Yet Another “Classic Who” Actor Makes Twitter Explode

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Janet Fielding: “Now what are we up to? Only Time will tell…”

 

Via Twitter:

 

Janet Fielding (Tegan from the old show) just posted this image of herself with Peter Capaldi while series 8 filming is underway……

 

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Doctor Who: Loups Garoux

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Synopsis

Brazil, 2080: The Doctor and Turlough arrive for the Rio de Janeiro carnival.
Is wealthy heiress Ileana de Santos all that she seems? What sinister ailment afflicts her invalid son, tended by the mysterious Dr Hayashi? And who exactly is Rosa, engaged on a secret quest to fulfil the destiny of her extinct tribe?
Time is running out for Rosa, Ileana and the Doctor, as the fearsome shadow of an ancient werewolf moves ever closer…

Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Nicholas Pegg

I’m just going to start this off by saying that I was not a huge fan of Marc Platt going into this audio drama based entirely on his earlier contributions to Doctor Who, a TV episode called Ghost Light and a book called Lungbarrow. In fact, I would rather watch the terrible charity episode Dimensions in Time than sit through Ghost Light again. Thankfully, Platt seems to be on his A-game in Big Finish as I thought Loups Garoux was quite enjoyable. This is surprising as I think that Davison has got the worst scripts of all the Doctors (up to this point); a problem that seems to be sorted out.

First thing first, Turlough is awesome and I was pretty excited to hear Mark Strickson reprise the role in this drama. This isn’t just a guest role either; Turlough is up in the forefront of this whole play. As listeners, we get a glimpse at his mysterious darker nature, a fact that he has hidden from the Doctor and the other companions. He gets separated from the Doctor at one point (as with many Doctor Who stories), and takes center stage for a bit, even getting his own temporary companion in the mix. We also see a bit of a reluctant romance for not only Turlough, but the Doctor as well (Gasp!). This added romance is surprising for those familiar with Platt’s writing as Platt himself created the ridiculous “The Doctor is Asexual and Timelords are born in looms” garbage found in Lungbarrow, a piece of novelized fanwank that many fans cling to despite countless contradictory pieces throughout the show.

The rest of the actors are pretty solid as well, especially Emily Bron as Ileana. She plays the matriarchal leader of a group of old-world werewolves clinging to a hidden existence in the future. Despite a few wonky stereotypical accents, there really was nobody to single out as the weak link of the production. Everyone had their part, and everyone was important here. Even the Fifth Doctor, who did very little in his past few plays, was on top form here both in Peter Davison’s acting and the storyline itself.

The actual story is a solid plus from me as well, as it delves into the topic of werewolves without zany Hollywood movie hijinks. The creatures are treated in a manner that I’m not used to, and I really liked it. Basically these wolf creatures live among us, but use an ability to stay hidden from our eyes. While this isn’t exactly talked about at length, it’s sufficient to explain why we don’t have huge wolves walking around all the time. Of course the wolves can also take a human form, something that sickens a few of them to their core. This shape shifting is more-or-less the basis for the main plot. You see, Ileana has a son that can’t turn to a human appearance. She wants her son to be able to walk amongst the “cut-claws”, but he has a feral monstrous disposition and appearance. Oh and there is an ancient demonic former ex-lover of hers out there trying to kill the other wolves!

I guess I gained a new-found respect for Marc Platt, a writer who I was not too enamored with in the past. I’ve actually listened to one more of his Big Finish plays that I enjoyed, but that’s a review for another day. In closing, if you want a solid Peter Davison title to start out with in Big Finish, you could probably pass on the ones before this, as Loups Garoux is definitely a new benchmark for this Doctor.

Reaction: Doctor Who – Four to Doomsday

With the latest season of the current Doctor Who over with, I figured it was just about time to dive into some classic episodes that I haven’t had a chance to watch yet. Up this week I decided to bust out Four to Doomsday, a serial starring Peter Davison as the Doctor, and his standard crew of Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric. The episode opens with one of the many attempts that the Doctor tries to take Tegan home, only to find them on board an alien vessel traveling to Earth. On board, things seem to be a bit “funny” as they find Chinese, Mayan, Greek and Aboriginal crew members being led around by a race of aliens called the Urbankans. The Urbankan leader, Monarch, invites the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric to continue the trip to Earth as his guests.

To be honest I’m not really a fan of this popular companion group as a whole. Of all the controversial views on Doctor Who out there, this is probably the main one that I subscribe to. I have always felt the later crew that had Turlough, and even Peri, were better suited to the fifth Doctor than these guys together. While I enjoy Nyssa, I find Tegan’s constant gripes at the Doctor tiresome, and equally find Adric’s “I know everything, check out my math metal!” attitude to be quite annoying. I guess I’m just not a fan of episodes where everyone bickers with the Doctor, as it generally makes him look foolish in many ways, when he should be the smartest guy there. This episode open woefully with something like five minutes of pure bickering, so much that ou wonder if they all got into some off-camera fight before this story or something. Every time I watch an episode with Adric, I always trick myself into giving him the benefit of the doubt: “yeah he’s a stubborn kid, and he’s not that bad.” Then he does something like launching into a random misogynistic rant like he does in this episode, and I want him to disappear.

Many compare this crew to the original “first Doctor” set of companions staring Ian, Barbara, and Susan; this is something I find confusing. Yes, the three were intelligent, but they didn’t continuously try to pull rank on the Doctor, nor did they stop having that sense of Jules Verne inspired wonder that I love in British sci-fi. Had Hartnell’s Doctor been with this crew, I think he would have “accidentally” left two of them behind. For this episode to fall so early on in this particular Doctor’s lifecycle, it’s almost as if some of the companions see Davison’s Doctor as too “nice”, and try to walk all over him.

The special effects in this serial are a mixed bag. While I like most of the model shots, some of the costumes are a bit wonky. Right from the beginning we see this with the Doctor’s space helmet, a device that looks to be in league with an old episode of Buck Rogers in the cheese factor. Now that I think of it, all the headpieces in the episode are pretty bad, especially Nyssa’s helmet that has “googley eyes”! The rest of the sets were actually pretty well done, if not a bit minimalist in nature. The walls are basically just a ton of random switches and dials placed everywhere. This definitely does the job at making it look like they are standing on a spaceship, or the house of a computer hoarder. To be honest, the special effects, makeup, and set design are the only shining beacon in a somewhat bland episode.

The overall plot has to be the most insane thing I have ever seen outside of the earlier Douglas Adams episodes. Not insane in an incoherent way, but insane in that the plot makes such little sense it’s almost funny. The main villain, Monarch, basically wants to invade earth so that he can strip-mine the planet for silicon. he plans to turn this into computer chips he needs to travel back in time to meet himself as God….yikes! Rather than settling on one trope (alien invasion, androids, dancing?, religion vs. science) it’s as if the production crew took a page from the creators of Family Guy and grabbed a bunch of concepts from a big hat and compiled them into a nearly competent episode.

I think the main problem lies in the utterly bad manner in which science is used in this episode. For an episode that relies on said science such as this one, it’s just inexcusable. There are many examples of this including Monarch’s bizarre time travel plan that makes no sense, except for the fact that he yells “E=MC squared”. I would have settled for some technobabble here, but using an actual scientific theory incorrectly is bad. Another quibble is when Adric claims to not know what photosynthesis is, keep in mind that he lived on a jungle planet, and is supposed to be insanely smart.

While not the worst episode of Doctor Who, Four to Doomsday is most definitely not a favorite of mine. Luckily the episodes of this season are not all of this quality, thus keeping me away from the “Davison Hater” category that many toss out there.

Review – Doctor Who: Phantasmagoria

All in all Phantasmagoria is better than the Sirens of Time simply by having a better less convoluted narrative, but still suffers by being early in the run.

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Let me get one thing straight before going into this audio drama review: on a whole I am not a huge fan of most 1980’s Doctor Who stories when stacked up to anything else.  I buy the DVDs, watch all of the stories, and read the comics, but I prefer the modern way the show is told, or just about anything before John Nathan Turner took the show over.  Not that I don’t like the actors that played the Doctor during this time, I just find the show a tad “hit or miss” in the decade of excess.  The audio plays, as a whole, have helped me really appreciate those actors that I may have never given much of a chance to.  This can be attributed to both maturity of the actors, and let’s face it, solid production quality.  I went into Phantasmagoria assuming that I would not like it due to it starring Peter Davison, and was greatly surprised to find a well acted, well written, if somewhat goofy episode.

I had heard of Phantasmagoria long before I actually listened to the production, as it was written by mark Gatiss, and was supposedly the template for his 2005 televised episode The Unquiet Dead.  I’m not sure where folks keep dragging that up, as the two stories have nothing in common save the period setting.  The play stars the Fifth Doctor and Turlough as played by Peter Davison and Mark Strickson respectively.  Aside from the usual cast of Big Finish Players, I did notice cameos from Mark Gatiss and David Williams, who later went on the create the super popular show Little Britain is side roles, so that was fun playing “spot the person whose voice I know”.

The Story involves The Doctor’s arrival in London of 1702, a time of highwaymen and strange disappearances.  When folks start to turn up dead clutching playing cards, a local occultist seems to think that spirits are on the loose, but the doctor thinks differently.

Being early in the Big Finish run, I would like to cut this play some slack due to its early release (being the second one made), but I can honestly say that for all the good in this episode, there was unfortunately some bad as well.  The one thing I really picked up on was that a few of the actors took to their roles a bit too much, if you get my drift and came across a bit too campy for my taste.  This would be commonplace for the TV show at the time, but audio dramas are a bit different.

All in all Phantasmagoria is better than the Sirens of Time simply by having a better, less convoluted narrative, but still suffers by being early in the run.  The acting, sound effects, and story are pretty solid, but the play suffers from a few over-actors, and a bit of storyline padding.  Big Finish is just hitting their stride, can’t wait to listen to the next one.

My Rating 3.25 out of 5

 

Review: Doctor Who – The Sirens of Time

While the acting and sound effects are really good, the plot in The Sirens of Time is unnecessarily complex at times and seems to be full of stuff that does not move the storyline along very well.

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Big Finish Audio drama

Earlier this year, I decided to take the plunge and start listening to a line of audio dramas from a UK based company called Big Finish.  Living in the U.S., we really don’t have audio dramas at all whatsoever, so I was not too sure if I would like them at all.  Gladly this was put to rest, as my experience with these is largely positive.  The first one I listened to was also the first Big Finish audio drama made that was officially licensed by the BBC.  Starring Colin Baker, Peter Davison, and Sylvester McCoy all at once The Sirens of Time promised to be a crazy ride.

Multi Doctor stories are generally not nearly as good as one would think they would be, as they generally come across as ‘fanwanky” and nonsensical.  Take for instance the 80’s TV episode The Five Doctors in which everyone looks to the Doctor’s first incarnation for some sort of wizened advice from time to time, despite the fact that the Doctor was younger and less experienced than the others.  Luckily The Sirens of Time escapes this fate a bit, but still comes across as a little thin storyline-wise nonetheless.

The story involves an invasion of Gallifrey, the Doctor’s home planet,by a warmongering race called The Knights of Velyshaa.  The Timelords release that someone or something is meddling with time and forcing three different incarnations of the Doctor to mess time up in some way in order to create this militant army.  Terrified by this prospect, the Timelords try to take measures to kill the Doctor so he can’t do the deed he is being tricked into doing.

The fifth Doctor is revealed to be stuck on a German U-boat in WWI, unable to re-enter his Tardis to go home.  The Sixth Doctor is on some kind of conference ship where a group of dignitaries and scientists are investigating a spatial anomaly known as the Kurgon Wonder. And the Seventh Doctor is in a jungle of some sort, where he saves a young girl from dying only to end up meeting a reformed war criminal on the run from android assassins.

While the acting and sound effects are really good, the plot in The Sirens of Time is unnecessarily complex at times and seems to be full of stuff that does not move the storyline along very well.  As a one shot story I feel that the episode is very “middle of the road”, but as a “sampler” of sorts for the next few dramas that were planned, I can see why this was made in this way.  All in all I liked The Sirens of Time, but better audios were to come.

My Rating: 3 out of 5