Tuesday, 29 December 2015
REVIEW - YOU ARE THE DOCTOR AND OTHER STORIES
2015 ends with the Seventh Doctor and Ace
One of the things I look forward to most each year is the Big Finish anthology December release. The last couple of years have really gone that extra mile and as has often proven to be the case, this four-episode title is a great way of introducing new writers to the world of Big Finish. It’s the Seventh Doctor and Ace’s turn in 2015. Let’s see what they’ve been up to…
Note: Every anthology release sees a hidden plot point linking every story in the series. You Are The Doctor and Other Stories uses the Doctor teaching Ace to finally pilot the TARDIS as its link.
You Are The Doctor
I’ll admit I had a sneaking suspicion this story would somehow be in the style of those old 2000s “Choose your own adventure”. I’m delighted I was right as this is such a fun episode with each track acting as a page in a book and the story asking the audience to make a choice and affect what happens to the Doctor and Ace next.
But this isn’t just a creative gimmick Big Finish chose to add to their story. The strange “you choose what happens to the Doctor” thing actually has bearing on the story and even listening to the story from track 1 to 24 does kind of make sense even if there are several choices that lead to your death. This is a really exceptionally writing story in my opinion.
It also makes great use of the Porcians, the most incompetent invaders in the Doctor Who universe. Last seen in The Fourth Wall in 2012, You Are The Doctor manages to paint them in a most threatening light without changing their nature: Very ineffectual at EVERYTHING!
Rating this story: 9/10
Come Die With Me
Billed as a murder mystery, the second episode doesn’t manage to best it’s predecessor, but still manages to be enjoyable, giving the Doctor and Ace a rather unusual murder mystery to solve. While Ace doesn’t really do much in this story – or the Doctor for that matter – Come Die With Me is still a romp and something you can listen to in whatever mood and enjoy it.
Rating this story: 8/10
The Grand Betelgeuse Hotel
Big Finish falls into the same trap twice in a month: Using the “Doctor is dead/dying” trope. Series 9 used it to death (no pun intended), so hearing it from the horse’s mouth (Ace) as she recounts a pseudo-Time heist style story explaining why the Doctor isn’t on trial with her feels jaded. Thankfully scenes in the trial room do not take up much of the plot and the plot itself is like its immediate predecessors great fun to listen to.
One of the things that makes Big Finish’s stories so popular is that unlike the TV Series where every other episode can only create tension by threatening some large portion of the universe, Big Finish is content with isolated threats over an immediate, but often times smaller areas. It doesn’t hype itself up to black hole prepositions so it’s easier to come away satisfied. Every story in this anthology is like that. Save for the first installment, they are all pretty straight forward.
Rating this story: 7.5/10
Dead to the World
The final story features my favorite baddie of the lot. It’s also pretty obvious who they are as the plot doesn’t even bother disguising them. No redeemable qualities, just a pathetic, cruel and evil SOB. And yet they are effective…to a degree. They are effective as a villain to the degree the plot needs them to be.
Though, the fourth story does feel like the weakest of the lot, but as I keep saying, it’s just great listening to it. The expectation for it to be great is almost non-existent which is a plus because there is no pressure on it to do good. It just does. While Dead to the World pales in comparison to last year’s The Curious Incident with The Doctor in the Night-Time, it still manages to close the 2015 anthology on a high note.
Rating this story: 8/10
You Are the Doctor and Other Stories, like Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories from last year, is a satisfying way to close 2015. The quality of product Big Finish has put out, especially this year, is extraordinary. It has been a pleasure listening to their titles and I look forward to doing so in 2016.