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...It's been a bumper crop year for Team Five fans.

I'm ambivalent about bringing Adric back, because Matthew's a little rusty (although he was great in last year's Short Trip "A Full Life"), and because I prefer S20 Nyssa who's more experienced and outspoken. The Star Men and Zaltys were fun but not stellar stories (pun intended), The Contingency Club was the only one I felt measured up to Big Finish's usual standards of "classic Who, only with really good scriptwriting, and all the companions have moments to shine.")

But some years we just have to be content with a classic Doctor's trilogy. This year? There's SO MUCH MORE. Last year we had an extra anthology with Turlough. This year is the gift that keeps on giving. Alien Heart / Dalek Soul was flipping brilliant and original, almost as much so as Heaven Sent— the first story is just setup for the second, but the second had me yelling expletives at three different points. So we had two good to great Nyssa & Five stories, which of course makes me happy. And we're not done with Five yet this year. 

September gives us TWO more treats.

"A Heart on Both Sides." Short Trip with older!Nyssa — post-Terminus Space Medic Nyssa, saving lives and being Wonder Woman, encountering the Eighth Doctor at the beginning of the Time War.

Big Finish Audio cover

I've always wondered what older!Nyssa would say/do if she learned of the Time War, since her own experiences with Time Lords other than the Doctor have been largely negative, yet she's so loyal to the Doctor. On the one hand, she'd sympathize with his predicament — she's watched the Time Lords execute him, for goodness' sake, not to mention her personal tragedies with the Master— but on the other hand, she's a healer and a doctor, medical variety, and she'll be not best pleased if she find the Doctor connected with a war that's sending casualties her way. I've wanted her to confront one of the post-Time-War Doctors for years (as the Last of Her Race, she has an additional angle they can't do here). But Eight will do.

My only regret is that it's a Short Trip, so single-narrator, rather than Sarah and Paul working together. Both of them can project quiet passion and intensity, and Nyssa only gets angry very rarely, so it would be a hell of a confrontation for them to act. On the other hand, Short Trips have the advantage of letting us see the Doctor through the companion's eyes, and Nyssa's nonhuman, "very old friend of the Doctor with a life outside of his" perspective is somewhat unique.

There's an Adric Short Trip in November, "The Ingenous Gentleman Adric of Alzarius." The description on their website suggests another panto. It could be a hilarious spoof, IF Matthew is up to the challenge. A big if. (Except personally I don't ship Adric/Nyssa, and reading between the lines there may be a bit of it, but we shall see. Can't very well begrudge Big Finish feeding other people's ships after what they did for mine in Dalek Soul.) I'm looking forward to the "Dragon" in that story. ;) 

But here. Here is the story that had me squeaking for joy as soon as Janet posted something about being at the studio with Lou Jameson. Main Range Fifth Doctor audio: Time in Office. TEGAN AND LEELA and a political drama (anthology?) about the Fifth Doctor getting dragged back to Gallifrey and forced to serve at least a little time as the president. Tegan. And. LEELA. teamed up. Five, you are in so much trouble.

CD cover for Big Finish Doctor Who "Time in Office"

[Full-sized version]

This cover art is already gorgeous, some of the best Big Finish has produced (including the stained glass Dalek). But what's that we see at the bottom of the scene, for the dedicated classic Who connoisseur? "A few bare rocks with some weeds sprouting from them and some pathetic little patches of sludgy snow." — The Time Monster
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Trying to figure out how to word this tactfully, because I love audio Doctor Who so much. It's just one thing they could do better.

General feedback re:TARDIS team interactions in the Main Range )
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Before I listen and review -- what do you think's going on here?

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I keep coming back to Spare Parts. It's such a challenge to set a classic Who story where the end is a foregone conclusion, because there's no way to alter future bits of the Whoniverse, but BF has been doing it for over a decade.



Anyway, there's so many good parts of this audio, including a rare shouting match between the Doctor and Nyssa, but this part of their argument caught my attention:

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‚Äč
  • Only canonically queer companion of the Fifth Doctor so far?
  • Only BRITISH companion of the Fifth Doctor so far?
  • Only deeply religious companion of the Doctor I can remember?
Hannah defies the gender norms and expectations of her time, dresses in men's clothing, refuses the epithet of "lady," and insists on being called "Ms." She's from the lesbian community of Boston in 1910 or so, probably P-Town. A hearty soul who's partial to liquor, she carries a shotgun, flirts genteelly with the ladies (including Nyssa, if you listened to that clip!), and is unfazed by aliens and alien technology. And her boisterous frankness can be quite entertaining.

Her spirituality interests me. It's rare for science fiction to deal with spirituality or religion. It's even rarer for a Who companion to express religious beliefs openly. But Hannah's spirituality informs her actions and motivates her to seek enlightenment among the stars, an unusual reason for a companion to join the Doctor. Of course, BF played it safe. Rather than portraying her as a member of a mainstream religion, Hannah is a member of "The Order of the Crescent Moon," an imaginary spiritual sect modeled on late 19th-century Spiritualism and The Order of the Golden Dawn.

Surprisingly, her spiritualism gives her something in common with Nyssa. In Darkening Eye and Land of the Dead, Nyssa mentions that her culture has learned to "combine the spiritual and the rational." For Nyssa, science and the rational come first, but can be informed by the spiritual and non-rational, those things which science can't measure or quantify. Hannah's not a scientist, but she's a very down-to-earth person, making her woo-woo convictions surprising. I think a skilled writer could do something with the two of them, tapping into the ongoing "science vs. religion" cultural debate.

On another topic, I loved Hannah pretending to be Nyssa's governess. On the one hand, it's a handy disguise, since it deflects nosy questions about the Doctor and his young lady companion: she's not his *cough*, she's his ward, for whom he's employed a respectable chaperone. On the other hand, Nyssa's not going to tolerate that arrangement for long; she's more experienced than Hannah, she's been with the Doctor for years, and she's certainly not going to act subservient to Hannah (or the Doctor). The sham governess/ward dynamic could make for some interesting character tension, plus some hilarious moments when Hannah is pretending to be in charge while Nyssa's really calling the shots. (Then again, Hannah's not likely to take any orders from her.)

Granted, the Doctor didn't seem to strike up a rapport with Hannah the way he did Erimem. Granted, the stories with Hannah so far haven't served her particularly well: the writers struggled to integrate her into the Five & Nyssa team that everyone knows so well at this point. And granted, she seems to have been a three-story-only companion.** But I can't help hoping we'll see Hannah again.

(above left: Francesca Hunt as Rebecca Fogg in The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne... too feminine a look for Hannah, but the right attitude.)




**[SPOILERS to MASQUERADE]

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If a tree falls in a forest...



Welcome! It's been a wild, crazy, lovely, painful year for me, beginning my Big Finish journey in December 2013, rediscovering why Nyssa was one of my favorite characters when I was a girl in 1980, binge-listening to every one of her audio stories in 2014, falling in love all over again with older!Nyssa, making an odyssey to England to put my Team Five novella into her actress' hands, and sharing my 40-year classic Who fandom with a new generation of fans.

So. Let's talk Nyssa. PLEASE. It's been driving me crazy, that I can't discuss Entropy Plague because I don't want to spoil people, yet for me, it's as big a deal as a Doctor regenerating or the Missy reveal.

Clear out now if you want to avoid spoilers. I HAVE THINGS TO SAY. 

SPOILERS TO ENTROPY PLAGUE... )

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See, this is one of the reasons I created this blog. Spoiler warnings on Tumblr are all very well, but "Read More" doesn't work on mobile. So, without further ado…



For my review, I'll be vague first, so as not to give away plot points and details (i.e. spoiler-free), then I'lll rate, then I'll talk about details.

 TL;DR: I thoroughly enjoyed it.
 

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originally posted on Tumblr Dec 2014

circular time cd cover

Circular Time contains four mini-stories tracing the arc of the Fifth Doctor’s friendship with Nyssa. The last one, “Winter” by Paul Cornell, is my all-time favorite Big Finish audio. It’s a touching, bittersweet half-hour that makes my eyes water, but more than that, it’s a powerful, sensitive character study.

Most classic Doctors keep their true feelings well-hidden. This story lets us peel away that mask and dive inside his head during a moment of extreme crisis.

MEGA SPOILERS warning.

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July 2017

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