Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #7 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #7 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

29 Pages

Published by Titan Comic 1 May 2019

The mystery of the history podcast and the flesh eating monsters continues, with Time Agents swooping in to investigate how the Doctor is wrapped up in it all.  The agents turn out to be the time traveling scientists that were so integral to the first story of this Thirteenth Doctor line. The Doctor seems to be a through line for this popular history podcast, and the Agents want to no why.  They also have the issue of the flesh eating monsters, who have evolved after feeding off the flesh of humans for so long, including one that is seemingly immortal due to having bit the Doctor.  

The story builds nicely from where the previous issue left off.  Taking the cliffhanging mystery and naturally building upon it. Seeing the agents turn out to be the duo from the first story from this series, and how their long time at the Time Agency has changed them since we last met.  It also (and pardon this) fleshes out the monsters a bit.  And leaves us wondering how this podcast will tie it all up. 

It is a strong installment in the latest comic adventures, and if we have to wait a long time for the show to return to the air, at least there is a solid regular comic adventures for the Thirteenth to fill in the gap. 





The War Machines (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 19 May 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The War Machines
Written by Ian Stuart Black
Read By  Michael Cochrane
Released by BBC Audio - March 2019
Available from Amazon UK

I have always ranked The War Machines fairly high in First Doctor stories.  I've always felt Hartnell is quite good in it, and it drops dead weight companion Dodo in favor of the charming Ben and Polly, who at the time better represented modern youth. It also had fun robot villains trying to overtake London and the World, and what isn't fun about that? But somehow, I didn't really find myself that interested in this audiobook of the Target Novelization. 

Written by original script writer Ian Stuart Black, the novelization just isn't written with any energy. It highlights the deficiencies of the television story.  On TV they got away with some filler and a story that isn't full of action, because the performances of Hartnell, Anneke Wills, and Michael Craze keep you engaged. But as a novel or audiobook, I just found that there isn't much happening, and even though I finished listening to it a week ago, I've been struggling to think of much to really say about it. 

The only thing of note I truly remember is that the first chapter adds a bit of business between the Doctor and Dodo, in which both note secretly think they will be parting soon.  This is certainly more than the TV version ever did, as Dodo just disappears at one point, and at the end of the story, her replacements show up and say she's gone to live on a farm upstate somewhere, and then they callously steal her job. The book does the same, but at least there is this acknoweldgement of her exit in the beginning of the story.

I don't think it is the fault of the narrator, Michael Cochrane, who I think does a fine job.  His Hartnell impression is particularly great.  But the guy has little to work with. I find it so odd that a story I have always liked has left me so cold in the novelization. 





The Diary of River Song - Series 5Bookmark and Share

Monday, 13 May 2019 - Reviewed by Damian Christie
Slipcase for The Diary of River Song (yoWritten by Jonathan Morris, Roy Gill,
Eddie Robson and Scott Handcock
Produced by David Richardson
Script edited by Matt Fitton
Directed by Ken Bentley and Jason Haigh-Ellery
Stars: Alex Kingston, Michelle Gomez, Geoffrey Beevers,
Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi, Jacqueline King, Tom Price
Big Finish Productions, 2019

Sometimes I like to look back through my diary, to remind myself, to keep things in order. Sometimes I go all the way back to when I was first locked away in the Stormcage, back when the Doctor was “dead” and spending his afterlife treating his assassin to dinner – discreetly, of course. The first of my 12,000 consecutive life sentences … Only it was never just him I had to keep track of. Sometimes I’d find myself removed from custody for entirely different reasons. You see, when you marry someone like the Doctor, you take on his baggage as well …

River Song, The Diary of River Song: The Bekdel Test

Having all but exhausted her tour of the classic TV series Doctors – in reverse order, from Paul McGann to Tom Baker – in the first four volumes of The Diary of River Song, Alex Kingston’s intrepid and mischievous archaeologist and adventurer now rubs shoulders with multiple incarnations of another Gallifreyan renegade – the Doctor’s intellectual rival and the psychopathic Time Lord/Lady universally known as the Master (or latterly Missy).

Unlike earlier boxsets in the River Song series, which were episodes with a predominant story arc, this latest offering is an anthology of self-contained stories, each set at different points in River’s professional career (she is Dr Song in the first instalment, then professor in the others). The only linking theme is the character of the Master, albeit in different but otherwise lethal incarnations, eg Michelle Gomez’s madcap mistress of mirth, Derek Jacobi’s theatrical and manipulative genius, Geoffrey Beevers’ cadaverous yet still keenly intelligent and crafty persona, and Eric Roberts’ surprisingly subtle yet calculating father-figure.

The first instalment The Bekdel Test introduces River to the character’s female persona from the get-go. It is by far the best and most fun of the four episodes, thanks to the strength of the writing and dialogue, and great performances from Kingston and Gomez, who just chews up the scenery as Missy and literally steals the limelight from Kingston.

Author Jonathan Morris (as he indicates in the behind the scenes commentary) closely follows the Steven Moffat playbook of witty dialogue and banter to help drive the story along. The River/Missy dichotomy simply could not work without the pithy exchanges and the underlying sexual tension over the other’s relationship with the Doctor. For the listener there are plenty of amusing barbs and insults traded between them, even as they are forced to work together against a common foe:

Missy: I’ve been following your career with great interest – and some amusement, and a lot of envy. You see, you’ve just done the one thing that I never quite managed to do …

River: And what’s that?

Missy (raising her voice): You killed the Doctor!

River (mournful): Yes, and I will never forgive myself for it!

Missy: Oh, don’t be so hard on yourself, dearie. [Pointed remark] I’ll never forgive you for it either!

River: What?

Missy (expressing mock hurt): I wanted to do that!

Morris’s script is well conceived and paced, with plenty of action and self-deprecating humour. Most importantly, the reason the two protagonists have been brought together is entirely plausible. Even with two alpha females striving for the spotlight, there are some other fascinating, albeit largely underused characters that liven up the narrative – from the Bekdel Institute’s nameless, yet smug Director (Laurence Kennedy) to Darial Cho’s (Richenda Carey) taste for “creative homicide”.

Perhaps Morris and Big Finish ought to consider revisiting these characters in future River Song instalments. It seems pretty clear from his description who the Director’s “silent partners” are, so perhaps there’s not really much more to add to his character development. However, Darial Cho is creepy enough that she could take centre stage in a tale of her own.

The second episode in the set – Animal Instinct – pits River against Geoffrey Beevers’ emaciated version of the Master (although it’s uncertain if it is Beevers’ incarnation pre-Keeper of Traken or post-Dust Breeding – it doesn’t really matter in either case, listeners can take their pick). Roy Gill’s script cleverly turns the tables on both characters in its prologue – following an ancient prophecy, River breaks the seal on a sarcophagus, expecting to rescue the Doctor, but instead frees the Master who set up the casket as a lure to snare the Doctor in the first place! The “crispy” Master and the Doctor’s wife soon become uneasy allies as they journey to a lunar colony where the Master was once worshipped as a god. The problem for the touring party is that the inhabitants of Cheska Minor – hyper-intelligent, feral werecats with sun goggles! – have rebelled against their god and are determined to remove the satellite array that the Master installed to keep their world in endless daylight and suppress their savage instincts.

Animal Instinct is an entertaining chapter, even if it does bear some superficial resemblance to the final classic Doctor Who TV serial Survival. That tale, too, featured the Master (portrayed by the late Anthony Ainley) lording it over a colony of feral werecats – the Cheetah People – in the ruins of a dying world. The difference, thanks to River’s presence, is that Animal Instinct is a lighter, less angsty tale – no teenagers trying to prove a point here, just archaeology student Luke Sulieman (Timothy Blore) trying to prove he is made of the right stuff to his mentor.

While he doesn’t steal the show from Kingston as Gomez does, Beevers’ performance is more urbane; his voice has lost none of that mellifluous tone that carries undercurrents of menace and guile. Gill not only contrasts this version of the Master to River but also expertly highlights some disturbingly similar characteristics. For example, River recognises that a wounded member of their exploration party will have to be sacrificed if they are to escape a werecat; the Master follows through on this without the slightest compunction and then remarks later that he can tell River would have done the same had the situation escalated.

One of the other comparisons (which is also inferred in in this boxset’s other instalments) is the “obsession” that the Master/Missy has with the Doctor – that is, the desire to impress or kill him (or in some instances both). The Beevers Master’s exclamation of outrage and disbelief when River reveals that she married his arch nemesis (implying that she beat him to it!) is an almost priceless moment.

The Lifeboat and the Deathboat is notable for reintroducing Eric Roberts, who reprises the part of the Master for the first time since the ill-fated 1996 TV movie (his dialogue was recorded in Los Angeles while the rest of the full cast recording was completed in London). Perhaps it’s partly down to Eddie Robson’s writing but Roberts’ performance is subtler and less hammy than it was on television. Indeed, Roberts shows in this episode why he was once an Academy Award nominee – he delivers an almost understated performance as an apparent doting father to a teenage daughter Alison (Lucy Heath). His performance is so convincing in the first 20 minutes that you’re left wondering if he is playing yet another hapless character (in the vein of his paramedic Bruce and Anthony Ainley’s Tremas) who will become another vessel for a disembodied Master. The truth, though (as River discovers), is literally stranger than fiction …

The only drawback to this more subtle, “human” portrayal is that Roberts’ voice seems too tender and easy-going – to the point that it lacks the resonance and authority you’d usually associate with the Master. Perhaps this is just a side effect of conducting separate recordings across two continents but it does intrude on the listening experience. Nonetheless, when Roberts is in full Master mode, there is an underlying menace and cold-bloodedness in his tone that takes you back to his 1996 portrayal.

The serial features quite an extensive supporting cast, considering it is mostly set aboard time/space flotsam in the time vortex. Alison is a moody, anxious teenager with a secret that not even she’s aware of, Admiral Eno (Sasha Behar) and Ayrton Valencia (Himesh Patel) provide an intriguing juxtaposition between confident soldier and hapless engineer, and their quarry Kaliopi Mileska (Eleanor Crooks) exudes enough “crazy” to be a convincing threat to everyone in the  time/space machines that have been cobbled together.

Further, only in a Doctor Who tale – or a Who-related spin-off – could a simple VHS video cassette of a rubbish 1980s US teen comedy feature be a catalyst for the chain of events that River encounters. It’s a reminder of how quirky and weird Doctor Who can be – but it’s also a perfect example of why we as fans love and adore it so much.

It’s also interesting that the Roberts Master’s fate – along with that of Mileska – is left open-ended. While it’s highly unlikely that this combination of psychopaths could get their own spin-off series, there’s a certain appeal to seeing what other havoc they might together wreak upon the rest of the universe.

Then again, the Master/Missy has often caused havoc quite comfortably on his/her own, and it’s doubtful the character would ever really enjoy being part of a psychotic, Natural Born Killers-type of couple. That’s definitely the impression you get from listening to the great Sir Derek Jacobi’s portrayal of the Time War-era Master in the fourth and final serial Concealed Weapon. The Master in this tale enjoys his subtle manipulation, torture and murder of the supplementary characters far too immensely to ever let anyone else in on the fun. There’s almost a Hannibal Lechter-style levity, glee and mischievousness to Jacobi’s performance that rivals Gomez’s turn as Missy in The Bekdel Test.

However, whereas much of Missy’s antics are written to comical effect, the War Master’s humour is overtly more sinister because it occurs against a backdrop of claustrophobia, homicide and betrayal. All the while, Jacobi still comes across – through his jovial voice – as comely, polite, charming and paternal. The performance is even more powerful (and disconcerting) for this writer, considering he has endured several years of his two- and four-year old daughters being reared on the BBC children’s program In the Night Garden – in which Sir Derek is all of those qualities as a benign narrator!

Scott Handcock’s script is very clearly – and unashamedly – a “love letter” to Ridley Scott’s original Alien film (with a nod as well to its inferior prequel Prometheus). There are certainly parallels - a deep space exploration crew that (like the hapless members of the Nostromo) emerges from hypersleep; an ill-fated French-accented captain (played by Jacqueline King, formerly Sylvia Noble, Donna’s mother on TV!) with a name reminiscent of one of the Nostromo crew; an airlock sequence; a homicidal maniac; and a highly dangerous nascent creature that said maniac wants to exploit and weaponise.

Nonetheless, despite the lack of originality in the premise, Handcock still conveys an atmosphere of dread and impending doom, particularly through the emotionless, relaxed tones of Torchwood’s Tom Price (the former PC Andy Davidson). Price is the only other male voice in the serial – apart from Jacobi himself – and does an outstanding job of playing the ship’s computer Hugo, which is hijacked and reprogrammed by the Master. There is a cold and calculating manner to Hugo even as it maintains a veneer of cheery friendliness and helpfulness that strongly evokes the cold, emotionless candour of the title characters in the classic Tom Baker serial The Robots of Death.

The mostly female supporting cast is very good and highly convincing, even as it becomes clear that they are nowhere near as harmonious or altruistic as they seem. Indeed, some of them harbour hidden agendas that ultimately doom them all – and leave their flanks horribly exposed to the Master’s machinations.

It’s particularly effective that the Master is also sparingly used in the tale – indeed (although we as listeners know it has to be the Master), for River, all the hints point to an incarnation of the Doctor being present. The fact Jacobi has only half the airtime that his successor and predecessors have in the preceding instalments makes his performance all the more impressive.

Throughout this review, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m talking about a Master boxset and not a River Song one, given all the praise lavished on the four actors who play the Master/Missy. Nevertheless, Alex Kingston continues to impress as River Song, and clearly enjoys the broad quality of the scripts on offer, as well as the ability to work with Gomez, Beevers and Jacobi. The character clearly holds her own against three of these “masterly” incarnations – but is clearly unnerved by the War Master, who strikes a decisive blow against her colleagues.

Concealed Weapon, if it is not the best of the four serials, certainly runs second to The Bekdel Test as amongst the best offerings of this latest River Song boxset. Overall, the quality of all the serials is extremely high, with only The Lifeboat and the Deathboat perhaps being the weakest of the four (even then it’s still superior to quite a few of the serials in the earlier River boxsets). Indeed, this is probably the best of the five River Song boxsets to date – and it has been (dare I say) a “masterstroke” by BF to pair River with different incarnations of the Doctor’s greatest “frenemy”, and not just the classic Doctors.

It also acts as a great primer for the final Ravenous boxset at the end of this year, when all four of these incarnations will square off with Paul McGann’s Doctor (and presumably each other) as that story arc reaches its conclusion. For future River Song releases, it would still be great to see a few more stories in the vein of The Husbands of River Song (in which River gets up to mischief without the intervention of different versions of renegade Time Lords) but for the most part, River’s adventures have gone from strength to strength as they have combed the depths of Doctor Who’s rich history. Although I favour a more long-term approach, I wouldn’t say “no” to more rounds between River and Missy or the War Master – nor to Professor Song eventually crossing paths with John Simms’ Master, and even Alex Macqueen’s and James Dreyfuss’ portrayals. There is a rich seam still to be tapped!






Class - Original Television Soundtrack (including Bonus CD)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 8 May 2019 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Class - Original Television Soundtrack (Credit: Silva Screen)
Available Now on Streaming, FLAC/MP3, CD and Vinyl.

Class will be remembered by most sci fi fans and BBC viewers as a short-lived 8 episode romp that was fleetingly available on BBC3 online before having late night showings on BBC1. Despite positive reviews, the show was undone by lacklustre viewing figures and an unwillingness by the higher ups at the BBC to provide another chance.

 

This album comes two years after the final transmission of Class on mainstream TV and is a veritable goldmine of musical atmosphere.

 


Main CD

 

I can happily report that not only does this CD meet expectations, it also goes on to exceed them. From the rousing opening of The Shadow Kin, to the hauntingly chilling cliffhanger of Governors Revealed, the forty-plus collection of music forms a very compelling and re-playable primary CD in the set.

Along the way comes the 'weird but wonderful' Strands From The Rift, the crowd pleasing Here She Comes in a Ruddy Great Bus, and the especially exciting (and unsettling) Asteroid track - which would hold its head high in an X Files or Outer Limits soundtrack collection.

Furthermore, the final brace of audio wonderment for the season conclusion (and sadly the series proper) cover all the necessary emotions, thoughts, and attachments to the core characters one can hope for. The CD culminates in Fight till your Last Breath and Souls Released with the auditory skill of Blair Mowat living up to such notable titles. 

 

**

Many other tracks are worth the listener's time. These include:

Rhodia; with the use of the first modern 'Doctor's Theme' from the parent show that Murray Gold used to such striking effect.

Time Has Looked At Your Faces; containing good multiple instruments and vocals 'as instruments' in a manner reminiscent of Enya.

Chasing The Dragon; here be rock vibes that evoke many a teenager's choice of allegiance when it comes to musical taste.

Dragon Attack has a sense of real adventure and character growth, as Charlie, April, Ram and Tanya all come under threat.

April's Past; adding further emotive pull to a character of much good writing and acting (such that she is my personal favourite of the teenage gang.

Heavy Petal; a chilling and foreboding concoction, ma­de further memorable still by the pounding drum backbeat as it comes to its conclusion.

To Share A Heart; this fits the bizarre but brilliant premise of the show's mid-season two- parter.

(And Finally) Charlie's Angry, Charlie's Winning; a multilayered effort from Mowat that helped with Detained being so intense and compelling. 

 

The only drawback is the lack of opening credits music, especially as the closing riffs of Track 43 are there to round off the album. But any such disappointment is somewhat negated by the [Song For] The Lost , which would not be out of place at a mediaeval monarch's court, and easily is one of the top 3 tracks.


Bonus CD

 

These tunes are not to be dismissed as mere 'best of the rest' but can be enjoyed repeatedly on their own, or even as part of a specific playlist to get the best possible reminder of given episodes.  The darkness and creepiness factor is ratcheted up to a great degree in many of these tracks, so for those that enjoyed Class for its horror aspects there is much to enjoy here.

At the same time a welcome change of pace comes in the form of several songs:

Nightvisitors – Tanya's Dad is a full-on song (as compared to the other CD's subtler vocals) that uses guitar and a male solo to intriguingly tell the 'point of view' of the alien visitors to various class mates in the show's third episode.

Black Is the Colour works as a good song in its own right, which also perfectly fit the overall feel of Class. It concerns fraught emotions, and unlike the track immediately analysed has a number of different singers to help give extra gravitas to the show's poignant endgame.

Previews of Episodes 3,4,5,6,7 and 8 form the tail end of this bonus disc and convincingly remind us how they added punch to viewers' initial desire to see further episodes.

 


To recap then, this release provides a solid couple of hours of arrestingly emotive and memorable music, and reminds the listener that Class (while surviving on through Big Finish) should have been allowed a couple more 'terms' at school at the very least.





Torchwood - Night of the Fendahl (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 6 May 2019 - Reviewed by Tom Buxton
Night of the Fendahl (Credit: Big Finish)
Written By: Tim Foley
Directed By: Scott Handcock

Featuring: Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Guy Adams (Ged), Bradley Freeguard (Phil), Gavin Swift (Derek), Gerald Tyler (Marco)

Released by Big Finish Productions - March 2019
Order from Amazon UK​​

“We have lived for one thing and one thing alone – we are cattle, mere morsels for our masters…”

A startling confession before we begin: this reviewer’s recent first experience with “Image of the Fendahl” didn’t exactly go according to plan. The intriguing supernatural mythology’s conveyance through rushed exposition dumps, the potent gothic imagery early on giving way to noticeably budget-constrained CGI, the minimal role afforded to the TARDIS team (albeit to far lesser impact than say “Blink”) – so many elements of this supposed 1970s Doctor Who classic seemed within touching distance of greatness yet, for yours truly at least, somehow missed the mark. So with Big Finish’s Torchwood Main Range kicking off once more with a spiritual successor, Night of the Fendahl, came a considerable sense of trepidation, not least since writer Tim Foley had already made clear his intent to tackle female-exploiting horror flicks and thus #MeToo issues alongside the titular classic foes.

That said, as with many of the stronger Main Range entries to date, Foley instantly recognises the value of a focused, intimate narrative which astutely balances its homages to both Torchwood and its mother show with the former’s grislier tone and resultantly morally complex characters. Far from aping Who’s necessarily more family-friendly take on the Fendahleen community for “Image” fans hoping for more of the same, the long-running range contributor offers up a no-holds-barred take on Gwen’s (seemingly unwitting) descent into the underworld of Fetch Priory. Whether we’re privy to lecherous director Marco’s unashamed ogling of Gwen as she turns her hand at acting in a quasi-pornographic slasher, discovering the grim secrets which make crew members like Gavin Swift’s Derek tick, or envisioning certain haunting demises as they’re depicted graphically before our ears, few could accuse “Night” of shying from its franchises’ most disturbing recesses.

Such unsettling thematic explorations as these naturally serve the additional purpose of feeding into the piece’s irrefutable investigation into the entertainment industry’s gender politics, an issue which has, of course, come into the limelight in the last couple of years (after tragically lingering in the shadows for far longer than that). Indeed, it’s little wonder that Eve Myles – who departed Big Finish’s ongoing post-Miracle Day Big Finish to pursue other projects – returned to tackle meaty material of this ilk, with her character subjected to an all-manner of emotional horrors that render subsequent proceedings all the more empowering as a result. Myles should, if anything, consider adding “Night” to her next audition portfolio (not that she likely needs one at this point!), since the manner in which she’ll effortlessly flit from chillingly willing sexual victim to a possessed force of nature to a more familiar Gwen – albeit in a still harrowing context – produces a show-stopping performance which stands alongside any of her superb work in Broadchurch, Victoria or the like of late.

The only downside to Foley’s exploration of said weighty subject matter with Myles, though, is that he might’ve bitten off more than the Fendahleen can chew here. Where the much-lauded “Adrift” sacrificed Torchwood’s traditional monster-of-the-week entirely to directly confront the issue of missing children to heartbreaking effect, “Night” only has the opportunity to follow suit for #MeToo issues to a certain extent, its hands inevitably tied between this and gradually building up the fear factor of its titular supernatural entity’s return. Thankfully, the two narrative strands do eventually intertwine satisfyingly come the hour’s denouement, leaving those listeners considering a career in screen entertainment with a justifiably definitive – if slightly pressed-for-time – note on the fate which could befall them repeating past generations’ representational mistakes. Yet whether this nostalgia vs. societal discussion balancing act will hinder any of the next three Who villain-featuring Main Range entries, particularly when May’s outing features such a purposely laughable foil for Suzie Costello as Slitheen refugee Margaret Blaine, remain to be seen.

Even so, the level of effort invested into ensuring “Night” does justice to its talking point and classic Who hook remains unmistakable across the board, especially in those tertiary elements which we all so often overlook such as its supporting cast players and sound design. Approaching a play of this ilk must’ve seemed an intimidating prospect to say the least for Swift, Gerald Tyler, Gerald Tyler and even regular Torchwood scribe Guy Adams, all of whom portray unsavoury individuals brought face-to-face with their corrupt vices, but each player shows an admirably staunch commitment to ensuring that the tale’s deeply flawed human antagonists stay with us just as long as its visceral set-pieces. The latter elements wouldn’t be possible either, of course, without the behind-the-scenes team’s integrating subtle shrieks of wind enveloping Fetch Priory, blood-soaked death blows and a menagerie of other aural effects to immerse us in proceedings – a challenge which they meet with such remarkable success that future audio dramatists would do well to take note.

For all this reviewer’s reservations before hitting Play, then, and despite Foley overreaching himself in the cramped space of a single hour, here lies another thoroughly impressive audio Torchwood entry sizzling with gothic scares, topical themes at their most disturbing and psychologically nuanced characters who’ll frequently leave you utterly terrified. Whether you’re craving more time in the Fendahl’s sinister (now CGI constraints-free) presence, a Gwen-centric episode which takes her character in a bold new trajectory, or proof that we’re in for another thrilling year of standalone adventures, “Night of the Fendahl” excels itself in all of those respects; consider the resurrection gauntlet well and truly thrown down for the next eleven Main Range storylines.

NEXT TIME ON TORCHWOOD – Battling one of the Doctor’s bygone adversaries would usually seem enough of an ordeal in and of itself; doing so while sparring wits with none other than Jo Jones in an increasingly confined underground space, however, is another matter entirely. Who better to juggle both challenges in The Green Life than the always calm and compassionate Time Agent known to us as Captain Jack Harkness, then? Who indeed – not even the God Among Us knows for certain whether either of these cantankerous rebel spirits will escape Llanfairfach alive and / or with their respective sanities intact!






Doctor Who - Short Trips 9.4: Year of the Drex OlympicsBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
Year of the Drex Olympics (Credit: Big Finish)

Narrator: Fraser Hines,  Cover Artist Mark Plastow 

Director: Lisa Bowerman 

Executive Producers: Jason Haigh & Nicholas Briggs

Music: Richard Fox, Producer: Alfie Shaw

Script Editoe: Alfie Shaw, Sound Design: Richard Fox

Written by: Paul Ebbs 

All the Doctor wanted to do on Venus was learn their aikido. But as ever, his plans have gone awry. The TARDIS has been stolen to be a prize in the Venusian Olympics. The Doctor is furious, not only at the theft but also that it is the third place prize! Now Jamie and Victoria must compete to get the TARDIS back, and soon find themselves winning every event.

The TARDIS crew normally win, but this time it might cost them everything…

Year of the Drex Olympics is the sort of fluffy second Doctor story that sits perfectly in that era. There is a lot of banter between the three companions (here Jamie and Victoria), with the Doctor (as voiced by Fraser Hines) getting into a few comical scrapes.

The story is that unbeknown to the Doctor, the TARDIS has been volunteered as a prize in the Venusian Olympics. The only way that the Doctor and his companions can get it back is to compete, and when they do - some very odd genetic changes start to affect them.

Listening to this audio, I think Fraser Hines must be my favourite narrator. He can still capture Jamie perfectly, and even has a fair stab at Victoria - but it is his impersonation of the second Doctor that is the real winner. Very impressive indeed.

This story is penned by Paul Ebbs, who handles proceedings perfectly, capturing all of the characters in their prime, and introducing us to a very strange new race.

Year of the Drex Olympics is available HERE from Big Finish.