Month: September 2018

My Big Finish 20 Honorable Mentions

We finished my Big Finish 20 which features 20 great Big Finish releases last week. However, Big Finish has a massive back catalog and there so many other releases that could be on there. I could list great individual releases for a long time. However, for brevity’s sake, I’ll only list two individual releases for honorable mentions and then focus on a few series of worthwhile audio dramas.

Individual Releases Honorable Mentions:

1) Treasure Island: A faithful adaptation that casts the magnificent Tom Baker as Long John Silver. Also the music suite on this one is just perfect for days you want to imagine you’re at sea. (Amazon) or Big Finish

2) The Scorchies: The Third Doctor’s Companion Jo Grant finds herself at the mercy of the Scorchies, a group of insane singing alien puppets. It’s as crazy as it sounds, but the music on this is great. The Scorchies would later return in Jago and Litefoot Series 8 and Iris Wildthyme: Reloaded. (Amazon or Big Finish

Series Honorable Mentions:

1) The Eighth Doctor Adventures: Big Finish began a series of audio dramas starring Paul McCann were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and were told in the style of the revived Doctor Who series as (mostly) standalone 50 minute episodes. The initial companion co-star for the first four series was Sheridan Smith as Lucie Miller (OBE). After the first four series, the Eighth Doctor Adventures continued as a series of inter-connected series box sets under the titles Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition, and Ravenous. The series has so many high points and great stories, but it’s also inter-connected, and I don’t think you get the full benefit if you listen to an episode as a one-off.

2) Dalek Empire: The Doctor’s greatest enemies are the Daleks. What happens when the Daleks attack and the Doctor is not around? Dalek Empire tells the story of Dalek invasions and human attempts to resist them. The series is part space opera and part war story. It features fine acting. Series 1 and 2 featured Blake’s 7 star Gareth Thomas, Series 3 featured then-future Doctor Who star David Tennant, and Series 4 featured an intense performance from former Doctor Who supporting actor Noel Clarke. The entire series was written, directed, and produced by Television Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs. With the Dalek Empire, you get great acting, a lot of action, and stories that can have surprising twists.

3) Counter-Measures: This series features a team investigating paranormal activity in the 1960s and 1970s. There are four main characters, three of which originated in the 1980s Doctor Who story Remembrance of the Daleks However, knowledge of Doctor Who is not required at all as the Doctor or the events of their appearance is never even referenced in the series. The stories are about a variety of threats, ranging from science gone mad to extraterrestrial threats, with political intrigue thrown in for good measure. It’s like a vintage British version of the X-files. The stories remain true to their eras with the first four box sets in the 1960s and a special and last two box sets set in the 1970s (New Counter-Measures.)

4) The Diary of River Song: River Song (played by Alex Kingston)  was introduced in Series 4 of Doctor Who and married the 11th Doctor in Series 6. Doctor Who hinted that River had her own adventures and this series is about her adventures traveling in time and space. She’s not entirely separate from the Doctor as in each of the first four sets, she’s met up with an earlier version of the Doctor (or two) but because of the rules she’s not allowed to reveal herself to any of them (at least that they’ll remember.) This series has continued to improve with each successive set, with a lot of fun and unusual stories.

5) The Avengers: The Comic Strip Adaptations: Big Finish took on the task of adapting eight eight-page comic strips featuring John Steed and Emma Peel into eight full-length audio dramas on two box sets. The results were delightful. Julian Wadham continued his role as Steed from the Lost Stories and adapted to the lighter style of the Emma Peel and Olivia Poulet does a great job stepping into the iconic role of Emma Peel. The stories are mostly solid and show some great imagination, given they just started from eight pages.

6) Sherlock Holmes Stories by Jonathan Barnes: While Big Finish made some interesting Sherlock Holmes releases prior to 2012. Jonathan Barnes 2012, “The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner, ” Big Finish came into its own with its Holmes stories. The new stories are respectful to the characters of Holmes (Nicholas Briggs)and Watson (Richard Earl) and explore that relationship while also taking some bold directions in the story. We get to see an elderly Holmes coming out of retirement in 1920s London after living years in the country. There’s also some great interconnection of stories beginning with the Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner and concluding after three box sets with the Sacrifice with Sherlock Holmes. For those looking for new Holmes Adventures, Big Finish is offering the best productions I’ve heard in many a year.

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