For a while now, I’ve been posting reactions to big “meaty” arcs such as The Eighth Doctor Adventures, Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition and The Collected War Doctor. Some of the stories I plan to listen to in the near future, though, are either one-off adventures or three story arcs. I thought it would be easier on the indexer (Hi, Bob!) if I started one “catch-all” thread and maintain the index in the initial post myself. I invite others to contribute to this discussion as well, and it doesn’t have to be strictly Doctor Who, either; anything from Big Finish will qualify. I’m going to start in a couple of days) with…

The Company of Friends - (Eighth Doctor)
  Benny's Story - p1
  Fitz's Story - p1
  Izzy's Story - p2
  Mary's Story - p2

Robophobia - (Seventh Doctor and Liv Chenka) - p2

The Transposition Trilogy
  The Defectors - (Seventh Doctor and Jo Grant) - p2
  Last of the Cyberman - (Sixth Doctor, Jamie and Zoe) - p2
  The Secret History - (Fifth Doctor, Stephen and Vicki) - p2

Trial of the Valeyard - (Sixth Doctor) - p3

The Wrong Doctors - (Sixth Doctor and Mel) - p3

The Masters Trilogy
  And You Will Obey Me - (Fifth Doctor and old Master) - p3
  Vampire of the Mind - (Sixth Doctor and new Master) - p3
  The Two Masters - (Seventh Doctor and both Masters) - p4

Doctor Who "Bonus Releases"
  Her Final Flight - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
  Cryptobiosis - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
  Return of the Daleks - (Seventh Doctor) - p5
  Return to the Web Planet - (Fifth Doctor and Nyssa) - p5

Doctor Who - Novel Adaptations
  Love & War
  Original Sin
  Cold Fusion

Sixth Doctor Reunited with Peri
  The Widow's Assassin - p4
  Masters of Earth
 The Rani Elite

Eighth Doctor and Mary Shelley
  The Silver Turk - p5
  The Witch from the Well - p7
  Army of Death - p7

The Third Doctor Adventures
  Prisoners of the Lake - p5
  The Havoc of the Empires - p5

The Tenth Doctor Adventures (Vol. 2)
  Infamy of the Zaross - p6
  The Sword of the Chevalier - p6
  Cold Vengeance - p6

Miscelaneous Numeric
    51. The Wormery – (Sixth Doctor) - p7
    86. The Reaping – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
    90. Year of the Pig – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
    57. Arrangements for War – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8
    60. Medicinal Purposes – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8
    65. The Juggernauts – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
    68. Catch 1872 – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
    73. Thicker Than Water – (Sixth Doctor, Mel & Evelyn) - p9
    75. Scaredy Cat – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C'rizz) - p9
    77. Other Lives – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p9
    78. Pier Pressure – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p9
    80. Time Works – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz)
    83. Something Inside – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’Rizz)
    84. The Nowhere Place – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn)
    88. Memory Lane – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz)
    94. I.D. – (Sixth Doctor)
    97. The Wishing Beast – (Sixth Doctor & Mel)
  100. The 100 Days of the Doctor – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn)
  101. Absolution – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz)
  103. The Girl Who Never Was – (Eighth Doctor & Charley)
  105. The Condemned – (Sixth Doctor & Charley)

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[Not that this has anything to do with what you said, but] RTD is a friend to Big Finish. I just finished listening to “Torchwood: Aliens Among Us” and I learned some things about RTD on the “extras” section. First of all, when the BBC decided to return DW to the air, they considered shutting down BF, but RTD talked them out of it. RTD often acts as consultant on BF properties of his creation. For example, it was not only RTD’s idea to bring Yvonne Hartman (leader of Torchwood 1 for the “Battle of canary Warf”) Back from the dead, but it was his idea how to do it. He also came to the studio for the recording of the last episode and, after asking if what he had planned was okay by Eve Miles (Gwen Cooper), he rewrote it on the spot.

Speaking of DW’s EU (which we were two weeks back), I found out last night (changing subjects), that the first set of Gallifrey: Time War does, in fact, take place before the first set of Eighth Doctor “Time War” stories (which I still have not listened to, BTW). BF has many DW EU series which don’t feature the Doctor, and they are generally cheaper. For example, the last time I checked, the nine-disc “Sarah Jane” was less than $5 a pop if bough as a bundle. That’s been a while ago, though, because I checked yesterday and those stories are no longer available on CD, but rather as downloads only.

On the topic of not checking on things in a while, “the last time I checked”… there was a 13-disc series of “Gallifrey” stories which ran for three seasons between 2004 and 2006.. If I would have checked more recently, though, I would have discovered series 4-8 released between 2011 and 2016. It is this series that “Gallifrey: Time War” continues from.

I have been really eager to listen to the Eighth Doctor “Time War” stories, and even though I found out the Gallifrey series occurs first (it is, in fact, when the Time Lords declare war on the Daleks), I still plan to listen to the Eighth doctor stories first (in the order the sets were released). Last night, though, I couldn’t resist and listened to the first episode of “Gallifrey: Time War” last night. As I suspected, it was a lot of political intrigue and I’m sure I would have found it infinitely more interesting had I listened to the eight series leading up to it (or at least the five most recent ones).

I will be listening to it again when I get to that point. For subsequent listens in days to come I will likely listen to them in the order in which they occur.

I’ve “complained” before about Big Finish putting out some much good product that it distracts me from completing previous series I’m interested in (Eight Doctor and Charley, Sixth Doctor and Charley, etc.). I’ve already mentioned that the next set of Third Doctor Adventures will feature the Meddling Monk (a version who has previously bedeviled the Second Doctor on audio), but now I find out it is to feature the Cybermen as well… the first time for the Third Doctor to encounter them (apart from a “Companion chronicles” adventure).

Too many choices!

He also met the Cybermen in "The Five Doctors".

"I posted yesterday about David Bradley assuming the role of the First Doctor; Frazier Hines does a spot-on imitation of the Second Doctor; I wrote above about Tim Treloar voicing the Third Doctor."

Now they've got a guy, Jacob Dudman, who voices the Tenth Doctor in "The Tenth Doctor Chronicles" series.

"Jacob Dudman’s rendition of the Tenth Doctor’s voice is more than simply uncanny. It’s a voice that sounds completely authentic. Not just in terms of pitch, but in the vocal mannerisms, too… Big Finish really did find the perfect voice for this set of stories."

Apparently, he does a spot-on Christopher Eccleston and Matt Smith, too.

THE WITCH FROM THE WELL:

“A shrieking, killing nightmare erupts from an overgrown well, hidden in the grounds of an old house, Tranchard’s Folly – and Mary Shelley, the Doctor’s latest travelling companion, rescues teenage twins Finicia and Lucern from the clutches of the monster.

“But a TARDIS trip in search of the origin of the horror goes terribly wrong when the Doctor, Mary and their two new friends find themselves stuck in the middle of a seventeenth century witch scare.

“While the Doctor investigates the strange lights at Vetter’s Tor, and the twins go in search of an artefact from the Hecatrix Dimension, Mary confronts the secrets of her past… and her future. The truth will out: Master Kincaid, the terrible Witch-Pricker himself, commands it!”

COMMENTARY: It’s been seven months since I listened to part one of this trilogy, but better late than never, am I right? This is a typical “alien mistaken for supernatural being” story, but what puts it a cut above the rest is that there are two sets of aliens, making the “witch hunt” doubly dangerous.

WRITER’S NOTES (by Rick Briggs):

’I began that day with the words. It was a dreary night of November, making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream.’

“That’s Mary Shelly, in her introduction to Frankenstein’s popuylar third edition. (A snip at just six shillings!) So it’s satisfyingly appropriate to find her sharing this run of new adventures with a character first seen on another dreary November night, more than 130 years later.

“Just as the best heroes are the ones blundering about and generally putting their foot in t, so the best villains are those who truly believe we’d all sympathize with their goals—if we could only see things from their perspective. The heartbreak and carnage they inflict has a purpose, you see, and one day we’ll all realize how right they were.

“So here we are, clocking up another November. And here are Paul and Julie, being brilliant. This is my very first full-length Doctor Who adventure (with cliffhangers and everything!), so I’m inordinately grateful to them—to everyone, in fact, who’s breathed life into these words on a page and made them into something far more exciting.”

DIRECTOR’S NOTES (by Barnaby Edwards):

“The great science fiction guru Arthur C. Clarke formulated three laws of prediction and prophecy, the third of which states that ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’

“A perfect example of Clarke’s Third Law can be found in the very first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child, where the Doctor is taken for a magical being when he strikes a match in front of a caveman, He’s had brushes with the dark arts ever since, and always it is science rather than sorcery which is the explanation.

“Where I think Rick Briggs’ script adds something new to the mix is in concentrating on people’s reactions to witchcraft, not on the acts themselves. We see villains manipulating forces they don’t understand and victims falling foul of ignorance and prejudice. Placing the Doctor and Mary at the heart of this political and moral maelstrom is thrilling.”

"Why am I the witch?" - Clara Oswald, "Day of the Doctor"

ARMY OF DEATH:

“The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Mary Shelley to the continent of Zelonia, on the frontier world Draxine – where, many moons ago, the twin citystates of Garrak and Stronghaven bore testament to mankind’s colonial spirit.

“That was before the sinister death cult of Garrak’s President Harmon took hold - and Garrak annihilated itself, utterly, in an apocalyptic explosion. Before the bones of Garrak’s dead came back to life, and its skeletal citizens began marching, marching, marching on Stronghaven itself.

“But what do they want, this army of death? And can anything stop them? In search of answers, the Doctor and Mary must journey into the dead heart of a dead city to face a terrifying adversary, whose ambitions transcend the stuff of life itself.”

COMMENTARY:

This was a fairly political plot, with politicians, allies and adversaries, on both sides (Garrak and Stronghaven). Now that I know who’s who and how the whole thing ends, I need to listen to it a second time to really appreciate the twists and turns. One thing not explicitly mentioned in the notes below is that the trilogy seems to be predicated on the old question asked of writers, “Where do you get your ideas?” In Mary Shelley’s case, she gets her ideas from er travels with the Doctor. The set on something of a cliffhanger, with Mary preparing to leave and the Doctor asking her to stay. Wil she or won’t she? I don’t know, but it’s been seven years since this set was released. OTOH, Big Finish dropped hints for ten years that the Eighth Doctor travelled with Mary Shelley.

WRITER’S NOTES (by Jason Arnopp):

“Army of Death was always intended as an allegory for our modern times. In truth, though, I initially thought it would be really cool to have hordes of Harryhausen-esque skeletons marching around, killing people. Everything else sprung up from that, whether consciously or otherwise.

“Big Finish’s quite brilliant scrip editor Alan Barnes told me he wanted to conclude this Mary Shelley trilogy with ‘something to blow her mind in a bad way. Plague, hopelessness… something a bit dark and grim.’ Now there’s a brief to seize by the ears. Right up my street. Amid the mayhem, though, I wanted a very human arc for Mary Shelley. After reading up on her, it became clear that her perfect man wasn’t so much poet-philosopher Percy Shelley, but a man who we all know far better.

“Army of Death was originally called City of the Bone Lord, but after some discussion I’m honored to further Doctor Who’s glorious tradition in making things be ‘of Death.’ Seeds, Ambassadors, Robots, City, Paradise, Kiss, Doll… and now a whole Army. Tremendous fun! Hope you enjoy.”

DIRECTOR’S NOTES (by Barnaby Edwards):

“Mary Shelley achieved worldwide fame as the author of Frankenstein (1818), but she wrote another great science fiction novel too: The Last Man (1826). It is an apocalyptic tale of a future Earth destroyed by plague, a world where political ideals have failed and faith in the Enlightenment principles of educated humanism and scientific progress is proved to be hollow. In Frankenstein, knowledge creates life; in The Last Man, it leads to death.

“This is the Mary Shelley we meet in Army of Death. Accompanied by the Byronic figure of the Doctor, she explores a future riven with political strife, civil unrest and moral ambiguity. In this dystopian landscape, death itself is no escape.

“This was definitely the hardest story of the trilogy to direct. Fortunately, I was blessed with a ridiculously talented cast who were able to inject both humor and humanity into this darkest of tales.”

51. The Wormery – (Sixth Doctor):

“There's one place in creation where the truth really can be found in the bottom of a glass: Bianca's, a very special and very exclusive little club.

“The Doctor, careworn and seeking quiet distraction, gains admission. But his rest and relaxation is soon shattered by the wobbly arrival of louche trans-temporal adventuress Iris Wildthyme. She claims she's on a secret mission of vital importance, the success of which hinges on her getting paralytic. When she's drunk, she can hear the whispering voices in her head!

“The Doctor soon learns that Bianca's airs and graces cover not just one malevolent power lurking in the shadows, but several. And a wriggling, writhing presence has designs on the clientele ¬ just as Bianca herself has designs on the Doctor. At last, after so many centuries, the weary Time Lord is dragged by the heels into that darkest of undiscovered countries - love.”

COMMENTARY: This one takes place shortly after the Sixth Doctor’s trial. I bought it for some insight into Peri Brown’s timeline, but there was little of that to be found. There is a certain amount about the Valeyard, however. The feature character is Iris Wildthyme (played by Katy Manning), a character wholly unfamiliar to me, but one some of you who have read more of the novels than I may know. Iris Wildthyme is a sort of a proto-River Song, I take it, a fellow Time Lord who is in love with the Doctor and who has encountered him in many of previous regenerations.

The setting is a cabaret named Bianca’s, which one enters from 1930s Berlin (and various other points in the universe), but actually exists in space. The story starts out being narrated by one of the characters, a showgirl named Mickey, to a silent and mysterious Mr. Ashcroft. Eventually, the story segues into flashback. The springboard for the story seems to have been a mash-up of tequila worms and wormholes, but the real surprise comes when it is revealed that Bianca’s is actually a TARDIS.

SPOILERS: The Doctor’s relationship to the Valeyard becomes significant when it is revealed that Iris Wildthyme shares exactly the same relationship with Bianca. The final surprise lies in the revelation of the true identity of “Mr. Ashcroft,” but I won’t reveal that here. I often don’t like the earlier audios as much as the more recent ones, but I really, really liked this one.

Iris Wildthyme is one of those characters is one of those characters I've heard about but never read or heard any of her adventures, that I can recall.

86. The Reaping – (Sixth Doctor & Peri):

“On the morning of May 9, 1984, Peri woke up. She was expecting to spend the day relaxing in Lanzarote and, that evening, leave her mother and stepfather to go travelling with some guys she'd only just met.

“But things don't always go as expected ¬ as her friends and family discover when, four months later, she returns home having travelled further than anyone could have imagined.

“Meanwhile her friend, Katherine Chambers, mourns her father and Peri finds herself meeting some other familiar faces.”

COMMENTARY: This is the earliest (released) Sixth Doctor and Peri story still available on CD. (There are a couple of earlier ones available as downloads only.) According to Big Finish internal continuity, “The Reaping” (#86) takes place after “Year of the Pig” (#90), but I have chosen to listen to them in release order. I don’t know if the chronology has any bearing on the stories themselves but I will find out soon enough as I plan to listen to “Year of the Pig” next.

In any case, “The Reaping” is a pretty good place to begin the “Peri” audios as it begins with a parallel scene set during “Planet of Fire” (Peri’s first TV adventure), but with her mother rather than her step-father. (Peri’s mother was never shown on TV.) The story proper begins with the Doctor and Peri visiting a facility deep within Earth’s Moon in the far future 9the “Goggleplex,” I think it’s called). The facility houses a device which has recorded all of Earth’s history for the viewing. (Think Star Trek’s “Guardian of Forever” but with images only, no transport.) The Doctor is disappointed that Peri wants to use the device only to see what happened on Earth after she left. She soon discovers that her best friend’s father, Anthony Chambers, has been murdered. She implores the Doctor to take her back to her time so she can be there for her friend and to find out what happened. The Doctor agrees, with the understanding that time cannot be changed.

Four months have passed in 1984 since Peri’s disappearance, but from Peri’s point of view it has been quite a bit longer. Peri’s mother, Janine, is quite a piece of work, as they say. She is horrible to Peri. She is now divorced from Peri’s step-father, Howard, and she blames Peri for their break-up. Nevertheless, she has a surprisingly close relationship with Peri’s best friend, Katherine.

The Doctor is pursuing his own line of investigation, and has encountered the man accused of murdering Anthony Chambers, Daniel Woods. Chambers died shortly after his 40th birthday. He was overheard to remark, “It’s all over now, just kill me.” The last time Woods saw Chambers, he also spotted a “silver ghost.” Meanwhile, Katherine Chambers and Janine discover a video tape shot at Anthony Chamber’s 40th birthday party. Again, he is heard to jokingly remark, “Just kill me.” When he learns the camera’s battery is about to die, he grabs it and points it at his face to record a last message to children, Katherine and Nate: “Keep playing.” It’s almost as if he knew he were going to die and wanted to tell his kids to have fun. But Peri deciphers his real meaning: to keep playing the tape. She pops it back in the VCR and it resumes playing. The picture returns and he warns his kids to beware… the Cybermen.

A Cyberman emerges from Chambers’ coffin. It knows Peri and the Doctor, but not Chambers’ own children. The fact that the Cybermen know Peri as well as the Doctor means that they are time travelling Cyberman from the future. Their plan is to go to Earth’s distant past to create a race of cybermen, but they need a Time Lord to work the time travel. Once Janine learns the truth about where Peri has been for the last “four months” she comes to terms with it. Peri flakes out at one point and Janine takes charge. Meanwhile, on threat of harm to his friends, the Doctor complies with the Cybermen’s request, however he has modified the plan slightly: he sends the Cybermen to Mondas’ past, not Earth’s.

After the Cybermen have been dealt with, Peri decides to remain on Earth. Just when everything seems back to normal, Janine and Mrs. Chambers are killed in a freak explosion. Kathering and Nate are nowhere to be found, and Peri resumes her travels with the Doctor after all. Apparently this story has a sequel (or a prequel?) called “The Gathering,” featuring the Fifth Doctor and Tegan.

90. Year of the Pig – (Sixth Doctor & Peri):

“Ostend, 1913. War is coming. A war in which millions will die. And the guest in suite 139 of the Hotel Palace Thermae knows it. Which is odd, considering he has trotters, a snout and a lovely curly tail.

“Toby the Sapient Pig is a swine on the run. Two peculiar strangers have been hunting him across Europe. The first, Miss Alice Bultitude, is an Englishwoman and collector of obscure theatrical ephemera.

“The second, Inspector Alphonse Chardalot, is a celebrated member of the detective police - the man who brought the trunk murderess of St Germain to justice.

“This was supposed to be a reading week for the Doctor and Peri. Now they must do battle with a villain who wants to wipe every last human from the face of the earth - once he's had just another dish of truffles. And maybe a valedictory glass of fizzy lemonade.”

COMMENTARY: This one almost didn’t get made because the proximity of its release to the broadcast of “Aliens of London” on TV, but Russell T. Davies said he was all right with it. The premise is a little hard to buy, but otherwise it’s okay.

The first Big Finish Doctor Who I ever bought (I started out buying Dark Shadows) was the very first one released, SIRENS OF TIME. It features the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors in a four part story. Each of the Doctors has an individual chapter, then they all come together for the end. I’m glad I bought it when I did, because it’s no longer available on CD. I remember I didn’t buy it until I had seen at least one story of each Doctor on DVD, but it was still fairly early on in my Doctor Who experience. At that time, I didn’t even know these three Doctors well enough to distinguish easily among their voices. I enjoy and get much more out of it now.

I decided not to pursue Big Finish at the time, though, for a couple of reasons: 1) there were still many DVDs I had not seen; 2) there were just so many CDs; 3) I was most interested in the Eighth Doctor, who didn’t get a fair shake on TV. Once I got caught up on the DVDs, though, I began to listen to Eighth Doctor CDs. I liked them, for the most part, but there’s a dry spot in the middle of the “Charley” stories (when they start travelling with C’Rizz) that really didn’t appeal to me. (As with the TV series, they can’t all be winners.) I skipped over the ones I didn’t think I’d like and began listening to “The Eighth Doctor Adventures” series, which I loved from the start.

The Eighth Doctor Adventures” began in 2007, which is the same year that Nicholas Briggs took over from Gary Russell as producer. I have really enjoyed most if not all of the Big Finish productions I have listened to which were made made since 2007, and that became my line. Now that I’m caught up to Eighth Doctor stories produced from 2007 to the present, I’m going back to listen to those I skipped. Another Doctor who didn’t get a “fair shake” on TV was the Sixth, so I have been listening to quite a few of his stories, too. One thing I have learned so far is that there are quite a few pre-2007 CDs that I enjoy just as much as the ones released 2007 and on.

Next week I plan to delve into the Sixth Doctor’s “blue suit” era.

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