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
  Army of Death

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I enjoyed “The Widow’s Assassin” so much I decided to listen to it again. The only problem is, I just realized I forgot to type up a reaction to “The Silver Turk” (8th Doctor and Mary Shelley, which I also listened to last week) first. Now I’ll have to listen to that one again. (Boo-hoo.) The second time through “The Widow’s Assassin” I noticed a flashback to the 6th Doctor’s prevbious adventure with Flip I hadn’t noticed before, which places “The Widow’s Assassin” (#192) soon after “The Scavenger” (#184). As I mentioned in a previous post, the Big Finish audios don’t necessarily occur in the order in which they were released, but in this case they do.

With Tracy out of town for a week, I’ve started re-watching the “Trial of as Timelord” season of Doctor Who. Some many good audio adventures have sprung from it: Peri and the Piscon Paradox, The Trial of the Valeyard, The Last Adventure, the three-part “reunited with Peri” series I’ve begun to listen to now. The best thing about these audios is that they don’t contradict anything shown on TV, but rather embellish it and smooth over some rough edges making least favorite episodes into most favorite ones. Moving on…

THE SILVER TURK:

“Roll up! Roll up! To the great Viennese Exposition, where showman Stahlbaum will show you his most wonderful creation, the Silver Turk – a mechanical marvel that will not only play for you the fortepiano, the spinet and the flute, it will play you at the gaming table too!

“But when the Doctor brings his new travelling companion Mary Shelley to nineteenth-century Vienna, he soon identifies the incredible Turk as one of his deadliest enemies – a part-machine Cyberman.

“And that’s not even the worst of the horrors at large in the city…”

COMMENTARY: This story uses the famous chess-playing “automaton” as a starting point, but the “Silver Turk” not only plays chess, but checkers and card games and all manner of musical instruments as well. It will come as as surprise to absolutely no one that the Turk is really a damaged Mondasian Cyberman. Thematically, the story is similar to the Ninth Doctor television episode “Dalek” (substituting Mary Shelley for Rose Tyler and a Cyberman for a Dalek), but with four half hour episodes and a large cast, it much more than that. But who wants to hear what I have to say about it? Here’s writer Marc Platt and director Barnaby Edwards.

WRITER’S NOTES by Marc Platt:

“Alan Barnes’ shopping list: Mary Shelley; 19th century Vienna; automata — possibly the celebrated Turk. So I spent a while reading some of Mary Shelley’s short stories. They tend to have very tidy endings, but they also bulge with amazing ideas for a nineteenth century young lady. Mary really was a bit of a maverick, giving all sorts of social conventions a good kicking. So she’s a great foil for the Eighth Doctor.

“Vienna is quite a short jump from Lake Geneva (see ‘The Company of Friends’), but I needed a good reason for the Doctor to be there. So Vienna: cakes, waltzes, Franz Josef, Freud. Having decided that the abominably hideous events at Mayerling in 1866 were probably a bit much, I discovered the Vienna Exposition of 1873 — all manner of technological and artistic innovations were on display. Huntley and Palmers even had a biscuit emporium. And there was also a stock market crash. Well, how could the Doctor resist? What’s less well known is that two new shows were also in town — a bizarrely realistic puppet show and an exhibition by the celebrated automaton the Silver Turk. A storm is brewing and there are signs that the Cybermen have a hand, even several hands, in the dastardly business…”

DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Barnaby Edwards:

“I’m a sucker for great literary figures becoming embroiled in the world of Doctor Who. From the First Doctor’s adventures with the celebrated traveler and diarist Marco Polo to the Eleventh Doctor’s encounters with that formidable winner of the 1953 Nobel Prize for literature, Winston Churchill, the plethora of well-known writers stepping on and off the TARDIS has enlivened the show. Wells, Dickens, Shakespeare. Christie, and now… Mary Shelley.

“And what better story with which to launch her adventures than a tale revolving around the creation of life? Galvanic lightning, stolen body parts, Miltonian rhetoric — all the elements of Frankenstein are there. Fun as these references are, though, they are only a small part of littérateur Marc Platt’s magnificently macabre reimagining of the Coppélia myth.

“As director, I may have been pulling the strings, but Marc was definitely the story’s puppet master!”

The chess-playing Cyberman was used in Neil Gaiman's Eleventh Doctor episode "Nightmare in Silver" as well

Oh, yeah... I had forgotten about that.

For the record, "The Silver Turk" was released in 2011 and "Nightmare in Silver" was broadcast in 2013.

A few more “Bonus Releases” today: “Return of the Daleks” (Seventh Doctor) from 2007, and “Return to the Web Planet” (Fifth Doctor and Nyssa) from 2008.

RETURN OF THE DALEKS:

“No one could ever know. We had to erase the past. Change everything. Start again. But even though it's been centuries now… in our hearts, none of us feels truly… safe. I think, even if our people were to survive until the end of time itself, we would still fear… the return of the Daleks.”

This one has a whole lot of expository dialogue explaining a whole lot of antecedent action, but I still had a hard time following exactly what was going on. Eventually I figured out that this release is tied into “Dalek Empire”, a 16-part series which ran from 2001 through 2008.

RETURN TO THE WEB PLANET:

“It's been hundreds of years and several regenerations since the Doctor last visited the insect world of Vortis. Much has changed during his absence, but not necessarily for the better. This now green and pleasant land isn't the paradise it first appears. Something malevolent is living out in The Desolation... And the Doctor and Nyssa must solve the mystery before the City of Light is overrun.

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart (or is it my head?) for the Zarbi. Not only do I have an audio book of the novelization (one of the better ones, IMO), but I once found a copy of the very first Doctor Who Annual which features two Zarbi stories. In this one, the Doctor meets a Menoptera scientist, and Nyssa befriends his daughter, who lost her wings.

Most audios I have listened to from before 2007 are more like “classic” Who (i.e., mostly self-contained). More recent ones are usually part of an “arc” (even if it’s just a trilogy of stories).

The Zarbi novel was one of the first wave of three, from the 1960s. The other two done at that time were the David Whitaker ones. They were published as children's hardbacks. They were reprinted as paperbacks by Target when its paperback series started in the 1970s.

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