Ravenous follows Doom Coalition.

“We went into Ravenous planning for a change of pace and style. Doom Coalition had been so dense and intricate—a 16-hour interlinking story—and it was something we didn’t want to attempt again so soon. And neither should we—Doctor Who is about change and renewal, and so the idea for Ravenous was to do a looser, over-arching narrative, with plenty of standalone stories along the way.” —David Richardson, producer

RAVENOUS
  1.1. Their Finest Hour - p1
  1.2. How to Make a Killing in Time Travel - p1
  1.3. World of Damnation - p1
  1.4. Sweet Salvation - p1

  2.1. Escape from Kaldor - p1
  2.2. Better Watch Out - p1
  2.3. Fairytale of Salzburg - p1
  2.4. Seizure - p1

  3.1. Deeptime Frontier - p1
  3.2. Companion Piece - p1
  3.3. L.E.G.E.N.D.- p1
  3.4 The Odds Against - p1

  4.1. Whisper
  4.2. Planet of Dust
  4.3. Day of the Master, Pt. 1
  4.4  Day of the Master, Pt. 2

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RAVENOUS

“ “Having saved the universe and restored peace at home, the Doctor and Liv go in search of their friend, Helen. Following a trail of breadcrumbs through space and time they discover an unsavory conspiracy, and an old enemy lurking in the shadows, waiting.”

THEIR FINEST HOUR (by John Dorney):

“In the early days of the Second World War a strange and elusive craft attacks British targets. Could it be a German superweapon? Churchill calls for the Doctor’s assistance and with the help of a squadron of Polish fighter pilots the TARDIS crew take to the skies to investigate.”

COMMENTARY: Although I do enjoy a dense, interlinking story, I’m glad Big Finish decided to go another way with this set; it’s difficult to follow a 16-part story as it is released without multiple listens. If Stan Lee had written this one, he might have said something along the lines of, “Helen Sinclair is missing, and the Doctor and Liv Chenka need to find her! That’s all you need to know! Hang on and we’ll try to fill in the details as we barrel along!” Had it not been for some lip service to the over-all arc, this might well be a standalone adventure set during WWII. Ian McNeice reprises his role as Winston Churchill from the TV episode “Victory of the Daleks” (and other Big Finish productions, including a Churchill range of his own). Two alien races who don’t have the resources to wage a war of their own, have chosen sides in this conflict, the winner deciding the outcome of the alien conflict as well. Interference is strictly forbidden, but…

WRITER’S NOTES:

“I’m currently sat, jet-lagged, in a hotel room in Los Angeles where I’m one of the guests at the 2018 Gallifrey convention. I’m not the only Big Finish person in attendance. Besides the best executive producer anyone could wish for, Jason Haigh-Ellery; the brilliant behind the scenes mind of sue Cowley (who has waited very patiently for these notes and totally failed to try to kill me); and writers like Rob Shearman, Peter Anghelides and Richare Dinnick… we will also find my Ravenous co-writer, Matt Fitton, who it’s always great to catch up with.

“The ongoing adventures of the Eighth Doctor feel very much like a team game, and Matt and I have worked hard on crafting that journey together, alongside the great talents of David Richardson and Ken Bentley and the actors. I was reminded of this nipping into the studio for the recording sessions of Ravenous, seeing Paul and Nicola and Hattie—the latter two f whom I hadn’t worked with in over a year—where it just felt like coming home. There’s such a joyous atmosphere on these days, I’d really struggle to ever give them up, and I know that’s the feeling from everyone else. The Eighth Doctor gang feel like a family. And it’s always good to have one of the family around.

“I’m sure Matt and I will discuss the Eighth Doctor’s future in the bar at some point this weekend. We can’t stop. Although I’ll have to sneak off to do some typing in the downtime. I may be in sunny LA, but in another sense I’m in the deep cold of snowy Salzburg where monsters are lurking in the dark.

“But that’s for another time.”

HOW TO MAKE A KILLING IN TIME TRAVEL (by John Dorney):

“A disturbance in the vortex causes the TARDIS to land on the Scapegrace space station, where Cornelius Morningstar experiments in time-travel for nefarious purposes. But the Doctor’s plan to stop him winds dangerously out of control as the different agendas of criminals, murderers and alien dynasties conspire against him.”

COMMENTARY:

The Doctor and Liv had been following Helen’s trail through the Vortex when they were misdirected to WWII England in the previous story. That shouldn’t have happened. Now it has happened again. Liv is keen to continue the search for Helen, but the Doctor cannot leave this mystery uninvestigated. Besides, as long as this “hiccup” exists, it would keep drawing them off course, anyway. Cornelius Morningstar is a corrupt businessman who has hired scientist Stralla Cushing to invent time travel so he can plunder historical artifacts for profit. It is Cushing’s experiments that are affecting the Vortex.

Meanwhile, a small-time criminal with a robot whose translator comically doesn’t work has been hired by an Katai (? - sounds like “cat-eye”) dynasty to find out what Cornelius Morningstar is up to. When she discovers the time travel device, she decides to blackmail him. Meanwhile, Stralla has accidentally killed him. The Doctor and Liv become entangled with the doddering and ineffective head of station security in an effort to find Morningstar and shut down the time experiments. As one might guess from the title, this isn’t exactly a serious murder/mystery. It has some genuinely funny characters and moments.

DIRECTOR’S NOTES:

“One of the things I know we all enjoy about the world of Doctor Who is the seemingly infinite possibilities for storytelling. It means your loyalty is rewarded with something fresh and exiting to listen to, but it also gives us the opportunity to explore and to challenge ourselves as storytellers.

“We want this new series featuring the Eighth Doctor to feel distinctly different in tone to both ‘Dark Eyes’ and ‘Doom Coalition.’ There will be elements of ‘Ravenous’ that should intentionally feel familiar, but as we get deeper into the story it’s our plan to take you somewhere new and, hopefully, somewhere unsettling.

“Because that’s the addiction we all have to storytelling—how it makes us feel. It’s something we take very seriously at Big Finish. Yes, we hope you enjoy the stories we tell, but your enjoyment is a measurement of how successfully we’ve made you feel—be it excitement, anticipation, or fear.

“But for now, we’ll stick with excitement. The eleven is back and he’s not a happy bunny. He’s joined by the Kandyman, one of the most infamous villains to grace the small screen, and—along with the Doctor and his companions—they’re all played frankly by a jaw-dropping cast. I don’t know about you, but as far as I am concerned it doesn’t get much better than this. So once again sit back, pop your headphones on, and join the Eighth Doctor for another adventure. Because this time, I guarantee, his life depends on it.”

WORLD OF DAMNATION (by Matt Fitton):

“Rykerzon is a maximum-security planetoid designed to hold the most dangerous criminals in the star system. The Governor plans to reform its inmates, with the help of the Kandyman. But two prisoners prove particularly troublesome: the alien fugitives known as the Eleven, and Miss Helen Sinclair. The Doctor and Liv have finally tracked down their friend - but are they too late?”

COMMENTARY:

We finally catch up with Eleven and Helen in part three and I realize I really need to listen to it again. Then I went back to read what I had written on March 28, 2017 at the end of Doom Coalition.

“That was some ride. So much happened right at the end it’s difficult for me to summarize, at least not right at this time. It took them two episodes of set four to resolve the cliffhanger at the end of set three, and by the time they got back to the main plot, I kind of lost the story. That’s no fault of the story itself; it’s just that a months-long gap between chapters is not ideal. One of these days I’ll listen to it start to finish…

Doom Coalition had a satisfactory ending, although it did not, I admit, end the way I predicted. As it stands, the Doctor and Liv are together and Padrac is imprisoned. Helen is missing and presumed dead, but if she is alive, she’s with the Eleven.”

Maybe now’s the time for me to go back and listen to all of Doom Coalition.

WRITER’S NOTES:

“Things I Never Thought I’d Be Doing, Number 327: Bringing Back the Kandyman!

“Oh, the Kandyman. He inspires strong reactions in those who remember him; and for those who don’t, explaining the cocept sounds insane. Just what a Doctor Who monster should be!

“The original differed from what appeared on screen, but I love both versions. There’s something so bizarrely right about that candy-colored, licorice-faced TV creation, and his voice—barking down the phone at his minions, it’s both hilarious and terrifying. For our audio incarnation, we returned to Graeme Curry’s glorious novelization. There, the Kandyman is described as an imposing, humanoid presence—something of a chemist, in a lab coat, with skin diusted in sugar, like a larger-than-life, man-shaped boiled sweet. Think of an evil, alien Heston Blumenthal…

“As ever, David and Kim have cast it brilliantly. On reading the script, Nicholas Rowe described the characters as ‘brittle’ and I think that’s perfect. A being made of sugar, highly strung and convinced of his own genius. The Kandyman delighted when anyone appreciates his talents, but equally can fly into rage at those who defy him.

“He joins a rogue’s gallery on the prison world of Rykerzon. Mark Bonner returns as the magnificent Eleven. And we meet a few other inmates, including Ruzella and Crabhead (Essentially= a giant crab, living in the helmet of a robot suit: a monster conceived by my niece and nephew on holiday—thank you Leo and Lola!)

“But, most dangerous of all is someone the doctor and Liv have been searching for. Helen Sinclair is back—but is she still the friend they lost…?”

Interesting. Do we know who voiced the Kandyman in this?

Nicholas Rowe

SWEET SALVATION (by Matt Fitton):

“The Eleven has the authorities in the palm of his hand and an entire world held to ransom when the Kandyman cooks up a deadly confection containing a secret ingredient. In a last-ditch attempt to prevent disaster Liv teams up with a desperate criminal, and the Doctor must decide whether Helen is still his friend.”

COMMENTARY: The main personal conflict is that Liv completely trusts Helen, and the Doctor doesn’t trust her at all. The Eleven and the Kandyman make a formidable team. I never would have expected the Kandyman to return in any medium, but as Matt Fitton explained in yesterday’s writer’s notes, it’s not exactly the Kandyman we saw on TV.

PRODUCER’S NOTES:

“We went into Ravenous planning for a change of pace and style… We had to bring back Helen and the Eleven—that was a given. We love the characters and actors too much to let them go. And I wanted to bring back the Kandyman, from the 1980s TV story ‘The Happiness Patrol.’ Thirty years ago I used to work at Television Centre, and we received the rehearsal scripts for Doctor Who at an early stage. I was intrigued when the script of ‘The Happiness Patrol’ came to the office—and the description of the humanoid Kandyman with his sugar-coated skin fired up my imagination. That imagery was something John Nathan-Turner ultimately chose not to go with, but it was an approach I wanted to revisit here—with his creator Graeme Curry’s blessing. When I approached Matt Fitton with the proposal he nearly snatched it out of my hand.

“Many listeners have seen the title ‘Ravenous’ and assumed that it refers to the Kandyman. That’s actually just a tasty coincidence. There are clues to where we are going scattered in these stories, and it’s going to be a scary journey.

“There’s something out there in the darkness.

“They’re coming.”

Ravenous returns in October.

If you want to see what the new Kandyman looks like, click here.

That's Helen Sinclair, Liv Chenka, the Doctor and the Kandyman from left to right, with the Eleven on the top right and Winston Churchill (obviously) on the bottom.

Interesting. Definitely a very different than what they went with in TV.

Of course, the TV Kandyman came in for heat for allegedly being a knock-off of Bassett's mascot Bertie Bassett, which the BBC vociferously denied.

Well… crap.

I came here today with the intention of posting some reactions to Ravenous 3 when I realized I hadn’t posted anything about Ravenous 2 yet! (I wonder how that happened?) I went ahead and updated the index, but I don’t know when I’m going to get around to re-listening to set two. The one I really wanted to discuss was 3.2, “COMPANION PIECE” by John Dorney. It features not only the Eighth Doctor’s current companions, Liv, Helen and Bliss, but also River Song and Charlotte Pollard. I was particularly interested to see Charley because I thought it was going to be the first time he would have seen her since they stopped traveling together, even though she’d had two solo series since (“The Adventures of an Edwardian Adventuress”).

That turned out not to be the case, though. The Charley that participates in this adventure is from when they were still travelling together. A more pleasant surprise is the number of other companions who make cameo appearances. The whole thing starts when the Nine inadvertently meets River Song and decides that he wants an entire collection of the Doctor’s companions. He eventually accumulates upwards of a dozen. Also appearing (uncredited) in the cast are Matthew Waterhouse as Adric, Lalla Ward as Romana, Louise Jameson as Leela, Frazer Hines as Jamie, and others as well.

The companions are kept in cells with temporal doorways, so that anyone passing through will be aged to death. They also keep the Doctor(s) from tracking his/their missing companions. There are lots of little Easter eggs in the dialogue, such as: Leela promises to kill the Nine quickly if he lets her go; Jamie protests that he’s had only one adventure with the Doctor; the Nine mentions to Adric that he picked him up from the middle of his tenure, that if he waited until the end he’d have had to dig him up.

River at first seems to betray the other companions by telling the Nine where and when each can be found, but what she’s really doing is assembling a strike force. There is another companion the plot hinges on. I thought it was going to be Amy Pond, but it turned out to be Katerina.

DEEPTIME FRONTIER by Matt Fitton:

“Stranded on a desolate world by a dead TARDIS, the Doctor and his friends are trapped, surrounded by creatures from Time Lord nightmares – the Ravenous…

“Elsewhere, on the edge of the vortex, a Gallifreyan research station takes on board an extremely dangerous artefact. Are the Time Lords sowing the seeds of their own destruction?

“And if one Ravenous creature rattles the Doctor’s nerves, what will happen when the whole clan is hunting him?”

COMMENTARY: This story was supposed to have been the last episode of set two, but after having submitted the proposal, Matt Fitton became unavailable. But Big Finish really wanted him to write it, though, so they hired another writer to draft a lead-in story which would end set two on a cliffhanger (which was really well-received by the fans, incidentally). Sometimes accidents do work out, but it wasn’t planned that way.

COMPANION PIECE by John Dorney:

“When the evil Time Lord known as the Nine comes across a rare and valuable item floating in the space-time vortex, his acquisitive nature means he can’t resist the urge to complete the set.

“Soon a wicked scheme is underway. Only the Doctor’s friends – past, present and future – will be able to stop him.

“But without the Doctor around will even the combined skills of Liv, Helen, River Song, Bliss and Charley be enough to save the day?”

COMMENTARY: (See above.)

L.E.G.E.N.D. by Matt Fitton:

“Over years of study and research, the Brothers Grimm built a compendium of folklore: stories of witches and wizards, magic and morality, strange creatures and treacherous forests…

“Professor Marathanga does much the same, on a universal scale. But her methods are rather less rigorous, using technological shortcuts to fill her intelligent database – L.E.G.E.N.D.

“When worlds collide, the TARDIS crew discover that fairy tales can become real. And the Doctor’s latest companion is put to the test. Will the Eleven be an asset, or one more monster to defeat?”

COMMENTARY: This semi-historical, in which the Doctor and company meet the Brothers Grimm, plays like a mash-up of “The Mind Robber” (Second Doctor) and Warriors of Plasm (Jim shooter).

THE ODDS AGAINST by John Dorney:

“The Doctor, Liv and Helen have landed near an abbey housing the gateway to the dimension in which the Ravenous were originally imprisoned.

“But their plans to enlist the inhabitants’ help in defeating their pursuers are disrupted when they stumble over a dead body. Strange creatures roam the corridors and something monstrous may be awakening beneath their feet.”

COMMENTARY: This episode is a masterpiece of purposeful confusion as the Eleven crosses timelines with his earlier self, the Nine. For those of you scoring at home, that’s 20 personalities between the two of them, but nine overlap. The Nine and the Eleven are played by different actors, but they both use the same mannerisms when voicing their respective earlier selves. It can be confusing enough when, say, the Eleven argues with one (or more) or his earlier incarnations, but when you get the Nine and the Eleven face to face, forget it! There is even one scene (I am not making this up) in which the Fourth persona of the Nine argues with the Fourth persona of the Eleven.

Eventually I hope to listen to Ravenous 2 again and add some comments here, but in the meantime, Ravenous 4 (in which the Eighth Doctor encounters four versions of the Master: Geoffrey Beevers, Michelle Gomez, Derek Jacobi and Eric Roberts) ships in October.

RAVENOUS 4

“The Ravenous are the most relentlessly voracious creatures ever to haunt a Time Lord, and they now have the Doctor’s scent. The only thing left to do is stand and fight. It will take a monster to defeat a monster. But what will be the cost? The past, the present, and the future conspire against the Doctor as he fights to defeat the only creature ever to strike fear into the hearts of a Time Lord.”

4.1 WHISPER by Matt Fitton

“Seeking respite after their battle with the Ravenous and hoping to find a quiet place where the Eleven can recuperate, the TARDIS crew visit the Still Foundation. But all they find is a small band of survivors under siege from a terrifying predator. A predator that hunts by sound.”

COMMENTARY: Now that I am (more or less) caught up to where I want to be in terms of previously released stories, I have begun to discover the disadvantage of following long, complicated stories in “real time.” When I was playing catch-up, I could pace them as I liked, but Ravenous is released twice yearly. That’s a long gap between four-part sets! One of the reasons I maintain these discussions is to refresh my own memory of what happened previously (in this case, back in June).

As the first story in the set opens, the Eleven has been “cured” and his personalities integrated. He has helped to defeat the Ravenous and the Doctor is willing to give him the benefit f the doubt (although Liv is suspicious). After an initial adventure to reintroduce the status quo, it is clear that Helen and the Eleven won’t be able to travel together. The Eleven understands, and asks the Doctor for a favor: to be dropped off at a particular destination we won’t learn until the next episode.

4.2 PLANET OF DUST by Matt Fitton

“On the parched world of Parrak, the Master holds sway. But he is exhausted and desperate, and his final hope for survival lies somewhere beneath the desert. When the TARDIS arrives, alliances will be made and trust will be broken – and feuding Time Lords will discover the Ravenous never, ever give up.”

COMMENTARY: The Eleven concocts a benign reason to be dropped off on the planet Parrak, but he is actually seeking the Tomb of Artron (yes, think “Artron” energy). We also soon learn that he has “faked” his cure; his current personality is being bullied by his previous personalities into doing exactly what he says. Also, he did not actually destroy the Ravenous, but merely moved them off the board for the time being.

Meanwhile, shortly after parting from the Eleven, the Doctor, Liv and Helen have been arrested for stealing water. They did not actually steal the water, they are merely carrying water, but when they are found with water among their supplies, it is assumed they stole it because all water on the planet is strictly controlled and distributed by the Provider. But the Doctor knows the “Provider” by another name: the Master.

The Master (this is the Geoffrey Beevers Master, BTW) has also come to Parrak seeking the Tomb of Artron, and he has siphoned the planet’s water supply throughout its past, rationing it out to pay for labor to find and excavate the tomb. As soon as the Doctor and the Master come face-to-face they concentrate on each other, a situation which the Eleven takes full advantage of to turn on them both.

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