Anticipating Big Finish: The New Series
Gustaff Behr examines the New Who releases to come from Big Finish.
Big Finish recently dropped a huge announcement that they have acquired the rights to a bunch of new characters, companions and monsters and are making not one, not two but three box sets to add to their already heavy hitter line-up for 2015-2016 which includes four UNIT: The New Series box sets featuring Kate Stewart and six Torchwood titles featuring Jack Harkness.
Joining these is The Diary of River Song which brings back Alex Kingston as River Song and The Churchill Years, which will be a Companion Chronicle-esque box set featuring Ian McNeice. River Song will also meet the Eighth Doctor in Doom Coalition 2 and the final episode of her own box set. Not just that, but Doctors Five, Six, Seven and Eighth will be facing the Weeping Angels, Judoon, Sycorax and Sontarans in the third box set called Classic Doctors, New Monsters. What can we expect from these titles and just how confusing is the Doctor’s timeline going to get? Let’s find out…
Let’s start with River Song. Like Rose and Clara, she is one of the most controversial companions of New Who and yet she is getting her own series right off the bat. At this point there aren’t any details except that she will meet Paul McGann’s Doctor in the final episode. Given that Big Finish emphasized more danger in her meeting Paul’s Doctor in Doom Coalition, it’s likely that this story takes place after that one. It’s also interesting having Song meeting past Doctors. Big Finish could make this a ‘thing’ every year by having her meet Seven, Six, Five (I’m not counting down a rocket launch okay?). The Doctor Who game The Eternity Clock establishes that Song has meet Doctors 1-9 before and wiped their memory with Hallucinogenic lip stick. We have our solution for not polluting the Doctor’s timeline. That and the Eighth Doctor has like the worst memory of any Doctor if you understand the joke. Just imagine that: Song out of nowhere kissing Eight OR Seven OR (dread) Six! Does she need to provide Sylvester McCoy with a step ladder? Maybe swallow her pride if Colin Baker is in his early years? Time will tell.
Next up we have Churchill recounting his adventures with the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. We also know that Kazran Sardick will be making an appearance, though we don’t know how or why yet. It would be interesting if we got to meet Hitler again. I wonder if someone’s let him out of that cupboard yet. Maybe a Doctor/Hitler/Churchill character piece? We also know a Dalek will feature so that episode is probably set after Victory of the Daleks. It would be nice if this series wasn’t all WWII. I know it’s Churchill so WWII will probably be prominent, but it would be a bit of a soar topic if the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctor (twice in his case) flat out refused to help him. We the audience know why, but in-universe, it seems silly. Plus, Winston Churchill in space. I’m just sayin’.
Like I mentioned, this series will probably follow a similar format to the Companion Chronicles with one or maybe two characters doing the voices for every other character involved. A good excuse to have the New Doctors in there without actually having them in there. Hopefully this will change soon.
In November later this year, the Eighth Doctor goes up against the Eleven, a Time Lord driven with a Time Lord-esque Multiple Personality Disorder through experiencing all of his different incarnations’ personas at the same time, in Doom Coalition. River Song is scheduled to make an appearance and there is a risk of Big Finish ruining her introduction in Silence in the Library. Remember that scene where Ten met River? We don’t want to spoil that by duplicating it or ripping it off befor it chronologically takes place. Big Finish will no doubt wield some ancient magic and completely side step this move and do something completely different. It will not step on Moffat’s story or that lovely scene. I hope…
But the question is how? I mentioned the lip stick, but a good way of doing it might be to have River using an alias or being part of the story without interacting with the Doctor. In short, hiding from him once she knows he’s there. I hope this isn’t the case as I would love some Eight/River team up action. Part of what makes River Song so fun to watch is her teasing the Doctor about his future.
There is also a high risk of River stealing the show like she is prone to in the television series. I don’t mean the ‘it’s all about me’ thing with Clara, but Alex Kingston really knows how to steal the scenes she’s in and while I know Paul (like Matt) can hold his own, Doom Coalition also features Liv Chenka, a companion who is sub-par right now and would be easily overshadowed by River Song’s presence. Not that this author would mind.
Last but not least, we have Classic Doctors, New Monsters. This is a quasi-Locum Doctor idea, but instead of Doctors 5-7 switching companions with Doctors 1-3, this series gives the Old Doctors New Who foes in the Weeping Angels and the Judoon. It is also a smashing idea as it really connects the two eras together. The Tenth Doctor knows the Judoon, but now we know it’s because his Sixth incarnation has already dealt with them before. The same goes for the Weeping Angels. Where did the Doctor first meet them? We’ve had Blink. Think about it: The Doctor knew about them. He wasn’t expecting them at that moment, but he knew about their biology, their killing methods. How does he know so much about them? Well the Fifth Doctor is about to answer that question for us. It will be a sort of origin story to fill in the gaps. It might even be a Weeping Angel origin story. Maybe the Doctor lands on their planet. Ask yourself: Why do the Weeping Angels hide? What are the most dangerous killing machines in the universe so afraid of that they have a defence mechanism this extreme? What terrifies the terrifying?
Aside from that, how do you do a non-visual story about a group of monsters that rely on visual perception in order to be scary? The whole concept is mad even for a Big Finish audio and yet the earliest Doctor in the series is going up against them first! This is crazy! Crazy I tell you! Even if the idea is absurd, the fact that it is this absurd just raises my anticipation for it.
One thing is for sure, Big Finish now has UNIT, Torchwood, River Song, Churchill and Sardick (I didn’t forget about him). Most of these are heavy hitters on the television series. They are major players and we even have the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ faces on a Big Finish cover. How long do you think is left until Big Finish announces The New Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctor Adventures? Then it’ll be Big Finish: Every Doctor, Every Adventure.