Chills at All Hours

Jul
23

Review of The Chimes of Midnight (#29)
Big Finish Release Date: February 2002
Doctor/Companion: Eight, Charlotte "Charley" Pollard
Stars: Paul McGann, India Fisher
Preceding Story: Invaders from Mars (Eight, Charley)
Succeeding Story: Seasons of Fear (Eight, Charley)

There's something deceptively luxe about an audio drama. Because all the visuals happen in your own head, the production values are higher than anything one could ever hope to see on screen. It's like the intersection between reading a fabulous book and watching a fantastic film.

The more Big Finish (BF) audios I listen to, the more I love the format. In part, it's undoubtedly because I've taken recommendations and chosen some of the better adventures available, but I suspect that the quality doesn't vary as drastically in this medium as with television. Those with broader audio experience can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd be surprised to learn there was a BF equivalent of, say, Timelash that gets almost universally panned.

A review of a BF audio, then, comes down almost entirely to story. Certainly if there were a voice actor that grated on the nerves for some reason, that might be something to mention, but for the most part, all I can think to critique for my readers' edification is the plot. Spoilerphobe that I am, this fact leaves me in a bit of a predicament.

How much can I reveal to my readers? I certainly wouldn't want everything spelled out for me in a review, especially if I were reading it to decide whether or not to listen to a particular adventure myself. Yet how do I describe the depth of the mystery presented to the Doctor and Charley if I don't detail at least a few little plot points?

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Nu-View #19: Enter Number Ten

Jul
16

The Christmas Invasion (Series Two, Ep. 0; 2005)
Viewed 08 Jul 2014

Doctor/Companion: Ten, Rose Tyler
Stars: David Tennant, Billie Piper
Preceding Story: The Parting of the Ways (Nine, Rose)
Succeeding Story: New Earth (Ten, Rose)

    As the Ladies gather one last time at the current Chez Neowhovian, the impending move to a new house is top on everyone's mind. Next time we get together (hopefully jO will finally be able to join us again; it's been too long!), we'll be at a completely new place.

    We barely even mention in passing that we've tried before to watch this episode (though there's a little muttering about it as Mickey shushes his coworkers to listen more carefully to the TARDIS materializing). The next thing we know, Jackie's delivering the classic joke line ("Doctor who?") and the opening credits crash across the screen.

    Poor Mickey is still getting the short end of the stick. "Can you just let it be Christmas?" he begs Rose. "Not so much," jE answers for her. On screen, Rose herself is trying a little harder, nodding acquiescence.

    "You promise?"

    "Yeah," she assures him.

    "Well, yeah, until the life or death stuff," amends jE. "Then I'll renege on my promise." And so it goes.

    We watch the mystery of this new alien threat unfold while Rose, Mickey, and Jackie try to figure out what to do on their own. Memories of our first experience with this new Doctor bubble to the surface, too. He's kind of scary serious when he briefly wakes to defuse the murderous Christmas tree, and send away the "pilot fish" St Nick-costumed brass players. No wonder everyone looks at him like they've never met him before. In retrospect, it's really interesting to see that side of him so early; he had that ominous presence a lot in his later stories, but it's anomalous for Series Two.

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    Confession #65: I'm Not (Just) a Neowhovian

    Jul
    09

    Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a local general-SFF convention called CONvergence. I understand it's pretty well known, even outside the Twin Cities, and Who writer Paul Cornell (also a perennial guest at Gally) tweeted some pretty complimentary things, too. I suspect at least a few of my readers have heard of it, if not attended it themselves.

    This being another one of those tricky in-town cons for me (complicated by the fact that we are in the throes of packing up to move house), I dashed in and out of the con again, getting only the tiniest taste of the experience. Each of the four days, I attended only one or two panels, including Cornell's "Advanced Cricket for Americans" masterclass on Friday afternoon. (What's more American than playing cricket on Independence Day? Errr.....)

    What really threw me off, though, was that I am still very much a newb where cons are concerned; this was my first broad-spectrum con (as opposed to a dedicated Who con). Not only was it much larger than any other I've attended (about twice the size of Gally), but it was packed to the gills with other fandoms.

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    Confession #64: I'm Nervous About August

    Jul
    02

    This week we finally got a formal announcement that the first episode of Series 8 will go out on 23 August (as several fans had already surmised). While I'm still looking forward to Capaldi as our new Doctor, I'm getting really nervous about what the series has in store.

    I'll admit, a lot of it has to do with Moffat remaining at the helm. When the Grand Moff first came on board, I was pretty psyched. I'd really enjoyed his episodes under RTD, and figured we were in for some great storytelling. Three series later, though, I'm long since ready for him to move on. (This week's other news—that Moffat is staying at least through Series 9—thus had me grinding my teeth.) The real question, though, is whether the change in lead will yield any change in either tone or structure of the stories being told.

    Capaldi himself has been in the business a long time, and as a life-long Doctor Who fan (like Moffat), has his own ideas about what is or is not Doctor-ish. I can't help but wonder whether or not these two facts will allow Capaldi the confidence to push back against Moffat. Something about Matt Smith makes me doubt he would ever have dreamed of second-guessing the man. I can only hope having someone equally knowledgeable of the Doctor's history might rein in this show-runner.

    Because seriously—it's time for some new tropes.

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    Confession #63: I Wonder If the Doctor Gets Vacations

    Jun
    25

    Do you suppose the Doctor's vacations ever go to plan?

    There have been a few times here and there where we've witnessed him taking his various Companions off to some particular (intended) place and time for the sole purpose of relaxation and recreation. Most often, the results are less than ideal, as the TARDIS crew gets pulled into some brand of local trouble.

    For example, in the eponymous tale, the Fourth Doctor took Romana II to the Leisure Hive to make use of its famous facilities. Of course, they find themselves smack in middle of serious political machinations instead. More recently, Ten took Rose off to New15 York in New Earth, only to discover something seriously wrong with the medical research facility. Even when he merely takes a moment out of his otherwise full schedule to fish (see, e.g.The Androids of Tara or The Two Doctors), things soon go all wahooney-shaped.

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