Big Finish

Released 2012

Starring Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy

Synopsis: An overview of the middle third of 2012's releases.


Six Micro Reviews by Stephen Maslin 26/3/16

Since the beginning of 2009, Big Finish has presented its releases in 'half-seasons': groups of three, featuring the same Doctor-companion partnerships, (dominated by the Seventh Doctor with Ace and Hex and the Fifth with Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough). Though this has sometimes over-emphasized The Curse of the Story Arc, in general it has worked rather well, a half-way house between the disconnected one-off and the lengthy full season. Let's take a look at a couple of these half-seasons (by my reckoning, Season 20b, part one and Season 27c, part one), dating from 2012.


The Emerald Tiger

written by Barnaby Edwards

(5th, Nyssa, Tegan & Turlough)

Though the ending is a little overwrought, a great support cast and breezy adventure setting make this a very pleasant listen, a perfect vehicle for Peter Davison's Doctor. Janet Fielding continues to impress (and one is mindful of writers giving her character a lot more respect than she ever got on telly). The 1920s setting puts one very much in mind of Black Orchid (no bad thing in my book). File under 'likeable'.



The Jupiter Conjunction

written by Eddie Robson

(5th, Nyssa, Tegan & Turlough)

It's doubtful whether Eddie Robson could write a bad script if he tried but, by his standards, this is workmanlike and not much more. Having said that, the cast get plenty to do, the alien-with-mysterious-motivation-of-the-month keeps us guessing and (other writers please take note) a complicated science-fiction set-up is achieved without acres of expositional technobabble. (Could really do without the strangulation scene, though.)



The Butcher of Brisbane

written by Marc Platt

(5th, Nyssa, Tegan & Turlough)

Another pretty good story, revisiting an old villain in an unexpected way (though as a sequel or prequel to The Talons of Weng-Chiang, it leaves a lot to be desired). Like its two predecessors, this won't have you shouting from the rooftops, but you wouldn't be disappointed to receive something of this calibre once a month.


see also: Season 20b, part two (172 Eldrad Must Die, 173 Lady of Mercia, 174 Prisoners of Fate)


Protect and Survive

written by Jonathan Morris

(7th, Ace & Hex)

Ignore the first three minutes (pointless bickering to pad things out by the sound of it) and you're into something rather special. First the dislocation, very sparse and eerie, then encroaching terror, leading to frenzied panic. Though the first disc is particularly harrowing (stick some headphones on in a dark room and I defy you not to be really freaked out) and the second disc has to take its foot off the gas, the paranoia is stretched out right to the end. For a company that many consider to be little more than niche marketing, this is a truly exceptional achievement.



Black and White

written by Matt Fitton

(7th, Ace, Hex, Aristedes & Sally)

An intriguing premise: the same place, a decade and a half apart. A shame then that the realization of that premise is utter drivel. With its horrendous acting, characters forever explaining things to each other, and 'action' scenes that just don't work, this veers from being cringeworthy in the extreme, to being face-chewingly dull. Only Philip Olivier emerges with any credit.



Gods and Monsters

written by Mike Maddox & Alan Barnes

(7th, Ace, Hex, Aristedes & Sally)

A much better script than its predecessor, this is still beset with the same problems. It is meant to be epic (in fact, it's merely periodically noisy) and though we are supposed to have emotional involvement in the outcome, one instead finds oneself clock-watching (and heavens, aren't there a lot of continuity loose ends to hoover up!).


see also: Season 27c, part two (189 Revenge of the Swarm, 190 Mask of Tragedy, 191 Signs and Wonders)