Friday, September 12, 2008

Big Finish does good work

By this point, you all know how I feel about Doctor Who. A few months back, when I was really starting in on the fanaticism and devouring all the Who-media I could, I listened to a retrospective on the Eighth Doctor by the Doctor Who Podshock podcast. Since Eight's only canonical appearance was in the TV movie, and since I hadn't seen much of the work of the other Doctors about whom they were reminiscing at that point, I figured I could listen knowledgeably to the show. And for the most part, I figured right--until they mentioned the Doctor Who audio plays by Big Finish Productions. Now, I generally avoid the non-canonical peripheral works that inevitably surround the shows I like; I was pretty big into Star Wars as a kid, and it bugged the hell out of me when the non-canonical stuff I liked was rendered irrelevant by the canonical stuff I didn't (e.g., Boba Fett's origin). While I would gladly watch every bit of Doctor Who I could get my hands on, while I would view Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures with nearly the same fervor as the series proper, while I would devour fansites and podcasts, I drew the line at the spin-off novels, fan films, and so forth.

But the Big Finish audio dramas represented my only chance to get more Eighth Doctor stories with Paul McGann. And I really like radio dramas. And I drive a lot, and my usual list of podcasts tends to run out fairly quickly. So I started listening to the Eighth Doctor dramas. And I've really liked them; some ("Sword of Orion") have been better than others ("Stones of Venice"), but they've really worked to solidify my positive opinion of Paul McGann's Doctor. Moreover, they've given McGann a chance to shine, which sadly the TV movie did not. I'll state it again--if there's another Doctor-lite season of the show (as there is for 2009), I'd like to see a series of episodes or specials highlighting McGann's tenure as the Doctor prior to and during the Time War. Adapting some of the audio dramas--or at least Charley, who is a fantastic companion--would make the work that much more enjoyable (and easy).

Awesome Side note: According to The Sun, some of this is sort of coming to pass, as one of next year's specials will bring McGann back during flashbacks to the Time War. I hope this paves the way for more McGann in the future (team-up!). Edit: Or maybe not, but I'm going to continue to hold out hope.

Anyway, I've recently branched out and listened to a couple of the other Doctors' shows (since I've watched more of the other Doctors' episodes and feel like I'm familiar enough to do so). Despite how much I like Peter Davison, "Loups-Garoux" left me cold. Colin Baker's "The One Doctor" was a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek exploration of the Doctor Who mythos and tropes and whatnot. And while that one surprised me with its quality yesterday, I think I have a new favorite.

Because "The Chimes of Midnight" is incredible. It's creepy on the level of "Midnight" and "The Empty Child," it's poignant in a fashion similar to "Forest of the Dead," it plays with time in interesting ways like "Blink," and it's just a very well-written, well-put-together, fantastic Doctor Who story. It's not just "good for an audio play," it's one of my favorite Doctor Who stories--visual or otherwise. Up there with "Blink" and "City of Death." I recommend it to anyone--though you have to at least listen to "Storm Warning" first, since it introduces Charley and some of the plot elements. It's fantastic, fantastic, fantastic, and I hope it represents a general improvement rather than a statistical fluke.

The wait until Christmas--punctuated though it is with Sarah Jane Adventures--has just gotten an awful lot shorter. With Doctor Who on disc at home and on the iPod in the car, I'll be able to satisfy my cravings whenever I want. And I encourage the rest of you to do the same--at the very least, the Eighth Doctor deserves more than the TV movie.

2 comments:

Anthony Strand said...

You know, I've thought many times about listening to some of the 8th Doctor audio dramas. Like you, I just kind of want to see what where they went with the character.

I don't think I could listen to any starring the other three Doctors though. For one thing, there are still way too many serials I haven't seen. For another, I'm not all that crazy about any of the 5th-7th Doctors.

As for McGann coming back for Time War-related stuff, I think that would be awesome. Especially if he regenerates into Eccleston at the end, although that seems even more unlikely at this point.

Sea_of_Green said...

Though there were some things about the Paul McGann movie that I didn't like, I definitely liked Paul McGann himself, as the Doctor.

Thanks for posting about these audio dramas. I'll have to check 'em out!