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18 February 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Roy Gill, John Dorney, Nev Fountain & Jonathan Morris

RRP: £23.00 (CD) / £20.00 (Download)

Release Date: February 2019

Reviewed by: Chris Swaby for Doctor Who Online


A Spoonful Of Mayhem - By Roy Gill

"In a spot of bother in Victorian London, Missy is forced to take on governess duties.

But she has another scheme in mind, and her charges are simply in the way. She’s going to have to teach the children some rather harsh lessons about getting what you want."

Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated - By John Dorney

"Missy arrives in Tudor England, throwing the plans of another renegade Time Lord into chaos.

King Henry VIII is on the throne, and aliens are stomping through the countryside. Missy just wants to be Queen.

And the Monk? Once he knows who else is on the scene, he’ll be glad just to stay alive…"

The Broken Clock - By Nev Fountain

"Tonight, on Dick Zodiac’s America’s Most Impossible Killers, Detective Joe Lynwood hunts the most impossible killer of his career.

There’s a trail of bodies. Impossible bodies. And Joe has one long night to solve the case.

Luckily, DI Missy Masters from Scotland Yard in England, London, England is here to help…"

The Belly Of The Beast - By Jonathan Morris

"Missy’s scheme nears completion. All she must do is subjugate one little planet and bend the inhabitants to her will. Not too much to ask…

But slaves will keep rebelling. It’s almost as if they don’t want to unearth an ancient artefact to fulfil Missy’s plans for universal domination.

She’ll have to do something about that."

One sentence. A world of possibilities. When these words featured in “The Lie of The Land", it seemed so obvious yet so overlooked, what does The Master do when The Doctor isn’t around? Well, thanks to Big Finish this question has been answered.  

A Spoonful of Mayhem
By Roy Gill

So, to open, Missy is stuck in Victorian England. Punished for a crime she is yet to commit, she is trapped by Mr. Cosmo (her warden) with no TARDIS, no Vortex Manipulator and worst of all? Not being allowed to dispatch anyone who gets in her way. 

On advice from Mr Cosmo, she finds a job. The one you would never expect Missy to take is exactly the job she gains. A nanny. Despite the outfit and umbrella, Mary Poppins she isn’t! Well, she teaches the kids in her charge, but in true Missy fashion, this is a means for her own ends. The kids, as supporting characters are a bit under-realized but perfectly serviceable for the story with a nice bit of conflict thrown in towards the end

Missy’s aims are simple, escape the constraints that have been placed on her. This involves a lot of different steps and missions, which slowly come together in the climax. There is plenty of fun for her to have along the way and Michelle Gomez sounds like she is having a blast reprising this role.

This is a very different Missy we are introduced to in the first episode. She is at her sarcastic and threatening best in the opening scene but if you think that sets the tone for the character in this episode then you may be a bit let down. We get to see a bit of a softer version of Missy, whether this is down to her as a character or the fact she is constrained from being able to seriously hurt others is left pretty ambiguous here.

The story is very well written. It moves along at a good pace without ever feeling padded or that scenes are dragging. There is a good amount of mystery than unravels without ever feeling like there are signposts to how it is going to end, which ties up well with the unpredictable nature of Missy as a character. The only minor quibble that I have is some of the acting of Oliver Clement. There are points when the story reaches the climax and the character is supposed to be scared but you just don’t get that from the vocal performance at all. Added to this, the same character provides narration and although this isn't performed badly, it does take you out of the story and feels a bit unnecessary to the story overall. 

All in all, a very promising start to the box set! 

Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated
By John Dorney

Sticking with a historical theme, the second episode is set in Tudor England. The Meddling Monk, hiding from The Time War and stuck with a broken TARDIS is attempting to alter existing time-lines in the hope of rescue from his fellow Time Lords. Missy, on the other hand, is also stranded, needing a vital piece to fix her Vortex Manipulator. Each knowing a fellow time traveller is at work nearby, they both have designs on obtaining what they need from the other.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with Rufus Hound's incarnation of The Monk in “The Side Of Angels”. I’m glad to say that this episode has redeemed the character somewhat. It still isn't my favourite incarnation but this is a vast improvement. This is entirely down to the dialogue and the way Hound and Gomez bounce off each other. The back and forth at times is a riot and it was a genius move to pair these two together.

The problem this causes for the episode it that, as so much is focused on Missy and the Monk, there isn't much room for an actual threat to be evident. The villains of the piece are the Gramorians, a race of collectors that are looking for significant people throughout the galaxy to vacuum pack for their own personal enjoyment. As such, they barely feature apart from a few brief interludes in the run-up to the climax, and when they do come face to face with Missy and the Monk it ends up being very underwhelming.

Having said that, there was no feeling of disappointment when it finished. The good in this episode far outweighs the bad. Again Missy is far less erratic or psychopathic in this episode and it is nice to see another side of her rather than hitting the same beats that are expected of the character again and again.

A very worthy entry into the series and one I would have no problems sitting through again!

The Broken Clock
By Nev Fountain  

Moving on from the historicals, this episode finds us still on Earth, but back in the present day. Detective Joe Lynwood is facing multiple murders and the toughest and most impossible case of his career to date. Fortunately for him, help is at hand from DI Missy Masters of Scotland Yard…. 

The story is told, mainly in the format of an American true crime T.V show, “Dick Zodiac’s America’s most impossible killers”, so you can expect a lot of narration over the running time. However it isn't as straight forward as it seems and at times the fourth wall is not so much broken as it is smashed, pulverized and turned to dust. 

I found this to be a strange and ambitious entry into the series and unfortunately I don’t think it really works as well as it should have. It takes a while to get going as the first two tracks are told in the format of the aforementioned American T.V style and it really starts to grate after a minute or two. It is so over the top and the initial voice acting from the narrator and cast really starts to jar. I’m aware that this is the angle that they are going for but it just didn’t land for me at all.

The constant interjection of the narrator and how it is linked into the story really feel like it gets in the way of what should be an interesting story and leaves the pacing of the piece a bit all over the place. The pace does pick up a little bit towards the end and once the killer is revealed it does become a lot more interesting, however at this point it all feels too little too late.

Missy is a bit different in this story from the preceding two. The sarcasm and madness are still there but the fun side to her has been toned down and there is not much or her psychopathy on display to make up for that either. This also contributes to the story feeling a bit flat, which is a real shame given the premise promises so much and delivers very little. 

The Belly Of The Beast
By Jonathan Morris 

After three Earthbound stories, finally, we get to see what Missy gets up to when out and about in the rest of the universe. What is it that she is up to? Well surprise, surprise it’s enslavement, subjugation, and scheming. Perfect!

In full control of a planet, she is using the local population to work in the mines in the hope of uncovering an ancient artefact. There is just one small problem, they would rather rebel than suffer. The story rattles along and is probably the most action-packed along with the first episode. Each scene takes you forward and there is not much in the way of lengthy dialogue scenes. The end of the episode leaves Missy on a high and a very intriguing prospect if there is to be a second series. 

This story really brings together the feeling of any number of The Master's grand plans and a healthy dash of every quality from Missy that we have seen from Doctor Who and the other parts of this release. Missy really gets to show off her psychopathy, lack of empathy, sarcasm and just how “Bananas” she can be. It is easily the strongest script for Michelle Gomez to show off her wide range of skills and for any fan of Missy, this will tick every box. 

So, would I recommend this release?

Well, if you’re a fan of Missy then it really is a no brainer, there is plenty of the familiar for fans and a fair touch of new stuff to keep it interesting and non repetitive. If your not the biggest fan of Missy then I would still recommend this based on three out of the four episodes, I think there is enough there to be enjoyed story wise even if you are not enticed by the main draw of Missy.

All I can say is, bring on series two!


Missy - Series One is OUT NOW, priced £23.00 (CD) / £20.00 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


18 February 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Jamie Anderson & Eddie Robson

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: February 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


Black Thursday - By Jamie Anderson

"1902. Deep beneath the Welsh village of Abertysswg, men have worked the black seam for generations. Until the day of the disaster. The day that a blue box from the future materialised inside the mine.... and things would never be the same again."

Power Game - By Eddie Robson

"Welcome to the Incredible Power Game, in which three brave Earthlings enter the Void Pit in search of strange gems to help return the alien Hostess to her home dimension. Today's contestants include Graham, Sadia... and Tegan, an air stewardess from Brisbane!"

It's funny how history can impact upon the present in unexpected ways. Despite an audibly older cast, stories which deal with concepts the 1980s run of TV episodes would never have done, and episode running times that often far outrun the original format’s restrictions, give me a Big Finish Peter Davison story which is but two episodes in length and I find myself nodding: “Yes. This feels right.”

The presence of two-episode-long stories in this era's original run lend the format here an air of authenticity that would be absent for, say, Patrick Troughton’s Doctor. Here though, it fits well and whilst I think the ‘pure historical’ label sometimes ascribed to Black Orchid is wildly misleading, its existence lends the opening story in this release, Black Thursday, extra weight.

Written by semi-regular Big Finish director and sometimes-writer Jamie Anderson, Black Thursday takes us to Wales in the early 20th Century where a mining disaster strikes and the TARDIS crew soon find themselves in the middle of it all, helping save lives where they can, comfort the grieving where they cannot, and, naturally, winding up in trouble.

Kamelion and human emotion are the main focus points in this story, leading to a masterclass performance by Jon Culshaw. This is a script which gives us a man having to perform as a robot speaking in a slightly-off Welsh accent that's still recognisably robotic. It's incredibly impressive: to make his accent here authentically Welsh enough while holding back a little but in a way that doesn't distract is one hell of a task but he pulls it off superbly.

Much of the rest of the cast bring a similar level of depth and skill to their performances, too, with Tim Treloar turning in his strongest outing for Big Finish yet and Lizzie Roper giving an equally impressive showing. Add to this the best script Anderson has written so far and you've a recipe for success.

Oddly enough, its weakest element is also its strongest: Kamelion. His plight is heartfelt and understandable and Anderson writes it well with sympathetic strokes, but it undoubtedly feels rather familiar, being yet another case of ‘Kamelion is overwhelmed by another's emotions / mind and changes as a result’. Coming so soon after the exact same plot point being a fairly big hunk of Devil In The Mist, it really does show up limitations with the robot's plot potential, even if it's executed well as is the case here.

That it pops up again in the very next story only further this sense of familiarity, though writer Eddie Robson keeps it on the back burner and lets the rest of his story do the talking.

If Black Thursday was an intelligent and weighty slice of education that effectively grabbed the heartstrings, then Power Game is an intelligent and light slice of adventure that effectively tickles the funnybone.

Set in York in the 1980s, Power Game tells of a television series that mysteriously appears in the middle of scheduled transmissions, much to the bemusement and confusion of the TV schedulers but the joy of a local Science Fiction and Fantasy group. Anyone who has watched television shows such as The Adventure Game or, to a certain extent, Knightmare will recognise this story's use of early computerised effects, contestant interaction and gameplay, and come away smiling. It uses nostalgia well, but better still it doesn't just rely on that to woo the audience but has a strong script with well-realised characters to back it up: Ready Player One this (thank god) is not.

As before, the cast are more than up to matching the high quality with Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson in particular turning in fantastic performances. Match this with a delightfully amusing script (Robson writes for the regular cast brilliantly) and you've one of the most enjoyable hours Big Finish have given us for a while now.

Kamelion may be at once the weak link and focal point / highlight of a good portion of this release (a contradiction I'm still wrapping my head around) but this release of two halves does not waiver in quality.

A story featuring the prominent use of early BBC Micro computer graphics? One about miners? This release has “The Eighties” tattooed upon its chest and it's only a surprise that Big Finish have not gone down this road before.

How utterly delightful that they have done now with such a strong release.


+ Black Thursday / Power Game is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


15 February 2019

Doctor Who fans will soon be able to step inside a virtual reality version of the TARDIS, in an upcoming immersive VR film based on the beloved series called Doctor Who: The Runaway. Jodie Whittaker reprises her role as the Doctor in animated form in the interactive story, which will run for around 12 minutes and will be available on selected VR headsets in the coming months.

Viewers will join the Thirteenth Doctor on board the TARDIS in this animated interactive story from the BBC and Passion Animation Studios. Fans will get the chance to be the Doctor's champion and help her on this exciting adventure, as they find themselves at the centre of the action facing a deadly threat.

Jo Pearce, creative director for the BBC's digital drama team, said:

“Fans will experience the TARDIS like never before in this thrilling new interactive story. As ever, the Doctor is full of warmth, wit and charm – helped by a wonderful performance from Jodie – which puts fans at the heart of the story as they immerse themselves in this beautifully animated world.” 

Zillah Watson, head of BBC VR Hub, said:

“Our team at the BBC VR Hub has been creating new experiences with the goal of helping to usher virtual reality into the mainstream, and Doctor Who is exactly the sort of series that can help more people to try this new technology. The show has been pushing boundaries for over 55 years, and VR enables Doctor Who to explore a whole new dimension of storytelling.” 

Featuring new original music from series composer Segun Akinola, Doctor Who: The Runaway has been written by Victoria Asare-Archer and directed by Mathias Chelebourg, whose previous VR films include Alice, the Virtual Reality Play and The Real Thing VR. It has been produced by the BBC’s digital drama team, BBC VR Hub and Passion Animation Studios

[Source: BBC Publicity]

24 January 2019

Stage and screen star Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, BBC1; Doctor Who, BBC1; The Madness of George III, Nottingham Playhouse; The League of Gentlemen, BBC Two and UK tour) will be lending his voice to the part of Kosley, a hysterical talking computer, in the world premiere of Dark Sublime.

Gatiss joins the previously announced Martina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) who will be making her West End debut.

Gatiss comments:

"I'm delighted to be a small part of Michael Dennis' delightful, funny and touching play. All lovers of telefantasy and beyond will have their ribs tickled, their minds probed and their spurious morality catheterised (or something). Puny humans, prepare yourselves for the Dark Sublime!"

Directed by Andrew Keates (As Is and Dessa RoseTrafalgar Studios), Dark Sublime explores the complexities of relationships, especially in the LGBTQ community, and the contrast in lived experiences across generations.

This thrilling debut play by Michael Dennis is a theatrical love-letter to British sci-fi television which examines the feeling of belonging that comes with finding your place among the outcasts.

Further casting will be announced in April 2019.

[Source: Chloe Nelkin Consulting]


24 January 2019

The award-winning actor David Tennant will launch his brand new interview podcast ‘David Tennant Does A Podcast With...’ on January 28th.

Promising intimate and in-depth conversations with some of the biggest names in film, television and politics, the podcast’s first special guest will be Olivia Colman. The interview comes ahead of an award season in which Colman is nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars and the BAFTAs for her role as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ critically acclaimed ‘The Favourite’.

Future episodes will see Tennant welcome a diverse selection of influential names including Whoopi Goldberg, Sir Ian McKellen, Jon Hamm, the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Michael Sheen, Krysten Ritter and Samantha Bee. Doctor Who fans will also be excited to hear that Tennant will host the current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, in the coming weeks. More names will also be announced imminently.   

Recorded in London, Los Angeles and New York, new episodes of ‘David Tennant Does A Podcast With...’ will be released every Tuesday on Acast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all good podcast providers. It was produced by Somethin’ Else’s podcast division, Sound Directions, in collaboration with David Tennant’s No Mystery and is hosted by Acast. 

Steve Ackerman, managing director of Somethin’ Else said: 

“This is an interview podcast series like no other. David is chatting with stars who he knows and who know him and the resulting intimate conversation is compelling.”

+ SUBSCRIBE to 'David Tennant Does A Podcast With...', here!
+ FOLLOW @DavidTennantPod on Twitterhere

[Source: Acast]


22 January 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Cavan Scott

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: January 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"The TARDIS deposits the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and their android ally Kamelion aboard a prison ship. A ship with just one prisoner: Nustanu, last warlord of the Zamglitti – monstrous, mind-bending mimics able to turn themselves into mist.

A ship that's in trouble, and about to make a crash-landing...

On a planet of mists."

With Doctor Who having as many stories under its belt as it does, it’s unsurprising that at times the show wishes to celebrate this. Done well, a brief nod or wink to the past can be amusing and encourage people new to the show to dip into the past. Done badly, it can be off-putting, make the series feel like it is tailor-made for a small audience, and give characters the strange habit of not being able to walk five metres without referencing a former adventure.

Big Finish have historically veered between the two, sometimes in the same scene, and their reputation at times can be of pandering too much to the sort of fan who thinks simply name-checking Vardans makes for a good story, no plot required. The trouble with this attitude is that it means genuinely good nods to the past can perhaps be overshadowed: cue Kamelion.

Kamelion is oft-forgotten, not least by the TV series itself. Almost impossible to operate, superfluous to requirements and absent for months on end, the poor android was pretty much done and dusted as soon as he had set foot upon the good ship TARDIS (I’m using the male pronoun here: if it’s good enough for the character’s new voice artist, Jon Culshaw, then it’s good enough for me). There was potential there though: a shape-shifting companion with the ability to have its mind controlled by outside influences!

The trouble is, the two stories in which he appeared (no, I’m not counting Androzani) show this potential off and so one if left to wonder what else there is to be done with the android. Devil In The Mist by Cavan Scott does not really put those fears to rest, but it does show that there is some exploration to be had with the relationship between bot and human, even if it is largely resolved by the end of things. (It also has a lovely cover, which shows off how gorgeous the android’s design was if nothing else.)

The story starts with a very wary Tegan. Kamelion has links far too close to the Master in her eyes and when he is apparently caught tampering with the ship, her fears appear to be confirmed and she sees red. It’s this fractious relationship between the pair (Tegan angry, Kamelion unable to solve this problem) that forms the crux of the emotional heart of this four-part adventure, and adventure is very much the right word. We’ve crashing spaceships, rivers to cross, a jungle to explore, and secrets to happen upon and the running time does tick on nicely enough. Throw in some space hippos (Scott’s own creations, the Harrigain, who have popped up across media now) and ne’er-do-wells and you’ve something that feels like it’s taken a shot of adrenaline before breakfast.

The regular cast are more than up to the game. Mark Strickson remains thoroughly underrated as Turlough and Janet Fielding is as brilliant as ever. Culshaw, meanwhile, fits into Kamelion’s shoes with utter ease. If anyone has been dipping into the Target audiobook range, they’ll know already how soothing and gorgeous his voice can be on the ears and there’s no change here. He could read the phone book and I’d be content.

I mentioned earlier that not much new is really done with Kamelion though, and I stand by that. There is a nice exploration of companion dynamics (Tegan’s slipped confession that she still feels uneasy around Turlough is beautifully done) but does this story really show the need for Kamelion’s return? I’m not sure it does. (I’m also not sure having one of the story’s cliffhangers revolving around a boat accident is in especially great taste given the tragic death of the android’s original operator. I am 100% sure it’s just a nasty co-incidence but even so, I did wince a little.)

Adventure aside, the script itself passes the time nicely but I can’t say it made much of an impression. Think of this as a blockbuster popcorn movie: the sort you watch with half a mind elsewhere whilst grazing and forget much of the plot hours down the line. That’s not a criticism of the genre at all: sometimes that sort of entertainment is necessary and I’d take it over being bored. I definitely wasn’t clock-watching during this outing, but give me a few months and I am not sure I will be able to regale you with many specifics about it.

Kamelion is now due for a further two stories, and I am more curious than anything else. Will we see the potential hitherto untapped? I do not know, but I am confident that they’ll give it a good go. As a starting block Devil In The Mist is not bad, even if it is not an especially convincing argument for a need for more outings for the character. Perhaps with some of the dramatic tension now eased we’ll see what could have been, with a happier Tegan, a busier TARDIS and a calmer Kamelion.

And if you can’t end a review on a terrible Culture Club joke when talking about a creation from the 1980s, when can you?


+ Devil In The Mist is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


21 January 2019

BBC Books have sent DWO the cover and details for the hardback edition of the classic series adventure; 'Revelation Of The Daleks' - the first time the story has been released in book form!

After the success of the new-era Target novelisations in 2018, which included books by Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, BBC Books are proud to announce the publication of Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, novelisations of two iconic Doctor Who adventures by Eric Saward, one of the show’s longest serving script editors.


Written by Saward himself, these novels are the only two classic-era Doctor Who adventures yet to be novelised, and their publication more than three decades after their first TV transmission will fill a long-held gap in fans’ collections the world over.


Product Synopsis:

 

"Beware the hands that heal... The Doctor and Peri land on the planet Necros to visit the funerary home Tranquil Repose – where the dead are interred and the near-dead placed in suspended animation until such time as their conditions can be cured.

 

But the Great Healer of Tranquil Repose is far from benign. Under his command, Daleks guard the catacombs where sickening experiments are conducted on human bodies. The new life he offers the dying comes at a terrible cost – and the Doctor and Peri are being lured into a trap that will change them forever."

 

+  Revelation Of The Daleks is released on 14th November 2019, priced £12.99 (Hardback).
+  PREORDER this title on Amazon.co.uk

 

[Source: BBC Books]

21 January 2019

BBC Books have sent DWO the cover and details for the hardback edition of the classic series adventure; 'Resurrection Of The Daleks' - the first time the story has been released in book form!

After the success of the new-era Target novelisations in 2018, which included books by Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, BBC Books are proud to announce the publication of Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, novelisations of two iconic Doctor Who adventures by Eric Saward, one of the show’s longest serving script editors.


Written by Saward himself, these novels are the only two classic-era Doctor Who adventures yet to be novelised, and their publication more than three decades after their first TV transmission will fill a long-held gap in fans’ collections the world over.


Product Synopsis:

 

"The universe is at war. Action takes courage... The TARDIS is ensnared in a time corridor, catapulting it into derelict docklands on 20th century Earth. The Doctor and his companions, Tegan and Turlough, stumble on a warehouse harbouring fugitives from the future at the far end of the corridor – and are soon under attack from a Dalek assault force.

      

The Doctor’s oldest enemies have set in motion an intricate and sinister plot to resurrect their race from the ashes of an interstellar war. For the Daleks’ plans to succeed, they must set free their creator, Davros, from a galactic prison – and force the Doctor to help them achieve total control over time and space. But the embittered Davros has ideas of his own..."

 

+  Resurrection Of The Daleks is released on 18th July 2019, priced £12.99 (Hardback).
+  PREORDER this title on Amazon.co.uk

 

[Source: BBC Books]

14 January 2019

Following the recent popularity of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The League of Gentlemen releases on vinyl, Demon Music Group presents The Daleks’ Master Plan, a narrated full-cast TV soundtrack adventure. Starring William Hartnell as the First Doctor, in a battle against his arch- enemies, the vinyl will be released on 15th February 2019 and is now available for preorder. RRP £99.99.

Ben Stanley, Head of Product & Marketing, Demon Music Group, said:

"We’re very excited about the first release in our ‘Vinyl Who’ collection - it’s a new way for fans to discover lost episodes of Classic Doctor Who."

Two versions of the set will be available to purchase: 

-  Standard edition: 7LP x 12” Heavyweight Translucent Blue

-  Amazon exclusive edition (limited to 1000 units): 7LP x 12” Heavyweight Splatter Viny

In this classic 12 part ‘lost’ adventure, first shown on TV from October 1965 to January 1966, the Daleks threaten to destroy the fabric of time itself. In their quest to control the Solar System, they have taken possession of the devastating Time Destructor. Determined to stop them, the Doctor steals the core of the weapon before he and his friends are pursued across time and space by his ruthless, powerful nemeses.

From the eerie sonics of Ron Grainer & Delia Derbyshire’s original theme tune and the familiar ‘wheezing, groaning’ of the TARDIS, to soundscapes illustrating the jungles of Kembel and alien spacecraft, the story is brought to life by the unique sounds produced by the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop .

Written by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner, this is the longest single Doctor Who adventure ever made for television. Linking narration is provided by Peter Purves (Steven) and the cast includes Kevin Stoney as Mavic Chen, Nicholas Courtney as Bret Vyon, Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom and Peter Butterworth as the Meddling Monk. The film recordings of all but three episodes of this story are lost from the BBC archives.

The prelude episode Mission to the Unknown is presented on its own single-sided disc with a unique Dalek (exclusive edition) or TARDIS (standard edition) etched reverse.

+  The Daleks' Master Plan is released on 15th February 2019, priced £99.99.

+  PREORDER the standard edition on Amazon.co.uk!

+  PREORDER the exclusive edition on Amazon.co.uk!

 

[Source: BBC Studios]

14 January 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: AK Benedict

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: December 2018

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"The Doctor arrives in present day Iceland and receives a frosty reception from Inspector Yrsa Kristjansdottir when he becomes the chief suspect in a murder enquiry. But the Doctor knows that the real killer is of extraterrestrial origin.

Joining forces with Yrsa, the Doctor goes in pursuit of a ruthless alien that is hunting humans for sport. Yrsa unearths a dark conspiracy which reaches back into her own past.

Determined to expose the truth and prevent further deaths, the Doctor and Yrsa soon find themselves running for their lives, prey on the hunting ground."

2018 ends in the snow for Big Finish. The wolves are running, but it’s Colin Baker and not Patrick Troughton taking centre stage for this tale of hunting, police procedure and cover-ups. Plus aliens and robots, because what's Doctor Who without a nasty monster waiting in the wings every so often? Dull, that’s what.

Things get off to a pleasingly disorientating start with a child’s bedtime story interrupted by screaming and pleading and roaring, all before the theme tune kicks in. We’re soon introduced to Inspector Yrsa Kristjansdottir and placed in the middle of a murder investigation that smells of Forbrydelsen, to the point where I kept expecting Sarah Lund to turn up in one of her trademark cosy jumpers. Again, it’s a pleasingly Doctor Who thing where you have something so familiar interrupted by the Doctor and alien activity and that’s exactly what we get. Chuck in a singing printer and unusual wolves, and you have an entertaining start to the adventure.

Despite all this good work though, the play throughout feels like it lacks a certain something. The ingredients for something wonderful are all there and the story continues to throw such things at us, from hidden spaceships to bickering bureaucrats, to car crashes to traitors, but the glue holding all these things together is web-thin. Doctor Who meeting Scandinavian crime drama is a nice idea, in theory, but there is a notable disconnect between these elements in The Hunting Ground, to the extent that it feels like the two genres are fighting for the spotlight and as a result they both feel a tad undercooked.

It’s a shame as, as noted above, there is much to praise in AK Benedict’s script. I enjoyed her crack at the Eleventh Doctor in The Calendar Man, and there is a similar blend of fairytale with normality here, too. Unlike there though, again these two things sometimes work against one another.

I really like the approach taken towards what is often dismissed as supernatural and ‘other’ in this play. People speak of elves and trolls with a shrug, as if they’re nothing out of the ordinary, which is at once unusual and refreshing. It feels like a nice and respectful blend of traditional Icelandic folklore and the show’s existing mythology, but this lack of wonder at the ‘other’ sadly bleeds over to elsewhere.

I can understand the natural extension of the police accepting magic folk so therefore not finding it a great stretch to accept that the Doctor is an alien and that alien activity may be involved with the murder case. I see, too, why this may have crossed the mind of Yrsa Kristjansdottir before, seeing as her father died in similarly unusual circumstances. However, she is then almost roundly unimpressed and surprised as time travel, alien hunters and robots all announce themselves and as such it’s a bit hard for the listener to be enthused or excited.

And then we have the very ending which hints that Yrsa may be about to become a new companion of the Sixth Doctor. I actually let out a small groan at this point as it just feels so ordinary and expected and, again, underwhelming. They’ve tried to pull off the ‘Sixth Doctor and an unexpected companion!’ trick once already in 2018, in the truly terrible release The Lure Of The Nomad, so by now it’s like a bad joke. Whether Yrsa does make it aboard the TARDIS or not seems unclear for now, but the door is open so I suspect it will be but time. I can’t say I am counting down the days.

The Hunting Ground, then...  It’s a strange story with much to praise and celebrate, but it’s also one that feels disjointed and lacking. It’s a bit of a damp end to 2018’s monthly releases from Big Finish, but perhaps you can exaggerate the peaks and troughs here to make a good symbol for how the main range has been this year: some terrific highs and some perilous lows.

I hope that 2019 provides us with a bit more consistency. More monsters and fewer people shrugging off the wonderful. A bit less of the predictable and a bit more of the surprising. We shall see. For now, let’s look at the good here and hope it’s built upon After all, what is a new year if not a chance to reflect upon the good and bad and vow to do better?


+ The Hunting Ground is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


14 January 2019

Publisher: World Castle Publishing

Written By: Colin Sinclair

RRP: £17.99 (Hardback) / £9.05 (Paperback) / £3.01 (Kindle)

Release Date: 23rd June 2018

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 14th January 2019

Every month we get sent a large number of books to review - so many, in fact, that we can't get through them all. We've actually become a little guilty of judging a book by its cover, but in Colin Sinclair's case, we're glad we did... his book 'Elji And The Galrass' has a striking cover that instantly called to us, and what lay within was nothing short of a pure joy to read.

"Elji, a boy from a village outside the city of Mehem discovers a "Galrass" a tool usually wielded only by those who understand its power. Perhaps it was left for him to find or perhaps it was just a random happening?

The Galrass embroils him in a struggle he never expected to be part of or even imagined existed. Dregar, a being from a different planet and galaxy ‘feels’ the boys interruption of the universal essence and takes him under his wing and so his journey begins.

Friendships are made and lost and many lives must be put in danger to usher the civilization into its rightful place among the Universal essence. Will Elji fulfill his potential and help save his world or will it fall into darkness?"

Elji And The Galrass is epic fantasy adventure at its best, and really takes the reader on a breathtaking journey - not only through its richly detailed locations, but for the characters within. On top of all that, there are some important messages and morals for the reader to take home, and Sinclair seamlessly embroiders his good nature and true heart throughout this tale.

There is an incredible attention to detail, from floral fountains to fire pits, Sinclair evokes sights, sounds and smells in such clarity that he not only ensnares your imagination, but your senses too. In fact, I've never read a book that has been able to do this quite so effectively, before.

The topography of the book is also to be marvelled; one minute you are peering out the shutters of a room, overlooking bustling streets, and the next you are navigating a mountain range, or a desert. Again, this further adds to the feeling of having travelled far and wide, and when you're done reading, you almost feel out of breath.

Elji And The Galrass was easy to read thanks to its short chapters and attention-grabbing storyline. It never felt weary, and you almost always end up reading more than you planned to.

I eagerly await the sequel, and will be pestering the author until its release. Fantastic!

+  Elji And The Galrass is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow Colin Sinclair on Twitter.

14 January 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Paul Magrs

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: December 2018

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Oooh la la! It's been a long time coming, but the Doctor is about to be reunited with Iris Wildthyme! They're both in 1920s Paris and everyone's flocking to Iris's salon.

But wait...! What's that noise..? Thud thud thud...! It's the soft, approaching feet of a small and acerbic Art Critic Panda...!"

December 2018 for Big Finish’s main range of Doctor Who plays gives us two Winter treats. With Colin Baker in The Hunting Ground, we’ve snow and isolation and wolves a-running, whereas with Muse of Fire we’ve something with a far lighter, end-of-term feel.

The play gets off to a very good start, bursting in with the full edit of the Sylvester McCoy opening theme tune instead of the truncated version Big Finish usually use. It’s a small thing, but it grabs your attention immediately and suggests an attention to period detail… that is almost immediately kicked to the curb for pandas, nude modelling and a bus bound for Putney Common via the Multiverse.

Yes, Iris Wildthyme is back in all her glory and wild eccentricity and Muse of Fire takes that as its lead. The play is set in Paris in the 1920s, a time of artists and poetry and creativity and - but of course - alien ne’er-do-wells. It’s a fun setting that fits Iris well and also the Doctor, not to mention Panda, whose art criticism is sending waves rippling through the city and perverting the known course of history.

Now, I’ve heard some grumbles about Ms Wildthyme in the past; people claiming she should be confined to spin-off media and her own series instead of lumped in with the good ship TARDIS, irrespective of her roots (discounting the Phoenix Court Iris, that is). These same voices will hold up the charge of silliness, idiosyncratic writing and everything being a bit over the top: to which I say, go for it.

Give me an authorial voice that has purpose and drive (and love him or no, Paul Magrs’ writing certainly does when given freedom as is the case here). Give me over-the-top action (seriously, have people never seen the show?)

And as for silliness? Yes please. I said earlier that this play is lighter, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s lightness with a wink and a breath in its lungs, in a script with depth and heart and weight amid the silliness: and oh! How glorious it is to be silly sometimes. Doctor Who is often at its best when it’s smiling and Muse of Fire is worth grinning over.

I noted depth a moment ago, because this play has it in spades. It’s a sincere and sweet look at artistic integrity and feeling valueless when surrounded by others more successful than yourself. It’s a search for validity in your work and voice, and a sombre warning to not let that make you blind to the love of others who aren’t possessive of an artistic mindset. That it has that weight and also a cybernetic panda is about as Doctor Who as you can possibly get. Plus, Hex gets his kit off, which will get a lot of fan approval from certain quarters.

There are fingers one could point if one was minded to. The disposal of the big bad near the end feels rushed, for example, and the final line feels a bit like there is meant to be a musical swirl or follow-up sentence after it; the end theme tune coming in surprises the listener a little. But frankly, I don’t care.

This is a fun play to listen to and everyone, from Magrs to the cast, to Jamie Anderson directing, all seem to be having a lot of fun. Indeed, McCoy is full of enthusiasm in the extras for this release and that’s lovely to hear. Hopefully it’ll encourage more intelligent nonsense: and I mean that in the most loving way possible. Let’s hope that the flame lit by this muse of fire keeps on burning for a while yet and inspires more of this quality down the line.


+ Muse Of Fire is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


11 January 2019

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Mark J.G. Fahey

RRP: £8.00 (Paperback) / £7.19 (Kindle) / $11.95 (Paperback) / $9.15 (Kindle)

Release Date: 25th January 2016

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 11th January 2019

Imagine if Halley's Comet wasn't really a comet...but an intergalactic Casino! In that one sentence you get a taste of the bonkers but brilliant mind of Mark J.G. Fahey!

Set in 1986 (a time period experiencing renewed exposure in current pop culture) Halley's Casino follows the adventure of Nebula (Neb) Yorker; a 26-year old stargazer who's life is about to be turned upside down as the comet he has been waiting for turns out to be something very different indeed...

Thus heralds the beginning of a whirlwind adventure, with a clever use of time travel and well-researched historical side-steps.

If you're a fan of Douglas Adams' work, then Fahey is rooted very close to Adams' sense of humour and sheer inventiveness with rich, crazy storylines and characters. Humour is laced throughout the story, and it's better for it - not just the odd laugh, but well-paced, timed and intelligently placed humour.

There are some particularly long chapters in Halley's Casino - in most cases the reader would be flicking forward to see a suitable pause point, but such is Fahey's writing and momentum, that time seems to literally stand still whilst you're reading it.

With cult references a-plenty, including Star Trek and...yes...even Doctor Who, there are many, many moments within that will have you knowingly smiling or chuckling away at them.

Fahey has crafted a rich and vibrant story and we genuinely cannot wait to read the sequel!

+  Halley's Casino is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com!
+  Follow Mark J.G. Fahey on Twitter.

7 January 2019

It is with deepest regret that DWO announces the passing of New Series Doctor Who Actor, W. Morgan Sheppard.

W. Morgan Sheppard featured in the opening episode of Series 6 ('The Impossible Astronaut') as Canton Delaware III. His real-life son (Mark Sheppard) played the younger version of the character in the series.

It may surprise some fans to learn that he (along with his son) was actually born and raised in London, England. Both actors nailed the American accent for Doctor Who!

W. Morgan's long career includes the following credits; Z Cars, Shogun, Max Headroom, Star Trek (Movie & TV series) & Biker Mice From Mars (to name just a few).

DWO would like to extend our sympathies to W. Morgan's family and friends.

[Source: DWO]

4 January 2019

2018 was an incredibly exciting year for Doctor Who; we got our first female 'Doctor' - something that would change the history of the show, and take it into a new, exciting direction. Having now seen the entirety of Series 11 and the New Year's Day Special ('Resolution'), we are thrilled with Jodie and her awesome TARDIS team. It's just such a shame we now have to wait a whole other year until the next series. :( - I guess, though, when you really think about it, it's actually not that much of an extended wait than we're used to. The Christmas special was the only thing that really broke up the wait between series, and what makes it feel longer is the fact that 2020 - a year which, to many of us, still feels like a futuristic SciFi movie setting - is one whole year away from us, at the time of writing.

Of course, 2018 also brought with it some other key Doctor Who moments; Doctor Who On Twitch was a particular revelation, and with it saw some fantastic memes and personalities that emerged as a result. In case you missed it, we got confirmation yesterday that another Twitch run will begin as of tomorrow!

There was also the release of some terrific Doctor Who merchandise; a new sonic, new toys, clothing - and the long-awaited release of Classic Who box-sets on Blu-ray.

As for the DWO site, we are now in our 22nd year (crazy, I know?!), and we have lots of exciting things planned in this (slightly quieter) year. We are planning a full site revamp, and the return of a few features that many of you will consider to be some old favourites. Our Forums continue to grow, with over 49,000+ members - again, we will be unveiling some design tweaks on there, as well as some new guests for our popular 'Ask & Answer' section.

On social media, DWO continues to amass a large Twitter following (@DrWhoOnline); we now have over 130,000+ followers, and we plan on some exciting new content and interactivity on the platform during 2019.

In a recent tweet, we asked you to tell us some of your favourite moments / memories & merchandise during 2018, and, as promised, here are some of your replies:

As always, thank you all for your continued support of Doctor Who Online! It's hard work - especially as I also juggle it with taking care of my young family, but reading your emails and tweets is a genuine highlight of my day.

I posted a blog entry last year about some health issues, which impacted some of the regular updates on the site, and whilst I'm still getting through these, I can confirm that things are much better, and shouldn't affect the regularity of updates going forward.

I'd like to wish you all a very Happy New Year and am very much looking forward to what 2019 has in store! 

Sebastian J. Brook - Site Editor
Doctor Who Online
January 2019

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+ Join the DWO Forums!
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[Source:
DWO]

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