Book Review – Doctor Who: Her Final Flight

  • Title: Her Final Flight
  • Series: Doctor Who Main Range Specials
  • Author: Julian Shortman
  • Director: Gary Russell
  • Characters: Sixth Doctor, Peri
  • Cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Steven Bugdale, Jonathan Owen, Heather Tracy, Conrad Westmaas
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/11/2016

I was completely and totally confused by this audio play. It begins with two villains discussing doing horrible things to The Doctor (The Sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker), then the TARDIS is crash-landing on a primitive planet, where the Doctor runs in to Peri. There, the story alternates between Peri and the Doctor trying to deal with a sudden disease – not to mention the locals worshiping the TARDIS as a healing goddess. But in between all this, the Doctor keeps having blackouts where he seems to remember being tortured by said villains from the first scene.

The entire thing is one, big, “WTF is going on?” It’s OK if a story starts that way, but this story continues to be extremely confusing. The Doctor eventually realizes he’s in some sort of mind trap, and turns the tables and traps the villain – but we never learn who she is or why she was after the Doctor in the first place. Nor do we learn the identity of her benefactor/employer.

I had thought most of the way though this story that the mysterious villain would turn out to be the Rani. Much of what’s going on seems her style. But at the end that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Honestly – if I hadn’t had the CD in my hands, I would have thought I’d missed half the tracks in a download. This is one confusing story.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order Her Final Flight on CD.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – Doctor Who: Peri and the Piscon Paradox

  • Title: Peri and the Piscon Paradox
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Author: Nev Fountain
  • Director: John Ainsworth
  • Characters: Peri, Fifth Doctor, Sixth Doctor
  • Cast: Nicola Bryant, Colin Baker
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/28/2016

I’ve enjoyed Big Finish’s Doctor Who and other audios for years. I enjoy the Companion Chronicles very much. But this story marks a milestone for me as it is the first time I have listened to an entire story in my car while driving back and forth to work and while doing my errands. I’ve had friends tell me I should try listening to audios in the car, but I always figured it would be too distracting while I’m driving – or that I’d miss too much of the story. Actually, I found that I could pay attention to the story and drive – so this will definitely be an experience I’ll repeat soon.

This double-CD story (which took me four days to listen to – the only time I’ve regretted having a short 25-minute commute) is told first from the point of view of younger Peri, and the Fifth Doctor, who land in L.A. in 2009, and the second CD is told from the point of view of an older Peri, with assistance from the Sixth Doctor. You also could listen to them in reverse order. It’s not recommended, but possible – and it some ways, if you know what’s coming from the older Peri’s point of view, some of what’s going on in the first disc makes more sense.

Disc 1 plays very much like a normal Doctor Who Adventure, told by younger Peri – the Doctor and Peri land in L.A. and discover an alien fish, whom the Doctor knows as a Piscon, is planning on stealing the Earth’s water, or something. But when Peri spots a curiously familiar woman – things get strange.

Disc 2 has the older Peri as the host of a relationship advice cable show, a very successful one. Dr. Peri Brown runs into the Sixth Doctor who shows up in the audience of her show. But she doesn’t remember him, or rather, she remembers their first adventure, and that’s it. The older Peri also meets her younger self. Soon, it’s Peri who spins a tale, an, um, fish tale, to tell Peri and the younger Doctor – because the Sixth Doctor accidentally causes the death of the Piscon Zarl before his younger self can defeat him. This, of course, creates a paradox, as the Doctor explains to Peri, who suggests using time travel to fix the mistake:

“What? Are you mad? I can’t go back in time to stop myself interfering with my own past, because that would mean I’d be interfering with my own past to stop myself interfering with my own past! Then where would we be?” ~ The Doctor

So the Sixth Doctor goes along with Peri’s plan: They will hide the dead Piscon in the trunk of her car, and the Doctor will disguise himself in the Piscon’s spacesuit. Peri will spin her story to her younger self, and the Doctor’s previous incarnation, and they will push the Fifth Doctor into defeating Zarl, thus returning history to what the Sixth Doctor remembers.

Well, that’s the plan, which, when listening you don’t know – all you know is some evil Fish are running around L.A., the fish police (Piscon police) are after Zarl, and older Peri is pretending to be working for an secret government “Men in Black”/X-files organization that deals with alien insurgents. As things shake out, younger Peri becomes very angry at and disillusioned with her older self. But older Peri is hiding quite a lot. And it’s in the last few chapters, or tracks of disc 2 that delivers quite the kick in the teeth. The truth of Peri’s past and long and winding road that led to her career as a relationship counselor. The story also explains Peri’s contradicting “ends” from the canon/aired episodes of Doctor Who. It’s a satisfactory, bittersweet, and sad ending, which I’m not going to spoil.

I recommend Peri and the Piscon Paradox but it’s not entirely the light-hearted adventure one might expect.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order Peri and the Piscon Paradox on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Church and the Crown

  • Title: The Church and the Crown (#38)
  • Series: Big Finish Monthly Doctor Who Audios
  • Authors: Cavan Scott and Mark Wright
  • Director: Gary Russell
  • Characters: Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant), Erimem (Caroline Morris)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 01/17/2013

Big Finish does an excellent job with their audio plays. Make no mistake… they are NOT audio-books, with a well-known actor reading the material – the Big Finish audio plays are full-fledged plays complete with music, sound effects, and honest-to-goodness acting. The quality of the individual stories varies, but it’s usually in the three to five out of five range.

The Church and the Crown was a surprise – because I loved it! I got it as part of my subscription package (back when I could afford a monthly subscription package) but when I listened I was floored. Big Finish have created a farce, a complete farce, and I mean that in the best possible way. This story was laugh out loud funny. Peri, it seems, is a dead ringer for Queen Anne of 17th Century France. So, yes, the story involves all the escapades of a French farce – doubles, secret identities, horse-drawn carriage chases (which work surprisingly well in the audio format). Nicola Bryant and Peter Davison are brilliantly deft at the comedy, and it makes you wonder what might have been if Peter had done one more season of Doctor Who at the BBC. This audio also features Caroline Morris as (ancient) Egyptian Princess, Erimem, a companion created specifically for the audios. I always quite liked Erimem.

I highly, highly recommend this audio. If you haven’t listened to any of the Big Finish Audios, and you like Doctor Who it’s an excellent place to start. If you’re a fan of audio books and plays and you haven’t tried the Big Finish lines (they have several) I highly recommend their work.

For more on Big Finish go to their website: www.bigfinish.com

Follow this link to download The Church and the Crown

Book Review – Doctor Who: Something Borrowed

  • Title: Something Borrowed
  • Series: Doctor Who Novelette Collection
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Characters: Sixth Doctor, Peri
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/27/2016

Doctor Who Something Borrowed is the sixth book in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary 12 books – 12 Doctors collection of mini books. This one features the Sixth Doctor (as played by Colin Baker) and Peri, and is told in first person from Peri’s point of view.

The Doctor and Peri arrive on a planet who’s entire civilization is based on Las Vegas in the 1960s. The planet is an intergalactic tourist attraction, making money from hotels and casinos. They are also known for their elaborate weddings. And it is a wedding that brings the Doctor to the planet, as he’s received an invitation from an old friend to his son’s wedding. But the natives on the planet also have a unique biological capability that only happens during wedding ceremonies – the Phasing, when natives of the planet take on a whole new appearance.

The Doctor and Peri arrive among chaos as Pterodactyls attack the populace but not them. Escaping the attack, they find the Doctor’s friend and are taken to his mansion. Peri is sent off with a servant to get “cleaned-up”, and she discovers almost by accident who is not only behind the Pterodactyls attack but who the intended bride really is – an old enemy of the Doctor.

This surprise enemy of the Doctor’s holds Peri and the servant-girl hostage, but soon the Doctor arrives to rescue them. And before long they are off to stop the wedding.

This was a fun and light read. I enjoyed it. The first person narration is highly unusual for a Doctor Who novel, though it’s been used on some of the audio plays. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: State of Change

  • Title: State of Change
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Christopher Bulis
  • Characters:  Sixth Doctor, Peri
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/08/2015

State of Change is an original novel in Virgin Publishing’s Missing Doctors series of paperback novels, featuring the Sixth Doctor as played on the BBC television series, Doctor Who by Colin Baker, and his companion, Peri. The novel begins with The Doctor and Peri in ancient Egypt with Peri hidden and taking photos of Cleopatra as she preforms a dress rehearsal for meeting the Romans. The Doctor hurries Peri back to the TARDIS and admonishes her for her habit of taking photographs that she can’t show anyone, plus the danger of her camera falling into the wrong hands. The Doctor then puts the TARDIS in flight and Peri heads off to the swimming pool to relax. The TARDIS is then involved in a collision in the Time Vortex which causes it to get stuck.

When it gets unstuck and crash lands, Peri and the Doctor are in Rome but it’s a Rome with steam ships, air ships (zeppelins), telegraphs, wireless (radio), and even a nuclear bomb, ruled by the uneasy triumvirate of Cleopatra and her brothers Ptolemy and Alexander. The crash has also left the Doctor and Peri in an unstable situation: Peri begins to turn into a bird, as she did in the televised episode, “Vengeance on Varos”, and the Doctor begins to regenerate backwards – briefly going back to his Fifth Incarnation before re-stabilizing as the Sixth Doctor. The Doctor develops a device to allow him to roam freely and not regenerate backwards, where Peri embraces her new bird-form, even more than the Doctor recommends. While the TARDIS recharges the Doctor and Peri get involved in events.

This story might sound grim – but it’s a rip-roaring action-adventure story set in an “alternative” Rome. The last third of the book wraps up some anomalies from earlier – explaining exactly where the Doctor and Peri are, a known Doctor Who villain briefly appears, and the situation is resolved quickly and basically happily. I enjoyed the story immensely, and even found it amusing (you’ve heard of steam punk – well imagine steam punk with Romans). It’s simply a wonderful Doctor Who story. I also liked seeing Peri grow up a bit, become comfortable in her own skin, take initiative, and even kick a little butt. Highly Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Ultimate Treasure

  • Title: The Ultimate Treasure
  • Series: BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Christopher Bulis
  • Characters:  Fifth Doctor, Peri
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 2/23/2013

This book opens with Peri and the Fifth Doctor, on vacation at the world’s biggest shopping mall. Actually, it’s a planet-sized space station that IS a shopping mall. They are about to leave when Peri announces she wants a souvenir. The go to the lower, less respectable levels of the mall and end-up in the middle of a robbery and murder. But all this is mere set-up as the Doctor and Peri get caught-up in a big treasure hunt.

The treasure hunt consists of a series of mental, physical, and logical tests, as well as tests of character. Several other people also end up on the treasure hunt, with a variety of motivations. As with all novels of this type, after making their way through a number of tests, all the various characters have to make a very serious choice.

The story moved fast, and although some of the tests were familiar (the Doctor even jokes that he, “faced something similar on Mars,” about one logic puzzle,) overall I found the short episodic nature of The Quest to be interesting. The final choices, which I won’t spoil, made a logical sense.

Overall, it was a fun and fast read. This particular story wasn’t the best Past Doctor Adventure I’ve read, but it certainly wasn’t the worst, either. Recommended, if you can find it. Yes, despite it being very early in the PDA series, I only found a copy a year or so ago, it’s well out of print.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Palace of the Red Sun

  • Title: Palace of the Red Sun
  • Series: BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Christopher Bulis
  • Characters:  Sixth Doctor, Peri
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/24/2012

This book started very s…l…o…w…l…y. The Doctor (the 6th Doctor, played on the series by Colin Baker) and Peri land on a planet that seems to be an idyllic garden with a red sun. However, there are no people around. And for at least fifty pages… nothing happens, because there are no people around.

Eventually the Doctor and Peri get separated and the TARDIS disappears from where the Doctor left it. Again, very typical and not that interesting.

So I put this book down for a LONG time… like months. I just picked it up again and finished reading it in a couple of days. Overall, despite the slow start it was an OK read. Bulis really needs to improve his delivery style.

Anyway, when I picked up the book, the Doctor meets Green-8, a sentient gardening robot. Unlike most of the “thinking robots” in Doctor Who such as Daleks and Cybermen or indeed most thinking robots in science fiction in general (such as the Terminator movies) Green-8 is benevolent, curious, and even somewhat obsessed with philosophical questions such as “Who am I?” and “How did I come to be?” or even “Who made me?” and “Do I have to follow the Lords orders?” The Doctor convinces Green-8 to help him find his missing companion Peri.

Peri, meanwhile, has been taken hostage by the Red gardening robots and is being used as slave gardening labor alongside a group of other captured people called scavengers. Peri befriends a young scavenger boy named Kel.

Suddenly a large fireball appears in the sky, a huge wind and sand storm hits the land and considerable damage is done to the gardens. Peri uses this as the perfect opportunity to escape with Kel.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has just convinced Green-8 to help him find Peri, when the same fireball, storm, and shockwave hit his section of the planetoid. Green-8 reports the damage to the Lords in the Palace and orders his fellow Green Robots to clean-up and take care of the damage. This delays the Doctor and Green-8 from going anywhere. The Doctor also recognizes the firestorm as bombardment from space…and realizes he must warn the lords in the palace, even if it delays his search for Peri.

Meanwhile, a princess named Oralissa is beginning to have doubts — questioning things no one else around her questions, such as the mechanical servants that take care of the palace and grounds. She’s also less than happy to be forced into a marriage to one of two unsuitable suitors.

Peri and Kel encounter a “ghost girl nanny” then return to Kel’s home in the woods. Once there they soon run into a tabloid space reporter who’s covering the attack of a megalomanic dictator named Glavis Judd. Peri, Kel, Kel’s want-to-be bride, and another scavenger all head to the palace, accompanied by the reporter’s automatic camera drones.

Arriving at the palace, they meet the Doctor and the mystery begins to unravel… which I’m not going to spoil here. I will say that I had at least part of the mystery figured out before Bulis got around to explaining it. I also didn’t appreciate Bulis’ pushing the ideals of anarchy and anti-authority and anti-law and order every chance he got; especially given the epilogue is the exact opposite of his preaching.

Not the best Doctor Who book I’ve read in the BBC Books Past Doctor series, and overwhelmingly slow at times, but over all — not the worst book in the series either. The mystery elements were fairly well handled.