The New CounterMeasures - Series OneBookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 March 2017 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
New Counter-Measures: Series One (Credit: Big Finish)

STARRING: Simon Williams, Pamela Salem,
Karen Gledhill, Hugh Ross

WITH: 
Carolyn Seymour, Tam Williams, Joanna Bending, 
George Asprey, Robin Weaver, Gunnar Cauthery, 
Christian Edwards, Vincent Carmichael, David Rintoul, 
Claire Calbraith, Andrew Wincott 



Written By: Guy Adams, Ian Potter, 
Christopher Hatherall, and John Dorney

Director:Ken Bentley

Sound Design:Rob Harvey

Music:Nicholas Briggs

Cover Art:Simon Holub

Script Editor: John Dorney

Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

 

Duration: 5 hours approx

Product Format:5-disc CD (slipcover box set)/ Digital Release

Producer: David Richardson
 



Initial Release: December 2016

General Release: 31 Jan 2017

After the Who Killed Toby Kinsella standalone release, another eagerly awaited full series of adventures for the Counter Measures team is available – being now set in the Seventies time zone. For the most part it continues the fine work of its predecessors.


The box set’s opening story is entitled Nothing to See HereStarting off with the shock of Gilmore being involved in violent armed robbery, it soon is made clear that the rest of the Group were fully aware of his choice to risk his safety by going undercover. The main story concerns invisibility and the threat of long-term use of this ‘special ability’ that causes loss to one’s mental equilibrium, and overall identity. The themes and plot mostly concern just how vulnerable a seemingly rock-solid soldier like Ian can be, when under the influence of an unprecedented invention, with unknown powers.

Guy Adams has provided a serviceable enough script and storyline, although it never quite goes beyond third gear in terms of tension and jeopardy. The majority of the antagonists are not quite imposing enough, and the deranged main adversary evokes more pity and concern for his safety than anything else.

 

The second story of the four is the work of Ian Potter - who has particular experience in the Companion Chronicles range - and is evocatively called Troubled WatersWith a relatively limited cast, the story makes good use of a submarine location (with latent nuclear capabilities), and explores aspects of distrust, claustrophobia and distorted views of the 'best possible' future for mankind. 

Coupled with a strong central mystery over why the submarine has gone ‘off grid’ and what caused its crew to mysteriously vanish, the listener is fully engaged with this play’s unveiling of various answers. It builds well on the core theme of identity from the prior story, and sees all of the main quartet of regulars having their integrity and defining characteristics assaulted.

 

The penultimate story of the set sees another sharp change in setting and story inspiration. Christopher Hatherall’s The Phoenix Strain has both a connection to The Birds – one of the seminal Hitchcock movies – and feature films from the time the story is set in, concerning animals running amok. Whilst involving vicious birds, there is also a theme of chemical engineering, designed against a very specific ‘enemy of the state’.

Operating on a much larger scale of action than the first two stories, this involves several antagonists. They have rather dubious principles, but are not directly connected to one another, and their agendas and methods are very dissimilar. The play does well in keeping followers uncertain over just which of these troublemakers actually has the more troublesome moral code.

This story really works well on initial listen, and has enough meat on its bones to stand up to repeated exposure. It perhaps is the most seamless of the four adventures, in terms of reflecting popular culture of the decade in question. There were many 'disaster movies' working their influence on the general public, and somehow they proved to have a winning mixture of paranoia and thrills, that kept justifying more being made in double-quick time.

 

The concluding story for this collection shares its title with the prototype of what ending up becoming the immortally beloved City of Death. However, A Gamble With Time is markedly different in overall story beats, and how the time travel trope is used. Allowing our four regulars to all go undercover as they investigate dealings between Gus Kalworowsky and Lady Suzanne Clare, twists and turns are unleashed with each successive track. Despite appearing to be harmless to most onlookers, Clare is actually a ruthless arms dealer who is intrigued by Gus’ supposedly alien time travel technology. One aspect that is kept from David Fisher’s markedly altered proposal, is the setting of a casino.

John Dorney's story just pips its predecessor to the post of being the standout, and features well-drawn characters played with full gusto by the supporting cast. Clare is one of the best Big Finish villains to originate, from a line that is divergent from the main Doctor Who releases.  She seems always one step ahead of even the smartest of people, and the ending is left open for her to wreak havoc in future.

 

This set of mysteries is notable for having a very loose structure in terms of inter-story continuity. Whilst presumably listeners are meant to approach the quartet in chronological order, in practice there is little to no difference rendered by selecting an arbitrary sequence instead. 

The main cast continue to provide excellent portrayals, and clearly enjoy the different situations and character moments that they each receive. This is a particularly good collection in terms of advancing the Gilmore/Jensen relationship. Williams and Salem clearly know how best to convey chemistry and connection, through this particular form of audio adventure.

Sir Toby is notably more benign following the events of the Who Killed.. two-part release, from earlier in 2016. Ross still plays the role with depth, and in an intriguing manner, but his darker edges are less conspicuous. His challenging of Lord Balfour is particularly riveting. Yet we also see this calculating political being take a moral high ground, rather than being more pragmatic, as so often was the case in his earlier stories.

Perhaps Gledhill's Allison has the least notable material, apart from her undercover work in Gamble, and the brainwashing/’romance’ she is subjugated to in Troubled Waters is just a bit too similar to previous stories, in the original Counter Measures range. Also, I continue to find much of the music a little too harsh, and the main theme is something I personally choose to skip.

However, other fans of both Doctor Who and of these characters that first showed up in a top-drawer 1988 TV serial, may enjoy the compiled music that features as one of the bonus tracks. The behind the scenes material continues to be enjoyable, with a particularly nicely done ‘as live’ insight into how happy the regulars were to hear they would be recording further original stories, after this current run.


This set does a fine job of building on the foundations of the first story, which brought the Counter Measures team into the markedly different decade of the Seventies. It demonstrates with some flair just how much there is still to be uncovered, by this group of smart and enterprising talents – whether political, scientific or military.

 




The Contingency Club (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 20 March 2017 - Reviewed by Richard Brinck-Johnsen
The Contingency Club (Credit: Big Finish)Written by Phil Mulryne
 
Directed by Barnaby Edwards
 
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Clive Merrison (George Augustus), Philip Jackson (Mr Peabody), Lorelei King (The Red Queen), Tim Bentinck (Wakefield/ Cabby/ Stonegood), Alison Thea-Skot (Marjorie Stonegood/ Computer), Olly McCauley (Edward/The Knave)
 
Big Finish Productions - Released February 2017

The second of this trilogy of plays opens with the season 19 TARDIS crew very much in their fractious time-travelling youth hostel mode forcing the Doctor to take on the role of headmaster as he intervenes in yet another row between Adric and Tegan. The Doctor manages to get the TARDIS to London but not Heathrow and over 100 years too early for Tegan as they four travellers soon realise that they have arrived at a gentleman’s club in Pall Mall. The Contingency Club seems at first much like most of its neighbours, but the unusual initiation ceremony and the fact that it’s inhabitants don’t seem bothered by the strange appearance of the new arrivals or indeed the fact that two of them are women soon indicates that something is amiss. And then there are the waiters, all called Edward and all identical.

The TARDIS crew quickly split into pairs as Nyssa and Adric team up with a resourceful young woman called Marjorie (played by Alison Thea-Skot) who is looking for her engineer father after he recently disappeared shortly after being admitted as a member of the club. The Doctor and Tegan meanwhile end up in the company of George Augustus, a journalist who has been rejected from club membership. Augustus is played by Clive Merrison whose radio performances as Sherlock Holmes make him perfect casting for this role, especially when the full extent of his agenda becomes clear. They are also joined by another radio veteran who has become something a regular fixture with the Big Finish rep in recent years, Tim Bentinck, the familiar voice of Radio 4’s David Archer, plays a trio of key roles, most notably a cab driver.

At the heart of the story is the mysterious Red Queen, voiced by Lorelei King, who provided the voice over for 2012 TV episode A Town Called Mercy. She is the central character to this story and provides a worthy adversary for Peter Davison’s Doctor, with able assistance from Philip Jackson as the sinister Peabody. Phil Mulryne’s tale evokes the stuffy drawing room atmosphere of the clubs of St James with just enough sci-fi thrown in for good measure. It might’ve been nice to have the traumatic events of The Star Men referenced in some way but this is a minor criticism. Overall, another enjoyable outing for the crowded TARDIS which once again gives all four leads the chance to shine. We can only look forward to their next trip to the planet Zaltys.

The Contingency Club is available now from Big Finish and on general release from March 31st 2017.






The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 6, Episode 2 - The Eternal BattleBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 21 February 2017 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Fourth Doctor Adventures: The Eternal Battle (Credit: Big Finish)

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana) 
John Leeson (K9) 
Dan Starkey(Field Major Lenk/Sergeant Major Stom) 
Jane Slavin (Captain Nina Albiston/Sycon Computer) 
John Banks (Brennan/Trooper Varn)

Producer David Richardson Script Editor John Dorney Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Cavan Scott and Mark Wright
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

This review contains spoilers!

Sontaran zombie eat flesh!

Now, if that short sentence doesn't send a thrill down your spine, I don't know what will. The Eternal Battle finds the Doctor, Romana and K9 aiming the TARDIS for the Lake District, where the Doctor wants to go and visit (much to Romana's joy) a pencil museum. However, they find themselves stranded on an alien no mans land, in the midst of a great war, a war that nobody involved seems to really know quite how long has has been raging (here is a small clue faithful DWN reader: the story is called THE ETERNAL WAR).

Our space and time traveling trio are saved from certain death by a rather large Sontaran tank, the occupants of, when they find out that they have rescued the Doctor, insist on killing the enemy of the Sontarans there and then. Can the Doctor sweet talk himself out of this one? Of course he can. Before you can say "Probic vent" there is an uneasy truce between the Doctor and the Sontarans as he strives to help them in a rather strange war against humans.....and undead Sontarans.

Just to make things matters worse, the TARDIS has rather handily gone missing, and Romana and K9 are trapped in a bunker with a dying Sontaran (the zombie rules are pretty standard - in this story, you die, then come back hungry for flesh).

I really enjoyed The Eternal Battle. What a great idea to have the Sontarans, the greatest warriors in the universe, fighting undead versions of themselves, whose masses will only grow as more Sontarans die in  battle. Brilliant. Plus, just to complicate matters more, the dead humans turn into zombies as well. 

The writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright have really struck gold here, with a fantastically original spin on rejuvenating an old foe. As the art work on the cover suggests, these are classic seriesl Sontarans, two of whom, in the extras, Dan Starkey himself says are based on Linx from The Time Warrior and Styre from The Sontaran Experiment, the similarities to those two classic characters are very evident, especially in the calculating way that they react to a situation. Scott and Wright have truly taken the Sontarans back to their roots, away from the more comedic characters that they have become.

Talking of Dan Starkey, he really does steal the show. He has perfected Sontarans in a way that Nicholas Briggs has done with perfecting the daleks. I have absolutely no problem at all with Strax, the Sontaran that Starkey plays in New Who, I think his comic timing is absolutely spot on - but here he proves that he can play old school.

Of course Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson come across as if they are having a whale of a time, and this carries into the story's extras. Ward seems particularly overjoyed to have her version of Romana finally meeting the famous 'Potato Heads'. As always the trio of leads play off of each other very well, creating some classic moments (Romana's enthusiasm for the pencil museum is indeed a classic moment that would have been at home in any of her televised episodes) The rest of the cast, most notably Big Finish stalwarts Jane Slavin and John Banks are all excellent also.

Directed by Nicholas Briggs himself, The Eternal Battle is a joy to listen to. A thrilling ride that I would definitel, most highly recommend.

 

The Eternal Battle is available now from Big Finish.

 






The Star Men (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 13 February 2017 - Reviewed by Richard Brinck-Johnsen
The Star Men (Credit: Big Finish)
Written by Andrew Smith

Directed by Barnaby Edwards

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sue Holderness (Kala Tace), Sophie Wu (Autumn Tace), Peter Guinness (Rovus), Damian Lynch (Fell/Lom), Kris Dyer (Nomar/Vedrin / Surgical Robot/ Pilot), Barnaby Edwards (Computer).

Big Finish Productions - Released January 2017

Big Finish’s first trilogy of main range releases for 2017 gets off to a flying start with this enjoyable entry from stalwart Andrew Smith. After the critical success of 2014’s The Fifth Doctor Box Set, it was only a matter of time before Big Finish persuaded Matthew Waterhouse to reprise the role of Adric once again and so this story sees his debut in the main Fifth Doctor range. Once the usual season 19 checklist is ticked off (Adric learning how to fly the TARDIS in the opening scene, an obligatory line for Tegan about them not yet reached Heathrow during which you can almost sense Janet Fielding’s eyes rolling as she says it), the Doctor and his companions find themselves on the Gallius U space station at a pivotal moment in the history of space exploration. The typical scenario of the TARDIS crew being mistaken for stowaways is quickly bypassed as Adric is given the first of several hero moments in this story (presumably this was incident which led to an interesting exchange on twitter between Waterhouse and Fielding last year).

The team are sensibly split up with Adric and Nyssa remaining on the Gallius U whilst the Doctor and Tegan head off to explore the mysterious goings on in the Large Magellenic Cloud (a nice touch to include a genuine astronomical phenomenon) which leads to the first direct encounter with the eponymous Star Men, led with menacing example by the excellent Peter Guinness as their ruler Rovus. There is further strong cast support from Sue Holderness as Kala Trace and Sophie Wu as her daughter Autumn, who proves to be something of a potential love interest for Adric. Knowing that fate has another path in store for our favourite Alzarian the audience is kept guessing as to how the story will resolve itself. Although it is to be hope that the remaining stories in this trilogy will resist the urge to continuously foreshadow that fate. Whilst Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are on their usual great form as the Doctor and Nyssa, this particular story belongs most to Tegan and Adric. The only mild criticism this reviewer can think of is the author’s occasional over use of the phrase “lead on” which brought to mind some of the author’s previous plays at inopportune moments.

Overall though, this play sets a high bar for the remaining plays in this trilogy to match up to and certainly left this reviewer looking forward to this TARDIS crew’s next adventure which will see them return to Victorian London for a visit to The Contingency Club.

 

The Star Men is available now from Big Finish and on general release from February 28th 2017



Associated Products

Audio
Released 28 Feb 2017
Doctor Who Main Range 221 - The Star Men
$24.99



The War Doctor - Box Set 3: Agents of ChaosBookmark and Share

Monday, 13 February 2017 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
The War Doctor: Agents of Chaos (Credit: Big Finish)





 

STARRING:
John Hurt (The War Doctor) +
Jacqueline Pearce (Cardinal Ollistra)

WITH:
Neve McIntosh (Lara), Honeysuckle Weeks (Heleyna), 
Timothy Speyer (Kruger), Helen Goldwyn (Professor Crane), 
Gunnar Cauthery (Kavarin), Matthew Cottle (Leith), 
Dan Starkey (General Fesk/Sontarans), Josh Bolt (Kalan), 
Barnaby Edwards (Vassarian), Andrew French (Muren) +
Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Time Strategist/Daleks)

PRODUCTION CREDITS:
 

Written By: David Llewellyn, Andrew Smith + Ken Bentley

Director: Nicholas Briggs, Sound Design/ Music: Howard Carter

Producer: David Richardson, Script Editor: Matt Fitton

Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery + Nicholas Briggs

Cover Art: Tom Webster

Duration: 250 Mins

Product Format: 4-disc CD (slipcover box set)



Released October 2016

BIG FINISH PRODUCTIONS

He was once intended as just a one-shot player in The Day Of The Doctor. But over the ensuing four or so years, the War Doctor has garnered plenty of new material. He had his own full length novel in the shape of Engines of War (written by George Mann), and also was designated the opening short story in the Heroes And Monsters anthology, as well as popping up in The Shakespeare Notebooks. (All three of these were published by BBC Books). More recently, this most destructive, but no less noble incarnation of the title hero was instrumental in the timey-wimey contortions of the Year Two arc in Titan's Eleventh Doctor comic book line, (having already featured in The Four Doctors 'event' of 2015).

Although when first introduced in the Series 7 finale, there was a sense of shame and terrible wrongdoing connected to him, Who followers quickly came to bond with the War Doctor, and have a firm investment concerning both his wellbeing, and his effectiveness in saving the day.

We now have sadly lost the main force behind this character being so enduring, as John Hurt passed away in January of this year. However, he obviously leaves behind a considerable legacy owing to his many years in TV and film, as well as radio and theatre. This is the third box set from Big Finish to afford Hurt the primary starring role, and was released last Autumn. A fourth and final one is due to come to the market soon.

As with the first and second miniseries, there is both standard adventurous narrative, with twists and turns typical of most Doctor Who, but also a vein of dark comedy and satire; one example being the standard under-estimation of how Dalek armour can withstand standard 20th Century Earth handguns. Also persisting, in terms of the thematic core behind the storytelling, is the sense of war time chaos and suffering, which underlines the long history of human conflict in real life on our planet. 

In comparison to how he was portrayed in the Eleventh Doctor comics, this War Doctor embodies perhaps a little more typical humour that we associate with the 'regular' Doctor of any given TV era, and he also is quick to bond with strangers, too. But then again, such is the tempestuous nature of war, and the effects it has, there should be no surprise that can be more open to accepting others' company at different points in this (unofficial) regeneration than others.

Regarding the other major starring performer of these original stories from Big Finish - namely Jacqueline Pearce  - this set offers the character of Ollistra the most audio time so far, and therefore also the most character development. Pearce is quite incapable of a dull and phoned-in performance, and like Tom Baker, or Hurt himself, has a richly unique voice.
 

The Shadow Vortex (Credit: Big Finish)The Shadow Vortex is a fun romp, if perhaps the least successful in overall impact of the three plays. It is set in the Cold War - 1961 to be exact - and involves the British, Germans and Russians .. plus of course the Daleks themselves. It is also yet another adventure where the Daleks have a ruthless and duplicitous agent working on their behalf - namely Lara Zannis (Neve McIntosh). 

There is also some fine development for one of the Stasi officials, who initially tries to subdue the (English-accented) War Doctor. Kruger, however, is outwitted by a man he thought he could break, before going onto assume the perennial - yet always intriguing - 'pseudo companion' role. Added into the mix, are some internal political tensions running amongst  the British scientific establishment, not to mention threats to causality, time lines, and planet Earth. It all comes together into making a season opener that will engage and surprise enough, thus leaving the listener wanting access to the next story - and in double-quick time.

 


The second entry - denominated The Eternity Cage - is arguably the jewel in the crown of the set, and one of the best stories altogether in the War Doctor's saga. It offers the possibility of the brutal Sontarans becoming a viable faction in the Time War. There are some great plot twists and revelations. It also is welcome to see the mutually captive Dalek Time Strategist and Cardinal form an alliance; however temporary and involuntary in nature that may be. The Doctor acquires a motley crew of would-be rescuers to help him in extricating Ollistra from the clutches of the squat and brutal warmongers from Sontar, who are led by the uncompromising General Fesk (Dan Starkey). Chief amongst his new allies is a boy called Kalan, who is native to Rovidia (where the action mostly takes place). He reminds one of Leela, in that he is technically primitive but loyal and proactive. This supporting character also features in the ensuing finale to the box set.

It of course helps that so many TV viewers will know the Sontarans. This may be in connection to Strax, who was part of the recurring Paternoster Gang, or owing to one of the stories to feature them as out-and-out foes. They always have made for a worthy antagonist, but some degree of humour is always involved too. In this middle episode, we do get a pretty emphatic reminder that sometimes their ambitions are simply a little too bold.

It also is an asset that Andrew Smith is behind the play's script. Smith first broke into the Doctor Who business, when the program was still in its 'classic era' phase, all the way back in Season 18. He has more recently done a good number of these Big Finish audios. Knowing just how to merge with the house style, but also to offer something that typifies the show in having a mesmerising 'hook' or conceit behind the narrative, he paces this story to perfection. Consequently its 'cliff-hanger' works to the very best effect.

 

The Eternity Cage  (Credit: Big Finish)The third and final story is primarily set in the TARDIS itself, but makes full and profitable use of the Eye Of Harmony aspect. Despite having the story take place in one location, the TARDIS is never a dull place - such is its endlessly changing and infinite nature. And by having a small cast, all concerned get their chance to contribute in a meaningful fashion. The main point of interest is the extent of Ollistra's involvement in the final outcome. She displays some more overt heroism, as well as seemingly genuine concern for others' wellbeing. However, the coda, which is brilliantly executed, reminds everyone of just how fickle and opportunistic high-ranking politicians can be.

 


With this particular box set being released, the Time War mystery is slightly less opaque. However, there are some more questions raised along with the answers: Just how confined was it in terms of space and time, despite the assertions of the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors? And how many other races tried to muscle their way into the aeons-old conflict between the children of Davros, and the Gallifreyans?

These three stories can all stand on their own, but together in this set they all resonate stronger. The initial story in mid 20th century Europe is more separate, in the sense that it barely qualifies for Time War status, but still offers jeopardy in terms of changing history and its effect on the wider Web of Time. The other two entries are rather more traditionally located back in the broader war occurring across the cosmos. Yet, clearly a lot of careful work has been done by script editor Matt Fitton to make the trinity of Time War episodes feel suitably cohesive.

The theme of a traitor (or two) in the ranks is well-utilised, as is the major new Dalek character. The Dalek Time Strategist is unrelentingly sure in its abilities to forecast what is come, and for much of the trilogy this clairvoyance appears to be a most formidable tool in the Dalek's arsenal. Nicholas Briggs does fine work with the Dalek ‘foot soldiers’, but his main achievement as a cast member is breathing life into the strategist. Chilling, loathsome and yet also arresting, this thorn in the War Doctor's side can be ranked amongst some of the best villains. 

Compared to Only The Monstrous and Infernal Devices, there is a little more mellow side to the Doctor here, that complements his moral outrage and consternation at the horrors he comes across. His "Not that old chestnut" retort, when threatened with either the "easy" or "hard way" interrogation method, shows much of the more 'normal' Doctor of years and decades gone by. Also, his confidence in leading a team, or issuing orders shows how much he welcomes slipping into his 'old shoes', and becoming a somewhat standard hero - at least for the time being.

But still, at times difficult choices are required of him. And the very ending of the third story sees him powerless to save all he would have intended to.

Where the fourth and final set of adventure - Casualties Of War - will take Hurt's Doctor is still open to speculation - especially given his mixed fortunes in overcoming opposition, and keeping the Time Lords' chances of triumph as strong as he possibly can.

 

Eye of Harmony  (Credit: Big Finish)The supporting cast here are generally strong, with several exceptional performances. Kalan - portrayed by Josh Bolt - is consistently engaging, and helps to give his two stories some emotional heart and soul. As good as the plots are, there is much sci-fi technobabble and large scale action, that require some serious 'mind's eye' work on the part of the listener.  Bolt manages to diminish the conscious effort involved. Dan Starkey is also tremendous fun as Fesk, as well as the Sontarans that serve under him. Whilst Kevin Lindsay set a high standard in the 1970s as Linx and Styre, Starkey is the definitive modern Doctor Who clone warrior - much in the same way Briggs encapsulates latter-day Daleks. Out of the guest female cast, I would say that Honeysuckle Weeks is more memorable than Neve McIntosh, but it also helps that she is given more to do, and that her character has a fuller back-story that is linked to previous adventures for the War Doctor. Elsewhere, Timothy SpeyerHelen GoldwynMatthew CottleBarnaby Edwards and Andrew French all authentically portray the given attributes and drawbacks of a particular character.

Music is first-rate yet again, thanks to the creative gifts of Howard Carter, and also makes for a welcome separate track, that can be enjoyed in isolation from the sound and fury of the plays themselves. This bonus feature allows the listener to recall the most stirring moments of the three tales, and is just as welcome as the standard inclusion of cast and crew interviews. 

Carter also is again at hand to provide some convincing audio effects, amongst them are various weapons firing, as well as unusual devices such as The Eternity Cage itself, not to mention the startling portrayal of the War Doctor drifting away (potentially endlessly) - thanks to the actions of someone who is not all they appear to be. Whatever the punctuation of sound needed to make these stories feel fully alive, the appropriate effect is invariably selected.

 


SUMMARY

Whilst the loss of John Hurt will resonate for a long time to come, this CD/ Digital Download release is yet another example of us being able to celebrate all the great skill and magnetism the man was capable of. From the (typically revealing) behind the scenes material, there is a clear sense of how others put their all into collaborating with him, and make a strong, firm effort to raise their own bar so as to match his sheer class and artistic integrity.

Furthermore, out of the three box sets released thus far, this works best in offering straightforward, easy-to-follow entertainment. Perhaps less new ground is broken here than in some of the earlier stories of Sets One and Two, but regardless there is a palpable sense of a cast and crew totally in synch with the material that they are working on.

David Richardson, alongside Jason Haigh-Ellery, has once again assembled a top-notch original production, which does justice to the core idea that sprung from Nicholas Brigg's seemingly boundless creativity.

 

 

 



Associated Products

Audio
Released 31 Dec 2016
The War Doctor 3: Agents of Chaos (Doctor Who - The War Doctor)



The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 6 Episode 1 - The Beast Of KravenosBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Fourth Doctor Adventures: The Beast f Kravenos (Credit: Big Finish)

Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), 
John Leeson (K9), Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), 
Conrad Asquith (Inspector Quick), 
Ed Stoppard (Sir Nicholas Asquin)

It's Victorian London, and K9 is on stage, entertaining the masses at the New Regency Theater, while the Doctor and Romana are making a social call on the Doctor's old friends Professor George Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago, what could possibly go wrong?

Well a fair bit actually. Our three heroes have joined forces with Jago and Litefoot to help stop a major crime spree that is gripping London. The mysterious burgler, known as The Knave has the city on it's knees, the master thief has been performing seemingly impossible burglaries by expertly breaking into locked rooms, and pilfering anything of value. Then leaving silently with the room still intact. There is also the matter of some very strange readings from the TARDIS, and worse of all, something rather monstrous lurking in the fog.

The Beast of Kravenos is expertly written by Justin Richards, who, thanks to his raft of previous work in the Dr Who Universe (including the Jago and Litefoot audios for Big Finish) has an expert handle on all of the characters involved. I've not listened to any of the other Jago and Litefoot audios (yet!), but I must say, the way these two fantastic characters are written here, they could have just walked in from the end of The Talons of Weng Chiang. Of course the realisation of the characters is ably (and seemingly effortlessly) aided by the pitch perfect performances of Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin, who are, of course effectively the straight man and his stooge in the story.

If Talons was Who doing The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, then The Beast of Kravenos is Who paying homage to the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and it does it very well, especially with one of the main characters falling foul of a transformation, turning into a rampaging hairy and fanged beast to great and sometimes comic effect.

Tom Baker and Lalla Ward are at the best that I have heard them on audio, and along with a great performance from John Leeson, prove that they are absolutely at the top of their game. The chemistry between the three leads is fantastic.

This is also an audio that oozes atmosphere. In the value added material it is revealed that although this story is set somewhere in Season 18, at the start of which Peter Howell and the Radiophonic Workshop came in with a new theme and music, the makers here thought that the incidental music from Dudley Simpson would be better, and it works very well, evoking the mood of Talons perfectly.

Of course, with Jago and Litefoot front and centre, there is a lot of humour to be had in this audio, from Jago marveling at the fact that the Doctor has traveled with two different ladies, both with the name Romana (imagine!). To when the Doctor is questioning Inspector Quick (Conrad Asquith) as to the location of the monster "Where man!?" he pleads, to which Jago blusters "WereWOLF more like!"

The supporting cast of Colin Asquith (who was of course also in Talons)and Ed Stoppard (Sir Nicholas Asquin) are also very good, and their performances only act to enhance this story further.

All of this is held together expertly in the directorial hands of Nicholas Briggs, who I think must have had as much fun as the cast. I would recommend listening to the extras on this one as they are absolutely wonderful.

I believe that The Beast of Kravenos is the most enjoyable Big Finish audio that I have had the pleasure of listening to so far, and I cannot recommend this Victorian monster romp highly enough. Listen to it and enjoy.

 

The Beast of Kravenos is available now as either an audio CD or a download from Big Finish.



Associated Products

Audio
Released 28 Feb 2017
39% off
The Fourth Doctor Adventures - 6.1 the Beast of Kravenos (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)






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