Doctor Who: Dalek Universe 1 (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who: Dalek Universe 1 (Credit: Big Finish)

Starring David Tennant, Jane Slavin, Joe Sims, Juliet Aubrey, Nicholas Briggs, Maria Teresa Creasey, Mark Gatiss, Chris Jarman, Kevin McNally, Gemma Whelan

Written by John Dorney & Andrew Smith

Directed by Ken Bentley

Released by Big Finish - April 2021

***THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

The pandemic has made so many ripples in our lives, and it has certainly affected the entertainment industry. But Big Finish may not be able to have everyone in their recording studios, but producing audio adventures just needs the actors to set up a microphone on their computer and maybe put some blankets over themselves to make the sound better. It also means that former Doctors who are also in demand actors (like Eccleston and Tennant) are suddenly more available for paid audio work. 

Tennant’s schedule opening up allowed Big Finish to plan and record big multi-boxset adventures for the Tenth Doctor. Tennant had obviously joined Big Finish before, but his busy schedule meant he could fit in a small 3-episode boxset with Billie Piper or Catherine Tate. At any rate, releases for the Tenth Doctor have been limited and sporadic. But now that Tennant is stuck at home and needs paying work? Big Finish is able to nab him for some big stuff. 

So here, in Buying Time, The Tenth Doctor is picked out of time, away from the TARDIS, and is somehow pulled back to before the Time War. He is quickly teamed with Anya Kingdom and Mark Seven, as they try to avoid getting eaten by invisible monsters, and try and figure out the mystery of some odd time-shifting business. This leads then to a businessman trying to sell time travel to anyone with enough money. And in the end, the Doctor gets fatally hurt…and begins to regenerate? You know it can’t be real because we all know what really happened, but maybe the timeline is completely messed up! At least it is fun. 

The story picks up just as we left off in The Wrong Woman, in which the Doctor regenerates into a new female form. Anya and Mark struggle to keep this new Doctor on track in investigating Sheldrake, the man selling time travel (who somehow has a TARDIS powering his business). The big reveal and I just need to again warn of Spoilers, is that this new Doctor is not really the Doctor at all, but a female incarnation of the Meddling Monk, who tied the Doctor up and pretended to be him, then faked a regeneration so she could look like herself. 

I don’t know if casting Mark Gattis as Sheldrake was a good move or not. As a villain using a TARDIS for a time destroying scheme, I kept expecting him to be the Master. But that wasn’t the case, and then the casting began to annoy me. 

The set comes to an end with The House of Kingdom, which has the trio looking for the inventor of the Space Security Service time machine, hoping it would give the Doctor a route back to his own time and TARDIS, but after a pirate attack, they flee in an escape pod and end up rescued by Merrick Kingdom, Anya’s estranged grandfather. This one focuses more on the interpersonal conflict between Anya and her grandfather, but also has Mechonoids and Varga Plants being used to create a sort of weapon which could maybe be used to take out Dalek helpers like Ogrons or Robomen. But as you expect things get sticky. After things get really haywire, Merrick sacrifices himself to save Anya, and the trio is once again heading off with at least more info into who they need to find. Will they make it? A cliffhanger means it will likely be difficult!

I really liked this set. I was concerned that it was just another big Dalek heavy boxset or story. We’ve barely wrapped up the Time Lord Victorious story, and we are already plunging the Tenth Doctor into another big-time shenanigan Dalek-filled adventure? But that isn’t the case, the Daleks barely feature at all. It is, as was stated in the Behind the Scenes, more of a tribute to the various worlds created by Terry Nation within the Doctor Who Universe…so really any story he wrote are getting a chance to shine, not just his most famous creation. And that really works. The set is exciting and fun, and I enjoy the dynamics of this new trio. I look forward to more. 





The Tenth Doctor and River Song (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Tenth Doctor and River Song (Credit: Big Finish)

Starring David Tennant, Alex Kingston, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Mina Anwar, Sam Benjamin, Timothy Bentinck, Joe Jameson, Barnaby Kay, Glen McCready, Anjli Mohindra, Joe Sims, Emma Swan

Written by James Goss, Lizzie Hopley, and Jonathan Morris

Directed by Nicholas Briggs

Released by Big Finish - November 2020

River Song made her debut on TV alongside David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, but the two-parter in which he first meets her (but as we all know is not when she first met him) would be their only adventure together.  Tennant left the role not long after, and the bulk of her adventures under showrunner Steven Moffat would be with the Eleventh Doctor (and a single adventure with the Twelfth as well).  Of course, her whirlwind timey-wimey adventures with the Doctor have now extended beyond TV and even without the Doctor, as she leads her own series on Big Finish.  But the stars have finally aligned, and now we get a boxset exploring the Tenth Doctor and River together.  This is basically the early days of the two having any sort of adventures together.  She is very familiar with him, but he still has no idea who she is, or how he should feel about this alleged friend from his future. 

This dynamic is perfectly explored in the opening adventure Expiry Date, in which the Doctor is basically trying like hell to avoid getting sucked into any of River’s misadventures.  The bulk of this story is told via letters between the two, as she tries to coax him into some shady sound scheme, and he writes back continually declining.  Unfortunately, some of her letters end up mixed up, and her plan to get the Doctor to be more interested backfires when the Fifth Doctor ends up slightly obsessed with her.  This is a fun and light comedy to launch the set with, with both Kingston and Tennant chewing it up. They have few moments actually together here, but the idea that the Doctor is trying to avoid the friendship developing makes so much sense from his point of view.  Hell even the first time she appeared alongside the Eleventh Doctor he initially tried to avoid falling into her plans.  

The second story, Precious Annihilation, feels like the weak link of the set.  It isn’t a total waste of time, but I did find myself less interested in the overall story.  That said, Tennant and Kingston play well off each other, and I would happily listen to more adventures exploring this dynamic because even in this mediocre story, they are a fun pair together.  

The set closes out with Ghosts.  The Doctor is summoned by River to a planet full of ghosts, or are they just holograms...and there is a mist that is somehow killing everyone and turning them into ghosts.  Although I don’t want to get too deep into it, as to not spoil the fun, I rather enjoyed the concepts in this one.  I felt it built up nicely and had a satisfying end, with a lot of neat ideas scattered throughout.  

I must say this is a part of River’s story I have long wanted to explore just a little bit. It is very clear that while her Doctor is very much the Eleventh when she saw the Tenth Doctor she had clearly spent time with him.  Had Tennant stayed on for even a single year when Moffat took over and the River storyline could really unfold, we may have had a chance to see that.  But as it was, we only had that one adventure between the two, and only seeing her ending with the Tenth Doctor feels like we are missing a crucial part of the story, his earliest encounters with her, her final encounters with him, and knowing that when she is saying goodbye to him, she knew that face well.  I like getting a taste of it...here is hoping for more. 





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. 





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.





Time Lord Victorious #2 - Defender of the Daleks (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 23 December 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Time Lord Victorious #2 - Defender of the Daleks (Credit: Titan Comics)

Writer: Jody Houser

Artist: Roberta Ingranata

Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

46 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - October 2020

Defender of the Daleks concludes here in the second part of the Titan Time Lord Victorious offering. The Doctor continues to work with the Daleks to stop the Hond from escaping and destroying everyone in the universe. Can the Doctor stop the Hond from destroying everything?  Can he work WITH the Daleks?  Even if he wins, can he still lose?  It’s an entertaining story, and without getting too deep into any spoiler territory, I think this is one of writer Jody Houser’s stronger efforts. Much like the Thirteenth/Tenth Doctor team up that launched the seemingly now-dormant Thirteenth Doctor comic that she penned...this story feels far more complete and has better pacing, which was not a strength for the bulk of the Thirteenth Doctor’s “Year One” stories.  

This is, ultimately, a fairly successful close to this segment of the cross-platform storyline that is the “Time Lord Victorious” thing.  So far I have read these two Titan installments and begun listening to the Big Finish offerings...the connections between them seem loose.  I understand that this is a story in which each installment needs to both fit into a larger puzzle AND stand entirely on it’s own...but as this story wrapped up, I didn’t feel like it was so much part of a larger ongoing story, as much as it was just a fairly entertaining one-off.  

But as long as it is a good read, does that really matter much? Who cares if the larger multi-media story isn’t quite coming into view?  If I was only going to read this comic, I would be satisfied as a one-off Tenth Doctor Adventure.  It doesn’t leave you craving more or where it all might go next, but it is solid.  In the end...that is enough. 





Time Lord Victorious #1 - Defender of the Daleks (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck

Time Lord Victorious #1 - Cover A (Credit: Titan )Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata

Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

52 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - September 2020

The BBC and it’s various Doctor Who licensees have teamed up to create a multi-platform story arc, stories that span books, comics, audios and even an animated mini-series focusing on the Daleks. Beyond the usual spin-off media outlets, they are even doing more immersive entertainment adventures like Escape Rooms and Immersive Theater experiences. Allegedly, much of it is designed so you don’t need it all to enjoy the individual bits (so the comics should stand on their own without needing an audio or an Escape Room for it to all make sense). This is good, because as an American there was little chance of me getting a Dalek Awakes Escape Room anywhere near me. It seems the more immersive stuff is for UK folks only. 

And that is fine. I could see some interest in the theater thing, but I am not terribly interested in an Escape Room. But I do love audios and comics. I wasn’t sure how much I would get into with this multimedia extravaganza. I wanted to listen to audio adventures because if it has the Eighth or Tenth Doctors, I am there. But I happened to see my digital library had a copy of Time Lord Victorious #1 (apparently subtitled “Defender of the Daleks” though I did not see that title anywhere on it), and I decided to give it a whirl. And it is so entertaining I ate it up. 

The Tenth Doctor awakes in his TARDIS with some partial amnesia, confused as to where he has been and what he was up to, and not sure where he is going. When he lands he is surrounded by Daleks who wish to take him to the Emperor of the Daleks. He tried to escape, but no matter where he lands, the Daleks are waiting. He finally decides to see the Emperor. Turns out the Daleks want his help. It seems there is an ancient race, a race of myth, called the Hond. Like the Daleks they want to destroy all life in the universe...they even want to destroy themselves when they wipe out the rest. They intend to take out the Daleks first...and since the Doctor isn’t for all life in the universe being snuffed out he begrudgingly decides to help the Daleks. 

I have found Jody Houser’s work on the Thirteenth Doctor to be a bit hit or miss. She has had interesting set ups but the endings have always felt rushed and unsatisfying to me. But this feels so well put together as a set-up...I just have a feeling it is going to have a solid follow-up. This is my first taste of the multi-platform story, but it has certainly captured my interest! I look forward to sampling a but more.