Monday, March 14, 2011

New Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 01

I’ve had this series of Doctor Who audio dramas for a while now, but I don’t think I really knew how to write about them before. I also don’t think I really knew how to listen to them before because I picked them up again this past week at work and there was a lot of story that I didn’t remember at all. In fact, there are full episodes of this series that I didn’t remember at all and they are all pretty fantastic.

So I feel compelled to post a blog review thing about them.

Blood of the Daleks

This is the first story of this series and it is a hard hitting one. It takes place on a planet in the throws of an impact winter after the catastrophic collision of an asteroid. Its people are desperate – suffering disease and hunger and unable to effect any sort of relief – and its leaders are willing to do anything, including turning to Daleks for help. But desperation can take many forms, including a desire to embrace forced evolution into something inhuman. And the Doctor has to try to make all parties see reason and dissuade them from their disastrous fates.

But he’s also dealing with his own problems, including the spontaneous appearance of Lucie Miller, a brash young woman from Blackpool, England in 2006, in his TARDIS.

It’s a brilliant story and I think one of the best examples of how the Doctor deals with the morals of his position. And I also like how the Doctor and Lucie are instantaneously combative and compatible. Their banter is fantastic and falls immediately into place as Doctor and companion. It’s similar to the Tenth Doctor and Donna, but these two are verbal sparring champions. From this introduction alone, Lucie is one of my favourite companions.

Horror of Glam Rock

This story is worth listening to solely for the Doctor calling David Bowie “one of my favourites.” My personal feelings with the Doctor and David Bowie can be seen in these two posts. Because I’m a nutjob. And I believe that David Bowie once traveled with the Doctor. And I really think it might have been the Eighth.

In this story, there are aliens intent on feasting on glam rock fans by trying to break into our dimension through an up-and-coming star’s stylophone. This story’s also a bit timey-wimey because it takes place in the 1970s and Lucie meets her aunt when she was passionate about being a rock drummer.

I find this one to be really interesting because of the things that it says about music and the music industry and the dedication of fans to music idols. It’s really interesting to hear this kind of thing from the Doctor because he has such an alien and encompassing view of it. And because I love glam rock.

Also, there’s fun haphazard junk gadgets and sonic screwdrivering galore.

Immortal Beloved

The Doctor and Lucie land on a planet and find two young lovers about to kill themselves in a Romeo and Juliet-like fashion. They both, of course, leap in to save the lovers and are taken back to their village, where the leaders of the settlement have taken on the identities of Greek gods and goddesses to establish power over the people. The Doctor and Lucie find out that the two lovers are not the offspring of the village’s leaders, but their clones, and when the leaders cannot maintain their old bodies any more, they will be transferring their minds over to the younger clones, thus erasing the people that originally inhabited those cloned bodies.

Listening to Lucie struggle with this is one of those companion moments that stick with you. The Doctor is always opposed to the domination of others and believes that clones should have the right to their own existence, but he’s very matter of fact and emotionally detached to it. Lucie has never encountered something like this, being from a time before commonplace human cloning, and she’s very admirably adamant about personal rights. Lucie in this story is what I’ve seen Rose fans write about Rose. I could never really see it about Rose, but I think Lucie captures that same thing that Rose fans all talk about in this episode.


Extreme sports park on one of the moons of Mars? Mystery monsters that no one can spot? An impossible tunnel with impossible gravity? Brilliant. Bring it on.

This is a classic Doctor Who story. There are monsters and mysteries and running around. I didn’t find that this one was as commentary-ish or deep as the other stories, but it’s fun and science fictiony in that cheesey kind of way. And I think there is a really great moment towards the end where Lucie realizes that she really doesn’t know much about the Doctor at all and it’s one of those times when it hits her that he’s really not human. Like a splash of cold water. And it scares her enough to be cautious, but it doesn’t frighten her away. Brilliant.

No More Lies

This is a story that is ripe with timey-wimey talk. There are vortex problems and time loops and giant time eating dinosaurs. Those things aren’t really the focus of the story – which is more about a man who tried to kill the Doctor and Lucie and then was separated from them by a couple million years in a time loop so he eventually became a different person and fell in love and personal struggles and all that – but it’s still some cool Doctor Who-isms to enjoy.

I don’t have much to say about it, unfortunately, but I would say that it’s similar to the New Who Family of Blood episodes, only with the villain being the one who has fallen in love. It’s not exactly the same, obviously, but it has a similar feel.

Human Resources

This is a story I really, really like. In this story, you find out about an alien organization picking up office workers from Earth to run their giant battle robots without their knowledge and subversive Timelord groups like the CIA and why Lucie had appeared in the TARDIS at the start of the series. You also get to learn about the Headhunter, who you catch glimpses of throughout the series in an intriguing, cliffhangery sort of way. It ties together all those little moments that you tend to gloss over when they don’t make sense within the individual stories in the same way that Series 5 tied everything together in the finale.

And this episode says a lot about destiny and human choice and the sort of stuff that the Doctor clings to when he hovers around the human race. And there are Cybermen with some classic Who Cybermen lore thrown in. It’s fantastic.

So, overall? Well worth having a listen if you’re a fan of Who. And I’m particularly thrilled with this because these types of stories are what I was expecting for Paul McGann’s Doctor when I found a copy of his movie adventure. I wasn’t really a fan of the movie as anything good – just all the hilarious terrible things – and it felt unfair that I didn’t have stories about the Eighth Doctor that I genuinely liked. These audio dramas actually make him one of my favourite Doctors.

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