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
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
Army of Death
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
“IZZY'S STORY” by Alan Barnes
“TARDIS travel opens one's eyes to a universe of possibilities, reckons the Doctor. For geek girl Izzy, it's also a fantastic way to track down ultra-rare back copies of 'Aggrotron!', the most dangerous comic in history...”
IZZY SINCLAIR: “Born to unknown parents in 1979, but brought up in the sleepy village of Stockbridge by adoptive parents Les and Sandra Sinclair, sci-fi nut Izzy boarded the TARDIS in 1996, after helping the Doctor escape a trap set by the Celestial Toymaker.”
WRITER’S NOTES: “Nothing’s ever struck me quite so hard as the horrific realization that the funky geek-queen I invented to accompany the Eighth Doctor in the pages of the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip is now—aaargh!—a period character, Britpop Britain made flesh. Izzy was (variously) part Jarvis Cocker, part Louise Wener from Sleeper, part the girl from the Trainspotting poster, part Kira of This Life… and part me. Unlike me, however, Izzy is as fresh and vibrant as she ever was in the heady days of 1996; she, at least, gets to Live Forever.”
Izzy’s from the comics. I have reprints of the comics featuring Doctors Four through Eight which appeared in Doctor Who Magazine. I’ve read the Fourth Doctor stories twice each (some of them three times), and the Fifth Doctor stories once. I stopped getting them after the Eighth because 1) I’m not as interested in the newer doctors, and 2) I had fallen so far behind. Volume 4 of the Eighth Doctor switches to color. I’ve got a good idea of what Izzy looks like. This audio makes me want to take up reading them again. This story was very funny and highly entertaining. Izzy wants to use the TARDIS to track down a back issue of an ultra-rare comic book she needs to complete her collection but, as one might expect, there’s a bit more to it than that.
“MARY'S STORY” by Jonathan Morris
“Switzerland, 1816: at the Villa Diodati, Lord Byron's house guests tell each other tales to curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart. With a monster on the loose outside, young Mary Shelley isn't short of inspiration.”
Mary Shelley: “Born in 1797, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein (1818)—conceived, she always claimed, during her residency at the Villa Diodati, Switzerland, the the company of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori and Claire Clairmont. But Mary wasn’t telling the whole truth.”
WRITER’S NOTES: “July 2008, and I receive an email from Alan Barnes. It’s an unusual brief. Ever since Storm Warning he’s been hinting in his stories at an untold adventure where the Doctor met Mary Shelley. Now he wants me to be the one to write it, based on his original outline: Mary, Byron, Shelley and Polidori, 1816 and the origins of Frankenstein. Quite an honor. The only drawback being, I’d actually have to read Frankenstein first...”
Of the four stories in this set, “Mary’s Story” is the one I looked forward to the most. As mentioned above, script editor Alan Barnes had been dropping hints in many of the Eighth Doctor stories that he had met and/or travelled with Mary Shelly from the beginning. (Storm Warning is the first Eighth Doctor story in the main range, from 2001.)
The story begins on the stormy night in 1816 when the five young intellectuals first decided to each write a “ghost story.” Suddenly, there is a pounding at the door. They open it and in stumbles a disheveled Eighth Doctor. He mumbles the words “doctor” and “Frankenstein” then passes out. He has been through a severe temporal storm which has disoriented him and also inhibited his ability to regenerate. The young people Care for him for several days, but eventually he… dies. Under the influence of laudanum, Percy suggests taking him to the attic bedroom and running a piano wire from the lightning rod on the roof to his body. When the lightning strikes, it does revive him, but it also has the effect of transforming him into a creature as his body tries in vain to regenerate. Driven nearly insane, the creature flees into the woods.
Mary follows him to a small blue “house” with the words “police,” “public,” “call,” and “box” written on it. She follows him inside. The TARDIS helps to stabilize his condition, but he begins to babble about traveling with “C’Rizz, Charlie, Lucy, Tamsin, Alex… and you.” This makes little sense at first because Storm Warning (2001) established that the Doctor had met Mary Shelley before he met Charley or any of the others he mentioned. He first met Alex in An Earthly Child (2009), but this Doctor is likely from a time post-2011 (To the Death) because he speaks of them all in the past tense. (The Company of Friends was released in 2009.) Obviously, this Doctor comes from the “future” (so to speak).
Just then a TARDIS appears and another version of the Eighth Doctor steps out (summoned by an emergency signal sent by the creature-Doctor it turns out), a younger version who has never met Mary and the others. The creature-Doctor goes wild, but the younger Doctor manages to hypnotize him. The younger Doctor stabilizes the creature-Doctor and theorizes that, after encountering the temporal storm, the creature-Doctor’s TARDIS took him to Switzerland in 1816 because it had “remembered” being there before. The Doctor had needed a massive jolt of electricity to bring him back to life (which he got from Shelley), but he also needed the care of a Time Lord (which he got from his younger self). The younger Doctor uses his own TARDIS to repair the creature-Doctor’s TARDIS, and the TARDIS in turn helps to revive the Doctor.
The creature-Doctor resumes his normal form and then things really start to get weird. The two versions of the Eighth Doctor don’t get along very well, and the older version storms off abruptly. The younger version, it seems, has left “Sampson” and “Gemma” in Vienna. I haven’t heard of them, but a quick internet search tells me they first appeared in the audio Terror Firma (the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’Rizz adventure, #72, where I left off).
It is at this point the Doctor invites Mary to travel with him. She accepts, and all of their adventures together (#153-155) apparently take place between scenes of #72, before he returns to Sampson and Gemma. That doesn’t make much sense, either, now that I think about it, because how did he know Mary Shelley prior to Storm Warning (#16) if he didn’t meet her until the middle of Terror Firma (#72)? Oh, well. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. One of these days I will listen to the adventures of “The Eighth Doctor and Mary” and at some point I will no doubt return to “The Eighth Doctor and Charley” as well.
"I’m sure I’ll figure it out."
INTERNET RESEARCH: “Terror Firma is the first story to depict the Eighth Doctor's travels prior to the events of Big Finish's first Eighth Doctor audio drama Storm Warning and goes some way to explain why the Doctor was travelling alone in that story.”
BONUS EPISODE: THE COMPANION CHRONICLES: THE THREE COMPANIONS
EPISODE FOUR: “Cremation Point”
“As the end of the world approaches, Polly, Ben and Jamie attempt to escape the Gathernaut.”
Eh. It’s a middle chapter of a longer story, and if its inclusion here is designed to entice listeners to buy the Three Companions, it failed to do so with me. Both Anneke Willis and Nicholas Courtney perform, and Willis does imitations of Ben and Jamie when she reads their lines.
ROBOPHOBIA - written and directed by Nicholas Briggs
“Nothing has ever been officially confirmed, but there is a rumor that on a Sandminer, bound for Kaldor City, the robots somehow turned homicidal and nearly wiped out the entire crew. Can that really be true? The robot transport ship Lorelei has a cargo of over 157,000 robots on board, all deactivated. So even if there were any truth in the rumor of that massacre, there'd still be no danger. Surely, there wouldn't... But then, the Doctor witnesses a murder.”
“Robophobia” is a direct sequel to the Tom Baker television serial “The Robots of Death” and it takes place a few months after. That’s one reason for buying it. Another is that it’s the first appearance of med-tech Liv Chenka, who would go on to have a long tenure as the Eighth Doctor’s companion. Finally, it’s both written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, and his stuff is always good. This is a “whodunit” so I don’t want to give too much away. Here’s what Nick Briggs himself has to say about it.
WRITER’S NOTES: “The Robots of Death is one of my favorite Doctor Who stories. Like The Ark in Space, it is part of a Doctor Who template for how to ‘do’ that kind of story. You know the one: The doctor arrives somewhere, which is in some way totally isolated, and has to save the ever-decreasing number of survivors from some terrible foe. The element that The Robots of Death added was the ‘whodunit’ vibe; except that the audience was in on who ‘dunit’ right from the start, Columbo-style.
“So, for a sequel, how do you get the unique floavor of the original without just repeating the same story? Let’s face it, most sequels are just elaborate reworking of the original, because, in a way, that what’s expected from them.
“What we decided was to add a new twist and give the Doctor a different role. That was our theory. All the ingedients that made The Robots of Death are there, but for different reasons and in a different context.”
DIRECTOR’S NOTES: “Directing your own script is particularly enjoyable. You’ve lived with the story for months, discussed it with your brilliant script editor (Alan Barnes), pored over every detail of it and now here it is, coming to life before your very ears. It was also a chance to work with some particularly fine actors. Well, you always need good actors, don’t you? But in a story which is all about fear and how it affects people’s behavior, really good emotional acting is essential. And because the Doctor has a more mysterious role in this story, it was important that the ‘supporting’ cast were able to take center stage with ease. It’s their story, not the Doctor’s.
“It was a long-held ambition of mine to work with Nicola (Ruth from Spooks Walker, and a great chance for me to finallywork with Dan Starkey, who is superbly dexterous with his voice. Nicholas Pegg is a great old mate of mine, and frankly, every time I wrote Captain Selerat’s lines, I kept hearing Nick’s voice in my headf. Maybe I should see a doctor about that. As for Toby Hadoke… well, he does some breathtaking stuff in this story. A privilege to behold.”
Most of the audios I have listened to have featured “my” Doctor, the Eighth. But recently, having listened to River Song stories which have featured the Sixth and Seventh, and “Classic Doctors, New Monsters” stories which have featured the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh, I discovered I liked listening to stories featuring other Doctors, too. Most of what I’ve listened to, too, have been big sweeping stories: four series of “Eighth Doctor Adventures”, “Dark Eyes”, “Doom Coalition”, “The Complete War Doctor”, etc. I’ve my eye on this next set of three for some time now. I wanted to deal with them in a single discussion, but although they are sequential and thematically linked, I couldn’t really justify giving them a thread of their own. (Besides, I didn’t want to impose upon Bob to update the index for every little one-, two- or three-off adventure.) It was these three I had in mind when I started this “miscellaneous” discussion. I don’t know yet if the stories are linked to each other somehow, of if they’re standalone, but each one features a Doctor paired with a companion or companions generally associated with another Doctor. Here’s what’s coming up.
198. The Defectors – featuring the Seventh Doctor and Jo Grant
199. The Last of the Cybermen – featuring the Sixth Doctor, Jamie and Zoe
200. The Secret History – featuring the Fifth Doctor, Stephen and Vicki
Even though the Doctors “count down” from Seven to Five, I’m going to listen to them in release order. That means first up is…
“Jo Grant is shocked to find most of her colleagues are missing. Then she discovers that the Doctor has inexplicably changed.
“But there’s no time to worry about it, as she and her misplaced Time Lord friend are whisked to the mysterious Delphin Isle on a matter of national security. There, they encounter a disturbingly odd form of local hospitality and learn of a highly classified incident that took place during the Cold War.
“Why exactly have they been brought here? And what is the truth concerning the bodies in the harbour and the vast project being undertaken beneath a cloak of secrecy?”
This story takes place (from Jo Grant’s POV) during the UNIT era, sometime after “The Three Doctors.” Jo Grant awakens to discover a helicopter full of regular army soldiers landing at UNIT HQ. The Brigadier is away. Mike Yates is supposed to be in charge in the Brig’s absence, but he is nowhere to be found. In fact, all of the UNIT personnel are gone. Jo goes looking for the Doctor and finds him, but not the one she expected. The Doctor explains that he is the Seventh. Although she has met two Doctors other than her own (the “chap with the white hair” and the “one with the Beatle hair cut”), she is reluctant to believe him. She quizzes him on several points, and although he correctly answers her questions, she is still skeptical. She must believe him on some level, though, because when her guard is down she addresses him as “Doctor.”
One other thing: in this reality, there is a King of England.
As the synopsis says, “there’s no time to worry about it, as she and her misplaced Time Lord friend are whisked to the mysterious Delphin Isle on a matter of national security.” There, the beer they are served is rancid, and the food tastes as if it has been served from 30 year old tins. Although supposedly an active fishing village, the boats are rotted through and haven’t been used in years. Apparently, the entire village is part of a massive secret operation. They meet some of the villagers, but that night Jo and the Doctor discover many of them, their skin a bright blue, are in the water off the docks, apparently drowned. The next day, however, the same villagers are out and about. It is now apparent they are wearing make-up to hide their blue skin. The Doctor and Jo find pictures of some of the villagers from 30 years ago; they haven’t aged a day.
Some 30 years ago, an alien spaceship crash landed on the isle. The native villagers captured and tortured the survivors. In order to live, the aliens took control of the villagers, causing their blue skin. When not needed, they are kept in the chilly water where the temperature helps to preserve them and they do not age. This is very much a “Unit Era” story. I suspect the thought behind this three-disc series is to tell First, Second and Third Doctor full-cast dramas using surviving Doctors as stand-ins.
There is really no sympathetic side in this conflict; both the aliens and the humans are at fault. But which side will the Doctor help? The Third Doctor was always sure of himself and somewhat arrogant. The Seventh Doctor suspects that he is there to make a different choice than his earlier self did (or would have) under the circumstances. But what choice? And who sent him there?
At the end of the story, the Third Doctor reappears, unconscious, in the Seventh Doctor’s place, but we don’t (yet) find out the significance of there being a king of England.
THE LAST OF THE CYBERMEN:
“It's been ten years since the final assault on Telos, the last act of the Great Cyber War. Thanks to the Glittergun, humanity prevailed – and the half-machine Cybermen were utterly obliterated.
“Out on the furthest fringes of the galaxy, however, they left their mark – in the form of a giant Cyber-head, hundreds of feet high. A monument? A memorial? A tomb? The Doctor, the Cybermen's most indefatigable adversary, sets out to investigate... but he fails to return to his TARDIS. Leaving the Ship, his two companions – brave Highlander Jamie MacCrimmon, and super-intelligent Zoe Heriot – find a stranger in the Doctor's place. A stranger in a coat of many colours, who insists that he's the Doctor – transposed in time and space with one of his former selves...
“But why here? Why now? Has the universe really seen the last of the Cybermen..?”
There is a scene from “The Three Doctors” in which the Second Doctor is shown running from… something… before he’s “snatched” for the crossover. This story opens with what I think is that same scene, observed by Jamie and Zoe from the TARDIS some 500 feet away. Except this time, there is a flash and the Second Doctor is replaced by the Sixth. He convinces Zoe who he is in short order, but Jamie is skeptical. The two remain humorously antagonistic toward each other throughout.
Jamie reckons it was the Sixth Doctor that the Second Doctor was running from, but soon a Cyberman comes running up from the same direction. The Doctor and Jamie become separated from Zoe, and she encounters the Cyberman. He is a rather strange Cyberman, who says “please” and “thank you” and speaks in terms of kindness. Turns out he was a soldier in the Cyber War and was rescued by his mates in the midst of being converted. The only thing left to have been transferred was his mind, but it was too late to save the rest of him. His nickname is “Lanky.”
“Oh, I get it!” exclaims Zoe. “Because you’re so tall!”
“No,” replies Lanky, somewhat confused. “Because I’m from Lancashire.”
The outstanding geographical feature of the area is a 500 foot tall Cyberman head atop a mountain. It is not a Cyber-tomb, however; it is some sort of citadel. Lanky is with a group from a museum on an expedition. He takes Zoe back to camp, and she is soon reunited with the Doctor and Zoe. The Doctor doesn’t remember any of this from his earlier incarnation, and speculates that none of it would have happened if his two selves had not been transposed.
Inside the citadel is an apparently inactive Cyber-Planner which the leader of the expedition, a woman named Zennox, wishes to use for her own purposes. The rest of the party are Captain Frank, who served with Lanky in the Cyber War, and Findel, a young man very nearly as intelligent as Zoe. It is Zennox’s plan to use Findel’s mind to reactivate the Cyber-Planner, but he’s not too keen on the idea. After meeting Zoe, however, Zennox changes her mind and decides to use Zoe’s mind to reactivate the Cyber-planner. In the meantime, Zoe and Findel really hit it off and become good friends.
When Zennox succeeds in her plan to reactivate the Cyber-Planner, it sends a beacon across time summoning an additional 10,000 Cybermen to the site of the last battle of the Great Cyber War, which affect the outcome and change history. The Doctor, and Jamie go back in time 10 years to the last battle of the war. (Zoe’s consciousness is already there.) It is at this point the plot gets really complicated as the action shifts to two different times. At one point, even one of the characters says, “Damn, this is confusing!” This is the kind of story that makes more sense the second time through. I’ve only listened to it once, but I’m going to give it a shot.
Just as “The Defectors” highlighted the differences between the Third Doctor and the Seventh, so too does “The Last of the Cyberman” highlight the differences between the Second Doctor and the Sixth. The Sixth theorizes that the Second sussed out the situation and determined that, without his help, Zennox and her party would never be able to access the Cyber-Controller. Because he was still on the run from the Time Lords at this point (this story takes place between “The Space Pirates” and “The War Games”), the Second Doctor decided to beat a hasty retreat.
When the Sixth Doctor was transposed in the Second’s place, however, he changed the course of events. The Sixth Doctor now holds himself very much responsible for changing the course of history and decides to summon the Time Lords and turn himself in. The bombardment, though, causes him to lose the device needed to send the signal. He and Jamie soon meet up with Captain Frank and Lanky. Lanky, it turns out, has not undergone partial conversion, but has simply donned Cyber armor to infiltrate the enemy’s ranks. 10 years in the future, Frank and Lanky revealed that they’ve known who the Doctor was all along, and pretending to be a partially-converted Cyberman was all part of an elaborate plan to allow the Doctor and Jamie to succeed in the past.
The only way they can succeed however, is for Zoe to draw the Cybermen back from there attack on Earth so that they can be ambushed. The only problem is that Zoe will have to stay in control of the Cybermen at ground zero and be destroyed herself in the process. Suddenly another mind pushes her out of control. It is Findel from 10 years in the future, willing to sacrifice himself in her place.
After the dust settles, the Doctor and Zoe deduce that it was a signal sent by the Sixth Doctor through the telepathic circuits of the TARDIS which led the Second Doctor there in the first place, but that still doesn’t explain who caused the two Doctors to be transposed in time in the first place or why. The Sixth Doctor tells Jamie and Zoe of the Second Doctor’s trial and what will happen to them afterwards. As the Sixth Doctor begins to disappear, the two contemplate leaving the Doctor before they are drawn into the War Games.
Nothing in the script gave a clue. I suppose that whenever you think "The Two Doctors" happened prior to listening to "Last of the Cyberman" still applies.
THE SECRET HISTORY:
“The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Steven and Vicki to the Italian city of Ravenna in the year 540 – besieged by the army of the celebrated Byzantine general Belisarius. Caught up in the fighting, Steven ends up on a boat bound for Constantinople, the heart of the Roman Empire.
“Rescuing Steven, however, is the least of the Doctor's problems – because he shouldn't be mixed up in this particular adventure at all. Someone has sabotaged his own personal timeline, putting him in the place of his First incarnation... but who, and why? The truth is about to be revealed – but at what cost to all of the Doctors, and to the whole future history of the planet Earth?”?
In a reversal of the beginning of “The Last of the Cybermen,” this story begins with Stephen and Vicki running to the TARDIS where the Doctor is waiting. The (Fifth) Doctor is just as surprised to see them as they are to see him. Again, there are a lot of “Easter eggs” for long-time fans as the Doctor tries to convince them who he is. This is a true First Doctor historical. Even the Fifth Doctor remarks, “So many of my adventures during this time seemed to begin with someone wandering off on his own,”
The Doctor and Vicki set out to follow Stephen to Constantinople, but as soon as they arrive the doctor is arrested. He is arrested by his description, so whoever is behind it knew not only that he was coming, but also that he would be in his Fifth incarnation. Vicki observes a handmaiden of Emperor Justinian reciting a spell which conjures two giant Medusa heads from the city’s cistern. Meanwhile, Stephen has been befriended by Quintus, who first gets Stephen a job mucking out stables but which soon becomes a job racing chariots. In the background, a plague rages.
Apparently Justinian has had a change of heart and the Doctor is released. The three find their way back to each other, and the Doctor immediately recognizes “Quintus” as the Monk. The Monk has no antibiotics, but he does have nano-cells which could cure the plague. The problem is, the nano-cells would become a permanent part of the victims’ genetics and would alter the course of history. The Monk wants the Doctor himself to administer the nano-cells, but he refuses. The Monk reveals a device which will allow him to step into the Doctor’s timeline and take it over. As he activates it, the Doctor begins to disappear.
All of the stories in the main range are presented as four episodes of a half hour each. This is the cliffhanger of the third episode.
To Be Continued…