First some background

As I’ve mentioned before due a the weak tip jar over the last two years I’ve had to take an overnight job at a warehouse. Because this job involves repetitive menial work we are allowed an ear bud as we work and while most people listen to music I listen to my big finish/bbc Doctor who audios in Chronological Doctor (1st doctor thru 11th Doctor). I am currently on the 4th Doctor with Romana 2 the 2nd time around since I’ve been employed there..

I occasionally get new Doctor Who episodes due to sales at Big Finish and huge markdowns on Amazon for pre-orders I listen to those as they come in unless they happen to fall in sequence with episodes I’m currently listening to. Such was the case with Big Finish audio The Well Mannered War arrived at my house on my day off. As it would be in the sequence of episodes I would be listening to this week I decided to put it on my Ipod and wait till it came up at work before hearing it for the first time.

There is a brief amount of overlap between my shift and the previous one and in the section where I’m currently working two of us from the 3rd shift share a space with anywhere from 4-12 people of the 2nd, most of whom are foreign born and several of who speak little or no English. Such was the case Monday night when I was listening to this episode for the first time.

Now Tom Baker is my favorite Doctor mostly due to the comedy and his re-teaming with Lalla Ward is still new enough that it absolutely delights me As I listened to the episode I wore a large smile on my face and occasionally broke into laughter when I heard sequences like this.

and this

That laughter and my grin apparently drew a very odd look from a 2nd shift fellow at the next table who was working across from the other 3rd shift man. He asked him in Broken English “That guy crazy?” (in broken English). The man who worked with me for the last year or so tried to explain that I just was listening to stuff on my Mp3 player that wasn’t music.

Apparently that explanation didn’t wash and the fellow moved himself to the table as far away from me as possible.

Nobody from 2nd shift came within 10 yards of me for the rest of the night.

Over the next several days I’ll be listening to several other 4th Doctor episodes that I haven’t heard before, I anticipate smiles and laughter as a norm until I get to Peter Davison sometime next week, I suspect the opinion of the folks that’s now spreading among 2nd shift won’t be changing soon

Big Finish, Tom Baker, Lalla Ward et/all, it’s all your fault.

The penultimate in my series of Reviews of the Matt Smith Doctor Who years

Summary: The Doctor relives the worst day of his existence, will his future selves convince him to do something he will regret forever.

Plot: While planning a day out with Clara the TARDIS is grabbed by Unit for help with a mystery by Royal Command of Queen Elizabeth the first. Upon arriving he is greeted with a Gallfreyian painting of the last day of the time war, he remissness back to his days as the War Doctor (see Night of the Doctor mini episode) on that Day the War Doctor decides he’s had enough of the Time War declaring No More. He steals the ultimate weapons with the intention of destroying Daleks and Time Lords alike to end the war but the weapons has developed a conscience and that conscience appears as Rose Tyler as the Bad Wolf. He suggests he doesn’t want to survive the destruction he is planning she replies that will be his punishment and challenges him to see what destroying Gallfrey will do to his future, what kind of man it will make him, she opens a time rift to the future which promptly produces a Fez…

Meanwhile back in the present the Doctor opens the letter from Elizabeth I which declares a deadly danger has come to her kingdom and when the time is right he is to be made curator to the undergallery. He remembers back to his time as the 10th doctor picnicking with a young Elizabeth where he proposes marriage, after she accepts he produces a machines that goes “ding” and confidently pronounces her a Zygon in disguise right up until his horse converts into a Zygon and chases him them, they are separated and after a dramatic confrontation with a rabbit he finds two Elizabeths. Before he can deduce which is real a time rift opens up and out pops…a fez.

Back in the present the 11th Doctor finds a group of broken statues to be analyzed by his biggest fan in Unit. After he grabs a Fez he spot on display Kate Stewart shows him a group of paintings with glass shattered as if something came out, all these paintings are landscapes but used to have figures in them, as they continue to the next room suddenly a time rift opens, he vaguely remembers it tosses his Fez through and then Leaps through the rift….

landing in front of the 10th doctor and the two Elizabeth the 1sts. After some snappy patter the rift starts getting active and they advise the two Elizabeths to run in opposite directions. He can hear Clara & Kate through the rift and tests it’s two way capacity by throwing his Fez through it. it doesn’t arrive back but seconds later…

…the war doctor appears to the horror of both of them. He is looking for the Doctor and after some snappy patter are confronted by the Queen’s guards. They are in the process of convincing them Clara is a witch about to hex them when an Elizabeth turns up and at the 11th Doctor’s suggestion has them thrown in the Tower where Kate Stewart is…

…meanwhile as Kate Stewart takes Clara to the Black Archive in the tower looking for a message planted by the Doctor. back in the undergallery Osgood discovers that the place is crawling with Zygons barely escaping from her double Clara discovers Kate has been replaced as well but manages to get the code from the planted message and escapes to where the three doctors are using Captain Jack’s vortex manipulator.

In the past the Doctor’s discover the Zygon’s are planning to invade earth by hiding in 3D painting when the time is right and have captured the black tower, Kate Stewart is freed by the Osgood and is determined to destroy the weaponry there before the Zygons can use it to conquer earth. Will the Doctors & Clara be able to stop the Zygon Invasion, the Destruction of London and will these actions cause the War Doctor to finally decide to destroy Gallfrey and end the time war?

———————————–

Writing: Steven Moffat’s story reads like the type of story a Doctor Who fan would write if he wanted a multi Doctor Story. The dialogue is snappy and the interactions between the doctors are clever. The inclusion of Osgood complete with 4th Doctor Scarf is a brilliant stroke as is the inclusion of the curator at the end, however I see no reason why the rest of the doctors couldn’t have been included in the big climax scene as it would not have added much time to the show, nor why they could have not been included in the epilogue, but these are 50th anniversary quibbles and these don’t reflect on the quality of the episode itself which is VERY well done. I particularly like the last ten minutes but I don’t want to spoil it.

Acting: Lots of strong performances, by the regular cast, David Tennant seems to be having a lot of fun, John Hurt is so good that you can believe he has been playing the Doctor forever but the single best performance is Billie Piper who absolutely owns her role. The Curator at the end steals his scene, but that’s just his nature.

Ultimate Anniversary Moment: “No sir Thirteen!”

Memorable Moments: I wasn’t expecting that, you’re basically just a rabbit, I’m not judging you, Timey Wimey?, Breath that could stun a horse, weak and feeble woman, sorry about the Dalek, Bad wolf girl I could kiss you , Who nose.

Really cool moment: The Daleks on detecting the Doctor stop killing time lords En Masse to go after him…very bad move

Oddities: Shouldn’t the time lords only be acquainted with Doctors one through War doctor (8 1/2) How do they recognize the ones after him?

Pet Peeves: If the Daleks are that obsessed with the Doctor couldn’t he have led them away from Gallfrey simply by showing up elsewhere? How does the Doctor’s interaction with the General in Arcadia effect the actions of Rassilon & the high counsel. How would the Zygons know about what happened to the Sycorax?

Great Quote(s):

War Doctor: Don’t sit on that!
The (Bad Wolf) Moment: Why not?
War Doctor: Because it’s not a chair, it’s the most dangerous weapon in the universe.
The (Bad Wolf) Moment: Why can’t it be both?

********************************************
10th Doctor: It was the horse. I’m going to be King. Run!

******************************************
10th Doctor: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Oh, very clever. Whatever you’ve got planned, forget it. I’m the Doctor. I’m nine hundred and four years old. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I am the Oncoming Storm, the Bringer of Darkness, and you are basically just a rabbit, aren’t you? Okay, carry on. Just a general warning.

*******************************************

10th Doctor: What are you doing here? I’m busy.
11th Doctor: Oh, busy. I see. Is that what we’re calling it, eh? Eh? Hello, ladies.
10th Doctor: Don’t start.
11th Doctor: Listen, what you get up to in the privacy of your own regeneration is your business.
10th Doctor: One of them is a Zygon.
11th Doctor: Urgh. I’m not judging you.

*************************************************

War Doctor: You’re me? Both of you?
10th Doctor: Yep.
War Doctor: Even that one?
11th Doctor: Yes!
War Doctor: You’re my future selves?
10th & 11th Doctor: Yes!
War Doctor: Am I having a midlife crisis? Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that? They’re scientific instruments, not water pistols.

**************************************************
Clara: Hang on. Three of you in one cell, and none of you thought to try the door?

**************************************************

10th Doctor: Ow! The desktop is glitching.
War Doctor: Three of us from different time zones. It’s trying to compensate.
11th Doctor: Hey, look. The round things.
10th Doctor: I love the round things.
11th Doctor: What are the round things?
10th Doctor: No idea.

*************************************************

11th Doctor: Alien technology plus human stupidity. Trust me, it’s unbeatable.

***************
11th Doctor: Hello, hello, Gallifrey High Command, this is the Doctor speaking.
10th Doctor: Hello! Also the Doctor. Can you hear me?
War Doctor: Also the Doctor, standing ready.
GENERAL: Dear God, three of them. All my worst nightmares at once.

**************************************
General: I didn’t know when I was well off. All twelve of them!
12th Doctor: No, sir. All thirteen!

****************************************************************

11th Doctor: I could be a curator. I’d be great at curating. I’d be the Great Curator. I could retire and do that. I could retire and be the curator of this place.
Curator (elderly 4th Doctor): You know, I really think you might.
11th Doctor: I never forget a face.
Curator (elderly 4th Doctor): I know you don’t. And in years to come, you might find yourself revisiting a few. But just the old favourites, eh?

Final Verdict: 5 Stars, could it have been a better 50th anniversary episode? Yes. Was it not as good as the fiveish Doctors? Yes. but is it a spectacular story in it’s own right? Without a question.

Ranking of Season 1st of 16 Frankly if it wasn’t the BEST episode of the season it would be a failure.

1. The Day of the Doctor
2. The Bells of St. John
3. The Crimson Horror
4. The Power of three
5. The Name of the Doctor
6. The Snowmen
7. Nightmare in Silver
8. The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe
9. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
10. Journey to the Centre of the Tardis
11. Cold War
12. A Town Called Mercy
13. Asylum of the Daleks
14. The Rings of Akhaten
15. Hide
16. The Angels Take Manhattan

Ranking in Matt Smith Era to this point (top 10 shown) 1st but again if a multi doctor story that’s the 50th anniversary isn’t the best of the era it would almost be a failure

1. Day of the Doctor
2. The Bells of St. John
3. Let’s Kill Hitler
4. The Girl who waited
5. The Doctor’s Wife
6. The Pandorica Opens
7. A Good Man Goes to War
8. The Eleventh Hour
9. The Big Bang
10. The Crimson Horror

auntie matterMy Review of the 4th Doctor Big Finish Episode The Auntie Matter Staring Tom Baker as the Doctor and Mary Tamm as Romana #1 is available at Amazon.com here

It really drives home the loss from Tom Baker not joining up with Big Finish right at the start.

You can get these and other great Big Finish Doctor Who Videos in the US at Mike’s Comics

I will likely pre-order the boxed set from Mike’s comics but I have this comment to make. You should give them a ring concerning the new episodes The cover art is a vast improvement over the last set.

Demon Quest vol 1 of 5

Anyways I’d drop an e-mail to Mike’s comics right away if you don’t want to wait for boxed stuff.

My review of the Boxed Set of Tom Bakers return as the Doctor in Hornet’s Nest, which was long delayed by Lent is available at Amazon.com here.

It was worth the wait to get all five parts together and well worth the price.

Amazon has a pretty reasonable price on the set, but of course I got my copy from the friendly people at Mike’s comics.

Since Rich has finished his last story and hasn’t started his next story yet and we need a change of pace to get my mind off of all of the stupid stuff we’ve had to deal with today.

So lets have a fun poll that has (almost) nothing political about it:

The Ron Paul thing BTW is a running gag and the only thing from Charles worth emulating these days

…because if the reviews from Amazon.com UK is any indication it looks like the story and the presentation of his return is just awful.

Some quotes:

The listener is initially left thinking that Hornet’s Nest is either a radio drama made on the cheap or a talking book that the producers have tried to make more interesting with a couple of extra voices and one or two sound effects.

and this:

Paul Magrs’ storyline and script leave a lot to be desired – both pedestrian and silly.

and that’s from a 5 star review.

And finally this:

What we have is a Tom Baker who sounds like he’s sleep-walking through the lines he’s reading and a story that belongs in the 19th century.

…I have already cancelled part 2 which I had on pre-order.

Remember these are the Doctor Who Fanatics who got the item right away, first day stuff.

If you can get Doctor Who fanatics to cancel a pre-order of this then that’s BAD!

I don’t think narrative style is a big deal, that is the style used by the Companion Chronicles. I think the BBC decided they could copy the success of Big Finish on the cheap and somehow managed to convince Tom Baker to do it. They created expectations and just failed to deliver. At least that is my guess I haven’t managed to get a copy as it isn’t available on Amazon US and Mike’s Comics doesn’t have it yet. It’s only £5.37 out of England. Of course Amazon UK shipping cost practically doubles the price.

If the problems are post production it might be possible to improve the CD’s that are coming, but I’m still talking out of my hat so we will see.

As this is the release day in England I’ll keep an eye on the Amazon reviews and see if the unhappy trend continues.

Update: Andrew Whickey is a bit kinder:

For an audience coming to this from the other BBC audiobooks – straight readings of novelisations of TV shows – this will be a pleasant change, but compared to Big Finish’s productions it seems slightly underwhelming – it’s just not using the medium well enough.

That said, I will still be buying the rest of the series – it’s definitely entertaining, and while the story is not up to the standard of Big Finish’s best, it’s definitely not *bad* either – it’s a pleasant, diverting hour-and-ten-minutes of entertainment, with Tom Baker getting to do his thing again. It’s firmly aimed at a casual nostalgia market, rather than being aimed at either hardcore fans or people who are interested in innovative drama, but that’s not a bad thing. On its own terms it’s enjoyable enough, but I hope if Baker does any more, that he will turn to Big Finish…

Well it looks like it all comes down to the expectations game.

Let just hope that this means we will be seeing him working with Big Finish sometime soon:Tombakerdoctor

Tom Baker is to return to Doctor Who in four new audio adventures for BBC Radio, reported to be airing from September.

Baker discusses his return to the role which made him a star in the latest edition of Doctor Who Magazine, which is in shops today.

You don’t get much more earth shattering in the Who-verse than this. Tv Squad says:

This is big news. Until David Tennant, Baker was synonymous with the role yet absolutely refused to do any performances related to it. Big Finish has been doing Doctor Who audio dramas for a decade with four of the other actors who played the part, yet the company was never able to snag Tom Baker for one.

Den of Geek provides Details:

The latest information on these new additions to the Fourth Doctor canon is that there will be five of them;

1. The Stuff of Nightmares (September 3rd 2009)
The Doctor recruits Mike Yates to help him defeat an enemy of enormous power.

2. The Dead Shoes (October 8th 2009)
The Doctor travels to Cromer’s Palace of Curios in 1932 and discovers the horrific truth behind…a pair of ballet shoes!

3. The Circus of Doom (November 5th 2009)
One hundred years earlier, the Doctor encounters a sinister circus that exerts a strange influence over the population of the town of Blandford.

4. A Sting in the Tale (December 3rd 2009)
A sinister Mother Superior is running awry in the Wintertime. It’s up to the Doctor to find out quite what’s going on.

5. Hive of Horror (December 3rd 2009)
The Doctor and Mike Yates and an unwilling accomplice must do battle with their fearsome enemy.