In a Cunning Marketing Ploy or Sheer Coincidence, who knows, the same week that the lovely and perfect (shusht, I can’t help it, I may love Peter Capaldi) new Doctor is announced, Big Finish have permanently reduced the price of their first fifty Doctor Who audio plays to a very more-ish £5, or, if you’re living in this century (see, I say that and yet six months ago if you’d handed me an iPad I’d have stared at it uncomprehendingly before crying “Witchcraft!” and running away), £3 for the download. £3! For 100 minutes of Doctor Who! Possibly excellent Doctor Who! Possibly rather dodgy, but still, how disappointed can you be when it only cost you £3?
Anyway, contrary to what I’m going to say when this week’s Verity! comes out (something like, “Go and randomly choose one! No advice for you, Big Finish newbies! Sink or swim like I had to!”) I do have some recs, and here they are, beautifully compiled into a numerical list. Hurrah!
10) The Spectre of Lanyon Moor: This is quite fun. And very trad. Very fannishly, it has the Sixth Doctor and the Brig in an adventure together. ON A MOOR. It’s like what casual viewers think Doctor Who’s always like except it really only was that one time in Terror of the Zygons. COMFORT BLANKET LISTENING. And I don’t remember being annoyed by Evelyn in the least.
9) Davros: The Sixth Doctor and Davros, wherein Davros works for the good of humanity and the Doctor is concerned that he might not actually have come over all altruistic. It’s really smashing character stuff. I remember this being recced to me and I was all “ooh, they’d never have done this on the telly, and it’s really good. Hurrah for these audio things!”
8) The Marian Conspiracy: A historical that takes a fascinating look at Mary Tudor from later on in her reign. She wasn’t always Burn The Protestants happy, but got rather a bit less unkeen on ordering executions after an attempted rebellion (but let’s not forget, she burned about 300 Protestants, Henry VIII murdered some 70 000 of his subjects, yet who gets remembered as the “bloody” one? Handy clue: it’s not the man). It’s intelligent and considered stuff. It also introduces Evelyn Smythe, a companion loved by many listeners who are not me. I like her for a whole two of her stories and then get increasingly irritated about the inappropriate twee before it all gets even worse, and I shan’t get into a rant…so, Evelyn, she’s a historian in her mid-fifties and she likes hot chocolate.
7) Storm Warning: A jumping on point of sensibleness! The first of the Big Finish stories for the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard. It’s not ground-breaking stuff, but it’s a decent adventure and sets up a fair few of those arc-y type things that are all the fault of Buffy and/or Babylon 5.
Alternatively, if you’re a bit more a pox on this listening in order rubbish and just want to get to the proper good stuff, then it’s…
6) …Seasons of Fear (a ridiculously fun adventure through multiple time zones with Romans and the Doctor’s ex-fiancé and Charley getting very attached to a large sword) or…
5) …The Chimes of Midnight (a delightfully creepy haunted house murder mystery time trap type thing. Best to listen to it with the lights out.)
4) Bang-Bang-A-Boom: This isn’t going to appeal to everyone, I know, (I mean nothing does, but this *particularly* won’t) but the people it won’t appeal to are WRONG. It’s the Seventh Doctor and Mel and Eurovision in space. If you have just gone yay! I bet a shiny half-penny piece you’ll enjoy. If you have just melted in horror, possibly not for you.
3) The Church and the Crown: Really this is a better adventure than The Eye of the Scorpion, but I rec it a place down since it follows directly on from Eye so, y’know, I’d say get that one first. It’s really good too! But Church and the Crown, ah, it’s like Doctor Who made just to pander to me. It’s seventeenth century France, and they’re at the court of King Louis XIII and Anne of Austria and MUSKETEERS. Thus there might be rather a lot of lovely Three Musketeers in-jokes. It’s a smashing adventure, smart, funny and a fantastic first TARDIS outing for Erimem establishing just how awesome she was to be as a companion as she leads the defence of Paris.
2) The Eye of the Scorpion: If you’re looking for a jumping on point, I say The Eye of the Scorpion. It’s a historical set in ancient Egypt with Peri and Five and ancient political shenanigans, and introduces the best of all possible Big Finish companions, Erimem, almost-Pharoh of Egypt. This team’s my favourite of all the TARDIS combos that Big Finish have done, and they have a remarkably strong series of stories. My Top Ten Big Finish is three quarters Peri&Erimem, and it’s not entirely because I love the pair of them together (a lot of BF listeners talk about how BF redeem the Sixth Doctor for them; bollocks to that, I say. I *love* telly!Six. Big Finish made Peri awesome and Five…well, he’s still beige, but it’s a much more appealing sort of beige with Peri and Erimem around.)
1) The Holy Terror: Yeah, if you buy just one, try this. It’s the Sixth Doctor, and Frobisher, aka the giant talking penguin. I will say nothing else. I wouldn’t want to spoil it. Is there anyone who doesn’t like this one? If there is, don’t tell me; that’s not the sort of thing I want to know.