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: 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: The 12 Doctors of Christmas

  • Title: The Twelve Doctors of Christmas
  • Series: BBC Books – Special Themed Short Story Collection
  • Author: Various
  • Note: Includes paintings for each story
  • Characters: One story per Doctor, with companions
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/22/2016

The Twelve Doctors of Christmas is a wonderful, wonderful book. Everything about this book is just awesome and it would make for a great Christmas gift for Doctor Who fans young and old. The presentation of this book is impressive – it’s a cloth-bound hard cover with incredible full-color art paintings – one per story. There is one short story per Doctor and one painting per story. The paintings are bound in groups, though, rather than as front pieces for each story, so you read four stories then get four pages of gorgeous art. Still, the full-color paintings are beautiful and aptly illustrate each story.

There are twelve short stories in the collection – one per Doctor, and the stories also feature many of the Doctor’s well-known companions. Each story also has a theme of Christmas – but it’s interpreted by the various authors in a broad way, so we get stories that range from Barbara and Ian “going home for the holidays” to the Seventh Doctor and Ace trying to rescue a crashed alien from Macy’s at Christmas (after hours) and trying to also save the few workers in the store. All the stories are inventive and approach the Holiday differently. It’s a wonderful collection.

This was an uplifting and fun read – and I could see myself re-reading it every year. It’s a beautiful presentation as a book, a great gift, and an enjoyable read. I simply loved it – and it was good to read at this time of year.

Stories, Doctor, Companion(s), Authors

  • All I Want for Christmas (First Doctor, Barbara, Ian) – Jacqueline Rayner
  • A Comedy of Terrors (Second Doctor, Jamie, Zoë) – Colin Brake
  • The Christmas Inversion (Third Doctor, Jo Grant, UNIT) – Jacqueline Rayner
  • Three Wise Men (Fourth Doctor) – Richard Dungworth
  • Sontar’s Little Helpers (Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Turlough) – Mike Tucker
  • Fairy Tale of New New York (Sixth Doctor, Mel) – Gary Russell
  • The Grotto (Seventh Doctor, Ace) – Mike Tucker
  • Ghost of Christmas Past (Eighth Doctor) – Scott Handcock
  • The Red Bicycle (Ninth Doctor, Rose) – Gary Russell
  • Loose Wire (Tenth Doctor) – Richard Dungworth
  • The Gift (Eleventh Doctor) – Scott Handcock
  • The Persistence of Memory (Twelfth Doctor) – Colin Brake

Book Review – Doctor Who: Business Unusual

  • Title: Business Unusual
  • Series: BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Gary Russell
  • Characters:  Sixth Doctor, Mel
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/15/2017

Business Unusual is from the BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures paperback series. I finished the series a few years ago, and started in on the Virgin Publishing Missing Doctors series, but Business Unusual was one of the ones that was out of print. I received an e-book copy, so this is a review of the e-book. Business Unusual features the Sixth Doctor as played by Colin Baker. For the Doctor it’s just after his trial at the hands of the Time Lords, so he’s determined to prevent that from happening at all. As a result, he’s travelling alone, though the book opens with the Doctor on Earth helping a police captain defeat the Master. He’s wrapping that up, and is to meet an human computer programmer who will finish off the virus to destroy the Master’s planned computer take-over. Meeting Mel by accident, the Doctor is determined to not have her become his companion.

Taking place in Brighton, the main story involves Sené-Net, a computer gaming entertainment company, with it’s fingers in prosthetics, human enhancements, and a number of other fields, including a fast-food burger chain. Mel is working at one of their subsidaries as an intern, and she’s the programmer the police have called in to finish cleaning-up the Master’s mess. The Doctor also witnesses a psychic attack on a young man, who turns out to be Mel’s family’s house guest. Also, the Brigadier, though retired, had been called in by UNIT and Department C-19 to investigate a missing operative. He’s promptly captured by Sené-Net.

So, despite his best intentions to stay out of things – the Doctor is drawn in, and meets Mel anyway. Mel and the Doctor investigate Sené-Net, and find that it’s CEO is more computer and cybernetics than human – plus he’s working with the Nestene Consciousness. Or to be precise, the Nestene are using him to launch a beachhead against Earth. From different angles, the Doctor, Mel, Mel’s family and friends, and the Brigadier uncover the plot – and stop it, but not without cost.

Business Unusual is a fun story that manages to combine the Jon Pertwee-Era feel of an alien invasion on Earth story, with really good characterization of the Doctor and Mel. The Doctor’s pain, anxiety, and worry underlies everything in the story. He really does not want to become the Valeyard. Meanwhile, Mel is shown to be an intelligent, professional, computer professional. Yes, she is health conscious, and even a bit pushy about it with her co-workers, but she’s not the whiny, overly cheerful, screamer she was in the series. She’s even a bit of a pragmatist. The scenes between the Doctor and the Brigadier are not to be missed. And the supporting cast is fun.

Overall, I’d give this book four stars. It’s a fun, quick read and recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Millennial Rites

  • Title: Millennial Rites
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Craig Hinton
  • Characters:  Sixth Doctor, Mel
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/24/2015

**Spoiler alert** Millennial Rites is the last Doctor Who Missing Adventures book that I have in paperback, though I have a few more to read as e-books. It was published by Virgin Publishing, and it’s an original novel featuring the Sixth Doctor as played by Colin Baker and Mel (Melanie Bush) as played by Bonnie Langford. The story is told in three distinct parts.

In part one, the Doctor is unusually pre-occupied with his own future, having just gone through his Trial at the hands of the Time Lords and the Valeyard. He and Mel land in London on New Year’s Eve 1999. There they run into Anne Travers who after the events of the Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel, Downtime, has become even more determined to defeat the Great Intelligence. Mel attends her 10-year college reunion, only to have someone slip her a request to hack a computer company that’s closing it’s doors on New Year’s Eve, making the staff redundant (in other words, they are all fired except a small research group). Two of the fired employees: Barry and Louise, get involved in the situation (as does Louise’s very young daughter, Cassie).

Barry shows Louise a CD of computer code he lifted from the office – but when he does so, her computer becomes alive, then a monster attacks them. The three escape, Louise leaves her daughter with her mother, then they attempt to find the other fired employee that Barry stole the computer disk from. But another of the Cybrid monsters has already killed him.

In the fracas, Barry and Louise meet up with the Doctor and Mel. The Doctor fears Ashley Chapel of the computer firm is trying to bring back Verocyl – but he’s wrong. The Doctor tries to prevent Anne Travers from casting her banishment spell – and fails. Everyone rushes to Ashley’s computer company to stop him running the Millennium Codex – and again, the Doctor fails.

In Part Two, everyone suddenly wakes in a fantasy world ruled by three continuously fighting monarchs: The Technomancer, Majestrix Melaphyre (Mel), ruler of the Ziggurat of Sciosophy; The Archimage, Magnus Ashmael (Ashley Chapel), ruler of the Tower of Abraxis; and the Hierophant, Bibliotrix Anastasia (Anne Travers), ruler of the Labyrinth of Thaumaturgy. Mel is attended by fantasy versions of Barry and Louise, who have a daughter, Cassandra, in the fantasy world as well.

The Doctor appears to be unchanged at first, and quickly escapes the Archimage. However, in the fantasy world he is slowly being changed into the Valeyard. However, it is the Doctor who establishes an alliance between Melaphyre and Anastasia – who must prevent Magnus Ashmael from further destroying not simply the new and unstable fantasy universe, but the real universe. This time he succeeds.

The final part wraps up the story. As life in London in the New Millennium is returned to normal.

Millennial Rites is two stories in one – part one is a Cyberpunk “nightmare” as a computer guru attempts to take over the world with malicious code. Part two is an intriguing fantasy. I enjoyed both parts – and I liked the idea that the Doctor, especially Colin’s Doctor would be so arrogant about his ability to stop Chapel – then he fails. Though the Doctor gets to do the same thing again in Part Two. Besides the fantasy elements, Part Two is also fueled by the Doctor’s fears of becoming the Valeyard – something never really dealt with in either televised Doctor Who or the various novels, comics, and audio plays that I’ve read. It made Colin’s Doctor surprisingly vulnerable and approachable.

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.