Big Finish – August Round-up

James takes a look back at Big Finish’s audios for the past month.

It’s time for our monthly look back at last month’s audios, both Who and non-Who, from Big Finish.

Doctor Who

Patient Zero by Nicholas Briggs
Number: 124
TARDIS Team: The Sixth Doctor and Charley
Running Time: 121:54
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Released: August 2009

The first of the three part “goodbye Charley” arc, Patient Zero is half Dalek runaround, half psycho drama. While the Doctor is off battling his perpetual foes yet again Charley finds herself facing a threat from a very unexpected source, one which has been lurking deep within the TARDIS for far longer than anyone could have dreamt. Whenever the story focuses on this side of things it’s gripping, but unfortunately much of the time is passed with fairly repetitive scenes of the Doctor and Daleks yelling at each other through the forcefields, and it’s only late in the day, when the Viryans from “the Virus Strand” audios turn up, that things take a more interesting twist. Good set-up, but on its own not a particularly satisfying adventure. Full review here. 6/10

The Glorious Revolution by Jonathan Morris
Number: 4.02
Starring: Frazer Hines, Andrew Fettes
Directed By: Nigel Fairs
Running Time: 57:45
Released: August 2009

The poorest Companion Chronicle in quite some time, Morris’s story tries to cross the two styles of historical from the Sixties, the serious Aztecs-like drama and more romantic Highlanders-rompy but doesn’t really do anything new with the form. The story sees Jamie trying to change the course of history when the TARDIS arrives in London during the turmoil leading up to James II’s enforced abdication, but his sophisticated political convictions don’t really tally with the television character, and in the end it all feels a bit of fuss about nothing. Like Helicon Prime, the previous Jamie CC, the highlight is Hines’s uncanny impersonation of Patrick Troughton. Full review here. 4/10

Bernice Summerfield

There were two titles, Absence and Venus Mantrap released during August, both of which will be reviewed in full on the site shortly. Also now available is the long-awaited Bernice Summerfield: The Inside Story by Simon Guerrier which we haven’t seen yet but if it’s anything like the one for the first fifty Who audios will be an indispensable purchase for fans.

Stargate Atlantis

The Kindness of Strangers by Sharon Gosling
Number: 2.4
Starring: Paul McGillion, Neil Roberts
Directed By: Sharon Gosling
Running Time: 46:58
Released: August 2009

For the second audio in a row, this month’s Stargate story centres around a virus, although this time attention is more on the native inhabitants of a planet overrun by the infestation rather than our heroes and their battle for survival. The story follows Dr Beckett as he helps the rest of the team evacuate a rapidly-disintegrating planet, only to discover that the small colony they are working with is not the only settlement on the surface. Challenging Archus (Roberts), the leader of the colony, he uncovers the terrible truth; those in the other settlement have been abandoned, the last victims of a plague which once decimated the planet, and now Archus and his people hope that the disease will die with those poor wretches when the planet goes up in flames. Carson finds himself faced with an awful dilemma: try and help those dying people, at the risk of endangering the others, or abandon them to their fate? As he ponders, he begins to feel unwell…

The opening fifteen minutes of the play, leading up to Archus’s revelation, are among the strongest in the Stargate line so far, fast-paced, exciting and presenting Beckett with a real problem. Unfortunately, as soon as he decides on his course of action, things begin to go south, and head in a rather predictable direction. Tension dissipates rapidly, and we’re left with another not-terribly interesting story of Beckett unravelling the truth of the disease as the seconds tick down towards Armageddon Day. McGillion rather gabbles through the story too, as though he has a train to catch (which is a reason I guess the story is significantly shorter than usual) which adds up to a story which begins superbly and as such proves ultimately disappointing. 5/10


Kurgan Rising by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright
Number: 1.04
Starring: Adrian Paul, Toby Longworth
Directed By: Sharon Gosling
Running Time: 71:53
Released: July 2009

When rumours begin to spread of Immortals disappearing in an architectually bizarre building in the centre of Paris, Duncan and Joe travel to the city to investigate. Built by the mysterious Augustus Mason (Toby Longworth), the Barrow building has been seen many of Duncan’s fellow players of the Game entering but none leaving, including an old friend of his whom he meets shortly before the former too disappears. Little does he realise when he enters that the entire structure is an elaborate trap, designed by Mason for the express purpose of unleashing armageddon on the world of the Immortals, an armageddon that Duncan himself might be responsible for…

Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s suitably apocalyptic story serves as a fine ending for Big Finish’s first season of Highlander audios. Marking the return not only of the titular villain from the first film but also another unexpectedly familiar face, the story is only let down by the fact the former’s appearance is restricted to the story’s last ten minutes, meaning that anyone hopeful for a more extensive appearance by old growly-voice may be disappointed. To compensate, Longworth’s Mason is an enjoyably nasty villain and the interactions between Duncan and a returning character lend an emotional resonance for long-time fans, one which has a suitably moving pay-off at the end. It’s a bit of a shame that most of the world-ending scenes happen “off camera” (and, indeed, while Duncan is unconscious) and Adrian Paul’s laid back drawly delivery never sounds as though he’s especially engaged with the material, but it’s a strong end to what has been an enjoyable and promising first season. 7/10

Our thanks to Big Finish for their help with this review. As ever, all these titles can be ordered directly from their website.


Updated: Sep 10, 2009

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