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.


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!