Tag Archives: tegan

Playing Dress Ups in Black Orchid [WHO-50—1982]

1982It constantly surprises me how few people love Black Orchid. Yes, the plot is thin, and it relies on some very problematic disability/racial/colonialist/gender tropes from the time period it is set in. But – oh. It’s Doctor Who in the 1920’s! It’s a tiny slice of a murder mystery romp with cricket on the village green, cocktails and the Charleston.

And, I’ll admit, a big part of the reason I have an affection for it is because the TARDIS crew gets to dress up. I really am that shallow.

The opening is one of my favourites – in a clever bit of timing, the TARDIS arrives on the railway platform a moment after a train has come through. As the crew wander around the station, they are met by a chauffeur who has come to bring ‘the Doctor’ to play cricket on the village green. It’s one of those odd coincidences that the TARDIS does rather enjoy, doesn’t she?

Thanks to the Doctor’s topping performance on the cricket pitch, and Nyssa’s odd similarity to the daughter of the house, Ann Talbot, they are all invited back into the home of the Cranleighs, only to become enmeshed in a costume ball and a sinister mystery…

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Big Finish in (the second quarter of) 2012

Yes, I listened to most of these in the last fortnight. Because reasons.


The Emerald Tiger (main range)

The new range of Fifth Doctor plays with Tegan, Turlough and an older post-Terminus Nyssa are the ones I associate most closely with my transition from occasional listener to serious subscriber. Which is odd because while I have enjoyed them and what they had to offer, I haven’t adored them with the fierce passions I feel for the plays featuring Seven-Ace-Hex or Eight-Charley, Eight-Lucie, Six-Charley, Six-Evelyn and Five-Peri-Erimem. Instead, I’ve viewed them more as an intellectual enjoyment, revisiting one of “my” classic periods of the show.

Not so with this latest (the third) trio of this particular TARDIS team. I adored all three plays, enjoying the characters and their interactions, and the excellent, excellent scripts. Sure, Janet Fielding is still dialling up the ocker about 3 notches too high compared to her 80’s accent, but she’s still putting in a more restrained performance than either Old Tom or Paul Darrow in the Blake’s 7s, so I’m going to give her a pass on that.

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Half A Year of Big Finish

Big Finish has a huge back catalogue of plays – more than 12 years worth – and it’s hard for people to know how and where to jump on board. I recently discovered the Little Finish podcast, which is great, but probably of limited value to casual listeners, as they review that month’s plays, spoilers and all. If you’re not keeping up with the latest ones, you’re likely to not get much out of it, which is a shame because it’s a very fun podcast! Anyone wanting to check it out might want to pick the Nicholas Courtney memorial episode, which reviews every Courtney appearance in Big Finish, and has some lovely recommendations and clips.

Anyway, in listening to Little Finish I came to the (not overly shocking) realisation that I actually am one of those listeners now – I subscribe to multiple streams of plays, and have caught up so substantially that I’m in a pretty good position to review, say, the Doctor Who releases for the entire first half of this year.

So here we go!

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On my iPod: Cobwebs and Martians

I continue to have a void in my life after catching up with all 200+ episodes of Radio Free Skaro. Most of my favourite podcasts come out in a group round about Monday, and I try hard to make them last, but they don’t, and there is nothing more sad than an emptying iPod. I have been turning back to Big Finish plays to fill the gaps, dipping into my recent haul of these, and hoping I can eke them out because I am determined to not make any more purchases before Aussiecon.

Invaders of Mars (2002) was a bit diappointing, but that may be because I had built it up so much in my head over the last eight years as one I REALLY REALLY wanted to listen to. I loved the premise – aliens invade on the night Orson Welles makes his historic Halloween spoof broadcast of the War of the Worlds – and it has two of my favourite performers of all time in it, Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson.

What I didn’t take into account was that in order to be set in the right time period for Orson Welles, the story had to be based in the US in the 1930’s. Which meant… accents. Dodgy Brits-doing-B-movie-American accents. With a Russian spy thrown in for good measure. Yes, it was shades of Daleks in Manhattan all over again, plus I couldn’t even tell which ones were Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson!

On the other hand the Eighth Doctor and Charley were being awesome, and there were all these cute Orson Welles bits, and by the time the last couple of episodes kicked into gear, I was really enjoying it. I particularly loved the Doctor’s delight at getting to perform some of the scenes in the broadcast of War of the Worlds, once the two storylines collided. But yes. I had to overcome a lot to get to that point.

Cobwebs is a far more recent release – in fact, it was only released this month! Big Finish cleverly had the first episode available as a free download at the same time as their mega First Fifty sale, and then of course I had to get the rest of them, didn’t I? I have to say, I rather like the system BF has for its downloads – you can usually buy the first episode for about $1.50 Australian, and then can purchase the other three episodes by paying the remainder of the price for the full story. While it’s not a discount, it does give you the chance to see if you like the story or not.

Anyway, this story is rather cool because it’s the first time that they have been able to reunite the full TARDIS crew of Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough. Janet Fielding has been notoriously reluctant to return to her role, and only recently realised that by doing so she was limiting what the others could do and chose to come back out of charity! It’s ironic that I got rather excited by this story, as I was never a fan of Tegan (she whined too much and gave Australians a bad name!) though I did adore much of the Peter Davison era. I find that I am able to appreciate Tegan a lot more now than I did when I was younger. I think I’d complain too if I was chucked into some of the situations she was!

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