Destiny of the Doctor: Enemy Aliens (8th and Charley)

enemy-aliens

Writer: Alan Barnes

Director: John Ainsworth

Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher, narrator)

Running Time: 1 hour

Summary: The 8th Doctor receives a message from the 11th Doctor, but it’s broken. It warns them of an invasion, telling them “Rossini is the key!”. But they find themselves in the midst of a conspiracy when the 8th Doctor is framed for murder.

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Eighth Doctor Audio: Time of the Daleks

timedaleks

Writer: Justin Richards

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Producers: Gary Russell & Jason Haigh-Ellery

Executive Producer: Jacqueline Rayner

Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher)

Summary: The Doctor is perplexed when he discovers that Charley doesn’t know who William Shakespeare is. He remembers that Orson Welles also didn’t know when they met him in Invaders From Mars. They travel to futuristic Britain and discover a leader who is obsessed with Shakespeare.  Then Daleks arrive, and to everyone’s shock, they’re quoting Shakespeare! Why are they suddenly interested in the Bard? And why does no one except the Doctor and the rogue time-traveler know who he is?

Review: This one was…different. Right out the gate, I was laughing as soon as the Daleks were quoting Shakespeare. This was a good way to wrap up the arc that had been started from the beginning, but I felt cheated a bit, as it didn’t do anything to wrap up the “Dalek Empire” prelude that it supposedly was linked to. It almost seemed as if my listening to the other parts of the prelude first wasn’t necessary. It was  a fun story, even if a bit confusing.

Overall Review: 8/10

Continuity: This story is a direct sequel to Invaders From Mars and Seasons of Fear.

 

Eighth Doctor Audio: Embrace the Darkness

embrace

Writer and Director: Nicholas Briggs

Producer: Gary Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery

Executive Producer: Jacqueline Rayner

Running Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Summary: The Doctor and Charley encounter an ancient race of aliens in the Cimmerian System.  They cryptically talk about the “Darkness” that will develop them. What is their nature? Are they good or evil?

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Eighth Doctor Audio: Seasons of Fear

seasons-of-fear
Writers: Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox

Director: Gary Russell

Producers: Gary Russell & Jason Haigh-Ellery

Executive Producer: Jacqueline Rayner

Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes (2 CD’s)

Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher)

Summary: On New Year’s Eve in 1930, Charley finally gets to go to Singapore. But all is not pleasant, for the Doctor has found an enemy who claims to have met him before–Sebastian Grayle.  He has made a deal with the Nimon, hoping to acquire immortality. And the mystery of anti-time surrounding Charley is deepening.

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Eighth Doctor Audio: The Chimes of Midnight

chimes
Writer: Robert Shearman

Director: Barnaby Edwards

Producer: Gary Russell & Jason Haigh-Ellery

Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher)

Summary: The Doctor and Charley arrive at Edwardian house on Christmas Day in 1906. The house exists outside of time in an endless loop. When the grandfather clock chimes the hour, a person living in the house dies. Can the Doctor find the murderer? Why is the house trapped in a loop? And why does Edith, the scullery maid, seem to know Charley?

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Eighth Doctor Audio: Invaders From Mars

invaders

Writer and Director: Mark Gatiss

Producers: Gary Russell & Jason Haigh-Ellery

Executive Producer: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes (2 cd’s)

Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher)

Summary: The Doctor and Charley arrive in New York in 1938 on Halloween, the night Orson Welles will broadcast his infamous radio play based on HG Wells’s War of the Worlds. Except this time, the Martian invasion is real. The Doctor also discovers that anti-time is slowly destroying history.

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Eighth Doctor Audio: Minuet in Hell

minuet

Writers: Alan W. Lear and Gary Russell

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Producers: Gary Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery

Executive Producer: Jacqueline Rayner

Running Time: 2 hours, 27 minutes (2 cd’s, 4 parts)

Companions: Charley Pollard (India Fisher), Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)

Summary: In Malebolgia 2003, statesman Bingham Elisha Dashwood III is running for governor.  He has invited the Brigadier as a guest. He is a member of the Hellfire Club and has kidnapped the Doctor and Charley. The Hellfire Club is actually a satanic cult, and Dashwood has summoned a demon and offered the Doctor and Charley in the hopes that the demon will do his bidding.

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Eighth Doctor Audio Drama: The Stones of Venice

stonesofvenice

Writer: Paul Magrs

Director: Gary Russell

Producers: Gary Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery

Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher)

Running Time: 1 hour 51 minutes

Summary: The Doctor and Charley land in the final days of Venice in the distant future.

The Duke Orsino has spent a century mourning the loss of his love, Estella. Estella cursed him to live a century after betting his life against her in a card game.  She extended her curse to include the whole city of Venice, which will crumble around him when he dies.

Charley befriends a gondolier who hypnotizes her into taking Estella’s place. Pietro is actually a part of a race of gilled aliens who’ve organized a cult around Estella’s memory. Can the Doctor save Venice, or is it truly cursed?

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Eighth Doctor: Sword of Orion

sword_of_orion_cover

Writer and Director: Nicholas Briggs

Running Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes

Companion: Charlotte “Charley” Pollard (India Fisher)

Summary:
Charley is worried about Ramsay, the Vortisaur who stowed away in “Storm Warning”, looking ill. She and the Doctor can’t carry him to the control room time vortex. The Doctor decides that there is one way to restore Ramsay back to health, but doesn’t tell Charley. They soon arrive in the middle of the Orion War, a war with the Cybermen being fought in the Orion System.

Review: This was Big Finish’s first story to feature the Cybermen, and while it was a good attempt, it felt derivative. It felt too much like it was trying to copy what the classic show had done with the Cybermen, rather than doing anything original.

Overall Rating: 4/10

 

 

 

Storm Warning (audio drama)

storm

No of Episodes: 4, on two discs

Writer: Alan Barnes

Director: Gary Russell

Producers: Gary Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery

Companion: Charlotte “Charley” Pollard (India Fisher)

Summary: The Doctor is going through his library in search of his TARDIS’s manual.  Suddenly, he sees a time-ship on his scanner. It’s caught in a time-loop, causing it to repeatedly crash.  Vortisaurs (pterodactyls who scavenge the vortex of space and time) have begun to swarm the ship.  The Doctor spins his TARDIS around to intervene, but the vortex causes him and a vortisaur to fall in.  The TARDIS materializes inside the R101 airship on its maiden (and sadly only) voyage.

The Doctor meets Charlotte Pollard, “Charley” to her friends.  Charley has disguised herself in order to stow away. He also meets Lord Tamworth (the captain), Lt. Col. Frayling (who designed the R101), and Rathbone.  Rathbone is harboring a Triskele.  Triskele are an alien race who have three personas: the Engineers (good), the Un-creators (evil), and the Law-givers (authority). Can the Doctor intervene before chaos ensues?

Review: I was interested in the Eighth Doctor’s audio dramas from Big Finish after having seen the web-episode “Night of the Doctor”, which chronicles his final adventure before regenerating into the “War Doctor”. Although there are some stories set before “Storm Warning”, this is first audio adventure if you go by production order. It’s a good place to start.

The story flows very well, with no signs of padding. Alan Barnes has created a story that seems like it would fit right in with the Classic era’s pseudo-historicals like “Talons of Weng-Chiang” or “The Time Meddler”.  India Fisher is great as Charley, giving her an elegant air.  I’m not quite warming up to her as a character, but then there are a few companions that I didn’t like away (like Leela for instance). She seems a good fit for the Doctor, a woman eager to embark on an adventure, no matter the risk.

Barnaby Edwards is another star as Rathbone, a brash man filled with British pride.  He is a great antagonist for the Doctor, and I like the way they play off each other.

If you’re curious about Big Finish, this is a great place to start.  It has no tie-ins to their other stories (actually, at this point, the continuity of their universe was just starting). And yes, I do plan to review more audio dramas than just the Paul McGann range.

Overall Rating: 10/10

Continuity: The time ship is encountered again in Terror Firma, which reveals that the Doctor was actually amnesiac at the beginning of this story. He finds a book by Mary Shelley, which foreshadows In the Company of Friends (a four-part anthology).  Charley’s final story with the Eighth Doctor is The Girl Who Never Was, which closes the first series of adventures.  She also travelled with the Sixth Doctor beginning with The Condemned and ending with Blue Forgotten Planet. She met the Fourth Doctor as well in the 50th Anniversary story The Light at the End. (which features Doctors 1-8).  The Vortisaur that follows the TARDIS into the vortex is named Ramsey by Charley and becomes an unofficial pet until Minuet in Hell. The Vortisaurs themselves are similar to the demonic creatures who fed on time distortions in “Father’s Day”.

Trivia: Gareth Thomas plays Lord Tamworth. He is best known as Blake in BBC’s cult sci-fi series Blake Seven (created by Terry Nation, who also created the Daleks). India Fisher has actually played other characters for Big Finish besides Charley. In Winter For the Adept (a Fifth Doctor drama), she plays Peril, and in the Gallifrey drama A Blind Eye, she plays Cecelia Pollard, Charley’s younger sister. She’s also the narrator on BBC’s Master Chef series.