REVIEWS: Big Finish audio round~up

Its a review round~up featuring all~new reviewers for Blogtor Who! Included here are three brilliant new audio titles from Big Finish including a "lost" Sixth Doctor story, a Seventh Doctor adventure and the return of Ian Chesterton! All these releases are available now from Big Finish, visit their site HERE.

The Lost Stories: The First Sontarans
Starring Colin Baker & Nicola Bryant

Reviewed by Emrys Matthews

Originally written in 1984 for Colin Baker’s Doctor, The First Sontarans was unfortunately trumped by Robert Holmes, The Two Doctors and a returning Patrick Troughton. Twenty-eight years later it’s finally been granted a release by Big Finish in their Lost Stories range.

Whilst on a jaunt to the moon, the Doctor and Peri follow a signal that leads them to the English countryside in 1872, where they stumble upon some familiar enemies. The small cast is particularly strong; specific mention goes to Anthony Howell of Foyle’s War fame as Jacob, a man with a big secret, and Dan Starkey (Strax in A Good Man Goes To War) who adds a bon fide quality to the proceedings by providing the voice of this story’s featured Sontaran, Jaka.

It’s always wonderful to hear Colin Baker getting a fairer crack of the whip as the Doctor, sans his technicolor dream coat and other unfortunate trappings of 80s Who. With the support of Script Editor John Dorney, Andrew Smith has done a great job adapting his original script to audio. With each episode the plot really steps up a notch, gaining gravity and building momentum as it whizzes along.

Unlike the Cybermen or  Daleks, the Sontarans didn’t receive an onscreen origin story; throughout their various appearances we’ve been able to piece together a few tidbits of knowledge, but we’ve never known about their genesis. How does a clone species come about? You can’t help but make a comparison with Star Wars and its clone army. There is certainly a danger of uncovering such an iconic race’s creation so late in the day that it might not gel with the audience’s perspective of the well-known potato-heads. The origin is managed incredibly well, and it isn’t just a Sontaran version of Genesis of The Daleks; the story doesn’t take place on Sontar but on 19th Century Earth.

Without wanting to spoil anything, there are plenty of surprises, and revelations along the way and the unpredictable and indeed worthy origin of the Sontarans is most satisfying. Some fans will inevitably question its ‘canon’ status but all will enjoy this wonderful story that has finally acquired its well-deserved place in Doctor Who lore, in giving us the origins of the cunningly titled First 

Companion Chronicles: The Time Museum
Starring William Russell
Reviewed by Alison Trace 

This is the latest Companion Chronicle audio production from Big Finish, written by James Goss and directed by Lisa Bowerman (probably better known for her own portrayal of Bernice Summerfield). This episode stars William Russell as the featured companion – Ian Chesterton.

Set some years after he his adventures with the Doctor, Ian wakes up to find himself in a dusty museum wing commemorating his time-travelling exploits. The curator, Pendolin (Philip Pope) is hungry to show him around the exhibits, reawakening bittersweet memories of his long gone, and in some cases forgotten, youth.

But all is not well in the museum, with whispering predators who eat memories following the duo as they sample a second helping of past glories. Is Ian’s recollection vague due to his age, or to something more sinister…

Even for someone like me – not there to experience Ian’s adventures first time round – this was a nostalgia feast. Russell recaptures his own younger voice, and a few other recognisable ones, brilliantly. Key points of his episodes were spotlighted and name-dropped deliciously, making you feel like you had indeed partaken of a smorgasbord of classic stories.

Protect and Survive
Starring Sylvester McCoy & Sophie Aldred

Reviewed by Dave Prince

Featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ace (played by original actress Sophie Aldred) and Hex (Philip Olivier), this latest Big Finish adventure gives us a glimpse into a world of uncertainty and also that of a vengeful Doctor.

The story is set in 1989 amidst the possibility of World War Three (in this instance a nuclear war). Throughout the first quarter of the story, there is no Doctor in sight for the listener or, indeed, the companions who have really become a team themselves. Finding themselves alone in the TARDIS with no Doctor and with the Cloister Bell sounding, Ace manages to land the Tardis in a field where they find Albert and Peggy in the process of building their fallout shelter.

Unfortunately for Ace and Hex the attack is just about to go off and the pair find themselves taking shelter with the couple. In no time the four of them are suffering from the fallout of the attack and at the point of despair when everything starts to rewind itself.

It was at this point, for me, that the terrible truth revealed itself, i.e. the groundhog-day likeness and that of a Doctor-lite episode of which we have become partial to over the last couple of years. Also there are many arc questions asked and of which I will look forward to be answer maybe not in the next episode but over time. All in all, a very good story.

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