The first appearance of the Eighth Doctor was in 1996 in a TV movie designed to be the pilot for a new TV show. The series wasn’t picked up, though, so by that measure, the Eighth Doctor might be considered to be the least successful of Doctors. In 2001, though, the Eighth Doctor began appearing in a series of audio adventures from Big Finish which continue to this day with no end in sight, so by that measure the Eighth Doctor might be considered to be among the most successful of Doctors. Paul McGann would eventually be featured in more than 30 adventures in Big Finish’s “main range” of Doctor Who audios, but in January 2007 he was awarded his own series of “Eighth Doctor Adventures” released in four “seasons” co-starring Sheridan Smith as new companion Lucie Miller.

I’m going to skip over the early audio adventures in the main range for now and concentrate on “The Eighth Doctor Adventures” beginning with season one. This may be an overly ambitious objective, but it is my intention to cover every episode of all four seasons (as listed below). At that point, I will either go back to the beginning, or continue on with the series “Dark Eyes” and “Doom Coalition”. As with my discussion of Dark Shadows audios, I will maintain an index in this initial post.

SEASON ONE

1.1 Blood of the Daleks, Pt. 1 - p1
1.2 Blood of the Daleks, Pt. 2 - p1
1.3 Horror of Glam Rock - p2
1.4 Immortal Beloved - p2
1.5 Phobos - p2
1.6 No More Lies - p3
1.7 Human Resources, Pt. 1 - p3
1.8 Human Resources, Pt. 2 - p3

SEASON TWO

2.1 Dead London - p3
2.2 Max Warp - p4
2.3 Brave New Town - p4
2.4 The Skull of Sobek - p4
2.5 Grand Theft Cosmos - p5
2.6 The Zygon Who Fell to Earth - p5
2.7 Sisters of the Flame - p5
2.8 Vengeance of Morbius - p5

SEASON THREE

3.1 Orbis - p5
3.2 Hothouse - p5
3.3 The Beast of Orlok - p6
3.4 Wirrn Dawn - p6
3.5 The Scapegoat - p6
3.6 The Cannibalists - p6
3.7 The Eight Truths - p7
3.8 Worldwide Web - p7

An Earthly Child - p7

SEASON FOUR

4.1 Death in Blackpool - p7
4.2 Situation Vacant - p7
4.3 Nevermore - p8
4.4 The Book of Kells - p8
4.5 Deimos - p8
4.6 The Resurrection of Mars - p9
4.7 Relative Dimensions - p9
4.8 Prisoner of the Sun - p10
4.9 Lucie Miller - p10
4.10 To the Death - p10

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The expression "immortal beloved" comes from a love letter of Beethoven's. Wikipedia has a page on it.

In myth, of course, Zeus obtained by power by overthrowing his father, who gained power by overthrowing his father.

The fear the Doctor uses to defeat the monster in "Phobos" is narrated quite well, with the listener using their imagination. However, listening to this now after all the new seasons of the Doctor and having seen tentacles of the Time War, it is not hard to imagine the Doctor's worst fears.

Luke Blanchard said:

The expression "immortal beloved" comes from a love letter of Beethoven's.

Interesting. While looking for the Wiki I discovered there apparantly been a movie about it, too. Now that Tracy has weighed in on Phobos, let's move on to...

NO MORE LIES:

“What links a disintegrating spaceship to a posh garden party, where a wealthy couple are celebrating their love for each other in style? Gatecrashers the doctor and Lucie think they know the answer. But they’re not the only uninvited guests—ferocious alien warriors riding pterodactyl-like Vortisaurs are about to make their entrance!”

I found this one to be disappointing, my least favorite of this season so far. The problem for me is that this story begins in medias res, and I don’t think they did an adequate job of cathing the listeners up to what’s going on. Know that I know what’s going on, perhaps I will enjoy it more on subsequent listens, but as it is, I seriously thought I had missed an episode and was listening out of order. If it hadn’t been for the synopsis above, I would have been even more lost than I was. One can only listen to it for the first time once, and my first time through was confusing. That’s unfortunate because, as you shall see, this episode is important to the overall arc of the season.

As the story opens, the Doctor and Lucie are pursuing a man named Zimmerman through the time vortex, and are being pursued in turn by a group of aliens called the Tar-Modowk. (Thanks again to the liner notes for the spelling of that one!) Lucie is apparently piloting the TARDIS. (Perhaps the Doctor got tired of her complaining about him landing them on cliffs.) Lucie brags that she set them down nice and proper behind a hedge, but the Doctor soon discovers she’s landed them in a time loop.

Interspersed with scenes of the Doctor and Lucie are scenes of a garden party. Nick is married to Rachel, and Gordon (whom Lucie will come to refer to as “Flash”) is Rachel’s brother. What was not quite clear to me at first is that “Nick” and “Zimmerman” are one and the same, but the Nick at the dinner party appears to have aged 30 years. If they followed him directly in to the time loop, he should be the same age he was. Even if he had been stuck in the loop for 30 years, he wouldn’t have aged. But how did he elude them for 30 years and then get stuck in a time loop?

Zimmerman had stolen time travel technology which he had planned to sell to the highest bidder. Something had gone wrong with the negotiations, and that’s why the Tar-Modowk were after him. The Doctor learns that Zimmerman has married, settled down, and rejected a life of crime. Zimmerman must close the loop before the Tar-Modowk enter real time, but the time loop is the only thing keeping his wife Rachel alive.

The Tar-Modowk arrive riding Vortisaurs. Zimmerman is surprised that the Doctor can handle them. He even rides one he calls “Margaret.” The Doctor explains he once kept a Vortisaur as a pet. [ASIDE: This is a reference to the first couple of Eighth Doctor adventures with Charley Pollard. Charlie named the Vortisaur “Ramsay” after then (1930) Prime Minister Ramsay Mac Donald. (Is this Vortisaur named for Margaret Thatcher?).]

After the danger has passed and the situation is resolved, the Headhunter arrives, casually introduces herself to Lucie, then renders her unconscious and kidnaps her.

CLIFFHANGER: The cloister bell begins to ring, alerting the Doctor to the fact that Lucie has been abducted.

Women seem to fly the TARDIS better than the Doctors. In Rachel's final moments, Zimmerman chooses to cry, whine, and moan. Rachel is forced to comfort him in her death.

Once again, Lucie is delightful.

HUMAN RESOURCES, Pt. 1:

“Lucie Miller’s been headhunted to join the staff of Hulbert Logistics, a respectable blue-chip firm in Telford. Great prospects, competitive salary—you don’t have to be mad to work here! But wasn’t she made for better things, like travelling by TARDIS through time and space? The Doctor, meanwhile, has been fired—into a confrontation with the most terrifying of enemies.”

As much as I was disappointed by “No More Lies,” I loved “Human Resources”! It’s extremely witty, with a serious undertone. And, like many Doctor Who two-parters, it turns deadly dangerous at the end of part one.

As it begins, Lucie wakes up in what appears to be the break room of a typical business office. She is disoriented, as if awakening from a dream, but soon she is joined by a woman (the Headhunter), who reminds her that today is her first day on her new job. She must have dozed off while waiting to be shown around. The woman introduces Lucie to Karen, also new on the job, who Lucie remembers from the day they interviewed together. All along this season I’ve thought of the Headhunter as a bounty hunter, but she turns out to be an actual corporate headhunter. Brilliant!

Back in the TARDIS, a Timelord named Straxus suddenly appears. Straxus knows that Lucie has been abducted, and also that she’s being held in a “dead time zone” (think “no cell service” but for time travel). The Timelords have rigged the TARDIS so that it will not work unless Lucie is aboard. The Doctor asks that the restriction be removed so that he can rescue her, but the Timelord refuses. He gives the Doctor a time ring and promises to free the TARDIS and take Lucie off the Doctor’s hand only after she has been rescued. The Doctor has little choice and reluctantly agrees.

The office Lucie’s in is like Dilbert’s worst nightmare. Corporate-speak announcements are broadcast over the intercom between scenes. It’s stuffy. Lucie tries opening a window, but they are all stuck. She tries to step outside for a cigarette break [“Do you smoke?” “No, but they don’t know that.” (Actually, they do.)], but the guard blocks her. The guard sounds like a large, unintelligible monster, but Lucie seems not to notice.

The Doctor arrives and is soon discovered, but he manages to convince them he’s an employee. He quickly locates Lucie and, using a device he cobbled together along with his sonic screwdriver, snaps Lucie out of her conditioning. They decide to split up so as to cover more ground.

Lucie’s job is data entry, but all of the statistics seems to be battlefield related. The Doctor ends up in a staff meeting, and although the jargon is similar, they seem to be planning and actual battle rather than some sort of corporate maneuvering. Lucie’s friend Karen makes mistake and gets fired by a middle management flunky. Lucie sticks up for her, gets fired, too. They are ejected from the premises and immediately discover that they’ve been kicked out of what is actually a giant, walking battle-bot in the shape of an office building. The next thing they notice is that they’re not in Telford at all, but rather on a blasted battlefield, probably one some other planet.

Doctor meets Todd Hulbert, the owner of the company, and gains his confidence by pretending to be a client. Meanwhile, Lucie and Karen meet Malcolm, another employee who has been “fired” from Hulbert Logistics. Malcolm explains how the employees are conditioned so as not to notice certain things, such as, for example, none of them ever actually go home for the day. They sleep and eat on the premises, and don’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

The Doctor learns from Hulbert that he himself was once one of the soldiers conditioned to operate the battle-bot, but he found a loophole in the conditioning process (since plugged), shook it, and was able to overthrow the former owners ad take over the alien technology. There are three ways to control it, but each has its limitations. First, the battle-bots could be controlled by computers, but they’re not very inventive outside of certain set situation. Second is by remote control, but if the enemy finds a way to jam the signal you’re stuffed. The third way is with a full crew, but crews are expensive and there’s a high turnover rate. Slaves are a possibility, but not highly motivated.

Then Hulbert hit upon the idea of using office workers trained data processing, except the data they process is actually battle strategy. They are also conditioned so as not to notice anything unusual; they just think they’re having a normal day at the office. It’s really quite a clever plot, I think.

Back in the giant office/robot, the Headhunter has discovered that the middle management bozo has fired Lucie, who she spend so much time and resources to find, and is not pleased.

Meanwhile, the Doctor, who obviously disapproves of Hulbert’s business, shuts down the battle-bots defenses. Only then does he discover who they have been fighting against…

CLIFFHANGER: The Cybermen.

END PART ONE. TO BE CONTINUED.

Ah, interesting.

HUMAN RESOURCES, Pt. 2:

“Business as usual? Not at Hulbert Logistics, where staff are facing a menace far worse than the prospect of the office Christmas party. Lucie’s made some new friends and the Doctor’s met some old enemies. But just who will become the Headhunter’s new apprentice? Welcome to the job interview from hell.”

The Doctor and Hulbert are on an observation platform. The office building/battle-bot has been taken over by the Cybermen and is stomping toward them. The Headhunter has taken a personal transport in search of Lucie. When she finds her (and Karen and Malcolm), we learn that Lucie disappeared on her first day of work when she stepped through the gateway that was to transport her to her job on this planet. (Because of their conditioning, the employees don’t even realize they have left Earth.) If it seems unlikely that the TImelords would have intervened at this point to put Lucie, who didn’t really know or hadn’t seen anything at this point, in their version of “witness protection” with the Doctor, all will be explained.

The reason that Hulbert hired the Headhunter to track Lucie down in the first place was, first, because she showed promise, but mainly because he was afraid she had been kidnapped by a rival firm wishing to learn his brainwashing techniques. Lucie’s group infiltrates the office building/battle-bot and manages to regain control. Suddenly, an audio effect conveys the impression that the timeline is being split. Travelling with the Doctor in the TARDIS has made Lucie somewhat time sensitive, and she locates a hidden panel from which the effect emanated.

Ah ha!

“What is it?”

“I have no idea.”

Hulbert tries to negotiate with the Cybermen, but isn’t having much luck. The Cybermen were actually losing the battle until the Doctor intervened. The Cyberman are interested in this one particular battle-bot because, of them all, it is the only one with a highly unlikely 100% success rate. (At this point I think “Leopardon”.) Lucie and the others rejoin the Doctor on the observation platform, and the Doctor recognizes the device Lucie found as a Quantum Crystallizer… Timelord technology. What the Crystallizer does is project several different possible battle scenarios, then chooses one which proves to be successful. Once the choice is made, the other quantum realities dissolve. The CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency) has been waging a covert war against the Cybermen against the wishes and without the knowledge of the High Counsel. Their plan was discovered, but the planet is now off limits to both sides. That’s why the Timelords maneuvered the Doctor into protecting Lucie, in the hope that he would retrieve the Gallifreyan technology before it fell into the wrong hands.

As the battle rages, another stunning revelation comes to light: Lucie Miller herself is a CIA experiment. It seems Lucie is, or rather was, destined to found an oppressive far-right political movement on Earth… that is, until the CIA got involved. They went back into her past and subtly manipulated events so as to remove certain traumas from her life which would lead to her turning evil. This knowledge freaks Lucie out, but the Doctor assures her that she is not now that person. The Headhunter doesn’t seem to believe him, though. Perhaps she sees in Lucie the potential for ruthlessness, and maneuvers herself closer to Lucie.

Eventually the Doctor figures out that it was not Lucie at all who was destined to become a tyrant and whose past was altered. It was Karen, the girl who was hired the same day. The High Council picked the wrong girl. At this point, the Doctor unexpectedly turns the Quantum Crystallizer over to the Cybermen. Just before they use it, the Doctor gives them the chance to cease hostilities, but they refuse. As soon as they activate it, they are destroyed, because it wasn’t programmed so that the users would win, but rather that the Cybermen would lose.

The Headhunter leaves with Karen as her new assistant. It’s obvious that both the Doctor and Lucie would like to remain travelling together, but Lucie maneuvers the Doctor into asking her rather than she asking him. From the interviews at the end, it’s clear Sheridan Smith didn’t know she would be returning. Luckily for us, she will be in all four seasons.

DEAD LONDON:

“The TARDIS lands in London. But which one? The Doctor and Lucie find themselves trapped in a maze of interlocking Londons from Roman times to the present day. But they are not alone in this labyrinth; a killer is on their trail.”

The episode begins humorously as the Doctor is in traffic court for a parking violation. Lucie wanted a shopping trip in present day London, and the TARDIS landed on a double yellow line. The Doctor stayed behind, but observed a temporal shift in the vicinity Lucie was heading. When he stepped out of the TARDIS, he got pinched. Just as the judge is about to deliver the sentence, another temporal shift sends the Doctor to a courtroom in the 17th century. The sentence: death!

“Meanwhile,” Lucie has ended up in 1917 and the streets are being stalked by the “Blackout Killer.” She is quickly befriended by Beryl, a munitions worker with yellow skin caused by the chemicals she must handle. An air raid siren sounds and the y rush to find shelter. A river appears in from of Lucie. On the other side is the London of a different time zone.

Back in the 17th century, the next prisoner to be brought before the judge is Sophia Shepard, or “Spring-heeled Sophie,” a tightrope walker accused of cat burglary. The judge finds Sophie guilty. The Doctor tries to intervene, but the crowd is not to be denied their entertainment. They are both taken off to be hanged. Sophie has a small box with snakes carved into it, which the Doctor recognizes as a “Cista Mystica,” a roman religious artifact. She says the box has flashing fairies inside, which end up being control lights. The Doctor notes that the box is made of telmonium, a metal not mined on Earth.

The Doctor, too, discovers that various times co-exist side-by-side separated by rivers. Further, he notices one identical man in each of the zones. Eventually, the Doctor and Lucie make their way to the same time zone. The identical men are Avatars of a creature known as Sepulchre from the planet Quagreeg who has a hive consciousness. Everyone there has been transported from his own time to special “re-enactment chambers.” Their lives are of no consequence and will not be missed. The Sepulchre feeds off the live energy of those killed in the re-enactments, but anachronisms disrupt his hold on each reality. Eventually the Doctor deduces that the rivers are actual neural pathways and that they now exist within Sepulchre’s brain. As soon as he realizes that, he begins to use his sonic screwdriver to shut down the neural pathways so the avatars can no longer communicate with each other. It’s all just a matter of tying up loose ends after that.

This wasn’t one of my favorites, I must admit. It was very fast-paced with lots of cross-cutting and one laugh-out-loud moment, but the general scenario was too much like “War Games” reimagined I thought. The interviews indicate that all of the season two episodes were in the can before the first episo0de aired. “Dead London” wasn’t their initial choice to launch the second season (they didn’t mention which one was) but they picked it specifically because it didn’t pick up exactly where you might expect, with the doctor and Lucie traveling together, but rather it begins with them separated, leaving the audience to wonder how and if they will be reunited.

Interesting. I didn't enjoy "Human Resources" as much as I thought I would. The dialogue between the Doctor and the Cyber-Leader was my favorite part.
However, I loved "Dead London" completely. It was funny and multilayered. I like the twists and the fact that it doesn't end how you expect.
I will be listening to "Max Warp" today at work so I can comment before I leave. Don't worry, folks. The day before Thanksgiving is always creepy quiet.
Lucie may be separated from the Doctor during the adventures but she never gets rattled. She jumps in to help whenever she can and finds the Doctor eventually. She's fun.

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