The Diary of River Song: A Requiem for the Doctor by Jacqueline Rayner (Big Finish, 2018) A somewhat predictable story overlaid onto its historical setting (rather than using it to any intrinsic purpose). Alex Kingston and Peter Davison work well together but cannot mitigate the feeling of treading water. The Doctor’s new companion is presented without any explication.
The Black Archive #37: Kerblam! by Naomi Jacobs & Thomas L. Rodebaugh (Obverse Books, 2019) Jacobs and Rodebaugh bring academic rigour and methodology to Kerblam!, reading the story at a far greater depth than its author can have intended. Their analysis—focussing on AI development and socio-political systems—supports the contention that Kerblam! suffers from plot-driven superficiality.
Doctor Who: The Bride of Peladon by Barnaby Edwards (Big Finish, 2008) Edwards has successfully paired Peter Davison’s Doctor (in all its earnestness) with Pertwee-era Peladon and many of the elements associated with that original brace of stories. The production features intrigue and misdirection (without overdoing it), decent voice acting and a surprise villain.
The Black Archive #36: Listen by Dewi Small (Obverse Books, 2019) A brief but lucid analysis invoking Freudian psychology and assessing Clara’s role in moulding the Doctor’s character (particularly by way of bootstrap paradox). Small belabours some points but steers clear of narrow-mindedness, instead contextualising the story’s workings within Doctor Who’s long history.
The Diary of River Song: The Lady in the Lake by Nev Fountain (Big Finish, 2018) A story that is challenging in its complexity (intriguingly rather than dishearteningly so) and mischievous in its characterisation, with artful twists and generally just a very clever execution. Fountain brings a creativity that Big Finish would do well to embrace more often.
Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones by David Ellis & Malcolm Hulke; dir. Gerry Mill (BBC, 1967/2020) The mostly lost Patrick Troughton story brought to life by way of animation. This one is well-acted and a nice blend of atmosphere and intrigue, albeit a tad overlong and that the antagonists insist on lumbering themselves with a moonboot-sized Achilles heel.
Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon (Big Finish, 2019) Rose’s quest across the multiverse begins with two wonderfully melancholic stories before losing its way trying to force the intrinsic emotion of the doomsday scenario (particularly when relying on minor characters resurrected from Russell T Davies’ Rose novelisation). Nevertheless a welcome return. ★★★★☆ The Endless Night by Jonathan Morris ★★★★☆ The…
Doctor Who: The Home Guard by Simon Guerrier (Big Finish, 2019) Once revealed, the scenario doesn’t actually make much sense. As an atmosphere piece, however, this intrigues nicely (and doesn’t unravel as much as, say, The Android Invasion). Elliot Chapman and Frazer Hines are remarkably on-point in channelling Ben and the Second Doctor.
Dr. Thirteenth by Adam Hargreaves (Penguin, 2019) Hargreaves takes his series of Doctor Who / Mister Men mashups out in one last glorious blaze of banality. Again, the illustrations aren’t bad, but the story is pointless and what little connection it has to Doctor Who is pure Russell T Davies-era.
The Black Archive #30: The Dalek Invasion of Earth by Jonathan Morris (Obverse Books, 2019) A bit light on actual analysis but nevertheless an impressive piece of research, comparing different iterations of The Dalek Invasion of Earth (both televised and film versions at script, broadcast and even novelisation level) to establish who was responsible for which elements.