Region-Free is The Way to Go!

As many science fiction fans may have noticed – shows licensed from the BBC such as Doctor Who cost about twice or even three times more than most U.S. television shows.  This can be particularly bad if you are on a budget and don’t want to break the bank.  Yes, a few of these shows are available on Netflix (e.g. Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, and Day of the Triffids) but some shows that I plan on eventually getting such as the Tripods or Blakes 7 will probably never come out here or be released on a streaming device.  You can obviously download things and burn them or watch programs on your computer, but if you are like me, this choice is never as good as watching a good quality image whilst sitting in a comfy chair.  This is where region-free DVD players some in.

 

My recommendation to anyone that may decide to watch some harder to find UK shows is to do one of the following two things:

 

1) Cheap Method: It’s a little known secret that most, if not all cheap Chinese DVD players are actually region-free, and have their region locked installed via software within the factory.  In the past I used to get DVD players from Digix or Coby for around 20-30 dollars.  These players were pretty crappy for the most part, and honestly aren’t worth it unless you can’t swing what I will post on option 2.  I remember having this one particular model of Coby DVD player that would work fine until around the six month mark, *boom* – broken.  The trick to using one of these is to do a little research.  Websites like DVD Help have listings of DVD players and whether they can be region hacked or not.  Most of these are simple to hack, as a numerical code on the DVD remote usually does the trick.

2) Best Method – depending on how much one wants to spend, visiting a site like Region Free DVD is the best option.  Tired of dealing with cheap players, I plunked down 100 dollars for a Toshiba regionless HDMI up-scaling DVD player, and will never look back.  Not only is the picture better in just about every way, but the player itself is tailored for wide screen TVs and widescreen media, like most UK TV.

 

The reason I recommend getting one of these players is pretty self explanatory with the numbers.  Here are the prices and availability of one show Life on Mars, and its spin-off/sequel Ashes to Ashes.

Amazon.com

LOM Season 1: $49.99

LOM Season 2: $49.99

A2A S1: Not released

A2A S2: Not released

A2A S3:Nor released

Total $100.00 for 2 seasons, Ashes to Ashes not even announced for release

 

Amazon.co.uk

(as of today’s exchange rates)

 

LOM Season 1: $15.00

LOM Season 2: $15.00

A2A S1: $15.00

A2A S2: $15.00

A2A S3: $20.00

 

Total $80.00 for 5 seasons, all episodes complete

 

And now you can see why I do this, and shipping isn’t bad either – maybe 8 bucks for most DVD orders to reach the U.S.

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The Curse of Fatal Death

I was going to toss a little “look back” for this up – like a review of sorts, but I have been busy messing about with my shiny new PS3 today.  I’ll try to get to the review tomorrow (or later tonight) but for now, enjoy the full Curse of Fatal Death, a charity episode starring Rowan Atkinson and written by Steven Moffatt!

Review: Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol

I kind of got sidetracked when I was trying to review the season 5 episodes of Doctor Who last year.  My plan was to get all of them up in a somewhat timely manner and bask in the glory of a job well done.  Sadly, I got busy doing random stuff related to work and other such nonsense that I ended up stopping at episode 4 if I’m not mistaken.  Since I’ve decided to try and blog once a day, I think I will attempt to re-watch all of the episodes and pick up where I left off shortly.  Although it’s slightly out of order, I thought I should start out by taking a look at the newest episode that aired, thankfully while it is fresh in my mind – A Christmas Carol.

Promo image

 

Ever since Doctor Who returned in 2005 the novelty of the Christmas episode has really helped keep the show’s momentum during those cold winters when mid-season replacements and re-runs rule the land.  It all started innocently enough with an episode called the Christmas Invasion, the episode that proved that all Christmas TV episodes are not made of the same cloth.  You see in the U.S. television shows rarely have Christmas “specials” and if they do, they usually exist as a cheesy clip episode hastily thrown together at the last minute.  Shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation have holiday themed episodes sometimes, but they aren’t really “special at all.  This is one reason I like the U.K. way of doing TV despite shorter seasons and shorter runs.  Now we sit five Christmas specials later and bear witness to Matt Smith in his Yuletide zaniness.

The episode opens with a glimpse into the ill fated honeymoon between Rory and Amy, the main companions of the last season of the show.  The Doctor has granted them passage on some sort of luxury cruise liner in space, only to have a huge mishap occur.  It appears that the ship traveled too close to a strange planet with an electromagnetic cloud encircling it.  The ship was drawn off course and towards catastrophe for the 4000 passengers and crew.

The only hope for this doomed ship is the man that controls the swirly vortex of lightning and clouds Kazran Sardick.  Michael Gambon of Harry Potter and Layer Cake fame paints of picture of a sad man with a hardened heart that has given up on humanity.  He could help the 4000 passengers in the ship, but he doesn’t care in the slightest.  In the grand tradition of the classic tale A Christmas Carol, it’s up to the Doctor to help him learn how to live again.  He decides to visit Kazran at an early age and see what caused him to be so morose.

Kazran’s father (also played by Gambon) apparently created a system to keep the planets native fauna at bay as they would snack on unsuspecting citizenry when the planet was first colonized.  This animal life is similar, if not blatantly the same as our marine fishes and sharks.  This planet basically has an atmosphere so thick that these creatures can swim through the thick, foggy air at ease.  As a boy Kazran wanted to study these fish, but was beguiled at beaten by his dad for having such outlandish ideas.  He was to take his father’s place as the planet’s head honcho of loan brokerage upon his father’s death, not meddle in marine biology.

Lol!

 

In these very earliest moments of the episode we definitely see Steven Moffat’s brush strokes as he likes to mess with time travel as much as he can.  The term “wibbly wobbly timey wimey….stuff” comes to mind as the Doctor is shown to be interacting with a young Kazran as the older Kazran watches on in both horror and amusement.  The Doctor soon stumbles upon a girl frozen in a container in a large cryogenic chamber (played by opera superstar Katherine Jenkins) that he had seen earlier on, and decides to let her out to see Christmas.  What ensues is a tale of love and heartache for Kazran and Abigail, and a reminder that The Doctor isn’t always able to make the right decisions or help everyone.  I’ve left the rest of the plot vague to curtail spoilers, and allow for folks that have not seen the episode to enjoy it.

On a storytelling front, the aforementioned “wibbly wobbly timey wimey….stuff” is well done, and firmly places some actual time travel back into a show that ironically hasn’t had much time travel rather than the initial landings since its inception almost fifty years ago.  I know some folks find Moffat’s use of this motif tiring as he has done similar things in not only The Girl in the Fireplace but Blink and season 5’s finale as well.  The plot was easy to understand, not to complex and above all else….fun.  That’s the one thing that I love about Moffat scripts is that not only do they make you think, but a childlike sense of wonder ensues.   Not to bash the previous show runner, but some Russel T.  Davies helmed episodes seemed too brooding and basically “emo” for my liking.  These current ones have a sense of fairytale to them, which is new to the show.

See everyone's happy

 

Visually the episode was usually pretty great looking with the occasional computer generated effect looking less than amazing.  Keep in mind that I watched this on my mother’s standard definition TV on Christmas day, so viewed on my own rig could change my opinion.  On the musical side of things, both Murray Gold and Katherine Jenkins (who sings as one would assume) are on the ball and deliver a great soundtrack, especially for a TV show.  Anything is good with the eleventh Doctor’s theme in tow, one of the best pieces of music in the show since its return.  Really my only complaint about this episode was the fact that it seemed somehow padded a bit despite the large amount of plot going on.  Not that it dragged or anything, but parts of it seemed almost slow.

A Christmas Carol was not my favorite of these yearly Christmas specials (Voyage of the Damned still takes that honor) but it is probably my second favorite.  The great cast including Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins is top notch, as it the performances by the regular cast.  Matt Smith is growing to be one of my favorite Doctors ever, and his performance in this episode had to have been his strongest yet.  All in all, great Christmas TV, and I can’t wait for season six.

 

My rating 4.5 out of 5

 

Here is a season six trailer as a bonus!

Re-introduction

I updated my “about” page, and thought this would be a fitting re-introduction to the site :p

So why, you might be asking, have I decided to blog about British science fiction of all things?  Most people blog about pets, children, work and other mundane things; this is what I used to do way back when I had a Livejournal account.  I would jump on and let the rage fly about whatever thing made me angry that day.  After writing this way for so long, a person realizes that such a blog seems not only bitter, but rather much like an Andy Rooney tribute site.  I decided to change to something a bit more specialized as it would not only entice readers to come back and see what’s new, but help me find like-minded friends.  I ultimately chose to blog about British science fiction.

I was born in the eighties, and enjoyed spending my young years watching Doctor Who with my mother on our local PBS station.  Right away I noticed that it was different than what I was used to (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers) and that made it really special.  In fact, my love of the local PBS station at the time meant I was blessed with many UK television shows repackaged as educational programming including Erasmus Microman and many others.  From this early age I grew to love this kind of TV, and now it is one of my favorite hobbies.

I got back into UK sci-fi in 2004 in the time leading up to the re-launch of Doctor Who.  Since then I have tried to watch as much classic and modern UK sci-fi TV shows that I can, and would like to share my views on it.  Whether it be reviews, opinion, funny stuff…whatever, I’ll try to post it.  It may seems as if I concentrate on Doctor Who quite a bit on here, but that’s merely because it is both my favorite program and the sheer quantity of material out there for it.  When possible I will post about other stuff.

Enjoy the site, and don’t forget to send me some comments!

This is Why I hate Automated Call Programs

I’m Posting every day in 2011!

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a day / once a week for all of 2011.  I’m actually posting this a few days into my goal, but aside from January 1st, I’ve hit the goal!

Rather than use the blog topics submitted by the fine folks over at Word Press, I will continue this blog as normal as posts about puppies and my favorite ice cream have absolutely nothing to do with British Science Fiction 😛

Here’s to hoping that I don’t stop in three months…LOL!

-Steve

Review: Timeslip – The Wrong End of Time

“What is a Time Bubble? You can’t see it, of course, but it might help you visualise it to think of a balloon… Supposing some little patch of information – some little patch of history – gets slowed down, and instead of flashing backwards and forwards it floats, gently, as if in a bubble… Supposing you could get into that bubble – that bubble of history – and travel with it. Then you could move forwards and backwards in time at will…”

–one of the many introductions before the episodes

I was randomly poking through Netflix not too long ago and stumbled across a DVD recommendation labeled under “British Television”.  This was before I was doing this blog so there wasn’t much motivation to rush it into my home, but I was intrigued.  When I was younger I used to watch a lot of PBS and they would play all sorts of British children’s science fiction, most of which was far superior to anything that was marketed to children over here.  I went ahead and rented the first disk of a show I had never heard of – Time Slip.  The show, from 1970-1, was about a group of children who travel to various points in time.  Rather than echoing Doctor Who’s overlying theme of adventure and exploration as many similar show do, Time Slip (at least from the first serial) seems to be more about how folks misuse technology.

The first serial, containing six episodes, revolves around our two main characters a boy named Simon Randall and a girl named Liz Skinner.  Simon is traveling with family friends to keep his mind of off his mother’s recent death.  While hanging out near the site of an old naval base Simon and his friend Liz discover a time portal that we just saw suck up a mute girl named Sarah.  When on the other side, the pair discovers that it is suddenly night time and that they seem to be in a Nazi over-run base.  They end up running into a man named Frank and Sarah both held captive by the Nazis.  Here is the shocker Frank is her father thirty years ago!

The first six episodes of Time Slip are fairly entertaining if not a bit on the slow side.  You can tell that the show was on a very low budget as there are a magnitude of scenes where long expanses of dialog are tossed out with little or no action to be seen.  I can imagine that this most likely is one of the reasons that the show is a cult classic; I honestly don’t think a ton of children would be able to handle a show that is paced this way.  Then again, I was born some ten years after this originally aired, so one never knows.  I do know that the show ran somewhat over-budget and was seen as a flop despite running to its full duration, something unheard of nowadays.  Doing some online research, I found that Time Slip still has a legion of devoted fans and even runs the occasional convention.

I really enjoyed Time Slip – The Wrong End of Time and plan on watching the remaining three serials.  It’s a shame that the color prints of these are mostly lost as I would have loved to see this as originally aired.

My rating 3 out of 5

The show itself is available to rent on Netflix or is available for purchase at such places as Amazon.com

Review – Doctor Who: Winter for the Adept

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Summary: “When a teleportation accident goes badly wrong, Nyssa finds herself stranded on the freezing slopes of the Swiss Alps in 1963. But is it mere coincidence that she finds shelter in a snowbound school haunted by a malevolent poltergeist?  When the Doctor arrives, Nyssa and the other inhabitants of the school soon discover that the ghost is merely part of a darker, deeper and more deadly game involving rogue psi talents and something else… Something not of this Earth.”

When we last left the Doctor (as played by Peter Davison) and Nyssa, they were leaving frigid Alaska bound for some place hopefully warmer.  Not only does that not happen, but they end up in a house with a religious zealot that believes that cold air is the path to salvation and warmth is a sin.  Nyssa gets stranded in this place long before the Doctor arrives, and is taken in by a group of Swiss School girls living on the mountainside.  This story contains a few weird motifs that are out of the ordinary for Doctor Who, but serve well in this story….for the most part.  The first of which is that the story itself is bookended by a narration from one of the Swiss school girls.  The cheesy overly flowery diary entry harkens back to such writers as Jane Austen, but only in a superficial way.  The girl basically says very little with as many adjectives as possible to make it sound classy.  This sloppy writing should have been the first red flag for what I was getting into.

From: Doctor Who Magazine

Winter for the Adept is one of those audio dramas that I really wanted to like, but sadly did not whatsoever.  The story begins as a ghost story intertwined in a Stanley Kubrick’s Shining-esque wrapper, but completely falls apart 3/4ths of the way in and becomes a Michael Bay film.  It’s like Andrew Cartmel (the writer) was so set on adding aliens into the mix that he forgot he was writing a ghost story.

The choppy writing doesn’t end there, as there is a lot of dialogue talking about “Spillagers” at the beginning, a term that is never explained until towards the end of the play.  When it is revealed what a “Spillager” is, I was rolling my eyes due to how convenient it was within the plot.  The Doctor constantly talks about “spillages” and his “spillage detector” in such a way that it leads you to believe that he is talking about some sort of energy release or some such.  Not the alien that magically happens to be there in the Alps at the very same time.  I also found myself having a lot of trouble imagining what was going on especially in episode four.  There are many instances where random yelling, noises, and explosions can be heard with little explanation as to what is actually going on.  Sadly this play is a frightful miss for me.

 

My rating 1 out of 5

Review – Doctor Who: The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis: In a desolate Cornish landscape littered with relics of prehistoric man, the doctor and Evelyn uncover a catalogue of mysteries.  What is the secret of the fogou? Can the moor be haunted by a demonic host of imps? And what is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart doing in Pengriffen?  Teaming up with his old friend, the Doctor realises that an ancient conflict is nearing its conclusion – and Lanyon Moor is set to be teh final battleground.

One thing that I always love in science fiction is when the writer takes a prominent supernatural occurrence (e.g. ghosts, elves etc…) and explains it away as either completely commonplace or something more.  For instance the way that Gods in Stargate are actually powerful aliens that prayed on human faith.  This particular Doctor Who audio play does this exact thing with the mythical creature – the imp.  The story consists of the Doctor and his newest companion Dr. Evelyn Smythe investigating old Celtic ruins alongside an archaeological team and even the Brigadier!  This play is in fact the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in any Big Finish Audio release.

An Image from Doctor Who magazine

It was always sad to me that the sixth incarnation of the Doctor as played by Colin Baker was never allowed a proper adventure in which he interacts with the Brigadier.  Almost all other Doctors ended up with such an episode, but the closest thing we ended up with was the dreadful charity “special” Dimensions in Time in which I need to dissect one of these days.

This episode has its ups and downs but was generally very entertaining to me, and sits as one of the better episodes of Big Finish Audio out there.  The duo of Colin Baker’s Doctor and Eveleyn Smythe as played by Maggie Stables is a great pairing, and I really hope they do a few more stories together.  Having the brigadier in this episode really helps iron home that this is, in fact, a Doctor Who story.  It really seems the most like an old episode of the TV show that I’ve listened to.

My rating: 4 out of 5

Tyrant at Home

Ever wonder what the home life of a crazed megalomaniac space dictator is like?  The guys from the skit show Big Train answered this very question in a very humorous manner.

Big Train is available on Netflix here in the U.S. so if you like this skit be sure to check it out.  The show helped kick-start the careers of such actors as Simon Pegg and Catherine Tate.

Review – Doctor Who: Red Dawn

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis:

Ares One: NASA’s first manned mission to the dead planet Mars. But is Mars as dead as it seems?
While the NASA team investigate an ‘anomaly’ on the planet’s surface, the Doctor and Peri find themselves inside a strange alien building. What is its purpose? And what is frozen inside the blocks of ice that guard the doorways? If the Doctor has a sense of deja-vu, it’s because he’s about to meet some old adversaries, as well as some new ones…

We open Red Dawn with a countdown timer and launch of man’s first foray to the red planet in a ship called the Argosy.  From the very get-go this seems a doomed mission as a ton of stuff begins to go wrong right out of the gate.  At the exact same moment, The Doctor and Peri travel to a large building that seems to have doors and other controls that are run empathically.  Once they run into the now landed Argosy crew, they find out that they are on Mars just as the Ice warriors show up.  The villain of the piece is a man named Paul, who is so stupidly one-dimensional that he might as well be a textbook example of bad ethical practices.  The man literally tries to incite a inter-galactic war for the sole reason to make money on weapons trading and other like things.

The play has a few missteps that made this drama hard to finish for me.  While I have complimented Nicola Bryant as Peri in the handful of audio adventures I have heard with her, this audio play is seemingly back to the “old school”.  I found Peri (of no fault to Bryant, but the script) to be about as annoying as she was in the earlier parts of her run on the classic show.  All she did was run around and hound one of the Ice Warriors about his promise not to kill the Doctor and yell at folks about ethics.  Peri was not the only blight on this drama as it seemed as if everyone involved was completely incompetent in all situations.  The Doctor kept talking about the Ice Warrior honor code, but never takes advantage of it, as he has with other races such as the Sontarans.

This is quite easily the most boring of these audio dramas so far, and it was slightly less entertaining than The Sirens of Time.  Not all stories can be top shelf I guess.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5

Here is a “trailer” of sorts:

Review – Doctor Who: The Genocide Machine

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

 

Synopsis: “The library on Kar-Charrat is one of the wonders of the Universe. It is also hidden from all but a few select species. The Doctor and Ace discover that the librarians have found a new way of storing data – a wetworks facility – but the machine has attracted unwanted attention, and the Doctor soon finds himself pitted against his oldest and deadliest enemies – the Daleks!”

 

Ah yes, the first Dalek-related audio drama Big Finish has produced.  Being a huge fan of the little squid-like hooligans, I was excited to see – errr – hear what the audio format had for these guys.  This begins a story-arc of sorts that Big Finish has labeled Dalek Empire; it will contain four separate stories with different Doctors held together by the common theme.  This segment follows The Doctor and Ace as they are humorously brought to a planet called Kar-Charrat in order to return a library book, lifted from a library where such things are frowned upon.  At the same time we cut to another group led by a person that is almost like a “semi-companion” in Bev Tarrant.  Bev is a female Han Solo of sorts, and plans to steal a large ziggurat in order to make it rich.  Too bad the Ziggurat is full of evil squid monsters surrounded by armor – the Daleks.

After the last McCoy and Aldred play, I was worried that the overly dark nature would spill into all of their plays.  Thankfully that isn’t the case, as this play seems more in-line with the show than one of the books.  That is the great thing about Big Finish, if you don’t like a certain play, the next one will be completely different, and may strike your fancy.  I enjoyed the plotline and dialog; yet felt that it was bit too preachy in some regards, especially when you find out the atrocity the librarians on Kar-Charrat have committed.  Without giving away the plot completely, let’s just say that the overtly hippie-like nature of Avatar is pretty close to the mood the audio sets.

The audio only really fails on the insanely contrived plan that the Daleks have hatched.  While they are known to have ridiculous over-thought plans in the past, this one is pretty over the top.  They basically plan to use the libraries knowledge to create a super Dalek with the power of the Universe, so they plant cryogenic sleeper cells on every planet of this one particular system that also contains the aforementioned “secret” library.  I say “secret” because everyone seems to know of it.  Plot aside, this was a fun audio adventure, and a blessing of what to come for Sylvester McCoy stories.

 

My rating: 3 out of 5

 

Here is a trailer I found on Youtube:

 

An Open Letter to Joss Whedon fans:

It may be no mystery that I am not a fan of the science fiction show Firefly, in fact I can’t stand the show to be quite honest.  When I am talking with my sci-fi buddies, there is usually someone that doesn’t understand the idea that people have different tastes and tries to sway me to their side.  Not only is this annoying as hell, but it makes me not like the show even more.  Some of these guys even go so far to call themselves “brown shirts” or “brown coats” which unbeknownst to them is the same name that Nazi storm troopers were referred to as.  The name fits, as some of these folks are “Nazis” in the sense of the modern vernacular which attributes anyone being over-zealous and generally “douche-baggy” as a “Nazi” e.g, Grammar Nazi.

So why don’t I like this show, and why do I get angry whenever people get pissy because I don’t like it?  I think a lot of it stems from Joss Whedon’s messiah-like status in some fan circles, as if he can do no wrong, and everything he touches turns to gold.  This is of course despite the fact that he wrote large portions of dialog for the first movie X-men including this gem:

Storm as played by Halle Berry: “Do you know what happens to a toad when it gets struck by lightning? … The same thing that happens to everything else.”

UGH!

He also wrote the script for Alien Resurrection and blamed everyone else for the movie sucking, saying that it was miscast and such.  Don’t let me seem like a total ass for ripping on Whedon as I liked the original Buffy movie and the first 3-4 seasons of the show.  He may come across as an arrogant self-centered type of guy, but he is a pretty decent writer for dialog.

So the problem must lie in his fans, not just the “brown coats”, but all Whedon-media fans.  To me Whedon-ites are to science fiction fans what The Hitler Youth are to youth organizations.  Instead of watching and talking about their favorite show with other like minded fans, they see the need to try and indoctrinate everyone else into it.  If anyone resists The Lord Whedon, they immediately have to turn in their nerd license.

This very thing happened to me at work when I was helping a customer find a Battlestar Galactica DVD.  We started talking Sci-fi and he mentioned Firefly, to which I responded that I wasn’t really into the show.  The man then, obviously annoyed, asked “well….why NOT!?”  This was as if I somehow offended his religion or something.  I explained that I had not seen the whole show, but I was not a fan of the four episodes I did see, and did not plan on watching anymore.  The man then went into full-on siege-mode and started throwing out reason after reason as to why the show was underrated and why I should like it…etc.  I basically had to say “have a good one” and walk away.  It’s like rather than enjoying his show, he let the fact that it was cancelled become a bitter fist-shaped aura in his mind, waiting to punch anyone who says the show isn’t a masterpiece of human achievement.

Let this be a lesson to you guys, badgering folks and trying to essentially force people to think the way you think about a show is stupid and puts folks off of it.  If anything you guys have made me not want to read / see / hear about anything else that Joss Whedon ever produces.  Surely I can’t be the only one out there with this mindset.  It’s fun to like your own stuff, but calm down just a tad.

Review – Doctor Who: The Marian Conspiracy

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis: Tracking a nexus point in time, the Doctor meets Dr Evelyn Smythe, a history lecturer whose own history seems to be rapidly vanishing.  The Doctor must travel back to Tudor times to stabilize the nexus and save Evelyn’s life. But there he meets the Queen of England and must use all his skills of diplomacy to avoid ending up on the headman’s block…

It’s no secret that the exploits of the sixth Doctor in the form of the original TV series were met with mixed reviews.  Many felt that the show was on its last legs at the time, and a few higher ups over at the BBC seemed keen on axing the show forever.  When I got into watching a lot of the classic stories, I really liked how Colin Baker played the Doctor despite his costume and the somewhat rough scripts he was sometimes handed.  As I’ve stated before these Big Finish audio dramas are where Colin seems to be at his best as the Doctor.  I would even say that his episodes are usually among my favorite.

This episode at hand, The Marion Conspiracy, is one of the better ones of this line up to this point, as it contains a few things that really set it apart: the introduction of a NEW companion, a historical timeframe, and time travel consequences.  The plot follows The Doctor and a history teacher named Evelyn Smythe as they try to figure out why Evelyn is seemingly being written out of time.  This dynamic is usually one of my favorites as I love when The Doctor takes in a companion that is a bit older and has wide-eyed enthusiasm AND wisdom; I think that’s why I liked Wilf so much in the last few David Tennant seasons.

The story follows The Doctor and Evelyn as they travel back to Tudor times to figure out exactly what Evelyn is disappearing from existence.  There are a few misunderstandings where they both assume that they are in Elizabethan England when in fact they are at the court of Queen Mary.  They both get embroiled in a plot to kill Mary and ultimately try to stop it.  All in all, this was a very good audio drama, and is one of the better ones that I’ve listened to so far.  The acting, plot, and pure historical awesomeness, all click in such a way to make me the most happy.

click here to listen to a trailer

My rating 4 out of 5

 

Review – Doctor Who: Fearmonger

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Synopsis: One would-be assassin is in a mental ward. Another’s on the run. Their intended victim is stirring up the mobs. Terrorists are planning a strike of their own. A talk-radio host is loving every minute of it. A Whitehall insider whispers about a mysterious UN operative, with a hidden agenda. Everyone’s got someone they want to be afraid of. It’ll only take a little push for the situation to erupt – and something is doing the pushing. But you can trust the Doctor to put things right. Can’t you?

One of the things that I have yet to actually get around to doing is reading any of the Doctor Who: Virgin New Adventure books produced in the early-mid nineties.  I do know that conceptually I do not agree with the general tone of the books based on what I’ve seen, and some of the fandom that came from them.  As a first “true” introduction to the format, these plays based on the Virgin New Adventure books, are equally as problematic to me.

The actual audio drama that I am looking at reviewing here is called the Fearmonger and stars Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred reprising their roles from the latter era of the original series.  Immediately we find The Doctor and Ace hot on the heels of some kind of monster that may or may not inhabit the body of a crazed right wing political group leader.  At least this is what a man who regularly calls into a Fox News styled pundit show seems to think, and says that he plans another assassination attempt on her, as a previous one (that the play opened on) went south.  We find the Doctor commandeer the radio show and egg on the “crazy” man, basically saying “yeah! There is a monster” which riles everyone up.  This leaves Ace and the Doctor to investigate the situation themselves in order to get some answers.

The right wing political party in question, The New Britannia party, is a pretty rough group of characters who base their entire political stance on racism.  They basically want to throw out anyone who isn’t white and sherilyn Harper, their leader, doesn’t help with her rhetoric.  Against them is a terrorist group trying to end the hate ironically with assassinations and bombings.  Immediately you may notice that the back-bone of this story is very dark, and that is honestly a big problem with it for me.  While things like nationalism, jingoism, racism, immigration and politics have always featured in Doctor Who media, the show was at least clever enough to try to keep it toned down.

With this new tone, the storytelling loses its fun and clownish charm, instead going for preachy social commentary.  This was a trend in the 1980’s McCoy episodes as they ham-fisted things like racism into episodes that did not need it in the plot.  Remembrance of the Daleks comes to mind with a few scenes of black segregation in the 1960’s that served no purpose other than to make the watcher feel bad, and cluttered up the over-all narrative.  This bleak and preachy take on the Doctor is not my favorite to be honest.

I guess it may be my problem as a listener, that I need to differentiate the show and these audios more in order to really enjoy them, but as a fan of the classic show rather than a series of books, the themes in here clash with my preconceived notions of what the characters should be doing.  Aside from my gripes, the acting and production on this play are VERY well done, and to be honest it is the best produced play from Big Finish so far.  I know my opinions on the McCoy era may not be the most popular, but I will try to look at the other Virgin New Adventure stories with a more open mind.  We’ll see how that goes.

My Rating 3.25 out of 5

 

Review – Doctor Who: The Land of the Dead

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

For me, the first three of these Big Finish Audio dramas were sort of like a warm-up for what the range could really bring; and The Land of the Dead is the first of these that really stands up along-side the TV series.  As I’ve stated before, not being a big fan of the Peter Davison era worried me about these plays, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that his audio plays are usually my favorites.  Sarah Sutton returns to reprise her role as Nyssa, a companion I actually really liked during this time.

The story follows The Doctor and Nyssa as they pop up in frigid Alaska in the dead of winter.  They stumble upon an encampment where a crazed billionaire named Shaun Brett is trying to build a shrine for his dead father from parts of the surrounding landscape.  This themed museum of sorts includes a rather ghoulish room consisting of old bones that freak out the hired Inuit laborers.  They believe that such a room will bring the vengeance of nature upon them; and this superstition isn’t helped when monsters begin to attack.

The acting in this play is very strong in almost every way from the principle cast to the background characters.  I was really worries that the voices for the various Inuit people would be off, as many UK based actors would not have a lot of knowledge on their language and culture.  Aside from a few minor UK-isms, I think they did a fairly good job, and kept the whole thing believable.

The play does a great job of helping the listener imagine exactly what the villains look like, which is a step up from the last few were it was sort of hard to imagine what the Big finish crew were really going for.  All in all a very enjoyable tale!

My Rating 4 out of 5

 

The Lost Craig Ferguson Doctor Who Tribute Surfaces!

A few weeks ago Matt Smith appeared on a small, and yet fairly popular late night talk show hosted by Craig Ferguson.  Being a huge fan of the show, Craig choreographed a Doctor Who dance Number that was filmed, but sadly un-aired due to rights issues from the song.  The video has been finally “leaked”!

 

Oops!

I’ve neglected this blog for far too long due to work and other reasons.  I think I will start trying to do a post on here once a week starting now.  During the summer I attempted to update this like 5 times a week for whatever reason and burnt myself out on it, as I also have a paid gig on Vgchartz.com.  Since I have maybe 1 person that ever reads this, it doesn’t matter much….lol

Game Review: Doctor Who – Blood of the Cybermen

https://i0.wp.com/www.vgchartz.com/games/pics/doctor-who-the-adventure-games-episode-2_60536.jpg

Here is another review I wrote:

HERE

Game Review: Doctor Who – City of the Daleks

Here is a review I did for VGchartz on the game!

Click Here