Audio and radio play reviews

Review: Doctor Who – The Kingmaker

Big Finish's The KingmakerI know I said I wasn’t going to mention those Big Finish audios again, but this tickled me. As you may know, the Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays have various past Doctors appearing in new stories. Apart from Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, for whom they don’t have the rights, the most notable absence in their line-up is Tom Baker. They asked him if he’d like to do any, but there are ‘creative differences’ in how they’d like to feature the fourth Doctor and how Tombo wants to play him.

So, stuck with this thorny problem, the Big Finish have come up with a clever way round the issue in their latest play, The Kingmaker.

Q: What do you do if you want Tom Baker but he’s a fruit-bat who wants a talking cabbage for a companion?

A: You hire Jon Culshaw from Dead Ringers instead!

He’s only in a little bit, but it’s still a funny turn in a funny play, so catch it if you can. You’ll never guess who the villain is…

UK TV

Review: Doctor Who – 2×5 – Rise of the Cybermen

The Cybermen are back! The Cybermen are back! Yeah. Whoop-dy do.

I was kind of looking forward to last Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who. But not much. Those publicity shots of everyone’s favourite cyborg who isn’t called Jamie, Steve or Murphy took away my enthusiasm. Star Trek had had the Borg, but these new Cybermen looked almost cuddly in comparison, even 15 years on. Nice one Beeb. The Cybermen could have been the stuff of nightmares. Instead, they’re ‘The Cybies’ in metal moon boots.

So I went into it with low expectations for the Cybermen. Instead, I was keeping my eye on the direction: Graeme Harper, famed and hallowed among classic Who directors, was telling the Cybermen what to do.

All things being equal, though, I wasn’t wholly impressed by Graeme’s first New Who, but then I don’t think he had much to work with. It was an interesting story that I suspect has just enough plot for one and a half episodes. Since they’re spreading the story over two episodes, rather than compressing it down to one, that left the first part distinctly flat and mostly set-up. Part two, however, is going to be worth waiting for since it’s going to be non-stop action.

So what was good?

  • Mickey and Ricky (will one become a Cyberman? Text “Spod” to 80110 for Mickey to get turned into a brain in a tank…);
  • Mickey finally being given a backstory
  • The new concept of the cybermen (brain in a tank)
  • TARDIS in distress and Doctor’s solution
  • Some of those Cyber-isation scenes which are guaranteed to scare the crap out of some of the kids
  • Not feeling like the entire episode was rushed

What was bad?

  • Billie Piper failing to give 110%. She’s starting to seem a bit “flaccid” next to Tennant
  • Don Warrington being given the boot after five lines
  • Another over the top villain in a wheelchair creating a race of monsters (we’ve got Davros for that)
  • Cybermen only being in it for five minutes
  • The new cyber catchphrase. I can’t even remember what it is, it was so catchy.

So not bad. Not brilliant either. I suspect part two is going to be outstanding though.

Incidentally, I know they have some strange music choices in Doctor Who Confidential, but the opening track from Clockwork Orange?

Since this is the second Who posting of the day, I’ve saved up the two Tennant images quota to give you one movie of his being interviewed by John Barrowman. Am I kind or what?

Commercials

Monkey!

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PS My wife and her friends are very worried about Johnny Vegas. They suspect he’s going to be aphonic in a few years’ time if he doesn’t get treatment. Anyone fancy starting an online petition with me?