Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.4 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 2 August 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.4  (Credit: Titan Comics)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - May 2020

The Tenth/Thirteenth Doctor team-up that has launched Year Two of the Thirteenth Doctor Titan run comes to it's big conclusion in part four...and for once Houser ends it on something of a high note instead of a wimper.  The Autons and Weeping Angels stories don't really have any deeper meaning behind them, they don't seem to be working together or anything, but they do tie up things nicely. 

The team is able to escape the Angels trying to break into the TARDIS, and trace the Nestene Consciousness to the tunnels under the Thames.  They then lure the Angels into the tunnels and use the use the Angels power to send the Consciousness back in time, hopefully before plastics are around to feed off of. They then manage to trap the Angels of 1969 and trap them out in space. 

From there they two TARDIS teams part ways, the Tenth Doctor and Martha forced back to 1969 to await their ride per Sally Sparrow's instructions...the newer team deciding to take a break from adventuring and return to Sheffield for a bit, as seeing Martha trapped in the 60s has given them a bit of pause about too much travelling. 

But alas, a new cliffhanger!  Arriving to modern day England doesn't go as planned...as their is a red sky and lightning about.  Is this the work of something new, or will this tie in with the Nestene that was sent back by the Angel? 

I had issues with the first year of the Thirteenth Doctor.  Too many stories fizzled out too quickly.  It seemed like just as things were beginning to get interesting, I'd get some quick fix ending that left me unsatisfied.  Happily that is not the case with the first adventure of Year Two.  The teaming of the Thirteenth and Tenth Doctors was fun, but the story was intriguing and for once had an ending that felt earned and not rushed. Here's hoping this momentum can continue.





The Monster of Peladon (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 24 July 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Monster of Peladon (Credit: BBC Audio)
Written by Terrance Dicks
Read By  Jon Culshaw
Released by BBC Audio - March 2020
Available from Amazon UK

Despite my love for the Third Doctor era of the show, I was never a big fan of the Peladon adventures.  I found the stories underwhelming and Alpha Centauri to be an annoying shrieking character in a lame alien costume.  Those were my main takeaways, and since I haven’t ever revisited since my initial viewing, it is really all I have to go on.  Something of a vague memory.  Someday, when the blu-ray collections get to the seasons that feature these adventures, I will give them another whirl and we will see how they hold up then.  Until then, I have the audiobook of the Terrence Dick-penned Target Novelization to refresh my memory.  

It is okay I guess. It isn’t as lame a story as I recall, but Alpha Centauri’s shrieking is definitely toned down by Jon Culshaw’s reading.  Culshaw really sells the whole thing.  He is a solid narrator, but it is his Pertwee that is just perfect.  

I do think this story has too much pad, even in this fairly short novelization I found parts of it were dragging.  But Culshaw’s reading elevates what I found to be mostly forgettable material.





Power of the Daleks (2020 Animated Release)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 20 July 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Power Of The Daleks - Special Edition (Credit: BBC Studios)

Power of the Daleks
Written By: David Whitaker
Starring Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze
Released July 2020 - BBC Studios

In 2016, BBC Studios released an animated reconstruction of the first Second Doctor serial Power of the Daleks. This was not the first animated reconstruction of lost episodes, but it was the first time that an entirely lost story was animated. Previous stories had just been one or two lost episodes in an otherwise complete serial. It also marked the start of the project being overtaken by BBC Studios, as the earlier projects had been animated by various different studios. 

Power was animated on a limited budget and time constraints. As a result there were elements the creators wished they could improve. When they tackled The Macra Terror, they had more time and a slightly bigger budget. This made them want to go back and improve their first effort. And four years after the initial release, they have done just that. It is easy to wonder why they have decided to re-animate a story they’ve already done, especially when there are so many adventures left missing...but my guess is the cost to redo the animation here was minimal. I was struggling to see too many changes, so I went back to the first attempt to see where the changes were. 

In the end it seems that there are a few cosmetic improvements, but it does seem like a minor spruce up at best. I would guess that they reused 90% of the elements from the first one, it is just all around more polished. It is certainly a story that deserves to be given a more polished effort.  It is a very important story in the history of the show, so it doesn’t deserve a more shoddy animated reconstruction than, say, The Faceless Ones. I applaud the effort to improve this very important adventure, even if the end results aren’t shocking.  

In terms of Special Features, having some more of the newly discovered footage of the original is certainly a bonus.  It's nice that they use this release to add as much new content as they can. As a collector, I'd probably be just as inclined to wait until the inevitable Season 4 boxset for "The Collection" range that will no doubt contain everything on this release and more. 

If you bought the 2016 version, I find it hard to recommend upgrading. This is certainly an improvement...but is it really that much of an improvement? Not really. If you missed it the first time around and aren’t sure which to get...the 2020 version is the better looking presentation. Beyond that it is just a collector’s game. 

 

Power of the Daleks Special Edition can be ordered from Amazon





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.3 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 July 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.3  (Credit: Titan Comics)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - March 2020

Titan Comics team-up of the Tenth and Thirteenth Doctor continues, and it adds another twist into the tale.  While the Tenth Doctor with Graham, Yaz, and Ryan are able to escape into the TARDIS to avoid the Angels touch...the Thirteenth Doctor and Marhta discover that somehow the Autons are also mixed up in all of this.  

In this issue the two Doctors also meet up for the first time.  It leads to the usual bickering banter that tends to happen when two incarnations meet, but they also compare notes on what they’ve discovered thus far.  Obviously it seems that the Angels are behind the disappearances, but just how does the appearance of the Autons fit into all of this? The mystery will have to wait to be solved until later, as the team find themselves surrounded by Angels...though they make it into the TARDIS, something is trying to break in!

This is another strong entry in this adventure, and one can only hope that writer Jody Houser can end this story on a high note. 





Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 9 - Volume 2Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 12 July 2020 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 9 - Volume 2 (Credit: Big Finish)
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
 Featuring: Tom Baker, lalla Ward, Matthew Waterhouse,
John Leeson, Samuel Blenkin, Samuel Clamens  
Abigail McKern and Nicholas Woodeson
 
Original release date: February - 2020
Distributed by Big Finish
 

9.3 The Planet of Witches by Alan Barnes

"My turn for the brain scan is it? Izzy Whizzy let's get busy!"​

Whilst attempting a detailed scan of E-Space, K9 detects the trail of a large spacecraft. Seeking a lead for their escape, the Doctor sets out on its trail towards a misty yellow planet.

Arriving just in time to witness a crash-landing in the planet’s swamps, the Doctor and his crew discover a number of escaping prisoners fleeing from someone claiming to be a Witch-finder... whilst terrifying ‘familiars’ float around them.

For this is the planet of the witches... and the witches may just know the way home.

 

The search for the CVE resumes in this third story of the fourth Doctor's 9th series with Big Finish. The Doctor, Romana Adric and K9 find themselves on a very damp planet where witches and witch-finders exist.

The fantastical elements of the plot are very well handled, and for a while the listener is almost fooled into believing that this is a world where magic actually exists, despite the Doctor's reasoning that it can't.

K9 has quite a key role, with John Leeson pretty much front and centre for the final quarter of the tale.

The supporting cast is excellent, with Abigail McKern's duplicitous Crone being the standout, her never ending cackling did grate a little though.

Of course, there is no magic, and everything is explained away nicely by the time the final credits kick in, but The Planet of Witches is a very enjoyable listen.

 

9.4 The Quest of the Engineer by Andrew Smith

"Beards!?!? Is that the only scientific qualification on this planet!?"​

The TARDIS crew’s attempts to escape E-Space lead them to a strange planet with a surface that shifts and changes constantly.

Losing their ship down a fissure, they venture into the depths of this world and encounter the man who rules this place – a man known only as ‘the Engineer’. He tells them that he’s on a quest for illumination, and to find a rumored portal in space that may lead to another reality, with knowledge unknown in this universe.

It seems he may be on the same quest as the Doctor and his friends. But can he be trusted? And who is he really?

 

The big finale to this series is The Quest of the Engineer, where we join the Doctor mid-adventure, rescuing Adric from a prison cell, that leads them to a shapeshifting planet, that can literally turn itself inside out.

Nicholas Woodeson plays the titular Engineer with great relish, he makes for a perfect villain. I couldn't help though to think that his cyborg army The Enforcers could have easily been turned into E-Space's version of the Cybermen, which I think was a sadly missed opportunity.

It's a shame though that this grand finale was (for me) the weakest story of the four in this series, it just didn't quite gel with me.

Our four leads are all brilliant, and I'm happy to report that Matthew Waterhouse's Adric is on top form after a bit of a wobbly start in the previous two episodes.

Series 9 on the whole though was very enjoyable, if somewhat frustratingly repetitive in some aspects of the plot. K9 is 'lost without hope' at least twice. The Doctor and companions seem to get split up when one of them 'suddenly' needs to go back to the TARDIS, but none of this detracted too much from my enjoyment of revisiting one of my favourite eras of the show's classic era.

Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 9 Volume 2 is available from Big Finish HERE.





Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 9 - Volume 1Bookmark and Share

Monday, 29 June 2020 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Series 9 - Volume 1 (Credit: Big Finish)
CAST: Tom Baker (The Doctor) Lalla Ward (Romana)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric); John Leeson (K9)
Jane Asher (Pilot Dena); Amy Downham (Scraya / Pips)
Liam Fox (Mang / Wunshooz)
William Gaminara (Engineer Terson); Lucy Heath (Moni)
Nimmy March (Colonel Aesillor Zyre)
Christopher Naylor (Bolan)
Tania Rodrigues (Laker); George Watkins (Crimsson)
CREW: Cover Artist - Anthony Lamb; Director Nicholas Briggs
Executive Producer - Jason Haigh-Ellery & Nicholas Briggs
Music & Sound Design - Jamie Robertson
Producer David Richardson; Script Editor - John Dorney

9.1 Purgatory 12 by Marc Platt

"Well, it was nice knowing you Adric, bye-bye....good luck!"

Still searching for a way out of E-Space, the TARDIS crew land on an isolated space rock... and immediately find it drawn towards a nearby asteroid

The asteroid has air and gravity unequal to its size and is strewn with the wrecks of spaceships. Veins and pools of rust are everywhere.

Stuck on the asteroid away from his friends, Adric discovers that it's a penal colony housing a gang of alien convicts - but resources are low, and they’re starting to starve.

But escaping the prisoners is only the first part of the traveller’s troubles. Because there’s a sinister presence at the heart of the asteroid... and it won’t release them quite as easily.

Purgatory (and this whole of series 9) can only be set between State Of Decay and Warriors' Gate. Which is quite a small window of opportunity to spend some precious time with these characters? I always did feel that Adric got rather a short shrift from a lot of fandom, so a chance to revisit the character was for me, very welcome. 

A lot of the backstory in Purgatory 12 relies heavily on Adric, as he not only struggles to come to terms with the death of his brother Varsh but also having to acclimatise to travelling with the Doctor, Romana and K9. In fact, I felt the penal colony that the narration is centred around to be window dressing to explore the relationship between the three main leads. I was quite surprised at how maternal the character of Romana could become!

On the whole Purgatory 12 is a strong start to this new season.

 

9.2 Chase the Night by Jonathan Morris

"Thats plenty of time! Theres lots you can do in half an hour, paint a picture, cook a curry.....sort out your sock drawer...."

The TARDIS lands in an alien tropical rainforest at night where the Doctor, Adric and Romana discover a set of rails stretching through the undergrowth. These tracks carry a long-crashed spaceship that’s been converted to run along them like a train.

The ship has to keep moving because only the night-side of the world is habitable. The sun on the day-side burns so hot that everything on the surface is turned to ash.

But the stress and strain of the constant movement is beginning to take its toll on the ship. Parts are starting to break down, and the relentless heat gets ever closer - but the greatest danger may be on the inside...

Chase the Night is a story of such huge scale, that it would never have been seen on television in 1980. It has a jungle planet that burns and regrows every day, and a huge vessel mounted on tracks, continuously travelling so that it can stay in the planet's shadow.

Adric (again) gets himself into trouble, this time through his overactive appetite for filling his stomach. 

John Leeson as K9, has a lot more to do than in the previous story. I did chuckle when K9 asked for "Elevatory assistance". The supporting cast are all excellent, especially Jane Asher as the rather ruthless Pilot Dean.

 

Volume 1 of the Fourth Doctor's 9th dedicated series for Big Finish is a great addition to the adventures of what was originally a very short-lived TARDIS team but has always remained one of my favourites. The highs of these eight episodes would have to include Tom Baker, who once again sounds pretty much identical to how he did during the show's original run, expanding on the foreshadowing of his last series as the shows lead. It is also great to hear Lalla Ward back as Romana, the chemistry between the two characters still holds a lot of charm. 

If I were to criticise anything, it would be that Matthew Waterhouse's performance. I appreciate it being hard for a man in his mid-fifties to pull off playing a petulant teen, in Purgatory 12, he sounds exactly like a man in his mid-fifties, failing to pull off playing a petulant teen. His internal monologues in that first story really did start to grate quite quickly. Thankfully though, his characterisation does improve vastly throughout the rest of this series.

If like me, you were a fan of this era of the show, you'll love these two new stories. You can buy The Fourth Doctor Adventures, Series 9, Volume 1 is available from Big Finish HERE.