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11 December 2017

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writers: John Dorney, Guy Adams & Matt Fitton

RRP: £35.00 (CD) / £25.00 (Download)

Release Date: November 2017

Reviewed by: Beth Axford for Doctor Who Online


2.1 Infamy of the Zaross by John Dorney

"When Jackie Tyler takes an away day to visit her old friend Marge in Norwich, she finds her holiday immediately interrupted in the worst way possible - an alien invasion! The infamous Zaross have come to take over the Earth. Or have they? After Jackie calls in the Doctor and Rose to deal with the menace, it soon becomes clear that this is a very unusual invasion indeed. The Doctor is about to uncover one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the galaxy. And if he can't stop it an awful lot of people are going to die."

2.2 The Sword of the Chevalier by Guy Adams

"1791 and the Doctor and Rose get to meet one of the most enigmatic, thrilling and important people in history: The Chevalier d’Eon. She used to be known as a spy, but then she used to be known as a lot of things. If there’s one thing the Doctor knows it’s that identity is what you make it. Choose a life for yourself and be proud. Mind you, if the Consortium of the Obsidian Asp get their way, all lives may soon be over..."

2.3 Cold Vengeance by Matt Fitton

"The TARDIS arrives on Coldstar, a vast freezer satellite, packed with supplies to feed a colony world. But there are cracks in the ice, and something scuttles under the floors. Soon, Rose and the Doctor encounter robots, space pirates and... refuse collectors. As Coldstar's tunnels begin to melt, an even greater threat stirs within. An old enemy of the Doctor puts a plan into action - a plan for retribution. Nobody's vengeance is colder than an Ice Warrior's."

Infamy Of The Zaross

John Dorney pulls Doctor Who straight out of 2006 and brings us an absolute nostalgia fest of fun in Infamy Of The Zaross. The long-awaited return of one of the most popular duos in Doctor Who history was always going to be hard to recreate, but he hits the nail on the head perfectly. Light hearted, human and adventure galore, it's exactly the kind of story that made us fall in love with the Tenth Doctor and Rose in the first place!

As well as our beloved pair returning, Doctor Who’s best-loved mother is back to save the day with her daughter. A genius move for this story, Camille Coduri falls right back into her character with ease, bouncing off the rest of the cast brilliantly. She even gets a shining moment in space, making us fall in love with her even more.

And for what is one of the most anticipated returns in Doctor Who history, Billie Piper most certainly delivers. After some worry that she may not be able to pull off her characters iconic voice 12 years later, our minds are put to rest within just a few minutes of the episode. Her and David could have recorded this all those years ago for all we know - it fits that well. And his Doctor doesn’t disappoint either, bringing the enemy down with ease and saving the earth once more.

The story itself features one of the more…stranger alien invasions. Norwich is taken over by the villainous Zaross, and the reason why is even more disturbing. Once the plan is eventually revealed, you can’t help but wonder how such an original, exciting plot hasn’t been written into the show before. The adventure ends with a brilliant moment between Rose Tyler and some family friends, and a speech that resonates with people of all ages. The messages behind the dialogue and plot are key to this episode and is exactly how Doctor Who should be; leaving a warm, fuzzy feeling in our hearts.

Overall this story is an exact replication of the 2006 Doctor Who series we all know and love, bringing our favourite characters back to life and creating a memorable adventure for them. There’s even a reference to a certain organisation that crops up a lot in series two… you know the one we mean!

Sword Of The Chevalier

The second part of The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume Two kicks off in another iconic British location: Slough. In 1791. The Doctor and Rose meet The Chevalier D’Eon who according to The Doctor, was an ex-spy born male now living their life as a woman, or something. Probably. What’s important is that right now, she’s a woman. ‘She’s amazing!’ Utters Rose, and we agree. Challenging The Doctor to a sword fight, we get a brilliant sense of this historic character and what they stand for, and over the course of the story, they prove that the legends are correct.

David and Billie really come into their own with the witty humour of the script and bring our favourite characters to life with as much vigour as 2006. Their guest star Nikolas Grace absolutely nails the character of The Chevalier and fits in with our TARDIS team, perfectly. It’s fun to hear from a figure in history that many might not know about, and get a bit of a history lesson along the way! Guy Adams has got their characterization spot on as well as creating an exciting, fresh, historical adventure. The psychic paper also gets a fun feature and works against The Doctor's advantage ending in a hilarious mishap that it's hard to believe hasn’t happened before!

The threat of the episode is another fantastic idea; an alien with three heads looking to sell humans off into slavery. It’s a classic invasion plot that is enhanced by the brilliant dialogue and cast, keeping up the strong start we had with Infamy Of The Zaross. It can be hard to engage with an audio drama without visuals to keep you hooked but this story shows that with astounding actors, voicing and sound work, it can be just as exciting as a television adventure.

Overall, The Sword Of The Chevalier holds up the high standards of this terrific boxset so far. It just seems a shame that we only get three adventures! Now, I wonder what awaits next…

Cold Vengeance

Our heroes are thrown in at the cold end in the last adventure of this series, Cold vengeance. Matt Fitton rounds off the stories spectacularly with this fun space adventure, with brilliant characterisation and a tantalising plot. So, how does the Tenth Doctor fare against the Ice warriors?...

The Doctor and Rose find themselves in a giant icy space freezer carrying food for a colony world. Promising Rose a perfect ski slope, it soon becomes apparent that they’ve not quite landed where they’re supposed too. Classic Tenth Doctor. The two get some outstanding scenes in this adventure, and some moments that truly feel iconic for Rose Tyler. The pair are split up for much of the story, bringing out the best in each character as they work to save the ship. This is a massive advantage and gives some brilliant guest characters a chance to shine - most notably Lorna, who could easily be a Doctor Who companion in her own right.

As well as the perfect characterisation, the Ice Warriors get another exciting outing in an unfamiliar setting, making it all the more fun. I don’t know about you, but the whole thing makes me feel a little bit chilly inside! The hiss of their voices is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. They carry out their vengeance unapologetically, and for a moment it leaves you wondering just how The Doctor and Rose are going to get themselves out of this one. In fact, the resolution to the Ice Warriors brutal ways is even more simple than one could imagine, but fits perfectly with the essence of 2006 Doctor Who.

As the theme tune fades out, a warm feeling stirs. Experiencing three new episodes of 2006 era Doctor Who seemed like an impossible dream, but here we are with some of the best of the Tenth Doctor and Rose, yet. It is the minimalism of only 3 stories that makes it so special, and the hard work and effort gone into every episode shines spectacularly. Present day earth, historical England and a space ship full of ice warriors - there’s something for every fan in this boxset!



+  ORDER this CD via Amazon.co.uk!


11 December 2017

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Chris Chapman

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: November 2017

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"It’s L/Wren Mrs Constance Clarke’s birthday - and Flip is determined to make it an anniversary to remember.

The futuristic colony of Formicia, where the pampered populace pass their days in endless leisure, seems the perfect place for a ‘Wren Party’. But all is not as it seems. Looking down from the Middle, the skyscraping tower that ascends as far as the colony ceiling, Formicia’s overseers can see that the Doctor doesn’t fit in - and it’s not just his coat that makes him conspicuous...

“The End is the Beginning,” say the propaganda-like posters all over Formicia. Because to be part of this perfect society comes at a price. And the Doctor's already in arrears."

Last time around, I joked that the Gods of co-incidence must have been smiling when Big Finish put out The Behemoth with its head-on tackling of slavery so close to Series 10. This month, we have suits that people wear and a faceless corporation exploiting humanity... ring any bells? I wonder if next month’s much-touted scare-fest spectacular will include a whole bunch of knock knock jokes?

Yes, it seems that someone at the branding department has been hitting snooze on their clock as of late, but pushing that aside, what can be made of The Middle? Thankfully a fair bit of good.

The first thing of note is how well the TARDIS crew of the Doctor, Flip and Constance is working. The two companions have never been as strong as they are here together, and the Sixth Doctor proves to be a nice foil to the excesses of them both. Chris Chapman, the play’s writer, ably uses the comedy potential of Flip and Lisa Greenwood as an actor to good effect, and also makes good use of Constance’s background as a Wren in the plot and its settings.

The script has some good, solid ideas behind it, but does perhaps suffer again from a case of the Co-incidences: the TARDIS crew just so happen to be talking about birthdays when they land on a planet where birthdays play a huge role and Constance just so happens to be approaching a plot-integral age. They then befriend a man who just so happens to be the father of another important regular character and knows a lot about the technology being used because of... reasons. It’s a bit too neat and co-incidental to be glossed over really.

Likewise, just as the story has echoes of Series 10, so too does the play have echoes of other plays surrounding it from Big Finish; the Sixth Doctor in an office block? See World Enough And Time (say, that would make a good TV story title one day...). Memories playing an integral, crucial role in proceedings? See Chapman’s own play, The Memory Box.

Indeed, The Middle feels like its roots are firmly embedded in Chapman’s first Big Finish outing, which is no bad thing as it was a very strong single-episode affair, but also means at times things feel a bit too familiar.

That’s not to take away from the good though, which include a strong guest cast (Mark Heap is especially fun) and a very sturdy opening episode: you can see why Big Finish were giving it away for free as a sampler.

Despite the air of having seen some of it before, the script still feels fresh for the most part, though I wish Colin Baker didn’t have to cry “Nooooo!” as often as he does here as it brings back nasty memories of Slipback.

These are mostly slight niggles though, as The Middle proves to be an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, just not an overly original one. What it does do though it show Chapman as a writer worth paying attention to, and is a good case for this being one of the Sixth Doctor’s strongest TARDIS teams.

Overall, this one is far from a middling affair.



+  ORDER this CD via Amazon.co.uk!


15 November 2017

For the 30th anniversary all the adventures of the Seventh Doctor appear in a high-quality hardcover book in a coffee table format. The Special Collector's Edition slipcase is limited to 1,000 pieces and numbered. On 52 pages, the chief dramaturge of the seventh Doctor, Andrew Cartmel, written exclusively for this release background information on all adventures. The texts are in the original English and in German translation.

In addition to all adventures in German and English, the 17 DVDs also contain over 24 hours of bonus material of the Season publications, subtitled in German and English. The 17 disc is exclusively available in this release and includes BBC America Special "Doctor Who - Seventh Doctor - Revisited," an exclusive new interview with Andrew Cartmel and worldwide exclusively the restoration of the lost "Extended Version" of "Silver Nemesis ". Estimated delivery date is the second week of December.

Important Note: If you order the product before 19th November 2017, you will get your name in the credits on the bonus disc.

+  The 7th Doctor Special Collector's Ed. set is released Decemeber 2017, priced €150.00.
+  PREORDER this DVD set from Pandastorm Pictures!
+  Discuss all the Doctor Who DVD & Blu-ray releases in the DWO Forums.

[Source: Pandastorm Pictures]

31 October 2017

Manufacturer: Who Dares Publishing

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 1st October 2017

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 31st October 2017

Purchasing your annual Doctor Who calendar is a must for any Doctor Who fan, but the choices out there are extremely limited, and the focus is mainly on the new series / current Doctor.

Those of us of a particular age will remember the Target Doctor Who books range, with their beautiful cover art, with great fondness. Following on from last year's relaunch of Who Dares Publishing, the company have just released the brand new Andrew Skilleter Target Art Calendar for 2018, which features 12 of some of Andrew's finest covers for the range.

Each page is filled with about 90% artwork / 10% calendar, meaning you have large scale versions of the art, along with info text for each piece from Andrew himself.

It's a real eye-opener to learn just how little reference material Andrew had to go on, but the finished results were always impressive. The Dominators is a prime example of this; no visual reference, but a stunning gouache with blue and pink hues that capture the essence of the story perfectly!

Definitely worth purchasing; not just because of the nostalgic gratification you get from seeing memories from long ago, but for the sheer delight you will get from the brilliance of Andrew Skilleter's artwork.

+  Click Here to buy now from Who Dares Publishing for £14.99!

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23 October 2017

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Marc Platt

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: October 2017

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Bath, 1756 – and a very dashing gentleman known only as the Doctor is newly arrived in town, accompanied by his lady friends Mrs Clarke and Mrs Ramon. He’s created a stir among the gentlefolk of Georgian high society – and a stir in the heart of merry widow Mrs Theodosia Middlemint, rumour has it.

They are not the only strangers from abroad causing tongues to wag, however. The mysterious Lady Clara, come from Amsterdam in the company of the noble Captain Van Der Meer, has the whole of Bath agog. Who is she, really? What is she, really?

But there’s something terrible beneath the veneer of Georgian gentility. As awful a horror as the Doctor has ever exposed, hidden inside Balsam’s Brassworks. Something that needs to be brought to light, for the sake of all humanity."

It’s typical, isn’t it? You wait years for Doctor Who to tackle, and two takes turn up at once.

The latest to do this is this month’s Sixth Doctor play, The Behemoth. Written by Marc Platt after Colin Baker himself requested a pure historical adventure, it’s undoubtedly unfortunate timing coming so soon after Thin Ice, even though the way the subject is tackled in both plays is very different, as are setting and script, and in fairness to this play, it is suggested in the play’s extras that Platt himself suggested writing a play about this subject, and it’s not another case of Big Finish riding on the coattails of themes or plots used in the new series, which has happened a lot in the past. (The extended extras for subscribers may reveal otherwise but as is more often than not the case, these were not available at launch and if last month in any indication, it may take up to a month for them to be so.)

The Behemoth starts off simply enough. The Doctor lands in Bath in 1756 with his companions in tow: Mrs. Constance Clarke and Mrs. Flip Ramon (still credited as Flip Jackson, despite the play making clear that’s not the case throughout). There is a ball to attend if they can get the tickets, the mysterious Lady Clara to investigate, and a dark secret that runs through the society, which is where the subject of slavery comes up.

Some accept it, some rage against it, some are knee-deep in the trade, and some turn a blind eye towards it. It’s not the only thread running through this story though. We’ve also the oppression of women in society, animal cruelty and class as themes to greater and lesser extents.

It should feel cluttered perhaps, but it’s to Platt’s credit that it works well and gives us a decent snapshot of a time gone by through a modern-day prism. I’m not sure all of the attempts are as successful as others though, it must be said. The tone can sometimes wobble, some beats or lines feel a bit stereotypical, and the blurb of the play makes it sound like an alien menace or mystery is the real evil here which is a bit tactless.

Some of it rings as perhaps a bit heavy-handed with its approach and not all of it hits, but honestly I don’t mind. I think with subjects like this you can afford to be a bit less nuanced and more on the nose, even if perhaps not all of it chimed as strong or true as other parts.

As a white man myself, the owner and undoubted user (even if unintentionally) of great privilege with race and sex even now, the history of our country is depressing and grim and dark at times, and any attempt to highlight that is surely a good thing? Better to learn from it than ignore it, especially right now with the resurgence of far-right politic and emergence of sex scandals against women.

If this all feels a bit preachy and heavy then I make no apologies. I don’t think it would be right to make light of any of it.

Let’s look at some other parts of the play though. Georgina Moon is very good as Mrs. Middlemint (and I am sure I’m not the only one who saw a future Evelyn in her character), the music in the ball scene is especially lovely, and Jamie Anderson does a nice job of directing the play, though his declaration in the extras that the Sixth Doctor and Mel had a prickly relationship is slightly... off. That said, it’s been so long since Peri was in a play that perhaps it’s easy to get mixed up.

If I’ve made it sound all dark and weighty, then that’s wrong of me as parts of it are fun and light and quite funny, not least just who Lady Clara turns out to be and the Doctor’s attempt as an entertainer (the second time that’s happened this year, with The Carrionite Curse also showing him in this situation).

All in all, The Behemoth is an important play even if it’s not always my favourite, and whilst the relatively close proximity to Thin Ice is a shame, it is perhaps indicative of the time we live in and that these stories still cry out to be told.



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23 October 2017

When Jodie Whittaker takes over as the Thirteenth Doctor on the global hit show next year, she will be joined by an all new regular cast. The BBC has today announced that Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill will line-up as the new regular cast on Doctor Who.

Bradley will star as Graham, Tosin will play Ryan and Mandip will play Yasmin. Also joining the series in a returning role is Sharon D Clarke.

New head writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall, who made the decision to cast the first ever woman in the iconic role, is also shaking up who will travel with the Doctor in the TARDIS, with a team of new characters.

In more exclusive news, it is confirmed that the new series will be a ten week run of fifty minute episodes in Autumn 2018, kicking off with a feature length hour for the opening launch.

Chris Chibnall says:

“The new Doctor is going to need new friends. We’re thrilled to welcome Mandip, Tosin and Bradley to the Doctor Who family. They’re three of Britain’s brightest talents and we can’t wait to see them dive into brand new adventures with Jodie’s Doctor. Alongside them, we’re delighted that Sharon D Clarke is also joining the show."

Jodie Whittaker says:

"I am so excited to share this huge adventure with Mandip, Tosin and Bradley. It's a dream team!"

Bradley Walsh says:

“I remember watching William Hartnell as the first Doctor. Black and white made it very scary for a youngster like myself. I was petrified but even though I’d watch most of it from behind the sofa through my fingers, I became a fan. I then queued up for ages to get into the Carlton picture house in Watford to watch the great Peter Cushing appear as the Doctor in a full length feature film made in glorious colour. Am I thrilled to be part of this whole ground breaking new dawn for the DoctorjQuery15205138140516301002_1508762687331 Oh yes!”

Mandip Gill says:

“I am over the moon to be joining the Doctor Who family. This is an iconic show with an amazing fanbase and I look forward to everything that brings. Certain roles seem unattainable and this is one of those, so much so I didn't believe it to be true for the first few weeks. To be working alongside the likes of Jodie, Bradley and my old friend Tosin is thrilling. This show is worlds away from the work I've done previously and that's the part that excites me the most.”

Tosin Cole says:

"I'm grateful and excited to be a part of this journey with the team. I'm looking forward to jumping in this Doctor Who universe."

Matt Strevens, Executive Producer, BBC Studios says:

“I am thrilled to welcome Bradley, Mandip and Tosin to the new Who family. Working with three such talented actors is going to be a lot of fun. The Doctor is in fine company.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama says:

"The casting of Mandip, Tosin and Bradley is a mark of the new creative ambition Chris is bringing to Doctor Who. He's already made history with the casting of Jodie. These three new characters complete a new and utterly unmissable team aboard the Tardis."

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

   

17 October 2017

In the years following the show's hiatus in 1989, Reeltime Pictures produced some fantastic Doctor Who tie-in media, to keep us entertained whilst the show was off the air. Classics such as 'Downtime', 'Mindgame' and 'Daemos Rising', featured characters and monsters from the Doctor Who universe, written and produced by key players from the show itself.

Now, in 2017, Reeltime Pictures are releasing a brand new production; 'White Which Of Devil's End', as part of 'The Daemons Of Devil's End' DVD release.

DAMARIS HAYMAN, reprises her role as Olive Hawthorne from the Doctor Who story 'The Daemons'. With a blend of dramatic monologue enhanced with visualisations and sound design to develop and tell the stories, the drama is an anthology of tales following the magical life of Olive Hawthorne, from childhood to her final days as the protector of Devil's End. Drawing on a rich heritage and appreciation of witchcraft and fokelore, the stories bring Olive's history to life, pitting her against vampire, succubus, fae, daemonic influence and more - as Guardian of Devil's End, she must do what she must to protect the village... but what happens when she reaches the end of her life? Who will protect the townsfolk then?

Also included, is the long-awaited DVD release of the classic documentary 'Return To Devil's End'. Filmed around the village of Aldbourne in 1992, this marvellous production stars JON PERTWEE (The Third Doctor), NICHOLAS COURTNEY (The Brigadier), RICHARD FRANKLIN (Capt. Yates), JOHN LEVENE (Sgt. Benton) and 'The Daemons' director, CHRISTOPHER BARRY. NICHOLAS BRIGGS (currently the voice of the Daleks in Doctor Who), takes the cast and director on a trip around the locations, deftly gleaning stories and anecdotes about filming the classic Doctor Who series in 1971. Including interviews with villagers and rare archive film and photos... this documentary is rightly considered one of the best behind-the-scenes look at the making of Doctor Who ever produced.

Both discs are packed with bonus features, making this a totally unique production!

PLUS! A third bonus disc containing video of conventions held in Aldbourne to celebrate one of Doctor Who's most fondly remembered stories.

Look out for the DWO review of this title, coming soon! 

+  The Daemons Of Devil's End is released on 13th November 2017, priced £12.99.
+  PREORDER this DVD from TimeTravelTV.com.
+  Discuss all the Doctor Who DVD & Blu-ray releases in the DWO Forums.

[Source: Reeltime Pictures]

9 October 2017

In 1979, Shada was set to be the celebratory end to the seventeenth series of Doctor Who. Critically acclaimed writer Douglas Adams had completed the script, Tom Baker’s Doctor was at the height of his popularity, and the series had bigger audiences than ever before. But strike action at the BBC in November 1979, meant the studio scenes were never completed and the adventure was abandoned. The story became legendary among fans. 

Now, thirty-eight years on, BBC Worldwide has announced that Shada, is to finally be completed, combining the original, remastered footage, with brand new colour animation to complete the story. The animation will feature the newly-recorded voices of the original cast, including Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana, performing the original script. Shada will be released as a digital download on Friday 24th November, and on DVD and Bluray on Monday 4th December

Tom Baker says:

“Shada was one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio. I’m so glad that BBC Worldwide have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version.”

The new feature-length production incorporates all of the live-action scenes from 1979, together with new animated material. Shada finds the Doctor in Cambridge working alongside companion Romana and retired Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, to defeat the evil alien Skagra who is attempting to steal the secrets to the prison planet, Shada.

Shada is being produced by the team behind the highly successful and critically acclaimed animation of lost Doctor Who episode, The Power of the Daleks and lost Dad’s Army episode A Stripe For Frazer. The team have had access to nearly seven hours of raw footage from the original 1979 Shada shoot from which they are editing the new production from scratch, with all the original film negatives re-scanned in full HD and digitally remastered.

Paul Hembury, Executive Producer, BBC Worldwide says:

“Fans loved The Power of the Daleks, so we’re delighted to be able to complete and bring them another lost Doctor Who classic.”

On Saturday 2nd December there will be a special screening of Shada at BFI Southbank, London. Further information will be available from bfi.org.uk from Monday 23rd October. Tickets for BFI members will be available from Tuesday 7th November, and for the public from Tuesday 14th November.

Special Features:

-  Taken Out of Time (25' 39")
-  Now and Then (12' 45")
-  Strike, Strike, Strike! (27' 50")
-  Studio Sessions - 1979 (44' 38")
-  Dialogue Sessions (14' 16")
-  Model Filming (04' 36")
-  Deleted Scenes (01' 22")
-  Title Sequence Films (TBC)
-  Live Action Reference Footage (02' 48")
-  1979 Gallery (04' 50")
-  2017 Gallery (02' 52)

Watch the trailer for the new Shada release in the player, below:


+  PREORDER Shada on DVD from Amazon.co.uk for £19.99.
+  PREORDER Shada on Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk for £24.99.
+  Discuss all the Doctor Who DVD & Blu-ray releases in the DWO Forums.

[Source: BBC Worldwide]

28 September 2017

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Eddie Robson

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: September 2017

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"The Doctor's adventures in time and space are over. The Time Lords have recalled him to Gallifrey – but what he faces on his home planet is worse than any trial. Following the disappearance of President Borusa, the High Council condemned him to the highest office - and he can't evade his responsibilities a nanosecond longer...

So all hail the Lord High President! All hail President Doctor!

Rassilon save him. This time, there's really no escape."

Some stories and ideas fit some specific Doctors perfectly. Imagine The Curse of Fenric with the Sixth Doctor for example, or The Rescue with the Tenth: it just doesn't quite gel. Here with Time in Office though, we have the perfect marriage of incarnation and scenario, and full credit to Alan Barnes for suggesting it. You can just about picture the Fourth Doctor doing the job of President and purposely sending it up. The Sixth would be all bluster and indignation, but he would secretly enjoy the comfy seats and pomp more than he cares to admit. The Fifth though? So polite and unable to run away from a job he knows he will hate? It's the best fit.

Eddie Robson knows this, and writes for the Fifth Doctor especially well, and Time in Office is a perfect testimony to that fact. Throw in Leela and Tegan, too, and you've got a recipe for success, and thankfully 'a success' is undoubtedly what the finished product ends up being.

The Doctor's TARDIS is intercepted on the way to Frontios and before long our hero is in front of cameras, unable to escape, and being forced into office very much against his will. Leela is on hand to try and smooth things over, and Tegan is being held prisoner before being offered a position she cannot refuse.

There is something truly wonderful about seeing the Doctor, and more specifically this Doctor, run through diplomatic hoops. The trouble is, the Doctor is not without a past, and this comes to the fore in Part Two especially, which is genuinely funny and smart. The pairing of the Fifth Doctor and Leela (and indeed Peter Davison with Louise Jameson) works really well, and the addition of Tegan (and Janet Fielding) in the mix is the icing on the cake. It's easy to forget sometimes just how good the acting from the regulars is; we're so used to hearing or seeing their performances that it's easy to become blasé about it. Likewise, it's easy to forget at times just how much better served the regulars can be by Big Finish, but this blows those memory lapses out of the water and reminds you time and again just how good they all are.

Fielding especially gets to shine throughout the play with some brilliant comedy that suits both her character and the tone of the story down to a tee, whilst Robson writes to Davison's strengths with practised ease. The only thing which never really works in the play is Tegan’s love of adventure, seeing as we know she leaves soon after this play due to not enjoying things anymore.  That’s always the major problem with Big Finish plays though: they only fit to some extent and often you need wriggle room to make to really work.

Ignore that though. Nearly every facet of this play has an air of confidence and polish about it, from the script (with fan jokes about the number of regenerations a Time Lord can have to knowing comments about how male-centric Gallifrey is (a thread which ran through Doom Coalition to good effect, too)) to the performances to the direction. Indeed, the direction and performances feel the tightest we have had for a while now, and full praise must go to Helen Goldwyn for that.

Perhaps that says a lot though? Perhaps it shows that a shake-up in production team and format works wonders and gives the main range a much-needed kick and breath of fresh air?

Compare this play to nearly all the others this year and it stands out for being pleasingly different and pleasantly fresh-feeling. The story of an element coming to a dusty but well-meaning entity and shaking things up by being different feels symbolic of this play's position in the wider Big Finish pantheon right now.

Yes, this is a play which is for fans only really and takes in a lot of continuity points here and there, and yes, this is a play which still runs with the 4x4 format, albeit it with a new glance. But it's also a play which re-invigorates that format, plays with continuity in a fun and cheeky way, and actually uses the past to good purpose.

This isn't a play which says "oh, go on, let's put the Fifth Doctor with Leela" with no thought beyond. This is a story which does that because it fits perfectly and doesn't feel shoe-horned in by committee like nearly all of the Locum Doctors scripts a while ago did.

In some ways, this makes it all the more frustrating as there isn't really any excuse why it isn't this imaginative and fun every month. There are times when it feels as if the monthly/main range just rests on its laurels a little, and a play like this only shows that up.  A bit more imagination, a bit more daring do, a shake-up of the format... perhaps the future will see this happen and the now tired trilogy formula will get the injection of energy and verve it so desperately needs.

For now though, let us celebrate this Doctor's time in office and not feel too sad that it wasn't longer still.



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26 September 2017

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Matthew J. Elliott

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: September 2017

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"The year is 2085, and planet Earth remains on the edge of a nuclear precipice. At any moment, either of two vast rival power blocs, to the West and the East, might unleash a torrent of missiles, bringing about the terrible certainty of Mutual Assured Destruction.

But there is another way - or so Professor Ruth Drexler believes. Hence her secret mission deep in Eastern bloc territory, to uncover a hidden city, never before glimpsed by human eyes: the Parliament of the Silurians, the lizard people who ruled the Earth before humankind.

There, she’ll encounter a time-travelling Doctor, who knows the Silurians well. A Doctor on a secret mission of his own."

Once a year, as part of Big Finish's main/monthly range (the name of which seems to differ depending on who you ask), two plays are released at the same time. I always feel a bit sorry for these plays as one inevitably ends up overshadowing the other for various reasons. It may be that one of them is that year's "4x1" release, or the end of an ongoing arc. Here, this month, a standalone by a highly popular writer with a very interesting premise... and this play.

Pity The Silurian Candidate.

The premise is very simple: The Doctor is clearly up to something but not letting on to either Ace or Mel, which worries the former and intrigues the latter. Ace has seen him like this before and knows that it rarely ends well; Mel is not used to this darker persona and is uncertain as to what should be expected. The good ship TARDIS lands on Earth in the future, where a party of two others have also arrived complete with an army of robot guards, and they are there to seek out the same goal: Silurians.

Only the play is not just about all this. Oh no.  It’s also very much a full-blown sequel to Warriors of the Deep and, as the admittedly very good title suggests, a nod and wink to The Manchurian Candidate, complete with dinosaurs, a dodgy French accent from Nicholas Briggs, and an Australian politician that is in no way meant to be a parody of Donald Trump. (Nope. Definitely not. Nuh-huh. Move along.)

The play is very much a story of two halves, with the first rather slow and the second not quite breakneck with its speed but far quicker in comparison, as the stakes grow higher and necessity to act heightens.  There are some good gags in there throughout (the one concerning the Doctor and broken toasters genuinely made me laugh aloud) and a few nice moments of reflection upon the nature of this incarnation of The Doctor.

But...

But as with Matthew J. Elliott’s earlier main range play, Zaltys, there are moments that fail to land as well (though thankfully none as bad as the start of that play mentioning vampires and then vampires co-incidentally turning up) and whole parts where people conveniently spell out the plot to let you catch up, speaking in a way that you only ever get in plays or stories with a relatively small cast. There is a fair whack of “let me say what I see”-style dialogue to compensate for the audio medium, too, which never helps matters, and neither Ace nor Mel feel entirely in character.  Indeed, Ace seems positively grumpy and angry and distrusting of The Doctor throughout, and the CD extras have Sophie Aldred unsure where in Ace’s timeline this play is set, which is slightly concerning as you would think someone would say so the writing and performance can be adjusted. When your lead actors are unsure, something is not right.

(To maintain the usual gripe, once again no extended extras were present with the play upon release, nor had they surfaced a fortnight afterwards.)

It’s not all bad though. As The Silurian Candidate moves along, so too does it improve, and I want to quickly highlight the musical score from Howard Carter which is the best any play has had for a long while now. Points must go to the Silurian voices, too, which are dead ringers for the Pertwee era tones, and it was genuinely interesting to hear Briggs’s rationalization for using these ones as opposed to the Davison-era tones (and I agree with his reasoning) and his efforts to get them just right.  I have an image of him hunched over his ring modulator for over an hour tweaking and speaking in a bid to nail it, which is rather endearing.

In the end, The Silurian Candidate is overall fairly average Doctor Who fare with some moments that elevate it beyond, and music and voice artistry which give it a shine it would otherwise lack.  It does not make for an especially triumphant ending to this latest run of Seventh Doctor/Ace/Mel plays, but it’s not a write-off either, nor is it Who by numbers by any stretch. There are enough glimmers of light in there to merit attention and make me curious to see what Elliott comes up with next, but enough bumps in the road to exercise caution, too.



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1 September 2017
T

Owing to the increasing popularity of our very own DWO Minecraft Doctor Who Server, and to tie-in with the release of the new Official Minecraft Guides, DWO have teamed up with Egmont UK to offer 5 sets of the four books, in an exciting new competition!

To enter, simply head over to the DWO Competitions page and click on the link for the Minecraft book guides, and you could win one of 5 sets of the following 4 books:

Minecraft Guide To Creative

Learn the finer points of architecture, art and other creative disciplines with the official Minecraft Guide to Creative, and put theory into practice to build incredible constructions in Minecraft. Find out how to combine colours and textures to create different themes, devise intricate plans for complex builds, and discover secret hacks to use blocks in clever ways.

Minecraft Guide To Exploration

The mysterious world of Minecraft is just waiting to be explored. But danger lurks around every corner and survival can prove difficult for even the bravest adventurer. The official Minecraft Guide to Exploration will help you to survive and thrive. You’ll learn how to find resources, craft equipment and protect yourself from hostile mobs. Discover which biomes to avoid when starting out, how to build a mob-proof shelter and where to look for naturally-generated structures laden with loot. 

Minecraft Guide To Redstone

Learn the art of redstone and become a master engineer with the Minecraft Guide to Redstone, and put theory into practice to construct intricate contraptions in Minecraft.  Pick up the basics of the redstone components and their uses, discover how to make working circuits, and create incredibly complex builds using your new skills.

Minecraft Guide To The Nether And The End

Now that you've mastered the Overworld, the time has come to brave the perilous Nether and End dimensions. But survival will be even more difficult here and you'll need to up your game if you want to make it back to the Overworld in one piece.   The official Minecraft Guide to the Nether and the End will help you survive as you navigate new terrain, discover new hostile mobs and attempt to collect unique materials. Learn how to kill fire-resistant mobs in the Nether and repurpose Nether fortresses, then master the art of defeating the ender dragon and explore the outer islands of the End dimension. 

The Doctor Who Online Minecraft Server is the largest Doctor Who themed Minecraft server in the world. It offers Doctor Who themed worlds, games, roleplay, survival, and creative building. It is also home to the largest collection of Doctor Who Minecraft creations in existence - made by thousands of fans from across the globe! It also has the immensely popular TARDIS Plugin, which allows players to create a working TARDIS in Minecraft! 

DWO Minecraft is a family-friendly server, and all activities and events are suitable for all ages - from a first time Minecrafter to a 900 year old Time Lord, there is something for everyone!

Check out the DWO Minecraft Server Trailer in the player, below:


+  Join the DWO Minecraft server at: www.dwominecraft.com.

[Sources: DWO; Egmont UK]

26 August 2017

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: Eddie Robson

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: August 2017

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Ace and Mel to a recently reopened shipyard in Merseyside. It's 1991, the hardest of times - but now they're shipbuilding once again, thanks to the yard's new owners, the Dark Alloy Corporation. A miracle of job creation - but is it too good to be true?

While the Doctor and Ace go in search of an alien assassin at loose in the yard, Stuart Dale, discoverer of the near-magical Dark Alloy material, has an extraordinary proposition to make to his old college friend, Mel.

But who is the Corporation’s mysterious client? Who does she really represent? And what's the secret of the Blood Furnace? Seeking answers, the Doctor and friends are about to find themselves in very deep water…"

After last month's play proved a surprisingly lacking affair despite the ingredients being so promising (great writer plus great TARDIS crew), I was a little hesitant to embark upon this play as it had the same set-up: very good writer (Eddie Robson this time) and the same crew as before. Would lightning strike twice and not in a good way?

Thankfully not. Whilst not perfect, The Blood Furnace is a highly entertaining play and a good way to spend a couple of hours.

The TARDIS lands in Liverpool, 1991, where ships are being built and Stuart Dale, an old flame of Mel's, heads up the operations. Someone has been murdered though and The Doctor suspects more than just humanity is involved, suspicions which very quickly are proven right.  Who is the mysterious manager? Why does Mel's ex- keep getting nosebleeds? And why are computers a no-go thing?

Off the bat, this one is a lot of fun but with a nice edge of realism in it.  Liverpool proves to be a very effective setting as even now Doctor Who struggles much of the time to give us locations that aren't extremely Southern (or Welsh). The colour Liverpudlian accents give proceedings is to the benefit of the tale and makes the script and story all the more notable and, I suspect, memorable because of it, even if nearly all of the cast aren't actually from Liverpool as revealed in the CD extras. (Speaking of which, there are no extended extras for subscribers in tandem with the play's download this month.  Seeing as that's one of the perks for subscribing to the range, this feels a pretty poor show, especially when the gap between the play being released and the extended extras available seems to vary on a whim from no time at all to an entire month or more.)

As is typical of Robson's work, the characters' dialogue flows easily and feels natural, and the whole play has a real heart to it. People don't just die, they die with consequences be it leaving a family behind or a grieving co-worker. This feels very in keeping with the McCoy era and grounds the play whilst giving characters some nice shading. There is an especially lovely moment of this in the final episode where a phone call needs to be made and it's amazingly awkward and painful to listen to, which only adds to the sense of truth across the four episodes.

The regulars all get a fair crack of the whip. Indeed, the rapport between them in Part One almost makes me long for an episode one day where it's just the three of them being terribly happy.

Across the play, the Doctor gets to be at once the smartest man in the room and the most fun; Ace enjoys some computer game fun (which features the best music of the play: authentic, catchy and perfectly suited to the beat-'em-up coin guzzling arcade machines of the period); and Mel catches up on the past whilst looking to the future.

I wonder if every second play in a Mel/Ace/Doctor trilogy will feature Mel being a bit loved up or if it's merely co-incidence? An ex-boyfriend here, a love interest before. Maybe we'll see her future baby next time around.

When the final episode comes and alien plans are revealed and, inevitably, unravelled, some of the momentum is lost but Julie Graham is clearly having fun and relishing the theatrics.  It's by no means bad (it's not, it's good); it's just perhaps a bit more reliant on action and descriptive dialogue of the "Look at those thousands of things that tower above us by eight feet!" ilk, but this is only notable really as it doesn't fall into the trap before then and is handled pretty well.

All in all there is a sense throughout The Blood Furnace that people are enjoying themselves, and this is a solid play in a range that has for a while now felt a little out of steam. More of this calibre is welcomed.



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23 July 2017

Peter Capaldi’s final episode of Doctor Who this Christmas will feature Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts and be called Twice Upon A Time, it was announced this evening during a cast panel at San Diego Comic Con. Viewers will have to wait until Christmas to discover exactly how Bill, who will appear throughout the episode, makes her return.

It was also revealed that Mark Gatiss, who will co-star in the episode in a guest role, will play a World War One soldier - known so far only as ‘The Captain’.

As previously revealed in the closing moments of the 2017 series finale, the special will feature Peter Capaldi’s current Doctor team up with the First Doctor, played by David Bradley

Watch the teaser trailer in the player, below:


[Source: BBC Worldwide]

   

21 July 2017

It is with deepest regret that DWO announces the passing of Classic Series Doctor Who Actress, Deborah Watling.

Deborah was loved and cherished by fans for her role as the 2nd Doctor's companion, 'Victoria Waterfield', in the Classic Series of Doctor Who.

Deborah's other career highlights include A Life Of Bliss, The Newcomers & Danger UXB (to name just a few).

DWO would like to extend our sympathies to Deborah's family and friends, and we will remember her fondly not just for her role in the series and her personality off-screen, but for the many occasions she gave her time to Doctor Who Online.

You can watch a greeting that Deborah recorded for us at the 2013 press event for the return of the missing Doctor Who episodes, in the player below:


[Source: DWO]

17 July 2017

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writer: John Dorney

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: July 2017

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"The planet Dashrah is a world of exceptional beauty. Historical ruins; colourful skies; swirling sunsets…

Unsurprisingly, it’s a major tourist trap. So if you want to visit Dashrah, first you’ll have to visit Parking, the artificial planetoid that Galactic Heritage built next door. Parking, as its name implies, is a spaceship park. A huge spaceship park. A huge, enormous spaceship park.

When the TARDIS materialises in Parking’s Northern Hemisphere, the Doctor, Ace and Mel envisage a quick teleport trip to the surface of Dashrah. But they’ve reckoned without the superzealous Wardens, and their robotic servitors… the sect of the Free Parkers, who wage war against the Wardens… the spontaneously combusting spaceships… and the terrifying secret that lies at the lowest of Parking’s lower levels."

John Dorney kicks off this second trilogy of adventures for the Seventh Doctor, Mel and Ace.  The first was notable for three things (four if you include Fiesta of the Damned, Guy Adams’s finest hour):

  1. The absence of Glitz: A Life of Crime especially was all about Glitz and Mel… but no Glitz was to be found, which felt awkward at times, especially given the crime/heist nature of the play.
  2. The introduction of Gloria; a sure-to-be returning antagonist, one day (or at least, that's how she was set up).
  3. The brilliant rapport between Bonnie Langford and Sophie Aldred.

I was excited, then, to see this TRADIS crew return, and with a writer like Dorney in the driving seat, even more enthused.

The High Price of Parking starts with the Doctor promising a place of unrivalled beauty to his two companions, and landing in a car park (or rather a spaceship park) instead, much to their bemusement.  It turns out that this is simply where they are parking the TARDIS before getting a lift to see the famous home of the now-missing Dream Spinners (either a relatively obscure reference to an unmade story from the 1960s or another story arc to keep an eye on: the jury is out so far).

As ever in the Doctor’s world though, trouble is afoot: spaceships are being destroyed and the rebellious Free Parkers are being blamed by the Wardens.  But are the Wardens as innocent as they seem? It looks like one of them is in cahoots with a mysterious woman, and trying to frame the Doctor and his friends for purposes unknown. Cue story.

There are some truly great ideas in this play that are gloriously silly. Car parks the size of continents and inhabitants living there for generations having lost their vehicles? Count me in: it’s a great premise and one that feels perfectly Doctor Who-y.  The trouble is that the rest of the story doesn’t live up to this central premise.  What could be a fun satire is stretched thin and at times feels very familiar, not only to the series as a whole but to Big Finish particularly. We’ve had these sort of stories before in releases such as The Cannibalists and Spaceport Fear and it feels tired here.

A bigger issue with this release though is the direction. Lines and characters and scenarios that could be comedic are often played rather straight or directed flatly, and the cliffhangers are heralded with no punch at all. Listen to the end of Part One: it sounds like McCoy is about to launch into another line or sentence and deliver the final big build up, but instead the episode just sort of… ends and is thoroughly underwhelming. This happens a further two times, and kills the drama dead.  It’s a very rare miss for the usually solid direction of Ken Bentley.

On a more positive note, subscribers will be pleased with this play as it has been released with the exclusive Extended Extras at the same time. For some unknown reason, Big Finish often make subscribers wait anything up to a whole month (and far longer on occasion in the past) before they are available for download, which is far too long as the impetus to listen to them are long gone by the time another play has come around. It’s a pity, too, as the extended length makes for decent interviews, something the edited highlights often lack, coming across as more like PR pieces for how much the actors love working for Big Finish than anything of real substance. These extended cuts must surely be edited at the same time as the condensed versions released on the CDs, seeing as they have had a simultaneous release here and it has been this way with other plays in the past.  Hopefully this long wait is a kink that will be ironed out in the future.

Hopefully, too, the future will be kinder for this TARDIS crew and Dorney. I have full faith that they will both be back to brilliance before too long. As it stands though, this play feels like it could have been a great DWM comic strip or hour-long episode, but at four parts it’s stretched beyond breaking and the lackluster direction does not help paper up some of the cracks.



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