RAVAGERS

1.1 - "Sphere of Freedom"

"On the Sphere of Freedom, the Doctor is about to shut down an evil Immersive Games business empire. He’s assisted by a valiant galley chef called Nova. But his plan spectacularly fails... And who exactly is Audrey?"

1.2 - "Cataclysm"

"Nova is dislocated in time while the Time Eddies are out of control. Meanwhile, the Doctor is about to face the end of the universe. Or is that just the Battle of Waterloo?"

1.3 - "Food Fight"

"The TARDIS is starting to get a little crowded! Audrey finds herself haunted by a ghostly Doctor."

I had been looking forward to the return of Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor for a long time, but when it was released, I just wasn't in the mood. For whatever reason, I tend to listen to audios in the winter and music in the summer. I used to think it was a temperature thing, but now I think it's more of a light thing. A cool, dark commute before sunup is more like sitting in a darkened movie theater, I guess. At this point, I actually have the first two box sets. Tracy and I took a little road trip today and were in the car long enough to listen to the first set in its entirety. 

The story begins with a huge victory, thrusting the Ninth Doctor immediately into his element. Suddenly, disaster strikes! A woman named Nova is swept away in a "time eddy." Nova is not his companion, per se; in fact, he barely knows her. But she is his ally, and it's up to him to save her. His first trip takes him to London in 1959 (where people actually know what a police box is), a London being invaded by Roman Centurions. What is causing time to go so badly wrong? From Piccadilly Circus he travels to Belgium in 1815 and to a far-flung future in which machine intelligences regard sentient life as mere biofuel. 

This is a pretty convoluted plot to follow, especially three stories at once without a break in between to let the details sink in. At one point, he crosses his own time line. Under normal circumstances, the TARDIS's time buffers would prevent such a thing from happening, but the time eddies are playing hob with her internal circuits. He eventually loops back to the point he crossed in the first place and... oh, nevermind. I'm going to have to listen to this one again. That's a good thing, though. The best Doctor Who stories should leave you a little confused. 

Perhaps now I'll get to that second set sooner rather than later. 

RESPOND TO ALL CALLS

2.1 - "Girl, Deconstructed"

2.2 - "Fright Motif"

2.3 - "Planet of the End"

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"Fantastic!"  This was a great first audio for the Ninth Doctor. I took to Nova right away. She is feisty and smart and brave.

Jeff and I will have to take another drive in a couple of weeks. I look forward to hearing the next story. 

"Jeff and I will have to take another drive in a couple of weeks. I look forward to hearing the next story."

Tracy didn't have to wait that long to move on to the second series. Each of the discs is approximately 60 minutes long, and our twice daily commute is about a half an hour in each direction. This morning's happened to take about 20 minutes, so we should be able to get through a disc in two or three one way trips. The second set seems to comprise three individual stories rather than three-interconnected ones. Then again, we've listened to only the first 20 minutes so far.

RESPOND TO ALL CALLS

2.1 - "Girl, Deconstructed"

"Marnie is missing. But she hasn't run away, as her dad fears - Marnie is still very much at home. But not quite as she was. The Doctor joins forces with Missing Persons detective Jana Lee to help solve the mystery of a girl who's gone to pieces."

Teenagers have been disappearing in 2004 London. One of them in particular comes to the attention of the Doctor and, during the course of his investigation, he teams up with Jana Lee, the missing persons detective who has been assigned to the case. Lee is from that area, and she happens to know of a friend of hers, decades earlier, who similarly disappeared. the doctor is able to make him heard, but he has aged and Jana doesn't believe it is him. Meanwhile, Marnie exists as a sort of "ghost image" in her father's house, she can see and hear him, but he can't see or hear her.

That's about all that has happened in the first 20 minutes. 

Have they explained where Rose is during these stories?  Is this from before he meets her, or between TV stories?

Oh, thanks for asking that question! I meant to say something about that but forgot. One thing about Big Finish is that they are never keen to tie major story points together. They learned that the hard way when they wrote a "final" story for the Eighth Doctor's companion Evelyn set "one year in the future". They wrote themselves into a corner because every story for the next several years had to be set prior to and lead into that point. For example, whereas the Eighth Doctor's 16-part epic Dark Eyes leads directly into Doom Coalition which leads directly into Ravenous, Ravenous does not lead directly into The Time War. Nor will the Eighth Doctor's Time War series (still ongoing) lead directly into The War Doctor Begins

All that is a roundabout way of saying that The Ninth Doctor Adventures occurs sometime (but not immediately) after "Day of the Doctor" and sometime before "Rose." It is still fairly earlier in the Ninth Doctor's reign, but they are purposefully avoiding the war-fatigued RTD characterization of the Ninth Doctor. 

"Girl, Deconstucted" (conclusion): There is an ephemeral race called the Serapheem which migrates through these parts every ten years. They cannot communicate conventionally, nor can they differentiate between speech and random thought. The reason they have been abducting teenagers is because of teens' thoughts when they argue with their parents, such as, "I wish I was a million miles away!" But humans are too solid to travel the way they do, so the Serapheem "deconstruct" them to their component atoms. Problem is, they're still too heavy. There is no malice. They sense a problem, they try to help, they can't, they move on. the Doctor thinks he can reconstruct all the missing teenagers, but it's dangerous. (Oh, you already know he succeeds, don't you?) He cannot help Jana's friend, though, because there is a time limit, but now that he knows how to breach the barrier, Jana can visit him whenever she likes. The doctor even buys the house he has been "haunting" so they won't eve be separated. 

2.2 - "Fright Motif"

"In post-War Paris, musician Artie Berger has lost his mojo, but gained a predator - something that seeps through the cracks of dissonance to devour the unwary. Luckily for Artie, the Doctor is here. Unluckily for everyone, he needs bait to trap a monster..."

Some sort of alien which is attracted by a hotel piano player's music. In the morning, we listen to Doctor Who on the way to Tracy's work, and on the way home I listen to Superman. (I have the first dozen 15-minute episodes of the radio show on two CDs.) they are charming, but so primitive in comparison. Whenever the Man of Steel is in a scene by himself, he just basically narrates, aloud, to himself, what he's doing. In this version, there are no Kents, no Smallville. Superman emerges from his space capsule fully grown. Lois Lane makes her first appearance in episode seven. They haven't quite settled on the classic "Up, up... and away!" yet. Today it was the unwieldy, "Out... and up... higher and higher... faster!" 

What was I talking about?

Something about Superman being a magician in post-War Paris, I think.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

What was I talking about?

"Girl, Deconstucted" (conclusion): Artie Berger is an American but he lives in Paris because there are more opportunities for a black musician there. Artie is also gay. Artie's lover runs the hotel where they both live, but he hates jazz music. Artie's bandmate is a woman, not a singer (as one might expect) but a musician (she plays double bass). She doesn't know Artie is gay, and she and his lover don't get along. In addition to the themes of racial and sexual discrimination, this story also includes a lot of music theory and some scientific principles regarding sound (reverberation, white sound, snow as a natural sound dampener, etc.) as well. 

Artie had been saving his money to return home to visit his ailing mother when he received word that she had died. His grief came through in his music, and it was this dissonance which attracted the sound creatures in the first place. This story was written by Tim Foley, a name I don't recognize. But I learn about writers for Big Finish the same way I learn about comic book writers: I listen to or read a story without necessarily knowing who wrote it. If I like it, I take note of the name and keep my eye peeled for other stories by that writer in the future. I'll be sure to notice Foley's name going forward. 

And I'm finished with Superman. I've got plenty of the Lone Ranger, though.

2.3 - "Planet of the End"

"The Doctor arrives on a mausoleum world for sightseeing and light pedantry, correcting its planetary records. The resident AI has other ideas. Deep within a tomb, something stirs. Occasus is the last resting place of a species far too dangerous to exist. And the Doctor is its way back."

The Incorporation is a galaxy-wide criminal organization previously kept in check by the Time Lords. But with the Time Lords as well as the Daleks simply "gone" after the Time War, the Incorporation sees this as the perfect time to expand its operations. Responding to a distress call from a mausoleum planet, the Doctor arrives to see what's what and to spend a century or so correcting misinformation in the planet's records. the only being on the planet (which hasn't been used in millennia) is an AI which has become self-aware (out of a sense of boredom, I suppose).

Most of the first half deals with the Doctor getting the lay of the land and interacting with the female-voiced AI (officially called "The Guardian" but renamed "Fred" by the Doctor). Too late, the doctor realizes that the "calls for help" were nothing more than a ruse to trap him.

[That should say "'Fright Motif,' conclusion" two posts back.]

Theoretically, we listen to half an episode in the morning, half in the afternoon, then maybe the last 10 minutes or so either at home or the next morning, but what works best is listening to approximately half the first morning, half the second, then I listen to the remaining 10 ,inutes on my way home and listen to it again in the afternoon when I pick Tracy up. 

("Planet of the End," conclusion)

That strategy worked particularly well today because with left off yesterday with the Doctor being captured by the Incorporation. As we pick up day, he has been tortured for seven years and is on the verge of regenerating. The Incorporation has some scheme involving Artron energy which would give them complete control of the Doctor's body and are trying to force a regeneration to obtain that energy. (What that exact process is, how it works and why they don't simply kill him, I don't know.) After seven years of torture, the Doctor is ready to make a deal.

The Doctor tells them he wants to live a while longer and see the sunset. If the Incorporation allows him to live longer, he will voluntarily give up a portion f his Artron energy every year. They agree. Another 82 years pass. The Doctor is now ready to turn the tables on the Incorporation, but I'm not exactly clear on what, exactly, his plan is or how it works. It has something to do with transferring the last little bit of Artron energy to a dead rabbit.

At the last minute, he transfers the Artron energy to Fred, the AI, granting it true life. They defeat the Incorporation and Fred builds a memorial to the dead rabbit. How long will Fred live? The Doctor doesn't know. Will she regenerate? The Doctor doesn't know. Will another AI consciousness on the planet? The Doctor doesn't know. Fred decides to stop asking questions and find out for herself. In the RTD style, of of this trilogy of stories is set in the past, one in the present and one in the future. the characters are good and the dialogue is good, but this story, as you might guess, is my least favorite of the three because so much of the plot is unclear. And it's not just me; Tracy is unclear on the plot points I mentioned as well. 

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