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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

REVIEW - Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 1



Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 1 (Big Finish Audio)
Reviewed By Jesse Kiefer

Written By: John Dorney, Matt Fitton, Marc Platt, Edwad Collier

Director: Ken Bentley

Sound Design: Wilfredo Acosta

Music: Wilfredo Acosta

Cover Art: Tom Webster

Number of Discs: 5

Duration: 300' approx.

Available on BigFinish.com

Listen to the trailer.


"I'm still mighty enough to put a stop to you scheme, to trap you, to bring you back here."


Another big month of Big Finish! Big Finish has been keeping me on my toes lately... Last month they released 2 main range stories back to back, this month it was Doom Coalition, then the Main Range Doctor Who story (Planet of the Rani), and then Torchwood all released within days of each other. So it may take me a few days but I’m working my way through each of these for reviews.  Meanwhile Big Finish has also been dropping some HUGE news getting us all very pumped about the NEW War Doctor Stories which actually start before the end of this year (December)! But I digress...

Finally the 8th Doctor has come back to Big Finish! Hot off the heels of the Dark Eyes Box Sets (where we got kind of a restart to the 8th Doctor’s look and philosophy) Doom Coalition brings us a new set of stories which actually starts with the Seventh Doctor bringing a criminal time lord to Gallifreyan justice. This criminal called “The Eleven” is a time lord who retains the personalities of each regeneration which slowly starts to drive him mad. One mind with 11 voices inside of it. Yep that WILL do it!


1. The Eleven by Matt Fitton

“When one of Gallifrey's most notorious criminals attempts to escape from prison, Cardinal Padrac turns for help to the Time Lord who put him there in the first place.”

Boy howdy, Matt Fitton set up this block of Doom Coalition box sets up with a good one! I actually forgot that McCoy was going to make a special appearance in this one so when I heard his voice it was a pleasant surprise/reminder. Not only did we get the Seventh Doctor we got a decidedly “angry” Seventh Doctor. Bringing insane time lords to justice will make you cranky.

Mark Bonnar does as well as anyone asked to portray 11 voices could possibly do. I think sometimes it works better than others but even when it doesn’t work perfectly the Eleven is a brilliant character concept and captivating to listen to.

This first story of the set tells us a smidge of the Doctor’s history with The Eleven and pulls the Doctor in to deal with the Eleven and his impending escape. It was a brilliant romp with twists and turns. It’s like Silence of the Lambs with political intrigue. Love it!

The first story may be my favorite of the block.

4/5


2. The Red Lady by John Dorney

“An anomaly in time brings the Doctor and Liv to London in the 1960s, where they meet a young lady named Helen Sinclair - desperately trying to make a name for herself in the face of sexism and prejudice.

Whilst the Doctor tried to uncover the secrets of a mysterious artefact, a far deadlier mystery awaits Liv and Helen in the collection of a recently deceased antiquarian. Because that's where they find the Red Lady. Because if you do, you might not like what you see.”

This next story shows us that despite the fact that chasing the Eleven is the thread that ties these all together the stories themselves will function much more on their own than they did in the last series of Box Sets.

While I love that idea, and the concept of this story was creepy and clever, it really failed to grab me. I don’t know why, the imagery is all there the mystery is there and the inclusion of Hattie Morahan as Helen Sinclair were all wonderful but it still fell a little flat for me. Maybe it’s that I was coming down from the first part and this was a dramatic shift  when compared to that first story.

Despite my hemming and hawing there’s a lot of fun here, you get the Doctor traveling to a time period he’s very familiar with, you get Helen who joins the team of Liv and the 8th Doctor and really rounds out the new TARDIS crew, and it sets up the 3rd story beautifully. It’s good, just not my favorite.

3/5


3. The Galileo Trap by Marc Platt

“Helen Sinclair doesn't know what hit her. One moment she was trapped in a dead-end job in 1960s London, and now she is transported back to Renaissance Italy over three centuries before. Florence is a city in turmoil. A new plague stalks the streets. A ferocious behemoth rampages through the vineyards. And Galileo Galilei, celebrated scientist, astronomer and old friend of the Doctor, is imprisoned in his own villa for heresy.

But why has Galileo summoned the Doctor? Who are the mysterious Fortuna and Cleaver? Why have they been sent to Earth? And what is Galileo's secret? Is it the last thing he saw before he went blind?”

This episode starts very much like “The Fires of Pompeii” as  Helen gets her first taste of travelling in the TARDIS listening to this gal from the 1960’s react to Galileo’s Italy was a lot of fun.

It’s your typical “The Doctor knows a famous pivotal historical figure and has to check in on him but it’s obviously a trap” kind of story. This story starts steering us slightly back into The Eleven’s plans as he sets up a trap using the Doctor’s friend Galileo as bait. The creatures were fun, Galileo was a fun and rather layered as a character, and I found myself really enjoying this one. It may have served as a penultimate transition story to move the pieces of the story into the right places but I really enjoyed the characters and it became my strong second favorite of this set.

3.5/5


4. The Satanic Mill by Edward Collier

“The Satanic Mill - a vast Victorian factory floating in the deep of space.

As the Doctor closes in on his quarry, long buried animosities come boiling to the surface on this ancient and powerful satellite, in a final confrontation that could have unimaginable consequences.

And even that is only the beginning…”

The fourth story is always a tough one in a set like this. The fourth story has to give you as satisfying an end as it can so you are still interested while not actually ending anything because well there’s still 3 more Box Sets to come!

The Satanic Mill does well enough in those regards but this one felt a little too formulaic for my tastes. We just had the Doctor walking into a trap and now we have him purposely doing that again albeit in order to try to bring The Eleven in to Justice. There’s a lot to like here too but as far as the conclusion of a box set goes it wasn’t particularly memorable for me when stacked up against The Galileo Trap. However we get more of The Eleven and get an inkling that his plans are not what they initially seem. I’m of course being purposefully vague so as not to give away too many of the goods.

3/5


Final Thoughts on this Box Set:

This set had the unenviable task of following up the award winning Dark Eyes sets. I like that this set is not trying to be Dark Eyes, but it might take some getting used to. Introducing the Eleven and making it feel somewhat like a serial adventure series are all I needed in order to be on board for the duration but it’s not always hooking me quite as well as past 8th Doctor stories have.

The stories are kind of all over the place… which you would have when you get a different writer on each. I simultaneously  like that and find it tricky to follow at times.

The music and sound were brilliant as usual, and it needed to be in order to help sell the Eleven.

I’m really interested to see where the future sets are headed; even despite my misgivings about River Song getting involved in the next set (listen to past Grawlix episodes for more on that).

I don’t regret spending the money on this one, the two stories I enjoyed most I really enjoyed, and even the two I didn’t care for as much were really well done.

I do recommend this story particularly for the interesting take on regeneration that The Eleven presents us, also these are still very good 8th Doctor stories with great 8th Doctor companions and I’m a sucker for that every time!

3.5 out of 5 stars for this new set.


Agree? Disagree? Did you like how they approached The Eleven? Do you like that they are playing with the idea of regenerations? Would you like to see them highlight other aberrations of the regeneration process like this in the future? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

3.5 Stars



Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 1 (Big Finish Audio Play)
Reviewed by Jesse Kiefer on Oct 20, 2015
Rating: 3.5Review of 'Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 1' Box Set audio play from Big Finish Productions, a set that has the unenviable task of following up the award winning Dark Eyes sets.

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