Ravenous 3.

Audio  The titling and story order of this boxed set misses a trick in not referencing Star Trek's Generations.  How hard would it have been to called the third episode, Situation Grimm in homage to Kirk's line to Picard on agreeing to leave the Nexus to battle Soran?  No?  Just me?  The main cover rather over sells the participation of that raft of companions.  They're only in the second episode of the box and it's an otherwise Doctorless episode which is great for continuity purposes but does leave us heading towards disappointment.  Thank goodness its a great episode anyway with some stonking cameos birthed from a hilariously well constructed set up.  There's no doubt, despite my reservations about the Ravenous and the Eleven, I'm enjoying this much more than Doom Coalition which often felt like it was trying to be too clever for its own good.

Deeptime Frontier

Which frame the Ravenous as somewhat like the Par-Wraithes from DS9, in that they've been coaxed out of an anomaly by a nearby space station.  Pretty notable for how it foreshadows the beings the Time Lords become during TW2 in how they're willing to interfere with causality like the renegades they've previously attempted to arrest any time they've come in contact with Gallifrey.  Some might criticise the initial cliffhanger resolution, but for veterans of Terra Firma and to be frank Doctor Who in general, the last minute unlikely intervention when the situation looks hopeless shouldn't be that surprising.  Also enjoying how, now that cross gender regenerations have now been properly established, it's being utilised everywhere.  Readers of the EDAs will be comforatable with the Time Lords changing species altogether.

Companion Piece

Well, phooey.  When it was indicated that Companion Piece was a chance to go back and tie up a long standing piece of continuity, I'd pretty much convinced myself that it would be the long awaited reunion of Eighth and Charley, the latter finally discovering the former is still buzzing around the universe, both of them realising that they'd both been a bit foolish at the close of The Girl Who Never Was, published back in, dear god, 2007.  Instead its something which has been knocking around even longer than that, River Song's equivalent of the Laika moment in Alien Bodies.  All of which said, this is bloody fun romp, largely because Nine is a funnier, more entertaining iteration of that character, with some storming if pretty dark one liners, especially about one of the Doctor's absent friends.  Superb.


In the making-off documentary on the accompanying about L.E.G.E.N.D., Matt Fitton very carefully says that the Brother's Grimm isn't something either the audios or television series has tackled before which leaves a space for those of us listening a story about a planet which is modelling itself around these fairy tales and being somewhat reminded of Grimm Reality, the BBC Eighth Doctor novel in which the Doctor and his friends find themselves on a planet which is modelling itself around these fairy tales.  The key innovation is drawing the actual Brothers Grimm ala the Goosebumps film which also introduced a version of the author into the hijinks.  Admittedly, it's such a great concept it's surprising a version hasn't turned up on television, although I suppose The Shakespeare Code is pretty similar too if you squint.

The Odds Against

Ok fine, the scenes between the Nine and the Eleven are fun even if there's no doubt they may have benefited from being recorded on the same day (actor availability leading to a split).  The corporeal Nine and the version that exists in the Eleven's memory ganging up together spins, but I think I would have liked more of the earlier incarnations talking to one another across time in different bodies, although that would also have required them to be clearer defined and as the Datacore entry on the Collective demonstrates, it's all a bit of a mishmash apart from those who've had their own narrative agency in a story.  Perhaps there'll be a moment soon, like IM Foreman in Interference, when all of the incarnations will meet in reality and we'll discover what they're really like and why they regenerated.

Ravenous 2.

Audio Quick landmark update. This is the first of the Eighth Doctor mid to late period releases which has the new logo on the front and cover design, which means that none of the spines match any more. Long term fans will remember the pain of this from the VHS releases.  Shifting to use the television logo to cover all the merchandise is always a bold move, especially right now in relation to the blu-ray box sets which are supposed to be all out in five years.  What happens if there's a regime change at the top and Mark Gatiss or Abi Morgan decide that they want something different to whatever Chibbers signed off on?  It's inevitable that we're going to end up with spines with logos which don't match and also don't represent the era upon which they're applied.

Escape from Kaldor

An incredibly good Matt Fitton script which provides the kind of development for Liv that Absent Friends gave to Helen.  The writer apparently opened up his research beyond television to Chris Boucher's MDA novels which then makes me wonder how much the society constructed here also harmonizes with the Kaldor City audios (perhaps it's about time I got around to listening to them) (assuming I can find a copy).  Especially strong is the sense of place.  Who is at its best when it offers familiar environments on other worlds which are almost but not exactly like Earth and having been to London a few times now, it's entirely possible for me to imagine what this shopping centre designed to attract high earners would be like even if in instead robots serving its employees earning an annual salary which is less than the price of handbag.

Better Watch Out

Utterly incredible.  Without the restriction of having to entertain fans and casuals on December 25th, Big Finish offers an all time classic Christmas story which is challenging in both its story and how its told.  A fairly conventional monster story is enunciated through parallel narrators, nested flashbacks and subjective exposition in ways which arguably could only work on audio as it uses our own imagination against us, wrongfooting who we think we're listening to how the action unfolds.  Plus it's completely festive without becoming cloying, partly because of the continuing thread of Liv being entirely noneplussed by contemporary human traditions (although you might wonder given how long she spent on Earth in Dark Eyes how she didn't come across it).

Fairytale of Salzburg

Long terms fans will probably work out the big character twist at the close of the story which just goes to tie up just how much this two part tribute to the Moffat era even it we'll be slightly perplexed by how it resolves itself with Clarke's law stretched to its very limit.  Is this God-like wish giving being an invention for this story or have they been knocking around elsewhere?  Will they be returning in the future, and surely a figure this powerful breaks the Whoniverse if they can just pop in and bend reality in this way?  Wouldn't they be quite useful during the Time War assuming they can take sides?  Also how much of what's happened to [spoiler] has been retained or have they been replaced with a different version with no memory ala Fitz in the EDAs?


After two stand alone stories, here's the obligitory arc episode to justify the title on the box.  It's fine.  It's a standard base under seige story set on a dying TARDIS with minimal crew and although the Ravenous's voice is creepy (especially when it's toying with Liv), it simply doesn't feel like a classic monster with enough potential mythology to sustain a whole series.  With some mild rejigging, there's nothing they're doing which couldn't equally have been done just as well with the Daleks in a way which wouldn't be possible with The Silents (for example).  Rather like Buffy's fourth or sixth seasons with their unconvincing Big Bad, so far in Ravenous it's the episodes which don't contribute to the overall story which work best, which I suppose means the Riley in all of this is the Eleven.