Tag Archives: big finish

Listening To Random Musketeers (2002)

marie-de-rohan-duchesse-de-5One of my favourite, more obscure characters from the original The Three Musketeers novel is Madame de Chevreuse – AKA Marie de Rohan AKA Mademoiselle Monbazon AKA the Duchesse de Chevreuse.

She’s the queen’s friend, the cardinal’s enemy, the Duke of Buckingham’s co-conspirator and romantic enabler and oh yes, she has romantic/sexual ties to two of the Three Musketeers. Fair enough that most movies don’t include her in the adaptation since Dumas never let her appear in person in the novel. But she’s SO IMPORTANT.

Ahem. My point is, she’s not commonly found in Musketeer adaptations. So imagine my surprise on relistening to Big Finish’s Doctor Who/Musketeer adventure, “The Church and the Crown,” to discover that this particular story features Chevreuse, but none of the actual named Musketeers from Dumas’ story.

It’s not an adaptation of The Three Musketeers at all, in other words, but a Doctor Who story set in the time period that inspired the book. The main historical characters from Real History™ – King Louis, Queen Anne of Austria, Madame de Chevreuse, the Duke of Buckingham and Cardinal Richelieu – are all in play, but even the real life Musketeers who supposedly inspired our boys: Auteville, Aramitz & Du Vallon, are absent.

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After Eight – Night of the Doctor

He was the Doctor longer than anyone else, he came up against Cybermen, Zygons, Morbius, the Celestial Toymaker, the Meddling Monk, the Giant Spiders, the Krynoids, and his own people. He lost more to the Daleks than you could possibly imagine a Doctor could lose. Companions fell in love with him from time to time. He reunited with his granddaughter Susan, AND President Romana of Gallifrey.

The Eighth Doctor, in other words, has been around. Between the books, the comics and especially the amazing body of audio plays from Big Finish, this Doctor has developed in so many interesting directions that his single TV appearance in “the TV movie” felt less and less like you’d even put it in the top ten of his best stories.

Delightfully, and in a wonderful surprise move, Steven Moffat decided to do something about that, and so the special minisode Night of the Doctor was posted to the internet on what also happened to be Paul McGann’s birthday. Watch it before reading on!

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A (Great) Year in the Life of Big Finish [WHO-50—2009]

2009You know what, I’m just going to say it. 2009 was pants.

I mean, some pretty good things happened that year, don’t get me wrong. Apart from anything else, I got a pretty sweet daughter out of it.

But for Doctor Who fans, it wasn’t that great.

After a successful reboot, four years of full seasons of Doctor Who, and unprecedented mainstream popularity and success for the show, suddenly it all looked to be going terribly wrong.

David Tennant, whose star as a popular actor had risen with and greatly supported Doctor Who, was leaving on the grounds of Shakespeare. A whole new audience had come to the show with Tennant, drawn in by his maniacally attractive Doctor, and were grieving his impending loss. For many, it was hard to imagine what Doctor Who would look like without Ten.

It wasn’t a clean break up. Instead, we were introduced to the impending Doctor, the very young and hand-flappy Matt Smith, at New Year and then had a whole 12 months of saying goodbye to David Tennant, one disappointing Special at a time.

Perhaps more concerning, the producer and show runner who had brought Doctor Who back with such success, Julie Gardner and Russell T Davies, were also leaving. Soon. Any day now.

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The Four Villains [WHO-50—2003]

2003Another anniversary, this time the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who – and despite the lack of television adventures, this one was rather better served than back in 1993 – at least, as far as audio fans were concerned!

In 2003, Big Finish had been making Doctor Who audio plays for four years, and were coming up on their 50th in the Main Range.

The previous year, they had left the second season of Eighth Doctor adventures on a cliffhanger in Neverland, with the Doctor possessed by a terrible creature from Gallifreyan folklore, uttering the words: “I… Am… Zagreus!”

This cliffhanger was then not followed up for another year and a half THIS IS THE KIND OF THING BIG FINISH DOES TO US!

Leading up to the 50th title which would of course be titled Zagreus, Big Finish put out three stand-alone plays in the main range which featured each of “their” other Doctors, paired with an iconic villain from the show’s past (and no companions).

All three of these plays, Omega, Davros and Master, featured marvellous performances, and dug deep into the mythology of the show, and particularly with the Doctor’s relationship with the men who could each be described as the dark half of himself. Each also had a teasing reference to Zagreus as a character of myth and nursery rhyme, building on the idea of that being a common mythos.

Oh and thanks to a recent price drop on the first 50 Big Finish Doctor Who plays in the Main Range, you can purchase each of these as downloads for a couple of dollars/pounds. Less than the price of a cup of coffee, anyway.

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All About Evelyn [WHO-50—2000]

2000Ever since Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor met Beatrix Lehmann’s Professor Amelia Rumford in 1978’s The Stones of Blood, Doctor Who fans have been speculating about the potential of an ‘older lady’ companion for the Doctor.

We still have never seen this in the show itself, the closest examples being one off “companions”/guest stars Adelaide Brooke (Lindsey Duncan) and Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) in the 2010 specials.

Big Finish, however, spent their early years experimenting with many of those long-lived fannish wish lists. So, Peri got to wear trousers and talk about botany more often, Mel got entire stories where she didn’t have to scream once (and/or her computer programmer skills were relevant), the Sixth Doctor got a new coat and some manners, we were treated to historical stories and companions aplenty, and everyone who had not yet met the Brigadier got their chance.

Oh, and Dr Evelyn Smythe stepped aboard the TARDIS.

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On My iPod: Memory Boxes, Doctorish Destinies & Blake’s 7 Returns

vienna-thememorybox_cover_mediumI’ve been listening to a LOT of audio plays and podcasts lately, what with all that cleaning for birthday parties, sewing birthday presents, and drowning out my children during the last gasp of the summer holidays.

VIENNA: THE MEMORY BOX is the first story of a new spin off series from Big Finish, featuring bounty hunter and space assassin Vienna Salvatori (played by former DS9 actress Chase Masterton). My first reaction to this series, naturally, was to resent that it was greenlit and written so quickly when SOME OF US have been waiting for the Charley Pollard spin off series FOREVER, but Vienna is a fun, banterific character and I liked this first (standalone) story very much, with its planethopping, space hotels, twisty turny plottiness, and great voice performances.

This particular story revolves around a piece of technology called a ‘memory box’ which allows people to store and conceal layers of memory – an essential tool for those with criminal intent in a galaxy where the police have the ability to scan people’s minds at the scene of a crime. I was impressed with how many different ways this particular gadget was used and abused over the course of the story, making it a tidy piece of science fiction. Plus, adorable space cops. SPACE COPS, PEOPLE!

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Friday Links is Doing Something Right

Apparently the secret to being successful at social media is about promoting other people rather than yourself. Finally, something I’m doing right!

Joss Whedon talks about Much Ado (it’s coming!) and why taking a creative shift can be as good as a holiday!

The AWW Challenge blog has been posting a great series of genre/theme-specific wrap ups of the year’s reviews, including speculative fiction, diversity, romance and erotica, young adult and many more.

Tobias Buckell on Things I Told my Intern (about being a writer)

Tasmanian romance writer Sarah Brabazon talks about life onboard a yacht with her family.

Marianne De Pierres’ space opera series Sentients of Orion is finally being published in the US! She talks about her inspiration for the books here.

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Friday Links is a Little Stir Crazy

As ever, the Hobart Show Weekend has settled on one of our two favourite weather extremes: it’s been chucking it down, and one day into a four day weekend, the children are climbing the walls. Pity me!

A cute reminder from Shakesville of what the original remit of Sesame Street was, and what it continues to do now for generations of children.

Hoyden About Town looks at the media response to the Gillard ‘sexism’ speech, and provides a little context. Funnily enough, not the kind of context we’ve been provided by the mainstream media. Annabel Crabbe, meanwhile, talks about the problematic idea that we are supposed to accept Abbott is either misogynist or stupid, and also that politicians are only just starting to realise that sexism is now considered a negative thing. It’s kind of embarrassing how long our society took to get to this point, you know.

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Two Universes of Angst (Charley Pollard Year 3)

“SEASON 3” (2003)
Only two Doctor and Charley stories were released by Big Finish in 2003, and while they continued into 2004 fairly soon after, I thought I’d look at these two separately because they represented such a massive change to the dynamic of the characters, and because the 2004 stories introduced a new companion.

50. Zagreus
Written By: Alan Barnes & Gary Russell
Starring: Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard)
Interesting Guest Star Alert: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Anneke Wills, Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen, Louise Jamieson, John Leeson, Lalla Ward, Sarah Sutton, Mark Strickson, Nicola Bryant, Bonnie Langford, Sophie Aldred, Caroline Morris, Conrad Westmaas, Maggie Stables, Lisa Bowerman, Stephen Fewell, Robert Jezek, Miles Richardson, Don Warrington.

I found myself arguing with a friend recently that Zagreus could actually be an interesting model for the 50th anniversary Whatever – it takes place entirely in the TARDIS, has a strong focus around the current Doctor and companion, but also makes a place for multiple cameos and small but meaty roles for a huge number of returning Doctor and companion actors.

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Friday Links Will Sell Superheroes To Little Girls

Remember this Shortpacked strip about a little girl called Lucy who loved the character Starfire in the Teen Titans cartoon, and her disgust at the ‘new reader friendly’ comic that rebooted the character in such a sexist and horrendous way?

It’s the page that got me interested in Shortpacked as a comic (I’m currently embarking on my second re-read of the 7 years of toy-selling soap shenanigans and dipping my feet into the associated comics). I am thoroughly addicted to the characters, and while the humour can dip into the tasteless & the occasionally gross, it is balanced out by some great characterisation, a madly diverse cast, and some very sharp and witty exploration of feminist issues in science fiction, comics and toy merchandising.

Lucy is all grown up now, and has just been introduced as a new character in the comic. Here’s her job interview. It makes me happy.

Nisi Shawl writes about steampunk, and her novel-in-progress. Steampunk has come under fire in recent years for its romanticisation of history particularly where it comes to colonial & other racial issues, so it’s always interesting to me to hear of different takes on the genre.

Did I mention that it’s steampunk week at Tor.com? Another great post comes from Lisa Hager, on Queer Cogs: Steampunk, Gender Identity, and Sexuality.

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