Sunday, 8 June 2014
FEATURE: THE BEST COLIN BAKER AUDIOS!
Today is the Sixth Doctor - Colin Baker's birthday - and to celebrate, I thought I'd take the time to showcase his greatest Big Finish stories...
Baker always gives the best performance in whatever he does, but these stories below are simply magic. Tailored to his Doctor, these are what I personally consider the cream of the crop and the best of the best. Celebrating 71 years of Colin Baker, here's looking at you Doctor Number Six.
I don't know exactly why, but put Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor and Robert Jezek's Frobisher in the same story and you get vocal magic ladies and gentlemen. I really don't understand why fans have such a problem with Frobisher as he is such a entertaining character to 'watch'. The Holy Terror is a real oddball that exemplifies how fantastic a story can be if a chance is taken to step out of the usual Monster of the Week box. The Doctor and Frobisher encounter a ridiculous civilization that follows tradition to the letter and then repeats it without ever learning anything. A king shall die, his son takes over, brother of son will conspire to kill him. Everybody knows what's going to happen next and treat it like some sort of playwright. Make-believe, but treated as though it was real-life. For example: The new king has to proof he's a god by not dying from a bullet wound. Since gods can't die from bullets, blanks are used in the demonstration because what's the point of just wasting ammunition. Everybody knows this, but still treat it like some kind of miracle. It's hilarious!
The One Doctor written by Gareth Roberts & Clayton Hickman
Another attempt at Big Finish to step outside the usual Doctor Who comfort zones. And it works! More of a parody than an actual story, the Doctor and Mel arrive on the planet Generios in the Generios system in the Generios galaxy where the evil Skelloids launch an attack upon the seventeen worlds of Generios. At the same time, another 'Doctor' and his companion Sally-Anne are already being paid through the nose to defeat the Skelloids.When the threat becomes too large, the two Doctors must unite to vanquish this unstoppable evil!
Davros written by Lance Parkin
Probably the best Davros story in Doctor Who canon today. The Doctor is forced to work with Davros to save millions of innocent people. No people. You didn't misread it: The Doctor is teaming up with Davros. This is a recipe for fantastic character development and Colin Baker bouncing dialogue off Terry Molloy's Davros is quintessential. There are no Daleks to threaten the Doctor. There is only Davros and his insistence that he is reformed and prepared to work towards the betterment of mankind. What's also very nice about this story is that while it is set during a time the Doctor is travelling with Peri, she is not in this story. I don't mean she doesn't belong as Peri is my favorite companion. What I mean is we get the Doctor when he was still loud and brash and arrogant. Put that up against Davros' 'gentle' and 'reformed' personality and who do you think the characters are going to side with in this tale?
The Wormery written by Paul Magrs and Stephen Cole
One of my first Sixth Doctor adventures. I personally believe that Colin Baker gives the best performance in this story because the brooding and hurt Doctor portrayed here wasn't just conjured out of thin air. After being put on trial, the Doctor goes to Bianca's Bar to think about what his people put him through. He not only meets Iris Wildthyme again who is spectacular to listen to, but the Sixth Doctor also falls in love with the bar's owner Bianca. Yip. The Sixth Doctor is stretched in all directions here. He's in love, he's hurt, he's confused and annoyed all at the same time. Only a pro can pull that bit of acting off and Colin does that with gusto!
The Reaping written by Joseph Lidster
The most character development Peri gets and the darkest Cybermen tale I believe exists in any medium. The soundtrack and the background mix is eerie, the plot is pure evil. Not camp evil, but really stomach turning evil and sick that sometimes feels as though it doesn't belong in a Doctor Who story such as this. And thrown into the mix is the Doctor and Peri as they try their best to deal with things. From start to finish, it's made clear that there will not be a happy ending. Not even a mini one. If the new series could stick to Cybermen like these, then the Daleks will become a laughing stock. Well, to me they already are!
Project: Twilight Cavan Scott & Mark Wright
This story really freaking scary. The characters are scary. The atmosphere the listener is thrown into while they listen is scary. Part horror and part mystery, Project Twilight is a dark gem. When people talk about how scary Doctor Who can be, they aren't referring to stories like Hide or Asylum of the Daleks, they're talking about this tale of the Doctor and Evelyn going up against Nimrod, one of the most despicable, but extraordinarily entertaining villains Doctor Who has ever produced.
The Curse of Davros by Johanthan Morris
When people talk about body swap in fiction, it's usually a cliche, played for laughs and jokes with some kind of lesson about how it feels to walk a mile in another's shoe. The Curse of Davros has no humor. It asks the question: How does it feel to be Davros? This simple question has an answer over two hours long. It is a serious deviation from how body swaps have been treated onscreen. The closest thing that comes to mind is the movie The Skeleton Key and that thing freaked me out completely. The Curse of Davros thankfully isn't that creepy, but it does provide a unique insight into what Davros goes through being confined to the chair, the continuous pain coursing through his body and just how easy the Doctor has it.
The Sandman by Simon A. Forward
Coincidentally, I'm relistening to The Sandman right now. Brilliant stuff. I'm not a big fan of the heavy-heavy space adventures. It feels a bit too SCI-FI for me, but The Sandman is the exception. Even though Six is mellowed out and travelling with Evelyn, we get to see Six harkening back to the TV days as he gives us a ruthless, darker Doctor that I just love. I love the loud and brash Doctor, so hearing Colin going back to his roots was a dream come true. The Galyari are a race who never learn, so the Doctor terrorises them every few generations by donning the moniker of the feared Sandman who skins Galyari and and uses their hides to decorate his coat of many colours.
The Wrong Doctors by Matt Fitton
What's better than listening to one Colin Baker? Listening to two of them running around Peas Pottage. One from just after being put on trial and one who is planning to meet Mel for the first time (from her POV). Is it that simple though? Never. You have two Sixth Doctors and two Melany Bush's in a story that serves as a prequel, mid-quel and a sequel all in one. Let the confusion begin! The only things distinguishing the dual Doctors are their attire and their volume control. It's fun listening and trying to keep track of which Doctor is speaking and voicing two distinct versions of himself proves just how Colin Baker has mastered the inns and outs of his incarnation. A fun romp that doubles (no pun intended) as one of those stories that can be listened to over and over again in rapid succession without tiring you out.
Scavenger by William Gallagher
Remember when I said I'm not a big fan of heavy space SCI-FI? Scavenger is quickly becoming the story to change that part of my mind. A sentient space station that absorbs and downloads debris to become stronger, the Doctor using his TARDIS as a literal taxi jumping between points frequently. Plus you have a cliffhanger the size of a planet that comes at the end of part four, so there is no resolution - yet! Scavenger feels like a strange story, but it combines very simple and fundamental Doctor Who ideas to work. This coupled with the best performance and character development by Lisa Greenwood and her character Flip, makes Scavenger worth enduring that painstakingly cruel cliffhanger.
I hope you have a fantastic 71st birthday Colin Baker. Thank you for so many wonderful years as my favorite incarnation of that marvelous Time Lord. Six is boss!