Doctor Who Audio Review: New Adversaries For Classic Doctors

Classic Doctors New Monsters Volume One is a Doctor Who audio box set from Big Finish Productions.  The theme here is to match Doctors from what is now known as the classic era to the enemies introduced since the 2005 revival from the BBC.  There are four stories here all directed by Barnaby Edwards.  It’s an inevitable and fun premise.  So what do I think of the stories? Well, let’s get into it, shall we?

Fallen Angels starts this collection off with Peter Davison’s version taking on the Weeping Angels, arguably the most popular menaces of the new series.  Phil Mulryne is the writer here who presents a pretty decent episode.  Sacha Dhawan, who is now the current incarnation of the Master in the television series, is paired with Diane Morgan as a young married couple get caught up with the Angels and the Doctor, transported back to the seventeenth century where they meet a temperamental artist known as Michelangelo, played by Matthew Kelly.  Joe Jameson, Dan Starkey, and the director himself, Barnaby Edwards, round out the guest cast.  This is a great start to the collection with a fairly complex paradox story mixed in here.

Simon Barnard and Paul Morris continue with the second entry entitled Judoon In Chains which stars Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor.  Nick Briggs lends his vocal talents as the Judoon.  The guest cast includes Kiruna Stamell, Nicholas Pegg, and Trevor Cooper.  The Judoon resemble rhinoceroses and they’s sort of mercenary bureaucratic law keepers.  I like them because they are not necessarily inherently evil beings looking to conquer anyone, but they are quite single-minded and ruthless.  One of their number ends up stranded in Victorian England in the hands of a circus ringmaster.  The Judoon have their own grievance with their wayward captain and are on the way to reclaim him, however there needs to be trial.  The Doctor ends up defending the Judoon captain who dared to show some compassion and individual thought.  Stamell sort of fills the void of the companion as someone known as Thomasina Thumb, the diminutive circus attraction with a large spirit. To lend some authenticity to the role, Big Finish found an actress who actually has dwarfism.  The story has a bit much going on that can easily confuse the listener, however Baker’s usual bombastic energy and charm helps the minor incoherence become more forgivable.  The setting of Victorian England could be a bit overused for this series, but it’s still a favorite era that I enjoy learning about.  The story has a few cracks, but Colin Baker’s presence and a well-chosen guest cast does make it very easy to overlook them.

Harvest of the Sycorax is the next entry written by James Goss.  Sylvester McCoy is tasked with bringing his Seventh Doctor toe to toe with these ritualistic, space-faring barbarians.  Giles Watling plays the Sycorax chief.  Nisha Nayer plays the young woman who gets swept up in the Doctor’s challenge to the Sycorax.  She has the unique moniker of Zanzibar Hashtag.  Alex Deacon, Jonathan Firth, and Rebecca Callard.  The episode was not terrible, but I just find myself not all that interested in the Sycorax.  McCoy was pretty good, but he ought to be after all of the hours he puts in with Big Finish productions.

Finally, Andrew Smith finishes this collection off with The Sontaran Ordeal.  Paul McGann returns as the Eighth Doctor.  The Time War has started, and the Sontarans want in.  Dan Starkey returns as a Sontaran named Jask.  Josette Simon, Christopher Ryan, and Sean Connolly also lend their talents here.  The Doctor and the Sontarans see the consequences of the Time War on a planet caught in the crossfire.  I found this to be a pretty interesting idea.  I have been following the other audio sagas about the Doctor’s participation in the Time War.  It also gave Jask a bit of depth which is sometimes hard to convey considering the militaristic mindset of the Sontarans.  Of course, having the Sontarans in this collection is a bit baffling since there were introduced in the classic era.  The Sontarans may not have had the frequency of appearances as the Daleks or Cybermen, however they did make their mark decades ago.  Oh well, it’s still a decent story to complete this set.

It was inevitable that Big Finish would indulge themselves once the licensing restrictions with BBC were alleviated.  Although I have become to enjoy all of the Doctors featured in this set, my enjoyment of the stories varied quite a bit.  I will say that none of the stories I found particularly terrible.  There is a second volume out there, and I hope that one will have more of a punch.  Either way, I will let you know.

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