here to let my readers recover. Eyes dry? Moving on)

Peter Davison shines best as a Doctor who constantly lets his curiosity get the better of him, ending up way over his head and flailing about for a bit before getting things under control and sorting it all out. I have two main (and minor) problems with Singularity, and the first one is that, during the third and fourth episode when things are at their worst and it’s the Doctor vs. the Somnus Foundation…the Fifth Doctor’s a bit TOO cheerful, a bit TOO flippant, and a bit TOO nonchalant. He has his moments (such as his realization about what’s happening to the TARDIS during the third episode cliffhanger), but I just felt that there should have been a little more urgency across all of his proceedings at that point. But it’s a very small quibble, as for the most part Davison is on top of his game this time out. He throws himself (and Turlough) right into the situation without a moment’s thought, walks directly into the Somnus Foundation for a chat, and takes the TARDIS back in time and allows a young man to hook himself directly to a medical device to find out information, all before going right back to the Sonmus Foundation and confronting the villains without a moment’s pause. This is classic Fifth Doctor, and Davison gives it his all; charming, inquisitive, and commanding, knowing he’s in charge even when everyone else in the room thinks they’re in charge. But the best moments come when people call the Doctor out on his actions. Turlough proclaims that he’s sick of the Doctor lying to him (the Doctor says they’re landing in Russia “because why not” when in reality he’s tracing a time anomaly), Lena calls him out for sometimes making things worse (does his very presence cause the trouble he seeks to avert?), and the villains of the piece blame him for their troubles (“This is all the fault of YOUR kind, Time Lord!”). The Doctor is 900 years old at this point, and he lies, he causes trouble, and he sometimes lords his temporal status above others. It’s nice to hear people call him out for it…and it’s also nice that, since he’s 900 years old at this point, the Doctor’s going to just blow it off with a “I’m sorry” that you know he means, but that isn’t going to change anything in the long run. With regards to main range stories, this is easily Davison’s finest performance in a very long time, especially the calm and gentle way the Doctor comes across in the story’s final moments.

It’s no secret I am a Turlough fanboy. Male companions are a rare breed in and of themselves, but Turlough is not only a “bad teammate turned good,” but someone who never seemingly bought into everything the Doctor was selling. And nobody, nobody, does “dear GOD, you’re all insane and I’m the only rational one here” than Mark Strickson. The same minor concern I had with Peter Davison’s performance kind of carries over to Strickson, as it seems like nearly every line Turlough has during the first half of Singularity is a snarky, cross comment. While Turlough was the sourest knight in the TARDIS for sure, Swallow’s script cranks it up to 11. It’s the same concern I have with some writers for Peri, where everything she says is sarcastic and flippant. The switch is flipped, however, when Turlough finds himself having to talk Lena out of saving her dying mother during the trip to the past. Strickson many not do as many audios as the other companions, and he may have traded acting for producing wildlife documentaries (the man has a Zoology degree from the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales), but when given the right material, he shines. He tells Lena about his own problems, concerns, and heartaches, and the listener can feel the words convince Lena to head back to the TARDIS…but not before vowing to give the Doctor a piece of her mind for putting her in that situation in the first place, something Turlough can easily relate to.

I’m going to take a page from another reviewer here for a second, who brought up a very interesting point with regards to Turlough. During the third episode, Turlough finds himself captured (again), chained up (AGAIN), and then submitted to the same body-swapping procedure as Alexi before being flung to the very end of space and time; Ember, the last planet orbiting the last dying sun as entropy spreads across the galaxy. It’s here, where human beings have given up, that Turlough, an alien (“You look human.” “Have you considered all humans look like they come from Trion?”) steps up and takes charge, even if it’s as simple as “I’m not going to sit here and die, I’m going to go head on and smash something with a pipe.” Turlough’s internal conflict is the same as the Twelfth Doctor’s; is he a good man? Turlough is a coward, he’s left his companions and the Doctor to die to save his own skin, but he always goes back for them. When the chips are down, he’ll step up to save the day…but it’s because it’s HIS life on the line as well. Doctor Who has plenty of villains who do the wrong thing for the right reasons. I think one of the reasons I like Turlough is that, in the end, he does the right thing for the WRONG reasons, but he still does the right thing. It’s an interesting philosophical quandary, “the ends justify means” but in a reverse, mirror-like way. And no actor other than Mark Strickson can pull off such a quandary.

A lot of the complaints about Singularity have been that the Russian characters often come off as very Rocky and Bullwinkle “moose and squirrel” stereotypes. Which I find kind of funny, as half the supporting cast are actual Russian actors! Natasha Radiski plays Lena, and does a great job as both temporary companion and temporary antagonist, as she calls the Doctor out on his meddling even as she seeks his help in rescuring her brother Alexi from the Somnus Foundation. She comes off as a caring sister and a long-time friend to Pavel, played by Max Bollinger (who also stared in The Waters of Mars). Pavel knows something is up with the Foundation, and risks his life to find out what it is, with a great sense of paranoia and bravery that’s a bit akin to Turlough.

(for the record, this review is already longer than the one I just did for Scaredy Cat…)

Oleg Mirochnikov’s Alexi is the secondary character who gets in over his head, and he sells his character’s terror at realizing the bill of goods he’s just been sold. Maitland Chandler (who appears in the next main range audio, Other Lives) and Eve Polycarpou are the heads of the Somnus Foundation and the two villains of the piece (along with a minor villain, the jailer Xen who puts the stolen human through their punishment paces on Ember). Chandler’s Seo is the head of the Foundation and the leader of the aliens, while Polycarpou’s Qel has her own agenda, one that specifically involves a TARDIS. Both villains are played as evil, competent, and utterly ruthless, seeing the humans in Moscow as nothing more than dirty savages. They’re both ambitious, accusing the other of treachery and “interfering with the Great Plan,” something the Doctor plays on and exploits during the climax after seeds of discord had been planted throughout the story. The pair is great at playing the bad guys, and their final fates are well deserved.

Gary Russell does a good job of keeping the action going throughout the story, bouncing back and forth between the Foundation/Ember and the Doctor/Turlough without either feeling rushed or outstaying their welcome. The sound work is great as well, especially the distant feeling of Ember and the decaying bodies the kidnapped human personalities are forced to inhabit, along with a Moscow being forced to become a hive mind and pursue the Doctor through the empty streets. As an aside, the CD covers for Singularity are among my favorites from Big Finish so far, both the original at the top of this review and the alternate one at the bottom. Even if the flag is wrong, I love it just for the look on Turlough’s face.

Now, even though this story came out three years earlier, there definitely are a lot of parallels to The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords. An alien race from the end of everything has come back to modern day Earth in order to wreak havoc and renew their own lives through horrific means. There’s just a lot less scenery chewing in Singularity than there was in those two episodes. With the talk of decaying flesh and rusting bodies, my first thought was “Cybermen, it’s the last of the Cybermen.” But I was pleasantly surprised by the identity of the aliens. Who they were, why they picked human beings, and why they kept referring to them as “filthy savages” made perfect sense. The core reason behind their plan, however, causes a listener to stop and think. At the end of everything, when time is literally running out, the Time Lords left this universe for a new one. And they took their favorite species to start over again, which didn’t include this particular race. Their plan is to come back in time, force humanity to uplift into a massive gestalt consciousness, and wipe out the Time Lords in revenge…starting with the Doctor, the one Time Lord who SHOULD have interfered, as he always did, but chose this time to sit on the sidelines. It’s an audio that could never be written, but it’s a great idea. The Time Lords COULD have saved them…but if you’re so desperate to live that you’d hijack and rewrite the past, then the Time Lords have every right to leave you behind, you rotten, rotten nutters.

And again, the very last scene…some might find it bland, but I found it very bittersweet. What other Doctor than Five could have pulled it off? Last Time Lord in the galaxy, please turn off the light.

Singularity is a story I feel I could hand to a newcomer to Big Finish and say “give it a whirl.” It’s got all the classic Doctor Who and science fiction trappings, with a strong script, interesting plot, and solid (if slightly mischaracterized) acting, all set in a familiar land that still holds an air of mystery. It’s Strickson’s last audio for five years (he won’t return to the main range and a Companion Chronicle until 2010), and it’s a very solid one to go out on.



Synopsis – A new setting, a great evil scheme, a strong plot, solid writing, and interesting ideas as to what lengths a species will go to in order to survive makes Singularity a stand-out story. 4/5

Next up - London, 1851. Scene of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. Scene also of a plot to un-seat the government, de-throne the monarch and start a republic. If the Duke of Wellington himself is to be believed...

Paul McGann is the Doctor in…Other Lives

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


If only Singularity had settled on a single main antagonist, I think it could have been absolutely top-notch. As it is, it's a solid story with a really strong epilogue that you can read in a couple of different ways, and it asks some very interesting questions about whether Turlough AND the Doctor are actually "good" people or not.

Edward Mass
Sep 14, 2011



Hair Elf

In "nice try" news, the BBC is offering a BitTorrent Bundle featuring 12 episodes of the current series and bonus features for $12. I say "nice try" because, even with exclusive features, only offering selected episodes kind of defeats the point of downloading current series Doctor Who. If they had offered individual series for, say, $15, it would work much better.

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

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


Yeah, I looked at the episode list and it's a good sampler, but I have to assume most people are either going to be happy with streaming media or just purchase the seasons they want on DVD. If you want to catch the "best of" and catch a few episodes of something to see if you want to commit to it, there are other ways to do that already, and they're free.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?




Year of the Pig is a phenomenally good story from Big Finish, an absolute delight from start to finish. Everything about it strikes the right chord with me, the absurdity, the humor, the tragedy, the action, and even the deliberately blurry resolution to the underlying "mystery" of Toby's existence. It makes perfect use of Colin Baker's rather bombastic, slightly ludicrous character of the Sixth Doctor, and the setting is absolutely perfect - early 20th Century European seaside holidays for the well-to-do in society - not nobility but gentry or other members of the "respectable" class like police detectives, retired widows, old actors, writers, doctors and the like. The story slowly unfolds a mystery that builds in action to eventually reveal a tragedy that ends on a touching and heartwarming note. It's like an old Poirot or Sherlock Holmes story, though here the actual details of the mystery are far less important than the characters and how they deal with their own personal issues and troubling history.

The Doctor brings Peri to Ostend for a reading holiday, he's gotten it into his head to finally settle in and actually read Proust, which gives Peri the upper hand for a change as she HAS actually read the entire thing, though she was less than impressed. She complains that Proust needed an editor, while the Doctor is more concerned by the fact that most of the volumes he has brought with him haven't actually been written yet, so he needs to be careful not to let anybody else see them. This causes a brief bit of humor, as he is being watched from the hotel via telescope (nothing sinister, the inhabitant just enjoys taking in the sights) and the brown paper he wraps up the future volumes in causes her to ponder whether he's brought some dirty books down to the beach. When they spot a man apparently drowning, the Doctor dives in to save him, apparently having such a rough go of it that the victim ends up doing most of the work getting them back to shore. This is the Doctor's first meeting with Inspector Chardalot, a ridiculously loud and self-satisfied man who EVERYBODY immediately sees through - he is hiding something or trying to pull off some kind of scam, and despite the utter transparency of his actions, he seems harmless enough that everybody kind of just goes along with it while waiting for the other shoe to drop. That Chardalot ends up being far more sinister is quite a nice surprise, because while his buffoonish attempts to ingratiate himself are transparent, the full extent of his duplicity doesn't really come out till towards the end - it's a pretty neat double-bluff, even if it wasn't entirely intentional on the part of the character.

The Doctor and Peri find themselves rather forced against their will into taking dinner with both Chardalot as well as a rather nosy old woman named Miss Bultitude (voiced by Maureen O'Brien, who played Vicky during the Hartnell era). Bultitude is also not what she seems, a common theme of the entire story - everybody is hiding something or being economical with the truth in some way. Warning Peri with the identity of the young woman's "secret" admirer, she pretends to be more dithery than she is in order to orchestrate infiltration deeper into the hotel, helped somewhat by the Doctor being so mortified after getting tipsy and giving Proust (who it turns out is holidaying in Ostend as well) a piece of his mind. She has been "hunting" the hotel's most peculiar guest, who occupies an unused section of the hotel, never leaving his room, simply calling up seemingly endless meals to gorge himself on, accompanied only by his nurse, Albertine. Known only by his first name of Toby, he is convinced that "the Doctor" is coming to kill him and thus end the human race, because according to Toby he is the last human being alive on earth. Given his access to advanced technology and seeming knowledge of the Doctor, I assumed at first that he was a time traveler, perhaps even the last human being alive, who retreated into the past to live out his life in relative comfort in the presence of others like him, even if they are all technically eons-dead in his mind.

The truth, of course, is something else entirely. The answer doesn't come till late in the story, following a couple of false leads, but it doesn't give anything away (it's right there on the cover) that Toby is a pig. Whether he's a pig with a human mind inside, or from an alternate reality where pigs were the dominant species, or an experiment, or an alien doesn't matter, the fact is he is a pig. He walks, he talks, he eats (boy does he eat) and he happily regales everybody with wistful tales of his days treading the boards, back when he was an "actor" working at what was essentially a freak show. His peers were giants, dwarves, women with lobster claws for hands etc, but he never had any sense of being exploited, and considers himself a true thespian.... more than that, he insists to anybody who will listen that the world has somehow gone wrong, that in fact everybody SHOULD be a pig and in fact WERE not so long ago, but something happened (during the Boer War he vaguely seems to insinuate) and humans somehow got it into their heads that they were and always had been the dominant species on the planet. The Doctor he fears is coming to get him seems to be involved in some way, and after satisfying himself that THE Doctor is not this mysterious person, he plans to move on from Ostend to another in an endless series of hotels willing to accommodate his odd habits, funded by his not inconsiderable fortune from his time in the Freak Show.

The acting is excellent in this story, but it is - excuse the pun - extremely hammy. This is entirely deliberate, fitting in wonderfully with the setting the story is set in. Toby in particular is marvelous, voiced by Paul Brooke (the Rancor Keeper from Return of the Jedi!), he smoothly regales everybody with stories of his youth, and his joyful pleasure as he describes his food is infectious, he makes everything sound utterly delicious. Toby would be an easy character to make utterly insufferable - he's a rich, self-obsessed drama queen who never stops stuffing his gob, but there was no point during the story where I didn't find him anything other than a delight to listen to. That he is such a ludicrous creation makes the reveal of his origin all the more poignant, as Toby finds his childhood home and with somewhat bewildered nostalgia goes over the various objects present, trying to reconcile what he discovers with what he has always told himself he remembers.

All the supporting characters get their chance to shine - Nurse Albertine has a great moment where she bitterly recounts the life/prestige she gave up by choosing to be Toby's traveling companion, and that serves to lance the boil somewhat as we (and she) realize the full depth of her attachment to her patient. It's also a good way to showcase she isn't just a creation written with 21st century ideals present, she is very much a product of her time, her enlightenment/intelligence is laudable but while bitterly recounting the honors given to her mentor that could also have one day been hers, she notes rather nastily,"And she a colored woman, too!" Meanwhile, Miss Bultitude moves from interfering busybody to partner-in-crime with the Doctor/Peri to starstruck fan of Toby to researching journalist to wannabe-companion/nurse, proving herself every bit as able (and sometimes moreso) as the Doctor or Peri in dealing with the various mad episodes they encounter. Peri, meanwhile, spends some time working with Inspector Chardalot despite her misgivings about his obvious scheming, at times being in peril, at other times taking the driver's seat to get things done - she is perhaps the "weakest" of the characters in that so much of her story is spent reacting to/accompanying others who are actually doing things, but she does serve an integral part in keeping various parties separate from each other at important times, a reliable character to fall back on as a secondary protagonist to lend a feeling of importance to the supporting characters.

There are a few time travel elements thrown in (including a wonderful gag with some cows) and there is very definitely a sci-fi bent to the entire story, but at it's heart this is a story about lost souls trying to find their way in a strange world, feeling that time has passed them by and reacting in very different ways - one tries to hold desperately on to what remains of their idea of "civilization" while the other tries desperately to transition to the "new" world and become an accepted part of it. One seeks isolation, the other seeks inclusion, and in the end both come to a better understanding of each other and their place in the world. The historical setting is important for this, it's pre-WWI but the industrial age has kicked in, technology is advancing and the world shrinking as a result, a transitional period in history between the old and the new, a time when it was easy to feel lost or untethered, and listening to Toby the Sapient Pig find his place in that world was a real pleasure.

Year of the Pig is just a drat good story. I really can't think of anything I disliked about it, from start to finish I was entranced, and it is a story I would highly recommend to anybody looking for a fun story with an ending that will leave you with a smile on your face and a warm heart. It's a story that fits Colin Baker perfectly, and when the Doctor inevitably DOES leave behind those unwritten volumes of Proust, what happens to them is just a perfect capstone to such a quality story. Oh, and just as a final note - there actually WAS a "sapient" pig named Toby, though it existed a good century before this story was set. I can only guess it was the inspiration for this story, the Doctor does mention upon first meeting Toby that there were plenty of "learned pigs" about in the past, which is why even he is surprised to see the genuine deal hanging out in a hotel room in Ostend stuffing his face with chocolates. I love that we live in a world where I could write that last sentence.

Jerusalem fucked around with this message at Apr 5, 2015 around 21:49

Dabir
Nov 10, 2012


Jerusalem posted:

he insists to anybody who will listen that the world has somehow gone wrong, that in fact everybody SHOULD be a pig and in fact WERE not so long ago, but something happened (during the Boar War he vaguely seems to insinuate)
Fixed that for you.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Dabir posted:

Fixed that for you.

That was a pun worthy of Inspector Chardalot

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.

Better story for the kiddo - City of Death or Robots of Death?

The_Doctor
Mar 29, 2007

"The entire history of this incarnation is one of temporal orbits, retcons, paradoxes, parallel time lines, reiterations, and divergences. How anyone can make head or tail of all this chaos, I don't know."


CobiWann posted:

Better story for the kiddo - City of Death or Robots of Death?

City of Death? It's certainly funnier.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Yeah, Robots might actually be a little unsettling, while City has a very whimsical feel to it. It's possible she may be scared by the first appearance of Scaroth, I remember the first time I saw it it gave me a hell of a jump, but I first saw it in the 80s and she's probably seen far worse, and it may even look comical to her now.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



If you can take the costumes and sets seriously, and that's a bigger ask than usual, Robots of Death is one of the scariest things the show's ever done, right from that scene where the crew casually discusses the grisly details of massage robots malfunctioning.

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


CobiWann posted:

Better story for the kiddo - City of Death or Robots of Death?

Web of Caves. It's high time she got to see the Gatiss Doctor.

Edit - Doc-tooooooohhhhrrrrrrr

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

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


City of Death has John Cleese and Julian Glover in it, it is written by Douglas Adams, and it contains some of Four's best lines, including "Well, you're a beautiful woman, probably," and "What a wonderful butler! He's so violent!" The "Does anyone care about history anymore?" shout is used in basically every montage that contains Four.

I really love City of Death.

egon_beeblebrox
Feb 29, 2008

WILL AMOUNT TO NOTHING IN LIFE.



Bicyclops posted:

City of Death has John Cleese and Julian Glover in it, it is written by Douglas Adams, and it contains some of Four's best lines, including "Well, you're a beautiful woman, probably," and "What a wonderful butler! He's so violent!" The "Does anyone care about history anymore?" shout is used in basically every montage that contains Four.

I really love City of Death.

It's pretty amazing. I still need to buy it. I have about half of Four's run; pretty odd I don't already have it.

It's a tragedy Adams didn't live long enough to write for the current show. Of course, he'd probably just now be finishing a script for a Nine episode. That'd be what brought Eccleston back. Maybe.

Squizzle
Apr 24, 2008

his words say yes


Fun Shoe

City of Death is one of the only old Who serials that hasn't aged incredibly badly. You can watch it straight through, in one sitting. It's not just good for what it is or good if you like that sort of thing—it's good.

Mortanis
Dec 28, 2005

It's your father's lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight.

College Slice

I just can't get over that Adams of all people cribbed his own script and released it as a book. I can't tell if it's intellectually lazy, or kinda brilliant.

Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul was better anyway.

Astroman
Apr 8, 2001



From a few pages back, but that Big Finish NA news is good. I'm a bit disappointed Gatiss isn't doing the adaptation of Nightshade, but it is one of the best NAs, a real love letter to 60s scifi tv. I am particularly looking forward to seeing who they get to play Nightshade/Edmund Trevithick himself. It should be an iconic actor. It would have been perfect if Peter Cushing were still alive...

All Consuming Fire is another great one. It should be a fantastic audio.

Dabir
Nov 10, 2012


Mortanis posted:

I just can't get over that Adams of all people cribbed his own script and released it as a book. I can't tell if it's intellectually lazy, or kinda brilliant.

Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul was better anyway.

Cribbed two of them - it's half Shada, half City.

Forktoss
Feb 13, 2012

I'm OK, you're so-so

Dabir posted:

Cribbed two of them - it's half Shada, half City.

And the third Hitchhiker book is based on the unproduced Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen and other rejected pitches. Adams wasn't one to let an idea go unused a good two or three times.

Wheat Loaf
Feb 13, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


I think Adams's season as script editor was disappointing on the whole. "City" holds it up a lot; it's probably no coincidence that it's the one he was most directly involved in writing.

MikeJF
Dec 20, 2003



I'm not surprised; I'm sure Adams would've been a great writer and a terrible script editor.

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Forktoss posted:

And the third Hitchhiker book is based on the unproduced Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen and other rejected pitches. Adams wasn't one to let an idea go unused a good two or three times.

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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.

After The War posted:

Web of Caves. It's high time she got to see the Gatiss Doctor.

Edit - Doc-tooooooohhhhrrrrrrr

...um...I didn't know these existed. I had just seen The Kidnappers. Welp, there goes my morning.

Edit - right now, it's a toss up between City of Death and Battlefield to show the kiddo this week. I want to introduce her to more Tom Baker, but she loves Ace and Seven so much...

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