Doctor Who: A potted eighth Doctor guide

Paul McGann as the Eighth DoctorWell, Poly asked for it so here’s the definite but brief guide to the televised/audioised adventures of the Eighth Doctor. Basically, the TV movie and the Big Finish stories. I’m steering clear of novels, web animations, et al.

I’ll try to keep the reviews very brief, and hopefully you’ll all benefit from knowing the peaks and troughs of the first and only Scouse Doctor Who’s adventures.

I’ll start off with the TV movie as an example: don’t bother unless you watch it with the sound down, you’re drunk, you just want to see Sylvestor McCoy shot or you want to watch fanboys froth as they try to explain how the Doctor is/isn’t half-human.

Big Finish Adventures

Storm Warning

16 Storm Warning: Fun, McGann’s not yet hit his stride, but India Fisher (Charley) is great from the outset.
Should you listen to it? Yes, just to get you started
Sword of Orion

17 Sword of Orion: McGann meets the Cybermen, but easily missable.
Should you listen to it? 60% yes
Stones of Venice

18 The Stones of Venice: Absolutely daft
Should you listen to it? No!
Minuet in Hell

19 Minuet in Hell: Doctor loses his memory, Charley ends up in a ‘gentleman’s club’ and they all meet the Brigadier, while surrounded with the worst American accents in living memory. Story’s a bit tatt, too.
Should you listen to it? Not if you’re American, but yes if you want to listen to an historic Whovian meeting
Invaders from Mars

28 Invaders from Mars: One of Mark Gatiss’s silliest efforts. Quite fun. Quite ignorable
Should you listen to it? Do you like Mark Gatiss? Do you like Simon Pegg? Do you like Jessica Stevenson? Then what are you waiting for?
Chimes of Midnight

29 The Chimes of Midnight: Creepy and stonkingly brilliant
Should you listen to it? Hell yes
Seasons of Fear

30 Seasons of Fear: You’ll laugh your arse off when you realise precisely which of the Doctor’s old – and highly obscure – enemies has managed to kill the Doctor, forcing him to go through time to prevent it happening. Really very good, despite the Cornellian influences.
Should you listen to it? On the whole, yes.
Embrace the Darkness

31 Embrace the Darkness: To be honest, I have absolutely no recollection of this story whatsoever. I’m going to have to dig it out. I suspect it was rubbish, otherwise I’d have remembered it.
Should you listen to it? Can’t tell you for sure. But probably not.
The Time of the Daleks

32 The Time of the Daleks: First time the Eighth Doctor meets the Daleks. Another one I can’t remember. Sorry.
Should you listen to it? Erm…

33 Neverland: Pull on your geek pants, because we’re going Time Lord continuity mad. Sets up everything for the Zagreus and alternate universe saga
Should you listen to it? Only if you have several reference books with you and can cope with Lalla Ward STRESSING every OTHER word WHENEVER she’s TRYING to SUGGEST anger

50 Zagreus: A great big mess of a 40th anniversary story. Just about every actor who’s ever been in the show appears, but not as you’d expect.
Should you listen to it? If you’ve still got those reference books on you… Otherwise, you can give it a miss.

52 Scherzo: Eighth Doctor and Charley stuck in the middle of nothingness for a whole play.
Should you listen to it? Hell yes
Creed of the Kromon

53 The Creed of the Kromon: First story with that wretched C’rizz. It’s all downhill from here
Should you listen to it? Not if you want to avoid wasting £15. Only worth it if you want to know who C’rizz is. You don’t.
The Natural History of Fear

54 The Natural History of Fear: All is not what it seems in the world without memories
Should you listen to it? Very clever with a nice twist. Not to everyone’s tastes though
The Twilight Kingdom

55 The Twilight Kingdom: I remember listening to it. I just don’t remember it. I think it might have been okay.
Should you listen to it? Another maybe. Sorry
Faith Stealer

61 Faith Stealer: Erm
Should you listen to it? I do remember this one was actually all right
The last

62 The Last: Nope. Don’t remember this one.
Should you listen to it? This I remember as being forgettable

63 Caerdroia: The Doctor and co finally come close to leaving the alternate universe
Should you listen to it? Now this one was good. Go listen to it
The Next Life

64 The Next Life: More continuity horrors, but it finally finishes the Zagreus/alternate universe strand
Should you listen to it? Worth it for the battles between Charley and Perfection, played by Daphne Ashbrook (the eighth Doctor’s on-screen companion Grace), as well as the vocal talents of Paul Darrow and Don Warrington
Terror Firma

72 Terror Firma: The Doctor and co return to the normal universe, only to find Davros waiting for them, ready to explain his cunning plan. Except he’s already done it and it’s quite nasty.
Should you listen to it? Another very good one. Has the marvellous French Dalek resistance. Seriously.
Scaredy Cat

75 Scaredy Cat: Forgettable
Should you listen to it? No
Other Lives

77 Other lives: The Doctor, Charley and C’rzzz get separated at the Great Exhibition and the TARDIS goes walkabout. They’re all forced to create new existences for themselves
Should you listen to it? It’s marvellous and quite touching. Especially good are McGann’s interactions with India Fisher’s sister, Francesca Hunt. Also features Ron Moody as the Duke of Wellington
Time Works

80 Time Works: The TARDIS lands in between times
Should you listen to it? Not bad, but probably not worth wasting your pennies on
Something Inside

83 Something Inside: Psychic monster beastie burrows into people’s heads inside some sort of Cube-esque prison
Should you listen to it? Nah. Not unless you liked Cube, that is
Memory Lane

88 Memory Lane: Fun and entertaining
Should you listen to it? If you don’t like the light stuff, steer clear. Otherwise, give it a whirl. Full review here

BBC7 stories
1 Blood of the Daleks: Full review here
2 Horror of Glam Rock: Full review here
3 Immortal Beloved: Full review here
4 Phobos: Full review here
5 No More Lies: Full review here
6 Human Resources: Full review here

Big Finish Specials
Shada: Get the Tom Baker version instead
Living Legend: Marvellous, but short. Get yourself a copy if you can.

Okay, not entirely definitive since I’m going to have to turf out a few of them to remember what they were like.

  • I thought the second McGann season was stronger than the first (I quite enjoyed The Stones of Venice in the first season, but then I like Magrs non-Who writing as well as his Who novels). Embrace the darkness is by Nick Briggs, quite creepy – audio friendly with blindness and some gruesome eye treatments sticking in the mind. Justin Richards wrote the Dalek story which has the Daleks quoting Shakespeare. Scott Gray writes in his comments on one of the DWM comics reprinted in the Flood that where a writer has concocted a plot for a specific scene or effect and the story isn’t working, then ditch that part and work on the rest. Richards wanted Daleks quoting Shakespeare. They quote Shakespeare. He should have followed Gray’s advice.
    My favourite McGann audios are the wonderful Rob Shearman scripts, Chimes and Scherzo – both being a class above the norm – and The Natural History of Fear which is, as you say, not to everyone’s taste but which has a brilliant twist and some interesting progenitors (Potter’s Cold Lazarus, Zamyatin’s We and he like). It’s a pity Jim Mortimore hasn’t written any other DW audios.

  • “Justin Richards wrote the Dalek story which has the Daleks quoting Shakespeare”
    Ah. I thought it was that one, but was worried it was secretly a Colin Baker story and got everything mixed up.
    Didn’t like it. It was Daleks pretending to be Shakespeare lovers.

  • This is a very good way to see how many sales you may have just earned for Big Finish! Watch where those visitors go!!

  • “India Fisher (Charley) is great from the outset”
    “The Stones of Venice: Absolutely daft”
    Double ouch!
    Very true about Lalla Ward acting angry though 🙂

  • Rob Buckley

    Would that they had an affiliate programme… Actually, none of the reviews above are linked to the Big Finish site, so I won’t get a desperately granular view of the outclicks.
    Not a member of the India Fisher Testosterone Brigade then? I’m sure there must be one.
    “Double ouch!”
    It has web-footed gondoliers.

  • “Not a member of the India Fisher Testosterone Brigade then?”
    I’m a Nyssa man – loyalty must be maintained 🙂
    “It has web-footed gondoliers.”
    Well exactly. How can you go wrong with web-footed gondoliers?

  • Rob Buckley

    Splitter! We all know Peri is the one true path to glory!

  • Poly

    Thanks for that, much more comprehensive recommendations than I ever hoped for.
    Here is my shopping list, if anyone is interested what I ‘ll be buying and why:
    The ones I am buying:
    Storm Warning: for the set up, Charley and for the fun.
    Invaders from Mars: I like Mark Gatiss’s writing, Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson and most of all I love silly Doctor Who
    The Chimes of Midnight: I love silly Doctor Who best when I can alternate it with brilliant non-silly Doctor Who.
    Scherzo: nothingness, two-hander, I am weird enough to like the sound of it.
    The Natural History of Fear: I am a sucker for clever twists.
    Caerdroia: I ‘ll buy it solely on your recommendation. You seem a man you can trust 🙂
    Memory Lane: Fun and light Doctor Who will fit nicely after alternate universes.
    I ‘ll buy (maybe, eventually)
    Minute in Hell: I like memory loss stories, and women in gentlemen’s club and historical settings.
    Seasons of Fear: It sounds good but the Doctor’s old enemy will be lost on me.
    Terror Firma: I don’t like the Daleks but you say it’s good.
    Other lives: By the time I listened to the rest, I ‘ll know whether I am engaged enough to like (or love) this one.
    Neverland and Zagreus: I ‘ll probably buy them because I want the set up for the alternate universe.