Sunday, October 21, 2007

BF Round-Up Extravaganza!

For some reason I started writing reviews of all the BF adventures I've listened to. Lengths vary slightly.

Spare Parts - Haven't finished yet. 'S'alright.

Bang-bang-a-boom - Something of a disappointment... though it's got nothing at all to do with quality. You see, the main reason I wanted to listen to this was the fact that it has Graeme Garden in it. BUT the thing is that Graeme Garden, in addition to probably being the cleverest of the three Goodies, is also a highly professional voice actor, and so doesn't even sound like Graeme Garden in this story.

The other problem, of course, is that it isn't funny. Yes, it's fun but it's not quite the same. The idea of an Intergalactic Eurovision Song Contest... well, doesn't exactly have legs but there's a lot of nice dinky set pieces that keep you entertained. It's just that apart from the Doctor playing the spoons, Mel assuming every character they meet is a murderer, and the Doctor being hit on by a six-foot-tall Valkyrie that sounds like Jane Horrocks, there isn't that much to laugh at. Besides, the DS9/B5 jokes are forced, and the "I just made up all the techno-babble" joke really doesn't work if you use it, oh, four or five times?

The thing is, though, that the plot is very well thought-out and has quite a few impressive twists and turns... really the story does a very good job of keeping you entertained. It would have been better off it wasn't publicised as a comedy story, though, because as is it feels like a straight story with a couple of silly bits thrown in rather than some sort of full-on comedy effort. And just as well, because if it was a comedy story with these gags it would really fall flat!

Production values and acting is great all round. Well, apart from the fellow playing Logan. Waaaay too many pauses in his scenes.

EDIT: Oh, that was a Terry Wogan pisstake... I can't take credit for working that out, I read it somewhere I'm sorry to say.. why didn't they get Graeme to do it?!? I mean, you've got a bloke who did a Terry Wogan send-up in every second epsiode of his incredibly long-running, popular and influential sitcom... and they give the role to a guy who clearly doesn't know a joke from his elbow? Jesus Christ...

The Next Life - I've covered this one. It's shit.

The Blood of the Daleks - When I heard 'by Steve Lyons' my first thought was 'Aaaw, shit!'. My hopes were further dashed when I realised that the Doctor's new companion sounded like a cross between Catherine Tait's schoolgirl character and the "I DON' FINK SO!" girl from The Lenny Henry Show. That's what a Northern Accent sounds like on a woman? Or is Sheridan Smith both Northern and an anthropomorphic duck?

I fell asleep, I think, before the first episode was over but managed to follow the plot fine. Well, as far as I was concerned. I wasn't putting following the plot of a Lyons story too high a priority as five times out of ten it's been proven to lead to intense disappointment and frustration as every vaguely interesting character (if not every character full stop) gets massacred. Thankfully, this wasn't that bad! Also, action was kept vaguely credible - yay! The story was pretty simple - ludicrously so, in fact. Mad scientist finds Dalek casings and turns humans into Daleks civil war ensues. There's something about Dalek fighting Dalek stories that writers (apart from me) love. I've no idea what, though they are often quite entertaining.

The finale was great, with Nick Briggs again doing sterling work as every single Dalek that ever lived - remember when they actually got different guys to do the voices of the aliens, rather than one smart arsed bloke who would do absolutely every single one? Yet another great confrontation between the Doctor and his most persisten (if not greatest) enemy that is spine-tingling.

However, I feel a little sorry for Paul MacGann as confronting seems to be all he gets to do in this story - absolutely nobody is capable of showing any gratitude. Lucie goes off her rocker the moment she meets him, the President goes mad and blames the Doctor for absolutely everything (rather than Mad Scientist) and some homeless nutter in a tinfoil hat named Tom trashes him even more, with even more vehemence than the women. This leads to an incredibly aggravating scene, one of those ones where two characters take a moment to exchange, ooh, a dozen words or so, and some prick (Tom) starts yelling "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE AND YOU'RE JUST STANDING AROUND TALKING!!!" Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate people in the real world occassionally feeling the need to yell their heads off. Just wait until the other party stands around and talks for more than a couple of seconds.

Jubilee - Awww, yeah. Mass amputations 'n shit.

I can't even remember the last episode, though. Lots of weird stuff going on. But suddenly, after hearing this, I realised why that dreadful Dalek episode was actually meant to be good, why it could never be as good on TV, how parallel universe stories can actually be half-way decent, and why everyone raves about the whole audio genre. And where RTD stole the character of Lucy Saxon from. Hmm.

Colin Baker's speech at the Jubilee itself is sublime perfection, as is the fake trailer at the very start. Damned near perfection.

Phantasmagoria - I was told that this story featured non-stop Mark Gatiss and David Walliams ego-tripping and the Doctor sitting around in a basement for hours on end, so my expectations weren't high at all. But I really, really liked it.

As in The Cavaliers any sense of how many characters is a suitable number for the story that needs to be told is conspicuously evident, along with a couple of patches of unsettling borderline-sexism. Unlike The Cavaliers, though, this one works in what it's trying to do.

Well, what it's trying to do is sort of being the ultimate in generic DW historical adventures, so it's arguable whether this is at all laudable or a complete waste of all our time. But it's really campy fun, with likeable heroes and a suitably loathesome villain that entertains in its very simple plot and characters.

The voices are the silliest ever, but they all seem appropriate given the story. Why not have Dr Holywell sound like Bill Oddie playing Santa Claus? Who says Mark Gatiss doing a really crap John Hurt impression is bad casting for a past-it alcoholic? Why not have David Walliams with a mouthful of marbles playing a dual-role as a watchmen-rapist?

The best bit is Sir Nickolas Valentine - whoever plays him (can't recall) doesn't just play it to the hilt, he plays it until the sword vanishes and becomes a distant memory. If it were possible for sheer, depraved evil to drip off soundwaves you'd need to swathe yourself in napkins everytime he speaks. Forget Tekker, this guy is the real shit. It seems like every second line is punctuated with a cadaverous chuckle that sounds like a death-rattle, and lines like "What game?... a long game...a looooong game" are drawn out for truly ridiculous lengths and relishments.

This, however, leads to one of the slightly irritating things about the play - it is almost painfully obvious from the very, very first line in the whole story that Valentine is the villain. I mean, for starters, how could a character named Nickolas Valentine not be the villain? Yet it takes the Doctor the lion's share of the story to work out that he is - and, yes, he spends some time sitting on his arse in a basement before getting around to it.

Also, what the hell is the deal with all the hyping done about the Doctor's card game with Valentine? Wost. Card game. Ever. Seriously, Valentine can't even be arsed playing a real game to trap people into his [ludicrously complicated] scheme, so he just tells people "Oh, yeah, play this game with me. I'll explain it... here take some cards... and that one... and that one... Congratulations you win! Take that card with you!" Yeah, it makes sense in the plot, but we're lead to believe some seriously cool card game showdown is on the way. And there's no showdown, there's no cool, and it's debatable whether there's even a 'game' as such.

Apart from its small defects (along with which is definitely Mark Strickson, clearly finding his feet as an audio actor) Phantasmagoria remains effortlessly charming and enjoyable, with just enough twists in the plot to keep it feeling like a real story and not a half-arsed pastiche. Oh, the story ends in a truly vomit-inducing tribute to the "Crap joke in final line" syndrome prevalent in 70s television for some god-damned reason, but that's easy to absolve. Just press the stop button early and you'll be none the wiser.

Her Final Flight - Great trailer. As for the story...


Sorry, I nodded off there. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah..

Whispers of Terror - Justin Richards is a writer who, like Steve Lyons, I'm a bit iffy on... for a similar reason, really - Richards has a bit of a cavalier (or 'Sawardian' if you will) approach to characters. He doesn't kill them off as heartlessly or as cruelly as Lyons, that's for sure, but he still turns a lot of stories into senseless bloodbaths for absolutely no reason. And, of course, there's the fact that his characterisations are sometimes so inconsistent I end up expecting characters to behave like bi-polar schizophrenics and not at all like any humans that I actually know.

This was a triumph, though. Unlike in novels, Richard doesn't have the means or the excuse to use a massive cast. In fact, some people criticized the play for being too small in scope. These people are fools who don't know a good thing when they've got it. You hear me? DAMNED FOOLS!!! (Besides, limited scope meant that there was more budget for other stories!)

The whole story is set in the claustrophobic-sounding Museum of Aural Antiquities and the villain is such an awesome idea that it was stolen for ...Ish and Scherzo. The dreaded SOUND CREATURE! Of course, in a brilliant twist, in a world of completely amoral if not evil politicians (who can relate to that?) the 'evil' sound creature turns out to be one of the only characters with genuine good intentions. Well, a big part of its intention is wiping out the chilli-suckers who betrayed him Charles Bronson-style but I maintain Soundy's heart is in the right place.

One problem, though: another twist that was incredibly obvious. I think the direction and production let Richards down (in the recording of Visten Krane's murder, I'm thinking of)

Not much more to add except Colin is brilliant, and this is something of a constant within his stories.

Colditz - *sigh*

Okay, the idea behind doing a WWII story is you get to have wonderfully clear-cut villains. This is about the only good thing about doing WWII stories because they have been established as mind-numbingly cliche in the science-fiction genre. A combination of WII and parallel universe... you have no excuse unless you've been locked in a bunker with no access to any sci-fi at all for the past 30 years.

And even then I'll probably still beat the crap out of you.

Steve Lyons ignores absolutely all this common sense. There are no strong villains. There isn't even one adequate villain. There's Feldweber/Oberleutnant Kurtz, who's either an NCO or an officer depending on which side of absolutely shithouse editing you currently are, a bully, a coward, a borderline psychopath but one that's a complete laughing stock to the allies and the Nazis. The only thing of interest being the fact that he's portrayed by David Tennant and wants to rape Ace. There's Oberst VonSumfinkorozzer who is the token 'nice' Nazi. There's the Krazy Kamp Kommandant who is constantly mentioned over the course of four episodes but never appears - and it's meant to be a twist when we learn he isn't at the camp! (For fuck's sake!) Yeah, he's on a holiday in Switzerland or something. And then there's Klein, whose mind-numbing brain deadness warrants an entire paragraph.

Klein is a time-travelling SS officer from an alternate future who arrives at Colditz using the Doctor's TARDIS. She's also a dribbling moron who is entirely unable to do anything without arousing people's suspicion and/or wiping out the alternate future she arrived from in the first place. She is in the past for no real reason but to threaten the Doctor for her own amusement, but is completely unable to do so. We're meant to be scared when she tells the Doctor that Ace is going to die, even though it's already been established that every single frigging thing Klein believes is meant to happen doesn't.

So, in short, Steve Lyons thought it would be great to have a villain that not only was too stupid to even have an evil plan, but would also manage to turn everything she touches into crap, thus saving the Doctor from expending any effort in stopping her from doing anything. Klein left me utterly gobsmacked in that anyone would possibly dream up such an entirely awful notion in anything but an off-the-wall comedy. By which I mean seriously dropping-the-acid-laced-with-motor-oil stuff.

Klein, in spite of being even more pathetic than Feldweber/Oberleutnant Kurtz in every regard, provokes endless rants from Sylv. Steve Lyons again seems to have missed the bleeding obvious - McCoy is not, in anyone's opinion good at righteous anger. In fact, opinion on the matter ranges from "Jesus Christ he's awful" to "Come on guys, he's not quite that bad" which isn't a lot of leeway. Hearing him screaming "But then you have BLONDE HAIRRR..AND BLUE EYES DO YOU NOT!?" really didn't help things.

Also, the 'massive twist' of this story - that the laser in Ace's CD player was the technology that lead to the Nazis winning WWII didn't impress me. First, I saw it coming a mile off because why else would Kurtz bring up the CD player in every second scene? Second, it doesn't make much sense. Third, I was distracting by the convoluted shite about the apparent actions of a parallel 8th Doctor (presumably played by David Troughton) in getting the TARDIS back to Sylv - there's nothing I like better than a story when time travel has actually resolved the entire plot BEFORE any of it happened.

And furthermore, why the hell is this called "Colditz"? It's got NOTHING to do with Colditz. About half of the story happens to be set there, but it's of no relevance to the plot. It could just as easily be entitled "Steve Lyons masturbates into a script for 100 minutes". Plus there's the ugly truth that a blatant lack of budget leaves this the worst-sounding release that I've heard yet - and they apparently couldn't afford any music so Gary Russell just brought in his drum machine and decided to jam at the most inappropriate moments possible. Not to mention Colditz apparently only having two prisoners.

The story also, in theory, introduces a "New Ace". But, you know, not like the "New Ace" in the New Adventures. The one they got rid off after a while because she wasn't as interesting as the alco archaeologist. I'd much rather have a new companion, frankly. The appeal of Ace is completely and utterly lost on me, you know. Leaving aside Aldred's performance (and she's so desperate to avoid the terrible Mockney accent used on TV that she's barely even recognizable as the same character here), this story (supposedly 're-inventing' the character) is an excellent showcase for how terribly one-note the character is. Every single scene involving Ace and Kurtz features her insulting the German 'officer' endlessly. Every scene with Tim, her 'friend', she bullies and pressures him. Every scene with Gower, the prisoner C.O, involves her unrealistically pressuring for a break-out TONIGHT. She causes Tim to be nearly beaten to death, and expresses no remorse. She still blows stuff up. I hate to contradict Mr Campion-Clarke on any matter, but I believe that Sparacus may have been right on at least one matter: it is possible for a character to be both 'feisty' and 'boring'. Specifically if there name is Ace and they've been around for 20 years. (TWENTY FRIGGING YEARS! She's as old as I am... no wonder I'm sick of her!)

Hmm. Probably should have gone the succint route for this one...

*Slow clapping ala Blackadder*

Utter crap.

The Stones of Venice - Holy shit! Paul Magrs can write normal stuff!

Dr Who and the Pirates - Damit, possibly my favourite. It's been argued that it really isn't Doctor Who... but I won't have that! It features the Doctor, the TARDIS, a historical setting, a nasty villain, likeable heroes... it's more Doctor Who other things made under the name!

I'm frankly more surprised that more comments haven't been made about how frigging insane this story is. Evelyn all but breaks into a girl's room and starts berating her with stories about the Doctor, in spite of the fact that her complete lack of a memory prevents her from being able to tell if the Doctor is even still alive and can't decide how many legs Bill Oddie has. And then the Doctor himself rocks up to raid the stocks of tea, and corrects Evelyn on basically everything she's said. And then he decides the story's too boring and turns it into a shameless Gilbert and Sullivan rip-off. And has a sing-off with the First Mate that goes for fifteen minutes.

And then it's revealed Sally, the student, killed someone in a hit-and-run, when the lyrics get to her and she begins singing her tragic story. And then Bill Oddie starts cutting out people's tongues and force-feeding them to the new amputees. And the Doctor and the campest man every run around an island throwing coconuts looking for treasure. And then the Doctor steals the ship back. And then Bill Oddie doesn't die.

At this point the story is over, and the Doctor admits to Sally, in a typical moment of complete candour, that the story really sucked and blames it on Evelyn. And then tells Sally not to kill herself. According to at least one reviewer, Sally kills herself right before the end credits. I have no idea what that's based on, but something must have given her that idea.

Why is this my fave? I dunno. It's just cool. And absolutely batshit insane. Speaking of batshit insane...

Zagreus - Sylvester McCoy feels up India Fisher, Nicola Bryant eats Bonnie Langford, Peter Davison gets pussy-whipped by Nicola Bryant, Nicholas Courtenay shoots at Lalla Ward shouting about her leaving her dirty knickers around every and Paul McGann kills all of the other Doctors. Nuff said, surely?

Well... can enough be said about Zagreus? Maybe. But not, I think, in its defense. For my part, I like Zagreus. Okay, if I had waited for months after the release of Neverland, I probably wouldn't. If I had no idea what I was in for, again probably not. But the thing is I think Zagreus should be admired for an act of supreme narrative daring. Rather than codswallop like Colditz that is just drawn from an apparent drug-addled ignorance of anything that can constitute a story, Zagreus realises that its breaking all the rules. There's a good self-knowingness about it.

And you can't say it isn't fun... oh, well, you can certainly say that about Disc 1 which goes nowhere fairly gradually. Apart from the guilty pleasure of hearing Nicola Bryant as an extremely ballsy and toffy-nosed gung-ho researcher who takes every oppurtunity to diss Peter Davison, the first 'fantasy' segment is distinctly dull, and it's not hard to feel sorry for Peter getting a mild-mannered vicar for his second character. And then we have Colin, who gets to play the delightfully wicked closet-vampire, The Provost Tepesh in one of his best performances. And orders Bonnie to be killed. Hahaha!

Sorry, side-tracked. When I think about Zagreus and its poor reputation, I think of other stories that deliberately go outside the box of what is considered acceptable in DW. None of them are as badly recieved as this. And then it strikes me.. it's all about timing.

As a stand-alone, as I heard it, Zagreus works fine. Admirably even. Though the writing is certainly patchy, the fun it makes of the show as an entity is great in all its sacriligious glory, and matching the voices up to the character is a really great big chunk of the fun to be had. Its questionable as to whether a three-and-a-half hour piece of audio that deconstructs everything about the show piece-by-piece in dream sequences is a good idea for an anniversary special... but then that isn't the timing problem I meant. Allow me to digress again...

There's a scene in Disc 3 where the three Doctors and Charley go into Rassilon's tower. They come across the familiar chessboard of death, and the familiar solution - "Pi!". Showing previously unseen ability and bitchitude, Charley calls them all a pack of useless wankers and gives the actual solution to the chessboard with only a seconds pause for thought. (An explanation, by the way, that would make no sense at all to a Gallifreyan who knew nothing of Earth) This is several things: it is a subversion of the arguably sexist standard in which a Doctor explains important details to the companion by having the lines of communication shift the other way, it is a mockery of one of the worst pieces of writing in the series' history, and a nod to The Five Doctors, the halfway point to the special and a highly popular story.

What the scene isn't is good drama.

And THAT'S exactly what fans were expecting.

As an anniversary special, an exceptionally twisted one to showcase the unusual bent taken by fandom in adapting their favourite show of all time, Zagreus works. BUT the story is also meant to be a resolution to a shocking cliffhanger at the end of Neverland, with the Doctor apparently dead and Charley out of the picture. It is slightly damning that the actual beginning point of Zagreus doesn't seem to match up well with this (Much in the same way that Scherzo doesn't lead on naturally from the end of this one..) and what follows shows that Russell wasn't very concerned with producing a dramatic story in any conventional sense and concluding that storyline.

See, what fans would have been expecting would have been an apocalyptic story about the potential death of Our Universe from the Anti-Time infection. They would have expected, in this moment of crisis, the Doctors to attempt to unite across their time-streams, Voltron-like, to fight against the oncoming Evil McGann. They would have expected battle-scenes in the streets of The Capitol, great speeches about evil, and maybe cut-aways to Rassilonian history at the beginning of each disc to explain the backstory. It's hard to argue that it wouldn't have made more sense to do that in the given context, and also difficult to argue that it wouldn't have been a more satisfying story.

That is what overshadows Zagreus. Its hearts are in the right place, but the lead-in was all wrong. If we were treated to a fifth season of Blakes 7, and were then given 50 minutes of poking fun at the shows history as a resolution to the Gauda Prime shoot-out, it would be an apt comparison. I say, contrary to popular belief, Zagreus is a victim of bad judgement, rather than bad writing.

Omega - As a side-point (Always a good thing to start with in a review) I would have to be entirely incummunocado with fandom to be oblivious to the antipathy/incomprehension that greeted the news that the 'villain trilogy' of audios would be rounded off with 'Omega'. Okay, yes, 'Master' and 'Davros' would be the first off anybody's mind when asked for three identifiable villains but... when it comes to individuals the Doctor hasn't really faced off against that many with the room to return. I also haven't read any alternative suggestions at all for who the fans, so aghast with this decision, would have liked to fill the slot...

GUARDIAN - The Black Guardian is one of the more identifiable recurring villains, thanks mostly to JNT realising that Valentine Dyall's brilliantly villainous portrayal was completely wasted in the closing couple of minutes of The Armageddon Factor all those years ago. I'm not sure how much depth to his character, per se, could be uncovered, but an audio about the personification of chaos and injustice would have plenty of breathing space for cool ideas - the one Big Finish audio I think would be cool if done by Larry Miles.

VALEYARD - Hey, it could be good. Very good in fact. It would just have to overcome the facts that a) It would mean a rescheduling since Davo vs Valeyard rapes continuity to the point that even Big Finish couldn't condone it and b) Nobody in fandom seems to like Valeyard as a character only as a concept. Which is a bit of a shame since Michael Jaystone really gives it his all...

TOYMAKER - ...I can't even take that title seriously for a second. But if it does the trick for you... well, go nuts.

RANI - No. Because of course, the great thing about the Rani was that she wasn't evil for the sake of evil, more a mirror version of the Doctor (before the days of Iris Wildthyme) just without a sense of morals. The Doctor claims that she's mad, but then that might be him trying to make sense of her impossibly cold-hearted view of the Universe. All this means that the Rani isn't really any sort of archetypal villain, and thus unsuited to the slot. Of course, the same was said of Omega, but if I'm looking for a replacement it won't do. I wouldn't have minded hearing Davison and Omara sparring though...

BORUSA - Terrance Dicks could do it. But would you really want him to? (A clue: No)

TEKKER/SOLDEED - Sorry, I just had to put those in there. It's out of my system now.

MONK - No, hang on.. now it is...

CONTROLLER - Ah, one that would actually work. The Cybermen's lack of a character as strong as Davros limits them in the running for this slot, but The Controller has already proven himself capable of emerging from blatant destruction. Some retcon would be needed - possibly of the 'Sixth Doc is useless' variety, which is a handy fall-back option for all writers. A very strong script would be needed to make it work, though, or a new spin on The Controller's character...

LYTTON - This one would have worked, you see, if Saward hadn't decided to brutally castrate his own character in the most nonsensical way imaginable. Though If *I* Had Written Attack of the Cybermen this audio would be a perfectly sensible proposal...

GREEL - The title mightn't be immediately obvious to people, given all that 'Lord Weng-Chiang' nonsense, but hopefully enough folks remember the remarkably Sutekh-esque villain as being identified as Magnus Greel. The idea does have potential, as well, as we all know that Greel was an unconscionable war criminal who experimented with time travel before ending up in Victorian England. The problem is that any prequel story will be derided as pure fanwank. Which would be true enough, but then isn't that the point of a 'villain trilogy'.

SUTEKH - Yeah, I mentioned Sutekh so I'll bring him up... just to say that the very idea is so remarkably awful that if you were thinking that a Sutekh audio would be good, give yourself a slap right now. The character is a shallow, generic personification of evil used in one story simply so there's a villain. Just like Fenric. He may as well be a cardboard cut-out of Vincent Price.

NESTENE - Hmm... it could be good. But it would be far easier for it to be terrible. Note that I'm being generous here by extending 'villain' to the Nestene Consciousness, which is technically a single entity. But also exhibits absolutely no character. A mythos could be established for the story, but it would somewhat defeat the purpose of the story for celebrating an established villain.

AZAL - Yeah I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel... any moment now I'm going to suggest 'Intelligence' and 'Monarch'

Hopefully by this stage you've taken the point. If not, I'm clearly a terrible writer because I've had hundreds of words to get a very simple point across: the Doctor doesn't really have that many stand-out individual characters as villains that he faces in the show. Yes, he faces down plenty of interesting alien races, but their leaders are rarely anywhere near as interesting. Of the above 13 suggestions, which took me quite a long time to think of, only four were recurring villains. And two of them are dead. And the Rani really wouldn't work in the series, which leaves us with Guardian.

Although people argue that Omega makes no sense, lets look at the logical side of things...

a) Omega is one of very few villains to actually have a recurring appearance.

b) His second appearance was in Season 20 - the 'return appearance' season which also featured The Master and was going to feature Davros. Hey, isn't that a funny co-incidence? (Also the Black Guardian was featured...)

c) Like him or loathe him, Omega does feature a very strong personality in both of his stories, clear motivation, and plenty of baggage. In short, there's plenty for writers to work with.

The story... well, it's good. Not quite brilliant. For the first two episodes I was in love with it... the set-up was very good and provided for a good leisurely character piece rather than any sort of grand showdown between the Doctor and Omega, the hack actors portraying Omega and his off-sider Vanderkirion being posessed by the ghosts of the originals was a nifty idea well-handled, and the Timelord version of Simon Scharma was a good character. Curiously, though, these episodes are 35 minutes long... when you listen, it becomes depressingly apparent that they have been extended simply so Nev Fountain can fit even more jokes about fandom in. Okay, yes, when the Professor and the Doctor argue about the ideas of the Omega mythos in a way that mirrors fan debates it is entertaining. When more and more references to fandom happen with far less subtlety when the plot is meant to be resolved, it gets distracting.

When the entire story ends with a future Time Lady appearing out of nowhere and gushing over the Doctor like no OGer ever would dare and proposing immediately ways of ret-conning the entire story out of existence to appease the Doctor's fan in future Gallifrey... well, it's enough to get you screaming swear words at your CD player.

The episode seems to want its cake and to eat it, too: we're given a lot of Omega's backstory. A LOT. Sadly this includes one of the worst Gallifrey flash-back scenes ever, where we seem to be curiously lead to believe that Rassilon somehow started a bloody coup that wiped out large portions of the Capitol while still at the academy and sight-seeing with his pal Omega. Rassilon is terribly cast here, and I hope others were wishing they got Don Warrington to do this scene to lend some credibility to yet another piece of "Ooh, it's the evil Rassilon!".

The contradiction to giving us all this backstory, is the fact that the final parts of the story tell us that Omega is mad and has no idea whether any of this happened or not. Well, that's great. Can I have the last 90 minutes back, please?

Apparently the whole idea was to illustrate the unreliable nature of stories. Just like Doctor Who and the Pirates, then...

The Horror of Glam Rock - Holy shit, Paul Magrs can write stuff that's so normal it's boring!

...Ish - I need to listen to this one again. It certainly got my attention...

Loups-Garoux - This is one of the weirder ones... set mostly in a near-future train travelling through the Amazonian desert and dealing with a Brazilian clan of werewolves. He's accompanied by Turlough, who has now learnt a thing or two about audio dramas and is thus less irritating a companion.

This is a great story for ideas - the werewolves have in-built perception filters that have allowed them blend into society, and there's the familiar battleground of humanity and animalism and the struggle for identity in 'the pack', a werewolf that has been trapped in a purgatory between the two states, a teenaged self-styled Amazionian warrioress who carries in her mind the spirit of the now-dead forest, and the titular Loups-Garoux, the grandfather of all werewolves who is chasing his lover down across the entire earth.

The problem is one that often occurs with idea stories - the plot suffers. A lot is built up over the first three episodes, so it's a bit of a let down when the story changes tack in the last episode, in a way that involves effectively writing out half the characters right at the start. Quite disappointing.

The story is stronger than the sum of its parts, though, and as such highly impressive. Pitor Stube, the Loups-Garoux himself, has an especially sinister voice, the performance from Elanor Bron (and the awkward quasi-romantic subplot with the Doctor) is brilliant, and the director is very atmospheric. This has to be the only audio I've heard so far that I'd describe as scary to listen to - and it had me on the edge of my seat as to how the Doctor would solve everything.

Plus it features a scene where a gigantic wolf vomits up Turlough, complaining about how bad he tastes. Awe. Some.

Immortal Beloved - Her name is Lucie Miller.

She began her life with one goal.

She alone, would establish herself as the single most fucking irritating Doctor Who companion of all time, ahead of Janet Fielding, Bonnie Langford, Matthew Waterhouse, Jackie Lane and Lis Sladen.

It took her all of five minutes.

"Oi, bar-gum, mi name'z Lucie Miller and this mis'rable suthern fucking wanker is mi bumblin' assisstant! Oi'm here to perv on yez!"

Ian McNeice was also in this. Which was nice.

I also listened to the first fifteen minutes or so of Phobos, which have me convinced that the BBC7 series is shite.


Youth of Australia said...

Insightful, hilarious, radical, challenging and readable as ever.

I take your point about Ace. Bar The Fearmonger, she was treated pretty pooly by Big Finish at the start. I know that Lyons wanted to show Ace wasn't coping, surrounded by Nazis, causing her to over compensate... but maybe that's just his excuse for writing her crap. Hex's arrival has improved the character no end. Yes, Colditz Ace is a fiesty bore. But I still dispute that fiesty bores can be generic...

Also a point about McCoy and anger - his strengths are in his body language and facial expressions. Like in Battlefield where it's not his growling that makes you think he's going to hack off Mordred's head, its that look in his eyes. Take away this, and you have stupid shouting.

Another thing BF have tried to avoid.

As for Sutekh audios, these things actually exist. With Gabriel Wolf and everything.

Your views on the BBC7 audios are refreshing... since hardly anyone has reviewed them. I went onto OG and the only things people would say about it are:
a) it starts a bit like TRB
b) a lady says "Tel" and maybe thats "Telos!" Cyber squee!

Jesus fecking Christ. All I can say is I'm glad spara's given me a fresh BC story to spoof.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I know that Lyons wanted to show Ace wasn't coping, surrounded by Nazis, causing her to over compensate...

If she wasn't coping, I would have expected her to be something approximating to 'scared' at some point, rather than 'Rack off goose-steppers!' for the whole thing.

Yes, Colditz Ace is a fiesty bore. But I still dispute that fiesty bores can be generic...

Oh, right. Well, yeah, they aren't generic because barely any writers use them. QED against the fish-man.

Also a point about McCoy and anger - his strengths are in his body language and facial expressions. Like in Battlefield where it's not his growling that makes you think he's going to hack off Mordred's head, its that look in his eyes.

That's a good point - people diss his angry acting in Battlefield, but I thought he was genuinely scary when threatening Mordred. And Sylv is genuinely good at facial acting...

I haven't enjoyed McCoy's audios too much, I'm afraid... somehow it seems like he thinks audio means he has to over-pronounce every word EVEN MORE. (Something I hadn't thought possible...)

As for Sutekh audios, these things actually exist. With Gabriel Wolf and everything.

... thank you for diminishing the small glimmering shard of faith I had in fandom.

Your views on the BBC7 audios are refreshing... since hardly anyone has reviewed them.

I found some reviews on a site called "Behind The Sofa" but they were so sycophantic I was wondering if they were of the "Please let us write for the show!!!" variety..

I didn't do much reviewing. Just pointing out that Steve Lyons did a good job (I like it when that happens!) and that Lucie Miller is somebody I dearly want to stab.

All I can say is I'm glad spara's given me a fresh BC story to spoof.

I've discovered that what Spara means when he says "I believe this could be the best Ben Chatham adventure yet!" is "Somehow, I've made this even worse than the last one!"...

Youth of Australia said...

If she wasn't coping, I would have expected her to be something approximating to 'scared' at some point, rather than 'Rack off goose-steppers!' for the whole thing.
I feel that it was something of a pathetic excuse for writing her character so terribly, myself.

Oh, right. Well, yeah, they aren't generic because barely any writers use them. QED against the fish-man.

That's a good point - people diss his angry acting in Battlefield, but I thought he was genuinely scary when threatening Mordred. And Sylv is genuinely good at facial acting...
Part of his early training as a mime, I suppose.

I haven't enjoyed McCoy's audios too much, I'm afraid... somehow it seems like he thinks audio means he has to over-pronounce every word EVEN MORE. (Something I hadn't thought possible...)
This is true, but BF have finally twigged to this, and from The Harvest onwards, he's in a more quiet, contemplative mood. Kinda like in Happiness Patrol.

... thank you for diminishing the small glimmering shard of faith I had in fandom.
The people who perpetrated Kaldor City now use Sutekh as a regular in their Faction Paradox audios.

It's fair to say not much new has been revealed about the character.

I found some reviews on a site called "Behind The Sofa" but they were so sycophantic I was wondering if they were of the "Please let us write for the show!!!" variety..
Ah yes. I did read BTS and was stunned at the fact these were the same people who tear the TV episodes to bits with such GUSTO.

Plus, they weren't really reviews. Quoting the plot and saying it's brilliant do not a review make.

I didn't do much reviewing. Just pointing out that Steve Lyons did a good job (I like it when that happens!) and that Lucie Miller is somebody I dearly want to stab.
More than anyone else has.

I've discovered that what Spara means when he says "I believe this could be the best Ben Chatham adventure yet!" is "Somehow, I've made this even worse than the last one!"...
In that case, the kudos he has given the last six stories are entirely justified...