Time Lord Victorious: Mutually Assured Destruction (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 2 February 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Time Lord Victorious: Mutually Assured Destruction (Credit: Big Finish)

Writer: Lizzie Hopley

Director: Scott Handcock

Featuring: Paul McGann, Nicholas Briggs, Samantha Béart, and Wilf Scolding

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

Released December 2020

Running Time: 1 hour

Big Finish closes out their “Eighth Doctor Trilogy” for the Time Lord Victorious event (though he will make one more audio appearance in “Echoes of Extinction” which will also feature the Tenth Doctor), and it is a decent story. The Eighth Doctor is still stuck with the Daleks, though they don’t initially seem aware he is on their ship. They are trying to connect the TARDIS to their time ship. 

It is basically the Doctor trying to get the best of the Daleks in their own ship, trying to save a couple survivors of a planet they wiped out as well (who also allude to a “Dark One”)...and the Strategist is still trying to make deals with the Doctor while increasingly butting heads with the Time Commander. 

I enjoyed this story. Not so much for being a part of a larger “event” but because it was a fun adventure with the Eighth Doctor and the Daleks. McGann is, as always, a fun Doctor to listen to. And while the Daleks have certainly had more than their fair share of stories with him in recent years (from the end of his Lucie Miller adventures through Dark Eyes, and more recently in the Time War series), Big Finish still knows how to execute a good Dalek story. 

Granted it still feels like we are teetering on the edge of whatever the Time Lord Victorious story is all about...the bigger picture feels sort of lost on me at this point, with all stories I have thus far taken in feeling like they are hinting at or building to something else. It is now beginning to feel like everyone contributing is trying so hard to keep the audience from being alienated, trying to make it clear enough as to not need other material, that in the end, it is feeling less like a big interconnected story, and more like random adventures that may share some story elements. 

Maybe at some point, I will be able to dive deep enough into all the TLV stuff that it will all make sense and feel very exciting. I look forward to that moment. 





Time Lord Victorious: Short Trips: Master Thief / Lesser Evils (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 1 February 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Master Thief / Lesser Evils (Credit: Big Finish)

Written by Sophie Iles & Simon Guerrier 

Directed by Lisa Bowerman

Narrated by Jon Culshaw

 

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

Released: October 2020

Running Time: 80 Minutes

The Master, two incarnations actually, gets in on the Time Lord Victorious action via this Big Finish release featuring two Short Trips, both read by Jon Culshaw. The first features the Delgado version of the Master, while the second follows the Ainley version. 

In the first tale, “Master Thief,” the Master has stolen the de-evolution weapon featured prominently in the second Eighth Doctor TLV story, “Enemy of My Enemy,” and now is inflicting it on several people on a planet, but as he does so he begins to lose his edge. Disintegrating his enemies into a pile of primitive ooze has somehow softened him, and it ultimately leads to his downfall. 

The second story, “Lesser Evils” has less focus on action and the Master ripping through anyone in his way, and is a far smaller character piece. The Master is quietly defending a race from the Koturrah...but why? 

I enjoyed both of these short little entries, though I am unsure how important they are to the overall Time Lord Victorious story. Then again with every entry trying hard to not rely too much on other media in the story, who is to say what is very important to the whole thing? Culshaw is a solid narrator, his versions of each Master is good (his Ainley is very good, and while his Delgado doesn’t sound perfect, he captures something of the essence). For quick bite-sized adventures in this big arc, they are worth your time. 





Doctor Who Comic #2 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who Comic #2 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser

Artist: Roberta Ingranata

Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

34 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - December 2020

The second instalment of Titan Comics’ latest Doctor Who comic picks up where we left off, with the Thirteenth Doctor still jailed with the Fam and (as well as) Pete and Jackie Tyler, and the Tenth Doctor arriving to this alternate version of Rose, who does not recognize him.  He slowly gets on her good side and gets her to join him in the TARDIS so they can fix what has gone wrong with time.  For example, Rose has a happy picture with her family, one that doesn’t even make sense in their current reality being dominated by Sea Devils. 

For the Thirteenth, she tries to get within the good graces of Pete and Jackie, hoping to uncover some answers as to how this history has unfolded. They are rescued from the jail by a Skithra, one of the nasty bug alien people from the Tesla episode in Series 12, but this Skithra isn’t nearly as evil.  They all pile into their respective TARDIS and take off to try and find the source of the time deviation.  Sadly...both TARDIS begin to crash into each other or converge within the Vortex!  

Cliffhanger time! Will they all survive?  Well, yes.  Obviously.  But it should be fun to find out what happens next.  

This is a definite “middle episode.”  One that needs to build up to the conclusion, but doesn’t have a ton of interesting details.  It is a solid read, but I look forward to having the full story. 





Time Lord Victorious: The Enemy of My Enemy (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Enemy of My Enemy (Credit: Big Finish)

Writer: Tracy Ann Baines

Director: Scott Handcock

Featuring: Paul McGann, Nicholas Briggs, Rachel Atkins,  Samantha Béart, Jacob Dudman, Raj Ghatak

 

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

Released November 2020

Running Time: 1 hou

The second Big Finish instalment of Time Lord Victorious seems to play in that specific sandbox a little more than the first outing. This one has it all, Daleks trying to work with the Doctor, timelines all askew…and the Doctor caught in the middle. 

The story has the Doctor held prisoner by the Daleks and forced to help them. This is essentially the same set up that the Titan Comics story had. This time the Daleks claim to want to go in peace with a race of aliens from a planet that is meant to be a barren wasteland. The people of this planet have a genocide weapon that wipes out a whole race by breaking them down into cells and letting them evolve from scratch. It is pretty clear that the Daleks plan of coming in peace is just a ruse to get at this ultimate weapon. 

This is maybe the first time in my experience with the Victorious stories that I have felt it was losing me. Don’t get me wrong, it is a well-produced adventure, with plenty of good story elements...but I think despite the idea that the multi-media event is something new and grand...a lot of it feels fairly typical Doctor Who. Planets and Civilizations that shouldn’t be there, timeline shenanigans, crazy sci-fi weapons that need to be stopped and...Daleks. Big Finish is good at producing Dalek stories, but they’ve become a tad old hat. Not only have they had a constant presence on TV (they’ve not missed an appearance, even a brief one, in a single series since 2005), and on Big Finish they have faced off with the Eighth Doctor a lot. 

This is a solid adventure, well-produced and acted, a decent entry in the overall Time Lord Victorious event.  The only problem is that in general, I am seeing a trend with the Time Lord Victorious. It is starting to just feel like standard Doctor Who with a fancy label on the cover.  I’m curious to see where they take it, but so far it doesn’t feel like it is going in any incredible new direction. I found myself not as invested this time around, but it isn’t bad by any standard. 





Doctor Who Comic #1 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 17 January 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who Comic #1 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser

Artist: Roberta Ingranata

Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

35 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - November 2020

It has been a while. The Thirteenth Doctor’s comic book kicked off it’s second year in January with a Tenth Doctor team-up also featuring Martha Jones and the Weeping Angels. This story lasted 4 issues and after it wrapped up...it ended on a cliffhanger. Then the pandemic was in full swing and I didn’t see another issue. In the meantime, the team behind the Thirteenth Doctor comics was tasked with the Titan entry for the Time Lord Victorious story. Hidden in there was also talk of this new line of comics, not labelled to a specific Doctor, but more generically as “Doctor Who Comic.” I saw that this seemed to be another Thirteenth and Tenth Doctor team-up...but I did not realize that this was basically a total rebrand for the series and that the Thirteenth Doctor comic, as it was previously known, is no more. And this was so badly reported, that I genuinely did not know that this was a rebrand and direct continuation. 

But I am glad to see the continuation is here, as I wanted to see the follow up to that cliffhanger. As we left off, the Doctor has taken the fam back to their own time and place, but it is now an apocalyptic nightmare. Turns out that the Sea Devils are ruling the place, and have possibly done so for a long time...so time is all out of whack. Helping to resist the Sea Devils? Rose Tyler! And when the Doctor and co. get locked up, they find Jackie and Pete Tyler as well. The issue ends with the Tenth Doctor’s arrival, finding that Rose doesn’t even recognize him or the TARDIS. Time is really messed up. 

It is a decent start to a new story, but it is really odd that they are still doing a team-up between the Thirteenth and Tenth Doctor. Titan now has not printed a solo Thirteenth Doctor adventure since Christmas 2019. This might be more fun if she could bounce off of different incarnations, but she is constantly paired with the Tenth. She even showed up in the Time Lord Victorious comic. These stories are fine, but it seems like they’ve decided that she can’t stand on her own?

Does the rebranding from being a specifically Thirteenth Doctor to just generically “Doctor Who Comic” mean that they can vary up which Doctors will star in an issue, or is this now the Thirteenth and Tenth team-up comic now? 

This is a good start to the new story. Shame that the Thirteenth can’t have her own comic anymore (it seems), but I am interested to see where this goes.





The Eighth Doctor: The Time War Series 4 (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 6 January 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Time War - Series 4 (Credit: Big Finish)

Writer: John Dorney, Lisa McMullin, Matt Fitton

 

Director: Helen Goldwyn

 

Featuring: Paul McGann, Rakhee Thakrar, Terry Malloy, Adele Anderson, Isla Blair, and Nicholas Briggs

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

Released: September 2020

Running Time: 5 hours

In the fourth volume of the Eighth Doctor’s adventures hovering around the edge of the Time War, he ends up in an alternate universe, deals with multiple versions of Davros, has a total loss of memory of who the Daleks are, before getting caught up in the midst of a Dalek Civil War.  It is, in short, another winner of a boxset from Big Finish, who have been really nailing the time War saga throughout their various sets and series.  Ahead will likely be SPOILERS, but if you are wondering whether this instalment is worth your time if you have enjoyed the Time War series thus far, this is on par if not better than many of the instalments.  

****POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD****

The set begins with Palindrome, Part 1 Davros living peacefully, married to a Thal, and working on his scientific endeavours, such as an interdimensional portal that can maybe let folks travel between other universes. But his happy little world is quickly disrupted when Daleks attack.  He and his wife are killed...but he awakes anyhow, but it is a day earlier than it was. And he gets killed one way or another each day, only to awake another day earlier.  The Doctor and Bliss are there, and they try their best to help this version of Davros, but that is difficult when they are travelling through time in opposite directions.  And when Davros meets, well, Davros (a version who seems far closer to what we all know) he is convinced that it may be the Doctor and Bliss who are in the wrong.  

Palindrome, Part 2 shows what happens when Davros is merged with all the alternate universe variations of himself, as planned out by the Dalek Time Strategist, and he begins moving forward in time again.  The Time Strategist is plotting to restore the Daleks, who were nearly beaten in “our” universe...and his plan is to use this dimensional portal to merge all Daleks from every universe to supply Daleks with an endless supply of Daleks.  Blow up one Dalek and a new one will pop in its place.  Obviously not an ideal situation.  

Beyond all that plot, that is honestly difficult to summarize with its wonky time mechanics, the heart of this episode is Terry Malloy’s latest performance as Davros. He starts off playing a perfectly innocent Davros from another universe, one that never grew up in an endless war, that never grew to despise Thals, one that was never injured and required the use of a travel machine, that never had hate that grew so deep, and certainly never had a need to create Daleks.  This Davros is just a nice guy, married and happily working on his own, more peaceful scientific endeavours.  But after he is merged with Davros from various alternate timelines, he struggles to maintain his peaceful nature.  He wants the Daleks to not hate indiscriminately...but he is slowly losing his own sense of self. His merger leaves him just as disfigured and in need of a chair as the Davros we all know, and while he tries to remember who he was, his hate for Thals starts to shine through.  By the end, he is utterly lost, ordering the death of his own alternate self and wife (again timey-wimey business is about here). Malloy plays it perfectly, from his innocent version, through his struggles losing his sense of self, until he is finally just the evil Davros we have always known.

After such a big epic opening, the set could lose some lustre going forward.  How do you maintain that level?  Luckily while the third story is certainly smaller and scale and intensity, it is still quite good, and leads directly into the big conclusion. In Dreadshade the Doctor and Bliss return to their own universe, but their memories are faulty.  They don’t remember who each other are.  They can remember their names and whether they are human or Time Lord...they have some basics, but there are huge swaths of their memory that are missing.  Unfortunately, this is the case for almost everyone they meet.  

Before the mass memory loss, the Twelve was placed inside a Time Lord weapon vault and is in stasis.  In there with her was a Dreadshade, a creature that can be trained to fear a specific thing and then when it is confronted with enough of that very thing will wipe it all out.  It was trained for Daleks, but when the Daleks were wiped out and forgotten, the Dreadshade forgot what it was afraid of...and the Twelve has trained it to fear Time Lords. While the Doctor and Time Lords slowly figure this out, they are also having the sense that the Time War has finally ended, whatever their enemy is...is finally gone. Then the Doctor and Bliss remember the warning they were coming with.  The Daleks aren’t just coming back.  They are coming back with a vengeance.  

Everything closes up Restoration of the Daleks, as the Time Strategist schemes to use Davros to restore the Daleks and then eliminate him, restoring the Emperor as well.  It basically leads to a sped-up version of Dalek history.  Davros helps create them, some turn on him over his purity, the Emperor is created and the Daleks follow his word, but then Davros convinces some Daleks to follow him instead, it leads into civil war...it isn’t what the Strategist hoped for.  The Doctor and gang are able to destroy the Dimensional Portal and stop the Strategist’s endless Dalek scheme. The Daleks lock up Davros on the order of the Emperor, who believes there is still some use to be had from Davros.  This pleases the maniacal Davros.  

While the Eighth Doctor is not nearly as front and centre during this set, the set does end with a cliffhanger that is very dear to that Doctor...from out of the multiverse came a stasis pod...and within that pod: his great-grandson Alex.  For those struggling to remember in the long past continuity of the Eighth Doctor’s audio run, Alex was Susan’s son introduced during the Lucie Miller days, back in 2009.  He first appeared in a one-off adventure in-between Eighth Doctor seasons, then played a pivotal role in the final season with Lucie Miller, being killed along with many of the Doctor’s friends.  There has been a ton of material both following directly on from those losses, and the Doctor’s Time War stories are meant to be much further on in his history than any of those, but needless to say, this memory being brought back to life should bring up some very personal feelings for the Doctor going forward.  

Time War 4 is great.  Maybe the best entry for the series yet. Terry Malloy is such a key part of this boxset that it might as well have been called Davros: Time War as opposed to Eighth Doctor: Time War.  If I had any complaint, it is an echo from a previous set: Bliss does not feel like a fully realized character.  She just feels like “Generic Companion #342.”  She is well performed but has been given no dimension by the writing, no clear characteristics that make her feel unique.  She is just too blank.  Four sets in?  That is a shame.  Beyond that?  This is a hell of a set.



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