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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

REVIEW - Doctor Who: The War Doctor Vol. 1



Doctor Who - The War Doctor Vol. 1: Only the Monsterous (Big Finish Audio)
Reviewed By Jesse Kiefer

Written By: Nicholas Briggs

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Sound Design: Howard Carter

Music: Howard Carter

Cover Art: Tom Webster

Number of Discs: 4

Duration: 240' approx.

Available on BigFinish.com

Listen to the trailer.


“Feel free to stop talking anytime you like.” - The War Doctor

Our first New Series Doctor hits Big Finish proving that we have to wait NO MORE! What a way to start things off with the legendary Sir John Hurt!

The solicit from Big Finish:

“Three new battles for The War Doctor

1.1 The Innocent
As the Daleks mass their time fleet for a final assault on Gallifrey, something ancient is waiting for them at Omega One. And a sacrifice must be made.

Arch-manipulator and Time Lord strategist, Cardinal Ollistra receives shock news of the Doctor’s death.

Meanwhile, on the planet Keska, a parochial war has returned to plague a peaceful civilisation after decades of tranquillity. But how can such a war have any connection with the great Time War which, at any one moment in the whole of eternity, could threaten to tear the universe apart?
If only the Doctor were still alive.

1.2 The Thousand Worlds
With the high-ranking Time Lord Seratrix behind enemy lines, the War Doctor finds himself assigned to a rescue mission. But any room for manoeuvre is severely restricted by an area of space known as the Null Zone.

Times have changed on Keska, and a countdown to destruction is beginning.
But who are the Taalyens and what is their part in the great and terrifying Dalek plan?

1.3 The Heart of the Battle
Trapped in a citadel swarming with Daleks, the Time Lord rescue force must find a way to overcome insurmountable odds. With the Daleks apparently planning to rule the Null Zone, perhaps their thirst for universal conquest and victory has been quenched…
The War Doctor doesn’t believe so — but how can he prove it without destroying any chance of peace?

As the countdown to the destruction of Keska proceeds, a deadly choice must be made... A choice that will define this Doctor, and perhaps forever cast him in the role of ‘monster’.

December is a good month for Sci Fi this year! While most of the world is buzzing about the premiere of Star Wars Episode 7…. Matt Fitton as Script editor and Nicholas Briggs as writer/director serve us up a delightful return into the world of the Time War and specifically as seen through the eyes of The War Doctor, or as he prefers to be called: “John Smith.”

After listening to the 3 disc set I immediately tweeted out:

…and it really is!

The concern that we, as fans, might have harbored about seeing g a return to this character is that... when we first saw him we saw him in the widely beloved and cinematic 50th anniversary Doctor Who special, how do you follow that? How can you possibly live up to something so epic?!

Well if you you are looking for something the scale of a multi-doctor anniversary event you’re not going to find it here but what you WILL find is a wonderful reintroduction into who the Doctor is at this time in his history. A man that hates himself for what he has become and what he’s been forced to do. He’s tragic, he’s bitter, and yet under all of that he’s still the Doctor, he’s still fighting for the helpless even when it’s hopeless and really that’s all we could possibly ask for.

What we also get is a delightful war story with wonderfully cast characters, and somehow… SOMEHOW Nicholas Briggs manages to throw us a Dalek curve ball! I’m constantly impressed with Big Finish’s ability to come up with strange new angles for the devious Daleks to explore. At the end of the second part they manage to deliver a very famous and historically hopeful line in as creepy and unsettling a way as I’ve ever heard it uttered (sorry no spoilers I want you to experience this one).

Like the Unit Set this one is all continuous story set in 3 parts there is a bit of a break that causes the story to flow like a setup and a two part finale. Since it’s continuous story in lieu of a disc by disc breakdown here’s my list of favorite things:

  • Casting was wonderful John Hurt (The War Doctor), Jacqueline Pearce (Cardinal Ollistra) rightly receive top billing but there’s not a bad actor in the bunch.
  • The War Doctor banter is cleverly written and just rolls off of Hurt’s Tongue! They really kept him consistent with what we’ve seen of him in the past. This could have fell flat if he didn’t feel like the same character but he does and it is glorious.
  • The new theme! This is one of the few Doctors that doesn’t have his own musical theme which meant they were able to create a theme for the War Doctor and it seems very fitting as a bridge between classic and modern Who.
  • At the risk of sounding redundant I liked the Dalek plot in this their ruse is strange and new.
  • The “companion” of this series is compassionate and resilient I grew quite fond of her.  


What can I say? Believe the hype! It was a very good start for what will hopefully be many more War Doctor Stories! (We know it will be a few at least as they are selling all of the War Doctor Sets as a bundle along with an 8th Doctor Prequel Story all of which I am very excited about and look forward to reviewing)

5 out of 5 stars for an exemplary start!

My wish list for New Who is really a very short one and it just got shorter, I’m happy to see any of the modern doctors return but the ones I most wanted to see more from were the War Doctor (cuz he should get more than one episode and a series finale reveal) and the 9th Doctor. While I’m maybe delusionally optimistic in my hopes of more 9th Doctor I was thrilled to find at least one of my wishes fulfilled and before this year of Doctor Who Reviews was even over! I plan to continue reviewing in the new year as there’s a lot to look forward to I hope you’ll look forward to them with me!

Who’s on YOUR New Who wishlist? We know 10 is returning, and River Song… but who would you be most excited to see come back? Let me know what you think in the comments below or by shooting us a message to letters(at)grawlixpodcast.com. 


5 Stars



Doctor Who: The War Doctor Vol. 1: One the Monstrous (Big Finish Audio Play)
Reviewed by Jesse Kiefer on Dec 15, 2015
Rating: 5Review of 'Doctor Who - The War Doctor Volume 1' from Big Finish Productions.

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