Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 2

Although Character Options are releasing Classic Dalek figures for each episode in order, it seems as though it will be years before we get the complete collection of Classic Dalek figures. As such, we have bolstered the ranks of our Classic Dalek figure collection with some custom figures, each of which have been created using Daleks from the Dalek Collectors’ Set #2, which was extremely common several years ago, and from which many Dalek spares and customs have been created from. This set included the Saucer Commander Dalek from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, and the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Drone

This first custom uses the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks, which uses the same basic mould as many other Daleks from the 1970s era of the show. For this custom I used more matt colours compared to other Dalek figures released in this mould, in an attempt to emulate the matt grey colours of the Daleks from Planet of the Daleks. The Drones in this story take extra care to be stealthy, and as such it makes sense that the would use dark, matt colours. This figure was painted using Citadel paints and the detailing on the hemispheres was done using a Pro Marker pen. The glossy finish on the hemispheres makes an excellent contrast with the matt finish on the casing, and the metallic silver finish on the eyestalk and manipulator arm stand out on this figure.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Supreme

This custom is much more elaborate than the previous one, and was created using the pieces from several Daleks. The base of this Dalek is from a Drone from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but the body is an Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, which I repainted with black paint and detailed with bright gold. The actual Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks was created using mismatched Dalek prop parts from Terry Nation’s private collection, so this method of construction is surprisingly appropriate. The large light pieces are actually LEDs which have been painted pinkish-purple, and the eyestalk has been painted white with a red light to emulate the Supreme Dalek’s illuminated eyestalk. Hopefully this Dalek will be released as part of the History of the Daleks sets from B&M, but until then it is only available as a rare collectible from the elusive Dalek Collectors’ Set #1.

Custom Death to the Daleks Drone

This Dalek is another custom made from the Day of the Daleks Supreme, except this custom is far more detailed. The Gold and Black colour scheme has been replaced with the distinctive Silver and Black design of the Daleks from Death to the Daleks. In order to create this custom, a complete disassembly of the figure was required as each piece of the neck rings and the midsection had to be painted independently with Citadel paint. Each section of the Dalek required multiple coats of paint to ensure the silver coat had full consistency. The dome lights were coloured using orange Pro Marker, and the eyestalk and gunstick have been recoloured to resemble the unique colour scheme of the Death to the Daleks drones.

Custom Genesis of the Daleks Drone

Perhaps one of the most iconic Dalek designs of them all, the distinctive gunmetal-grey colour scheme of Genesis of the Daleks is not to be underestimated. This custom was created using the Day of the Daleks Supreme, painted over with a gunmetal grey paint from Citadel with the detailing painted over with silver. This Dalek is meant to resemble the one that exterminates Davros and assumes the role of Dalek Prime, or Dalek Supreme, at the conclusion of Genesis of the Daleks. The silver pieces between the slats on the midsection are the giveaway artistic licence on this figure, as the majority of the Daleks from this story have a completely monochrome design, but the silver slats helps differentiate this particular Dalek from its subordinates.

Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor Review

The Eighth Doctor is perhaps one of the least appreciated Doctors of them all, as in the entire tenure of this Doctor there has only been one major TV production, that is the TV Movie from 1996 that has a mixed reception in the fanbase to say the least. Nonetheless, The Eighth Doctor played by Paul McGann had a romantic charm and swashbuckling confidence that stole the hearts of many would-be fans of Doctor Who in the 90s, and he continues to amass a legion of loyal fans to this day with his impression collection of audio productions that Big Finish have been producing since 2004.

However, during the 50th Anniversary celebrations that took place in 2013, Steven Moffat graced the fandom with a one-off mini-episode released online that featured the Eighth Doctor in a live-action role for the first time since the TV Movie in 1996. Paul McGann returned to the role of the Eighth Doctor once again for this short webisode, entitled The Night of the Doctor, which depicts the final moments of the Eighth incarnation of the Doctor during the Time War.

This special proves that Paul McGann can slip easily into the role of the Doctor as if he never left, as he effortlessly plays the role after more than 15 years away from the role on-screen. Fans of the Eighth Doctor Big Finish audios will know that he has been playing the Eighth Doctor continuously since 2004, and as such has had more than enough practice in characterising the Doctor. The Eighth Doctor has had many different eras during his reign, but The Night of the Doctor ushered in a whole new universe of stories for the Eighth Doctor, as it established that he had been active in the Time War for a while now, and this led to Big Finish’s range of Eighth Doctor: The Time War audio stories with his new companion, Bliss.

The Night of the Doctor takes place at the very end of the Eighth Doctor’s life, however, long after his adventures with Bliss have concluded. Judging from the state of not only the TARDIS but the Doctor himself, who despite sporting a new outfit is looking considerably bedraggled, it is clear that the Time War has been continuing for some time. The story begins with a ship spiralling uncontrollably towards Karn, as the final remaining crewmember, Cass, is rescued from certain death by the Eighth Doctor who promises her a trip through Time and Space in a ship that is bigger on the inside. Cass, however, recognises the Doctor’s ship as a TARDIS, and immediately recoils in horror as she realises that the Doctor is a Time Lord.

This subversion of the classic revelation of the Doctor’s alien nature from throughout the show’s history makes The Night of the Doctor notable in itself, but Cass’s reaction to the Doctor’s Time Lord nature serves another purpose, as it shows just how far the Time Lords have fallen this far into the war. The Doctor’s attempts to reassure Cass that he isn’t a Dalek, and her rebuke that there is no way to tell the difference between a Time Lord and a Dalek anymore proves how the universe has come to view the Time Lords during their destructive conflict with the Daleks that has come to affect almost all of Time and Space.

The Eighth Doctor’s death is quite a small-scale affair, as he dies refusing to abandon Cass even as she practically condemns him to die with her. The ship crashes on Karn, and the Sisterhood of Karn from the Fourth Doctor story The Brain of Morbius recover the bodies of the Doctor and Cass and temporarily revive the Doctor to ensure his regeneration. This is where Paul McGann’s acting ability comes to the forefront, as in the Eighth Doctor’s last moments we are treated to some great dialogue, some really poignant moments and a great final line: “Physician, Heal Thyself”, as the Eighth Doctor finally accepts his death and embraces his role as a warrior in the Time War, regenerating into John Hurt, the War Doctor.

The Night of the Doctor serves as a prelude to the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, as it shows how the War Doctor came to be and also illustrates just how terrible the Time Lords have become as the odds of the Time War turn against them. However, it also serves as a prelude to the Twelfth Doctor story The Magician’s Apprentice, the opening story to Series 9, as the Sisterhood of Karn is led by Ohila who returns in Series 9. This mysterious character seems to know more about the Doctor than most, and it is implied that she has a history with the Doctor that extends beyond her introduction in The Night of the Doctor.

Overall, this short ‘minisode’ proves just how much potential the Eighth Doctor has on-screen. Paul McGann is incredible in the role and there is still a lot of potential for an Eighth Doctor Time War TV Series later down the line. In the meantime, there are dozens of Eighth Doctor Big Finish audios to enjoy, which depict the adventures of the Eighth Doctor with his companions Charley Pollard, C’rizz, Lucie Miller, Molly O’Sullivan, Liv Chenka, Helen Sinclair and Bliss. The best part is, many of these companions that are exclusive to audio are actually named in the The Night of the Doctor by the Eighth Doctor before he regenerates, which solidify their status as true companions of the Doctor despite the fact that they only appear in audio dramas.

The Night of the Doctor is a wonderful treat for Eighth Doctor fans, and it makes great bookend for his era that completes the set of Doctor regenerations from incarnations 1-11, just in time for the 50th Anniversary. Not only is this short story a great addition to the Doctor Who universe, but it is also a great study for future Eighth Doctor TV stories, if the BBC is planning on making any expanded universe Doctor Who TV shows in a shared cinematic universe then the Eighth Doctor is a great place to start, as Paul McGann slips into the role easily and his there is a huge gap for potential storytelling in the Eighth Doctor’s life that Big Finish have already taken advantage of. If nothing else, The Night of the Doctor proves that there is still huge potential in the character of the Eighth Doctor.

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Doctor Who Big Finish Audio Review – Master

Having recently discussed Geoffrey Beevers’ incarnation of the Master in Planet of Dust during our Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 4, it seems fitting to review his most prominent audio appearance in Master, a Seventh Doctor story from Big Finish’s Main Range. This story forms part of the villains trilogy with Omega and Davros, and like those audios it explores the character of a Classic Doctor Who villain – in this case, the Master. This audio is undoubtedly controversial as it sheds light on the nature of the old friendship between the Doctor and the Master and also adds some interesting ideas of its own to the Doctor Who universe. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most celebrated audios in Big Finish’s back-catalogue, and one of Geoffrey Beevers’ best performances as the Master.

The setting for this story is odd indeed, as the Master is living as a Human called John Smith on an Earth colony from the future called Perfugium with seemingly no memory of his previous life. He invites his friends Victor and Jacqueline Schaeffer for a dinner party, during which the friends discuss death, murder and other macabre things. There is a constant talk of death in this story, from local murders that are a talking point among the colonists to the motivations that drive people to commit terrible crimes. The small-scale nature of this story is somewhat reminiscent of J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, as each of the characters are duplicitous and superstitious which creates some interesting dynamics for conversation.

This is where the choice to include Geoffrey Beevers’ incarnation in this story becomes clear, as he is a phenomenal voice actor who gives a very distinctive performance. His incarnation is immediately recognisable to most people because of his burned or rotten appearance, as Beevers’ first appearance in the role was as the decaying Master in The Keeper of Traken in 1981. On audio, however, he is distinctive for a completely different reason, as Beevers’ voice has almost become the definitive voice of the Master as he is the last living actor who played the Master in Classic Doctor Who. His delivery of classic cackling villain dialogue is excellent, but in this story what really shines is his range as an actor as he plays a much more reserved character here.

Another aspect of this story that comes into play often are the mentions to Zagreus, Doctor Who’s 40th Anniversary Special, which is the audio that the villains trilogy leads up to. We reviewed this story in our Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – EDAs Series 4, Part 2, and discussed its reputation for being inaccessible to those who are not versed in the lore of early Big Finish and Classic Doctor Who. Small references to the Time Lord nursery rhyme about Zagreus appear throughout Master, which seems somewhat incongruous, but this doesn’t impact the story. It also makes some sense considering the controversial revelations that this audio contains, though to explore that too much would delve into spoilers.

Some people might have already noticed the comparison between this story and the New Series TV story The Family of Blood / Human Nature, despite this audio being released over four years earlier. Both stories feature a Time Lord seemingly becoming Human and forgetting their previous life, almost taking on a completely different personality in this new form. Both this audio and that TV story are loosely based on a novel called Human Nature, which also features the Seventh Doctor. The key aspect of this story is that the Master takes on a completely new persona, and the Doctor has some fascinating conversations with ‘Doctor John Smith’ about the nature of evil, adding to the richness of this story’s repertoire of interesting dialogue.

Sylvester McCoy is fantastic in this audio as always, and his distinctive performance lends itself really well to the subtle and withdrawn nature of this story. Combatting malevolent forces and dealing with schemes thousands of years in the making are two of the Seventh Doctor’s favourite things to do, and so he is on form in this audio. The iconic scene of the Doctor appearing at the window in a bolt of lightning, disrupting the dinner party with an ear-splitting scream, is certainly one of the most unexpected and dramatic cliff-hangars in a Big Finish audio to date.

Some of the discussions between the Doctor and the Master delve into some quite serious psychological topics, from intrusive thoughts to what could make someone completely forget their identity. John Smith’s situation as a Human who is haunted by the spectre of the Master’s evil yet is devoted to saving lives and discovering his true self makes for a tragic setup for a story, as the nature-versus-nurture argument of what makes the Master who he is drives the narrative to an unexpected conclusion. Overall Master is an atmospheric listen that is great for die-hard fans of the character. This audio delves into the character of the Master like no other and provides insights into his history with the Doctor that puts the fan backlash to the lore-heavy nature of The Timeless Children into perspective.

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Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 4

The final box set of the Ravenous series features a plethora of psychopathic Time Lords, from the Eleven to various incarnations of the Master. At the time of release, Ravenous 4 featured more incarnations of the Master in one story than any other piece of Doctor Who media, with Geoffrey Beevers, Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi and Michelle Gomez all making an appearance as their respective incarnations. The Ravenous series was initially marketed as a saga revolving around monsters, and there are few monsters in the Doctor Who universe who can rival the Master, let alone four Masters in one box set. The eponymous Ravenous also make a return, and we are finally given some explanation as to their origins way back in the early history of Gallifrey.

4.1 – Whisper

Despite this box set’s obvious focus on the Master, the first story focuses primarily on the Eleven. Unlike in the previous box set, we as the audience are aware of his ultimate intention to betray the Doctor, so Liv’s continuous mistrust of him is now more sympathetic than in the previous box set. Whilst Ravenous 3 was focused around the question of whether the Eleven could be an ally to the Doctor, Ravenous 4 has no such pretence following the ending of the previous story, so whilst Liv’s hostile attitude towards the Eleven could have come across as unwarranted in the previous box set, here we are rooting for Liv because we as the audience know that she is right. Nonetheless, the Eleven being his usual devious and deceptive self desperately trying to keep a lid on his previous incarnations is great to listen to. Over the course of the Ravenous saga the Eleven has developed a lot as a character since his early days as a manic villain, as here he takes on a much more subtle, sinister approach and it is interesting to see how much control he has over his other selves when he unites them in a singular purpose.

The premise of this story is relatively simple, yet it is an ingenious concept for an audio story. The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Liv, Helen and the Eleven to the Still Foundation in response to a distress call, only to find that the facility is under siege by predators who hunt by sound. As such, the characters have to communicate in whispers whenever the creatures are near, and this combined with the exceptional ambient sound design makes for some really atmospheric listening. Whisper is unique in that it is a base-under-siege horror story but with a very small main cast, with just a handful of supporting characters. The primary focus is on the Eleven and Liv’s volatile relationship as they try to work together to survive the situation. Helen is appalled as Liv chooses to carry a firearm when travelling with the Eleven, and she desperately tries to reason with her friend as she threatens to kill the Eleven to prevent him from killing anyone else. This audio tests Liv in a way that no story in the series so far has, as the Eleven almost goads her on and Helen has to hold her back.

The Doctor spends most of the runtime exploring the facility and attempting to understand exactly what the creature is and why it is attacking the facility. The fact that Liv has brought a gun to the party does not go down well at all, and this audio gives us a rare example of the Eighth Doctor being genuinely disappointed, perhaps even angry, with one of his companions. This is made even worse by the fact that, due to the monster hunting them by sound, the TARDIS team have to work out their differences in a whisper. The Doctor finally realises that the time has come to cut ties with the Eleven, as his altruistic desire to help the Eleven puts his companions in constant danger. The Doctor agrees to take the Eleven on one final trip, to a place where he can meditate and heal. The Eleven, however, has other ideas.

4.2 – Planet of Dust

This audio features the return of the Master, who hasn’t been in an Eighth Doctor audio story since all the way back in the Dark Eyes saga. This is also the first appearance of Geoffrey Beevers as the Master in an Eighth Doctor audio, for those who don’t know Beevers played the Master in one TV story of Classic Who, The Keeper of Traken, in which he played the decayed version of the Master who steals a new body to become Anthony Ainley at the end of the story. Despite only appearing once in the Classic series, Geoffrey Beevers has returned to the role for multiple Big Finish audios and his interpretation of the Master has since gone on to become a fan-favourite incarnation. Beevers’ Master is sly, cunning and manipulative, but also vulnerable and at times desperate, and no audio exemplifies this more than Planet of Dust.

The Doctor, Liv, Helen and the Eleven arrive on the planet after the Eleven is finally allowed to fly the TARDIS by the Doctor. He claims he wants to come to the desert planet Parrak to meditate but all is not as it seems. The population of the planet is being controlled by the ‘Provider’, who seems to be the only being on the planet capable of giving the residents water. Robotic Rangers patrol the deserts and supply the population with a meagre supply of water in exchange for their co-operation on dig sites throughout the desert. The Master attempts to force the population into abject slavery in order to scour the desert for an ancient tomb. There is a great scene midway through this audio where the Master and the Eleven discuss the Master’s knack for escaping death, and the Master quite frankly tells the Eleven that he is no longer sure how long he has lived, and the Eleven gradually realises that the Master is finally dying.

It is great to hear the Eleven and the Master finally meet, but one of the best moments in this audio is between the Doctor and the Master, though to explain too much about it would spoil the plot. Needless to say the critical condition that the Master has found himself in makes him desperate, and he is more vulnerable now than ever. The ever-compassionate Eighth Doctor seems to genuinely want to help his old friend, and there is a great moment between the two near the end of this story that proves that the two are still friends in a strange, twisted sort of way, despite everything that has happened between them. In the end though, it is the Doctor’s old friends Helen and Liv who pull though for him in this story, as they both show their independence and self-determination by assisting the citizens of Parrak while the Doctor and the Eleven go tomb raiding. Planet of Dust is one of those audios that needs to be listened to, as for fans of Geoffrey Beevers’ Master and the relationship between him and the Doctor this audio is a real treat.

4.3 / 4.4 – Day of the Master

Unusually for an Eighth Doctor audio story, Day of the Master is formatted as one story split into two parts, rather than two or more stories sharing one overarching narrative as is customary with Eighth Doctor saga finales. Whilst the previous audio focused on Geoffrey Beevers’ incarnation, Day of the Master includes three more Masters – the ‘Bruce’ incarnation, the War Master, and Missy, played by Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi and Michelle Gomez respectively. With three Masters comes three separate plotlines across three separate timelines, and the Doctor, Liv and Helen are separated for the majority of this two-part story with each character being paired up with a respective Master.

Following on from the events of the previous audio after being lured away by the sound of a vortex manipulator, Helen is kidnapped by Missy after initially mistaking her for River Song, and she is transported to a future Earth where the entire planet is a barren wasteland. Helen is seemingly the only one who can guide Missy to her goal by reading a prophetic book that writes out everything they do as they do it, which is an interesting setup that allows for some fun interplay between the characters. Missy’s habit of not taking anything seriously contrasts heavily with Helen’s caring and compassionate attitude, and the two clearly do not get along. Hattie Morahan and Michelle Gomez are clearly having great fun with this audio and it is really fun to hear these two characters trade quips with each other.

The Doctor arrives on the planet Kolstarn in search of the ancient proto-Time Lord Artron, who is unknowingly being assisted by an earlier version of the Master who has a personal history with the Eighth Doctor. This meetup of the Eighth Doctor and the Master from the TV Movie in a time period that predates the foundation of Time Lord society is a showdown that has been in the making since 1996, and this alone makes Day of the Master a worthy finale to the Ravenous saga. Hearing Paul McGann and Eric Roberts trade verbal spats once again is wonderful to hear, and both actors are on top form in this story.

Liv is dropped off by the Doctor on a Time Lord station against her will, as he intends on keeping her safe but accidentally abandons her in the middle of the Eleven’s attack on the Time Lord facility in orbit around Kolstarn. The War Master arrives in response to the death of his earlier self, and adopts Liv as his temporary companion as he pretends to be a Time Lord specialist sent to aid her against the Ravenous. The two initially spy on the Eleven, who has allied with the Ravenous and unleashed them on the unsuspecting Time Lord military personnel, and the true horror of the Ravenous is finally revealed as they feast on their Time Lord victims. As the War Doctor gleefully explains, when the Ravenous feasts on a Time Lord then they die an agonising death, one incarnation after the next, as their regenerations are devoured by the nightmarish creatures. Derek Jacobi and Nicola Walker play off each other really well, and when Liv finally discovers the Master’s true identity there is a real sense that the two characters have a lengthy history, as Liv previously faced a much younger incarnation of the Master played by Alex Macqueen in Dark Eyes.

The pacing of this story is surprisingly well-handled, as despite the myriad of plot elements the fact that this is a two-part story coupled with the strong script makes this audio a fantastic listen and a fitting finale for the Ravenous saga. This story has everything you could want from a series finale, there’s a fantastic cliff-hanger for Part One which comes out of nowhere, there’s an exploration into the history of some of the major plot elements that finally answer some of the main questions that have been running throughout the series, and it also gives a satisfying conclusion to the character arc of the Eleven, as his elaborate scheme that he has been planning throughout the series is given a satisfying ending that rounds off the character excellently.

There are also just some really fun moments in this story, and some interesting details that fans will enjoy. Each incarnation of the Master wields their own laser screwdriver, for example. No amnesia is involved with the Eighth Doctor in this story, for once, as he is given only vague descriptions of both the War Master and Missy and so mistakes them for Roger Delgado’s Master and the Rani, respectively. When the three Masters do finally meet, there are some great scenes with banter between the three of them, as the two Masters are constantly at odds and Missy mocks both of them. The meeting between the three Masters is certainly a highlight of the story, and the three of them facing off against the Ravenous and the Eleven is a wonderful ending to the saga.

The recurring theme throughout recent Eighth Doctor audios of the Doctor needing someone to pull the trigger becomes particularly relevant here as the Masters shows up to stop the Eleven from destroying the universe simply because they happen to be currently occupying it. Make no mistake though, the Doctor, Liv and Helen are as fantastic as ever in this story, and despite featuring the Ravenous, the Eleven and three Masters the main cast still manage to shine. It is particularly fitting that the next chronological story in the Eighth Doctor’s timeline is a small-scale character story in the Stranded series, as the trio of the Doctor, Liv and Helen have become a united, cohesive team that can deal with anything. Well, almost anything, as their next series of adventures strands them in 2020.

Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 1

Welcome to this showcase of my custom Classic Series Dalek figures, all of which are hand-painted and depict various types of Dalek from several episodes of the Classic Series aired in the 1960s. These Daleks are custom repaints of common Dalek figures that are made to represent less common Dalek figures. The vast majority of these Classic Daleks were donated to me in a damaged state, with scuffed paint and often missing appendages. I was able to create a small number of intact Classic Daleks (as in, featuring all three main appendages) using spare eyestalks, gunsticks and plungers collected from all of the Classic Daleks I have acquired over time.

These Daleks are constantly being updated and amended as time goes on, but I have photographed them in their current state as they are all at least presentable in their current state, though there are some that I am quite happy with as they are and will likely not require much modification.

Custom The Dalek Invasion of Earth Drone

This figure was made using a standard The Dalek Invasion of Earth Saucer Pilot Dalek from the Dalek Collectors Set #2, a recurring source of Daleks for customs based on this episode. The figure was spray-painted silver, apart from the base which was spray-painted black, and the cyan colour scheme was added using Citadel paint and a fine brush. A permanent marker was also used for the detailing on the eyestalk and the manipulator arm. This cyan colour scheme is unique to Series 9, and is not present on the standard Dalek figure from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. However, the cyan on the midsection does help to break up the colour scheme a bit.

Custom The Dalek Invasion of Earth Supreme

Like the previous custom, this Dalek was a Saucer Pilot from the Collectors Set #2 only this time it has been customised to depict the Supreme Dalek from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Ironically, the Saucer Pilot only exists due to the fact that the Supreme Dalek prop was not finished when the episode in which the Saucer Pilot appeared was due to air, but the partly-painted prop was included anyway, thus the Saucer Pilot rank was born. Ironically, in creating this Supreme Dalek custom using a Saucer Pilot, I completed the half-finished paint job that has been immortalised in figure form. The end result is particularly striking – Supreme Daleks are usually decorated with the best colour schemes and this one from The Dalek Invasion of Earth is no exceptional. It is no wonder this particular type of Dalek was chosen for inclusion in the recent History of the Daleks #2 Collectors Set.

Custom The Daleks’ Master Plan Supreme

This figure was originally an Emperor’s Guard Dalek from the Collectors Set #2, but it has been modified to resemble the Supreme Dalek from The Daleks’ Master Plan. Although this Dalek has been depicted as red in some sources, the prop has been confirmed to have been black, and presumably that is the colour it was intended to be. This custom has gone through several iterations, as although the darker blue hemispheres shown in these photos are the same as those on my other The Daleks’ Master Plan customs, I later decided that the hemispheres looked too deep a blue compared to the skirt, so I repainted them with a lighter cyan colour which contrasts with the skirt much better.

Custom The Chase Guard Dalek

This custom is a heavily modified Dalek Saucer Pilot, albeit with the chunky section of the base removed and the figure itself heavily modified with blue Citadel paint on the dome and hemispheres and gold Citadel paint on the midsection. A genuine version of this figure exists, though it is extremely rare, having only been released once as part of the SFX Daleks line. The paint applications are the same as that of a Dalek from the movie Doctor Who and The Daleks, although the ear lights and base are more in line with the Daleks from the Classic TV series. I used blue and gold Citadel paint for the detailing, though the blue paint is slightly darker than that of the Doctor Who and The Daleks Drones, and the gunstick is technically incorrect as this figure retains the gunstick used by the Daleks in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 3

After dozens of audios spanning multiple eras, the Eighth Doctor’s tenure on audio has been vast indeed, and Ravenous 3 includes tributes to every era of Paul McGann’s audio adventures, including references to the eras of Charley Pollard and Lucie Miller, the return of River Song and the shadow of the Time War that is yet to come. The Ravenous creatures appear prominently in this series after their dramatic reveal in Seizure, the audio that concluded Ravenous 2, and they make a great impression as the main threat of this saga due to their terrifying sound design and clear, simple motive.

3.1 – Deeptime Frontier

This audio continues on directly from Seizure, establishing that the Time Lords are aware of the threat of the Ravenous after several attacks. The time-vortex space station, Deeptime Frontier, is managed by Time Lords but run by a Human, reflecting the desperate situation that the Gallifreyans find themselves in after encountering the natural predator of their race. The Doctor, Liv and Helen are rescued by the Time Lords after ending up on a planet full of Ravenous that is about to explode, and soon meet Under-Cardinal Rasmus (now regenerated into a new body) and Human scientist Daria Visteron, who are in charge of the station. The crew soon find the body of a Ravenous creature and attempt to take the opportunity to learn more about their foe from the corpse. However, the dead Ravenous soon turns out to be not so dead after all, and before long the loathsome creature is on the hunt again. Even after being dissected and incinerated, the Ravenous is still able to return to life and its horrific, clown-like face is twisted into a sickening smile.

Like Seizure, this audio does a good job of establishing the Ravenous as a species that all Time Lords, including the Doctor, fear by instinct. The Doctor explains that their clown-faced appearance is a result of their base fear influence, and that the fear of clowns that Humans experience is a result of the Ravenous themselves, and the Doctor references his bad experiences with circuses in the past such as the in the Seventh Doctor TV story The Happiness Patrol. Rasmus also explains that the Ravenous were banished into the Time Vortex during the early history of Gallifrey, and Helen soon makes the connection that the station is a natural staging ground for a Ravenous incursion due to its close proximity to the vortex. Liv also calls out the Time Lords for being frightened of their natural predator, as she has seen through the proud, high-and-mighty persona that the Time Lords present to Humans for years and now her long-standing impression of the Time Lords is made clear for all to see, offering her some degree of vindication in her views.

Just as in Ravenous 2, the sound design for this audio is excellent and the horrific voices and roars for the Ravenous make them a terrifying foe with a really intimidating presence. The legends and tales involving the Ravenous from different points in Time Lord history that are offered by various characters are a delight to listen to, and the soundtrack perfectly compliments the increasing fear and tension that elevates as the plot unfolds. The voice of the Ravenous, George Asprey, is on perfect form here and the Ravenous leader gets a fantastic monologue explaining his motivations and the innate desire of the creatures to feed and consume as much as they can. Paul McGann also does a great job of selling the Doctor in a fearful, panicked state, as the usually thoughtful, charismatic and charming Eighth Doctor is unusually snappish, tense and sometimes even slightly callous, which is very interesting to listen to after getting to know this incarnation so well over the dozens of audios he has had so far. Deeptime Frontier delivers an effective opener to the third series of Ravenous that gives the Eighth Doctor, Liv and Helen some great character moments and delivering another great appearance of the Ravenous themselves.

3.2 – Companion Piece

Companion Piece begins with a nice call-back to Doom Coalition, as we pick up following the Nine as he is being pursued by the Chancellery Guard and encounters River Song, and given his kleptomaniacal nature he soon decides to start a collection. He rescues Liv and Helen from the Deeptime Frontier station, only to transport them to his facility where he is keeping many of the Doctor’s companions prisoner. This is a Doctor-lite story, but features cameo appearances from many of the Doctor’s companions including Jo Grant, Romana II, Jamie, Leela and Adric. Most notably, this audio features the return of India Fisher as Charley Pollard, and also the chronological debut of Rakhee Thakvar as Bliss who appears in the upcoming Time War audios. Hearing Charley interacting with the Nine, Liv, Helen and the other companions is a treat, and India Fisher makes a fantastic return to the role after so long.

This audio is definitely a fan service story idea, but there is an important underlying premise to this audio, as River makes the excellent point that even without the Doctor present, the Doctor’s companions are among the most capable collection of individuals in the universe, and it doesn’t take long before the inmates begin hatching an escape plan. River manipulates the Nine into attempting to kidnap Katarina, who is portrayed by Ajjaz Awad taking over from Adrienne Hill, as part of a scheme to distract him long enough for Liv, Helen, Charley and Bliss to escape. Helen also finally gets to put her specialty, ancient languages, to some practical use as she attempts to decipher the Gallifreyan symbols that code the controls. Bliss is also great in this story, as she is able to pick up on the insane events of the story as they unfold despite the fact that this is set before the Time War so at this point she knows nothing about Gallifrey, Time Lords or the Doctor.

Although Companion Piece seems like an idea that was merely conceived to deliver fan service on the surface, it is actually a really fun ride with some brilliant twists and turns and excellent performances from all the returning characters. Hearing Charley meet and interact with Liv, Helen and River is really fun and her return is very well-executed. It is a pity that neither Lucie Miller nor Molly O’Sullivan make an appearance, particularly as they are also companions of the Eighth Doctor, but overall the condensed main cast of Liv, Helen, Charley, Bliss and River Song gives each character a chance to shine and they have plenty of time to talk and get to know each other. The fact that there are lots of references and easter eggs in this story makes it fun for those who keep up with Doctor Who lore, but ultimately the best thing about this audio is how it manages to tell a great story with substantial focus on the characters as well as deliver excellent fan service.

3.3 – L.E.G.E.N.D.

L.E.G.E.N.D. has an interesting premise, as the Eleven seemingly decides to aid the Doctor and his companions in their fight against the Ravenous. Although Liv and Helen are understandably mistrustful of the Eleven, the Doctor shows a genuine desire to reform him, and the Eleven’s earnest offers of information and assistance makes an interesting dynamic. The TARDIS team arrives in 19th century Germany in pursuit of a Professor Marathanga, who has arrived on Earth and disguised in humanoid form. She has arrived looking for the Brothers Grimm to collect folklore tales for her sentient computer, the eponymous L.E.G.E.N.D. which acts as a compendium for all the universe’s tales and stories. The Doctor must rely on the Eleven’s co-operation in order to extract information about the Ravenous from this computer, even though the two clearly do not trust each other.

Liv and Helen are great in this story, there are several funny scenes involving Helen being excited about meeting the Brothers Grimm, and Liv continuing the recurring joke of knowing absolutely nothing about Earth history as she has never heard of Snow White, Red Riding Hood or any of the other classic tales. The driving force behind this story is Liv and Helen’s distrust of the Eleven, which is fair as by this point he has terrorized them throughout their travels with the Doctor, and the Doctor does come across as somewhat naïve for apparently believing his sudden change of heart. Mark Bonnar does a fantastic job as the Eleven as always, by this point each of his different incarnations are well-established characters and listening to them interact with each other and the other characters, all done through Mark Bonnar’s exceptional acting skill, is something that never gets boring. He has some great scenes with Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, including a hilarious sequence in which they have to eat their way into a Gingerbread House, and some of the Eleven’s previous incarnations like Gingerbread a bit more than the others.

Talking of which, Marathanga’s computer malfunctions and starts making aspects of Brothers Grimm tales come to life using plasm, and Helen is trapped in the forest with Wilhelm Grimm as monsters from the tales prowl through the trees around them. This audio also contains a bizarre yet funny sequence in which Helen is temporarily transformed into an eel, which pays off with the Doctor subverting the classic ‘prince kisses the frog’ trope. The reasoning that L.E.G.E.N.D. gives for its obsession with the Grimm tales is interesting, as it latches on to the themes of transformation that are prevalent throughout the tales and uses that to create a whole new philosophy, and uses the plasm to create avatars that represent parts of its consciousness. Although this audio goes to great lengths to establish the premise for having Brothers Grimm elements in a Doctor Who story, it has to be said that it doesn’t do much with the idea, instead focusing on Marathanga and Liv’s exasperated interactions with her as well the L.E.G.E.N.D. computer itself inevitably becoming a problem. Nonetheless, this story has some great character moments for Liv, Helen, the Doctor and the Eleven.

3.4 – The Odds Against

After a fantastic opening sequence where the Nine plays a game of eye-spy with his past selves, the Eighth Doctor, Liv, Helen and the Eleven arrive at an abbey housing a dimensional gateway, and the Eleven begins to suffer some temporal side-effects of the crossing of his own timestream. The Odds Against focuses on the contentious relationship between the TARDIS team, as the Eleven and Liv are at each other’s throats while the Doctor and Helen attempt to keep the peace while the group hunt for the origin point of the Ravenous incursion. The Eleven gets more development as a character, as he is in a vulnerable position and is dependant on the Doctor and his friends for help in saving his past self from the Ravenous.

The Ravenous themselves are back in this story, after being absent from the previous two audios, and their origins are elaborated on a little more, though there are as many questions revealed in this story as answers. The abbey in which the Ravenous were allegedly first trapped is soon attacked by a horrific ‘Glitch’ – a partially-formed Ravenous that is murderously insane and shrieks its desire for death in a twisted, grating electronic voice. It didn’t seem possible to make the Ravenous voice sound even more terrifying, yet The Odds Against somehow manages it. Another interesting thing about this audio is that it manages to subvert the standard setup of a Doctor Who story and also deliver a great twist at the same time.

Having two versions of the same Time Lord meet is always a treat, but when the Eleven meets the Nine a whole wealth of untapped potential is unleashed, as the two begin to argue and, given their condition, things soon get out of hand as various other incarnations fight. A particularly funny sequence unfolds when both the Nine and the Eleven’s two versions of the Four bicker, leading to the two having an upfront conversation about their respective positions in the timeline which is quite interesting, and also gives some new insight into the nature of their condition. It is particularly morbid that the Eleven’s long-dead version of the Nine talks with his still-living counterpart, commenting on their former selves’ plans and reflecting on how they inevitably go wrong. Overall this audio is a fantastic treat for fans of the Eleven and his previous incarnations, as he takes a central role in this story as a neutral entity who is neither hero nor villain, which is always a fun direction to take a character.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 4

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II Optimal Planet Order

Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords defined itself by being a game wholly unlike its predecessor. Fundamentally, the two games are similar in that they use the same engine, have the same art style and utilise the same turn-based dice-rolls style of combat, but Knights of the Old Republic II sets itself apart with its thematic presentation, writing, story and philosophy. Another aspect of this sequel that makes it different from the first is that there is more focus on developing the story of the various companions, as when maximum influence is gained with Atton Rand, Bao-Dur, Mira and either the Handmaiden or the Disciple then they can be trained in the ways of the Force, meaning there it is more important than ever to optimise the order of planets in order to get the follower characters upgraded to Jedi as quickly as possible. Note that this planet order has been created with the Content Restoration Mod in mind, and that there will be major spoilers for various plot points of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.

#1 – Peragus Mining Facility / Telos Station

Unlike the first game, the player starts out as a force user but just as in the first Knights of the Old Republic the first two areas are locked in and are not decided by the player. The Peragus Mining Facility is where the player first meets Kreia, Atton Rand and T3-M4, and after solving the mystery and leaving the station the player must then complete the various quests in the Telos Stationand meet up with Bao-Dur on the surface before picking up the Handmaiden companion (if they are playing as a male) in the Telos Academy. Because the Peragus Facility cannot be visited again after the initial playthrough, it is a good idea to explore and loot as much as possible before leaving. It is also wise to complete as much of Telos Station as possible during the initial visit, as while there are several opportunities to revisit the station later on it is best to complete these quests for the sake of levelling up your character. Speaking of levelling up, some players might want to save Bao-Dur and Atton Rand’s level-ups, and indeed the level-ups of any of the other previously mentioned Force-trainable companions, until maximum influence is gained with them and the dialogue options to train them as Jedi are unlocked.

#2 – Nar Shaddaa

Nar Shaddaa is heavily name-dropped in the prologue areas the first planet that the player should visit, and even when given the choice of planets there is really no reason to not choose Nar Shaddaa as the first stop. Not only does this planet yield a large number of potential companions with Mira, Hanharr and G0-T0 but it provides enough opportunities for gaining influence to get several of your companions to a Force-user level. If you want to maximise influence gain with Force-potential companions, a good tip is to not bring Kreia with you on Nar Shaddaa, as she acts almost like an influence vampire and overrides several opportunities to gain influence with other companions to voice her criticisms of your actions. Kreia uses her powers to communicate vital exposition to you anyway, so there is really no reason to bring her along here. The various quests of Nar Shaddaa usually fall into place provided you speak to as many people as possible, and you can always return to this planet to finish any uncompleted quests later. After finishing Nar Shaddaa, you also get enough pieces to complete HK-47 as well as encountering new companion Visas Marr, so overall an early trip to Nar Shaddaa can prove a profitable venture with nearly all the companion slots filled. If you are playing Light Side, Mira can also be trained as a Jedi by speaking to her enough times, arguing with her, apologising, asking about her personal life and then taking her to a specific spot in the Nar Shaddaa Refugee Docks. As one final piece of advice, male characters must ensure that they speak to the Handmaiden and complete as many of her combat training sessions as possible before speaking to Visas Marr, otherwise the Handmaiden’s dialogue options might be permanently locked.

#3 – Dxun / Onderon Part One

Considering Nar Shaddaa fills out many of the companion slots and provides many opportunities for gaining influence with Atton, Bao-Dur, Handmaiden and Mira, it makes sense to fill out the last companion slot by taking a trip to Dxun. This is done by selecting Onderon, and following a small skirmish with some hostile military forces above the planet the Ebon Hawk will be forced to land on the nearby jungle moon. This place is home to a small camp of Mandalorians, who subvert their usual role in the original Knights of the Old Republic by acting as strong allies to the player throughout the rest of the game. Their leader, the new Mandalore, is the final companion who can be acquired here, and the planet itself provides several opportunities to gain influence with Bao-Dur, and any other companions who you might not have elevated to Force-user level by this point. Completing the various odd jobs for the Mandalorians is also a great way to gain experience. When the player is given the opportunity to travel to Onderon, it is best to take either Bao-Dur or Atton depending on who is not yet able to become a Force user through dialogue, as Mandalore is locked into the other choice. As with Peragus, it is wise to loot as much as possible and complete all of the quests in Onderon as the political situation quickly begins to deteriorate.

#4 – Dantooine

After leaving Onderon for the first time, the natural next step is Dantooine, the location of the ruins of the former Jedi Enclave. This planet provides female characters with the Disciple, a potential companion who is also Force-sensitive, and is also home to a wealth of Jedi-related loot including many Lightsaber components. The scope of the game begins to increase upon arrival on Dantooine, as the player is responsible for influencing the outcome of an attack on a major settlement and can also tap into the history of Revan and the Jedi by making their first visit to a location from the original Knights of the Old Republic. Whether the player follows the Light Side or the Dark Side, there are many opportunities for gaining force points for each side. If the player chooses to defends the Khoonda settlement during the attack, then companions like T3-M4 and Bao-Dur can be used to maximise the defences of the settlement, including combat droids, mines, turrets and healing the wounded militia. It is advisable to complete as many side quests on the planet as possible before initiating the battle, as several seemingly unassuming citizens in Khoonda and in the Salvager Camp can be recruited into the Militia to help in the final battle.

#5 – Onderon Part Two

After completing the next planet after visiting Onderon for the first time, the player will be called back to tie up loose ends, and decide once and for all who rules the planet. This is included more as a necessity than a choice, though it provides an excellent opportunity to level up your characters, though this is mostly through combat rather than opportunities for influence. At this point, if you haven’t completed them already, the Handmaiden’s combat training should be fully available and as such she can be made a Force-user, and if you have optimised the influence gains right then by now all of the potential Force-users in the party should be levelled-up and wielding Lightsabers.

#6 – Korriban

After visiting the ruins of the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine, the player now gets to visit the ruins of the Sith Academy on Korriban. In many ways this is thematically appropriate, as Korriban was the final chosen planet in our list for previous game, but the role it plays here as the final act of the game is very different. In the first Knights of the Old Republic, Korriban was teeming with life, not only Sith but also traders, smugglers and other inhabitants of the nearby settlement. Following Revan’s involvement in the Sith Academy in the previous game and the subsequent turmoil that followed, Korriban now lies lifeless and in the much darker Knights of the Old Republic II we return to this planet to find nothing but bones, sand and the gutted remains of the once proud Sith facility. Even the tombs of the Sith Lords lie in ruins, and Kreia laments that their secrets have been lost to the ignorant Sith who plundered their tombs for the sake of prestige. Interestingly, Korriban adds yet another layer of intrigue to Kreia’s character, as we see her play the role of historian and also explore her darker side in the visions that the player experiences in the cave.

#7 – Ravager / Malachor V

After all potential influence options, side-quests and loot opportunities have been exhausted on all the other planets, the time will eventually come to board the Ravager in defence of the Telos Citadel and eventually move on to Malachor V. There are little to no opportunities for influence gain in these areas, there are still some opportunities for levelling up and the player should reach around level 25-30 by the end of the game. With any luck this list has been useful to you, and you can use this to get the most out of your playthrough. If you have a preferred planet order that differs from this one, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 2

With the conclusion of Ravenous 1, the Eighth Doctor’s audio adventures take a series of unexpected twists and turns. There is a lot that Ravenous 2 sets out to do, including setting up a spinoff series, introducing the saga’s main villain, and undertaking a horror-inspired Christmas-themed audio. From this set onwards, Big Finish use the updated branding for the 2018 TV series and the wider box design allows for more expansive and creative cover artwork, so it is fitting that the theme of Ravenous 2 is Monsters, though probably not the ones you were expecting. From deranged Robots to Killer Clowns to the Krampus itself, Ravenous 2 promises action, thrills and scares a plenty.

2.1 – Escape from Kaldor

The Doctor, Liv and Helen arrive on Liv’s homeworld of Kaldor, which also happens to be where the Voc Robots (from the 1977 TV story The Robots of Death) are built. Fans of the Fourth Doctor era will immediately recognise these sinister-sounding droids as they are known for their murderous activities after being re-programmed to kill the crew of a Human Sandminer. This audio depicts a different side to the Robots as they are immediately presented as being a key element of society on Kaldor as Liv explains that they are integral to the economy and the upholding of the current system of power on the planet. It is worth mentioning that this audio mostly serves to set up Liv Chenka’s spinoff series, ‘The Robots’, so this one is a must-listen for fans of the character.

Liv is apprehensive about returning home, which the audience can sympathise with as we know enough about Liv’s backstory from her audios so far to know what she thinks of the planet. Built on a class-based society, Kaldor is ruled by its 20 founding families who make up the entitled social elite who look down on everyone else – Human and Robot alike. Liv explains her disgust at the system in place on the planet and we finally get to hear more about her young life, her father and why she chose to leave the planet to become a Med-Tec. In the meantime, the Doctor enters the Kaldor Company Headquarters after encountering a protest against the practices of the robot manufacturer. As it happens, Liv’s sister Tula (who the Doctor ‘coincidentally’ meets) is a senior figure in the manufacturing of the new ‘Super-Vocs’, an advanced android that speak with her voice. It isn’t long before things start to go wrong, however, as the suitably sinister Robots are set against the population of Kaldor for reasons unknown…

In essence this story is a classic Base-Under-Siege story with every criticism of capitalism that you would expect from a story set in a corporate dystopia. However, there is a more sophisticated element weaved into this story that stems from the character of Kit, a former friend of Liv’s who happens to be a member of one of the 20 founding families. The corporation vs consumer story is offset by the meddling of an entitled, naïve and immature member of the elite, and in many ways this story is a more thoughtful version of the 2018 TV story Kerblam! as it treats the saboteurs and the corporations as equally liable rather than shifting all the blame on the rogue element and letting the corporation get off scot-free. Overall, Escape from Kaldor is an exciting adventure that leads into the spinoff series ‘The Robots’, a full set of audio box sets starring Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka and Claire Rushbrook as Tula Chenka. Liv’s relationship with her sister takes centre stage in this story and the payoff is certainly worth it, as we finally get some closure to Liv’s backstory that has been slowly teased at throughout her time as a companion.

2.2 – Better Watch Out

The Doctor takes Liv and Helen to Salzberg to experience a traditional European Christmas, which Liv has never experienced having grown up in the far-future on Kaldor. In fact, Helen has to explain the concept of Christmas to Liv early on in the story. This audio has some great soundscapes that really invoke the Christmas feel, everything from carol singers to Christmas markets. But make no mistake – this audio is a monster story. The Doctor, Liv and Helen arrive in Salzburg not on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but December 5th – Krampusnacht, or the Feast of St Nicholas. The theme of the Krampus, a hideous goat-legged demon-like monster from Alpine mythology, runs throughout this audio, and the idea of virtues and sins being judged by a demonic entity that stands as the antithesis to Father Christmas is a bizarre yet brilliant idea for a Doctor Who story. In many ways, the Better Watch Out / Fairytale of Salzberg two-parter explores ideas that the TV Christmas Specials would never have been able to, and the fact that it draws from traditional Christmas legends makes it one of the richest Christmas-themed stories Doctor Who has ever fielded.

The story begins as the Doctor steps in to assist a woman who is being threatened with homelessness by her landlord, who the Doctor notices seems very eager to evict his tenants. The parallels to A Christmas Carol are referenced by the Doctor himself, who compares the landlord to Scrooge, and the Doctor’s attempts to convince the landlord to embrace the spirit of Christmas are rebuked. Meanwhile, Liv and Helen are attacked by Imps in the street, as physical manifestations of the Krampus’s demons begin abducting the residents of Salzberg. The Imps themselves are suitably bizarre to listen to, and there is a great scene where Helen slowly realises that the Imps are not part of the festivities and are actually taking people, and Liv discovers that they are actual creatures after knocking one out with a well-aimed right hook. The Imps represent the physical manifestations of the demons of hell, and as such are driven to round up and punish anyone who has committed any sin, and as such they begin to round up the entire population of the city.

Throughout this audio, the events of the story are analysed and commented on by two distinct sets of characters who are separate from the main narrative. The first set is the Doctor in the future, who has brought another character called Bruno to Salzberg in the future, which is engulfed in flames as a result of something that Bruno did in the past, seemingly the end result of the Imp’s attack on the city. Another pair, an elderly pilgrim and a Bishop, discuss the legend of the Krampus and how it ties into the story. This fragmented method of delivering story elements is interesting and is the kind of storytelling that an audio drama format lends itself well to. Clearly not all is as it seems with this story, there is plenty of intrigue abound as the various seemingly disconnected story elements gradually come together. Considering the fact that Ravenous 2 promised monsters a plenty, Better Watch Out fills the quota almost single-handed with not only an army of demons but also the Krampus itself, which is brought to life with incredible sound design with a terrifying roar. The story also ends on a great cliff-hanger that leads into the next story, Fairytale of Salzburg.

2.3 – Fairytale of Salzburg

After Better Watch Out presented a bizarre and intriguing story, Fairytale of Salzburg finally starts to explain things about the story and answer some of the most pressing questions from the previous audio – namely, how the Krampus and the Imps come to exist in the first place and how the disconnected elements of Better Watch Out link together. The structure of this audio is somewhat reminiscent of a Moffat story, as it holds its cards close to its chest for the majority of the runtime before finally sliding the last critical pieces into place to bring the whole story together. Overall, the Krampus two-parter is presented as an epic, and should be regarded as such as this is an ambitious undertaking that pays off excellently, cementing Ravenous 2 as a box set that delivers on its promise of scary monsters.

Unfortunately, revealing too much about the story of Fairytale of Salzburg will spoil crucial plot elements of not only this story but the previous one as well. It has to be said that these stories are among the strongest in the Eighth Doctor’s tenure, and both Liv and Helen really get a chance to shine as Nicola Walker and Hattie Morahan do a fantastic job in their roles. Each character gets more than one great scene in this audio, as Liv demonstrates her ability to stand in for the Doctor as she leads her friends on a mission without him, and Helen is instrumental in resolving the story, making some incredible sacrifices to save her friends from a horrible fate and proving once again that she is a worthy addition to the TARDIS team.

This audio foregoes the Christmas theme completely in favour of a full-on monster story, with the Krampus condemning sinners to hell and casting them down with commands uttered with its booming voice. The ultimate conclusion to this story is satisfying and poignant, and hearing all the various splintered narratives from throughout this two-parter finally culminate as the plot unfolds makes Better Watch Out / Fairytale of Salzburg one of the best stories in the Ravenous saga. The ending showcases the best of all three main characters, with Liv, Helen and the Doctor all at their absolute best in this story, particularly Helen as she plays a critical role in this story and she gets some great moments with Liv that show just how much their friendship has grown during their time travelling together. Overall Fairytale of Salzberg delivers a brilliant conclusion to this two-part story that not only delivers on the monster factor but also gives us a wonderful story that is a strong outing for this TARDIS team.

2.4 – Seizure

After the incredible epic that was Better Watch Out / Fairytale of Salzburg, Ravenous 2 hits a home run with this finale. Seizure might well be one of the most atmospheric, exciting and scary audios that Big Finish have ever produced, and it is a testament to the imagination, skill and dedication of everyone involved in creating this production that even this far into the Eighth Doctor’s huge series of audios, Big Finish can still outdo themselves and create some truly incredible pieces of art. Seizure has one of the most interesting setups for a Doctor Who story ever devised, as the Doctor and his companions arrive in a dying, haunted TARDIS drifting in the vortex in response to a distress signal, and soon discover that the Gothic hallways are being stalked by several evil monsters, including the Eleven who returns once again, although this time as a reluctant ally to the Doctor, Liv and Helen. But there is something even more monstrous lurking among the endless empty hallways.

Spoilers – it’s one of the eponymous creatures that have thus far only been mentioned or hinted at in this saga, the Ravenous. These are disgusting monsters from the early legends of Gallifrey, creatures that all Time Lords, even the Doctor, fear on instinct as they feed on regeneration energy by draining the lives of any Time Lord they come across. This story has atmosphere and chills a-plenty, as a sinister spectre stalks the halls of the dying TARDIS as the internal geography begins to break down. The Doctor and Helen are soon separated from Liv, and soon meet the Eleven, who is terrified out of his mind and desperate to escape. With ghosts and monsters prowling about the hallways and the TARDIS itself collapsing in on itself, The Doctor and Helen must find Liv, save the Eleven and escape before they are devoured.

The introduction of the Ravenous creature itself is also excellent, as the sound design and voice work sells this monster as a terrifying entity. The design works best for audio, as the horrific screech, the music and the sound effects make the Ravenous an intimidating presence. They also have an interesting effect on the Doctor, who is usually calm and calculated during adventures but in this case he is driven almost mad with panic, even before the Ravenous appear he begins to show small out-of-character moments of annoyance and anger. This is an interesting aspect to a monster as there is a real sense that he is genuinely scared of the Ravenous, and it isn’t hard to see why as the cover art shows just how disgusting and horrifying these creatures are, but the sound effects is what really sells these creatures with their horrific roar and grating voice. Seizure has scares, chills and atmosphere that make it a fantastic finale to Ravenous 2, and it is a really strong introduction to the eponymous Ravenous creatures.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 3

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Optimal Planet Order

Although one of the central features of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the ability to choose which planets in the Galaxy you want to visit in any order, it soon becomes clear on repeated playthroughs that there are certain planets that have a lot more to offer than others in terms of items, quests, companions and story progression. As such many players create their own optimal planet order and although this is somewhat subjective, the game’s pre-existing linear location sequences combined with the fact that some companions are locked behind quests on specific planets makes this specific order the best in terms of tone, progression and companion-gathering.

#1 – Endar Spire and Taris

This one is obvious, as the game’s prologue is set on the Endar Spire and the first planet the player visits is always Taris. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that the vast majority of companions are acquired on Taris and their character development quests take place on other planets later down the line. Taris grants the player access to T3-M4, Bastila, Mission, Zaalbar and Canderous, which is a huge portion of the game’s roster. As the player cannot revisit Taris once they have left, it is a good idea to scour the initial areas acquiring as much loot and as many quests as possible, as the natural progression of Taris from the Upper City to the Lower City and finally the Undercity is fairly linear and quests tend to slot into place providing you search everything thoroughly.

#2 – Dantooine

This is another choice that is not optional, as the game sends you straight to Dantooine immediately after finishing Taris. All you have to do is speak to the Jedi Council and complete a few short quests on Dantooine before unlocking the ability to leave and visit other planets, though it is generally worth completing as many quests as possible on Dantooine on your first visit for the simple reason that you will level up more by fighting relatively easy enemies. You also acquire a new companion on this planet, force-user Juhani, though you have to play your dialogue options right in order to prevent her from being killed. Several quests on later planets require the player to return to Dantooine, so it is often a good idea to visit there after each planet is completed.

#3 – Kashyyyk

The first real choice to appear on this list is Kashyyyk, which is the go-to first planet choice for many playthroughs, though the reasons for this vary. Some wish to complete Zaalbar’s quest, others want to get the Shadowlands out of the way early, but more want to acquire Jolee Bindo, a Jedi Consular living in the Shadowlands who is the next force-user companion that can be acquired and his status as a ‘grey’ allows the use of unrestricted Dark Side powers for a Light Side player. Some might argue that Tatooine is a better first choice, and some might want to travel there first to complete some initial quests (and acquire a certain ‘protocol droid’ in the process) but in terms of first planet to be fully completed, Kashyyyk makes the most sense as you acquire a Force user and several powerful, upgradeable weapons.

#4 – Tatooine

As previously mentioned, some players might want to pop over to Tatooine before fully completing Kashyyyk, as the next droid companion HK-47 can be acquired fairly early and with little effort, which is a fair argument. In terms of full planet completion, however, it makes sense to do Kashyyyk first for the experience as the Tusken Raider ambushes in the open desert area of Tatooine are notoriously brutal at lower levels. The Czerka are also portrayed as more of a nuisance than an actual threat on this planet, so there is less incentive to put an end to their operations as quickly as possible as there is on Kashyyyk. Bastila’s story missions are also present on Tatooine, so it is a good idea to progress through her dialogue progression a fair bit before completing those.

#5 – Manaan

This is where the planet choices become less about gameplay advantages and more about tone. Whilst the first few planets often involve the Jedi and his companions fighting through fields and dunes filled with enemies and diving in caves and forests to recover hidden treasures, Manaan slows things down by presenting a more measured and subtle approach to the gameplay. The laws on Manaan prevent violence (for the most part) so we are suddenly placed in a situation where Republic and Sith must mingle and clash with ideologies rather than blasters and vibroblades. We see the Republic depicted in a more morally grey stance as it hires mercenaries and deals in clandestine operations just like their Sith counterparts. When the combat does resume in the underwater sections, the player is able to tip the balance in the favour of one side whilst also fighting Darth Bandon in a sinister location.

#6 – Korriban

The decision to complete Korriban last makes for a consistent tone for the game’s penultimate act as following the defeat of Darth Bandon and the conclusion of the previous planet’s story, the game takes a very dark turn during a brief visit to the Leviathan, and that dark tone is then continued as the player visits Korriban, home of the Sith. Korriban also features some difficult challenges in terms of enemies and puzzles, so it makes sense to level up as much as possible before tackling it. The Sith Academy quests are some of the game’s most interesting depictions of unorthodox views of the Force, as also many of the Sith teachers and students are as zealous as any Sith, there are some who have very unique interpretations of the Code of the Sith and how it is not necessarily a gateway to evil.

#7 – Rakata Prime

The final planet the player visits is Rakata Prime, though this is yet another choice that is made by the game and not by the player. It is worth mentioning here anyway as a reminder that your characters don’t have to be fully levelled up before finishing the final chosen planet, as Rakata Prime has enough quests and enemies to get the final few levels and ensure your character is at maximum strength before taking on the final boss. Hopefully this list has been useful and you can use this to get the most out of your playthrough. If you have a preferred planet order that differs from this one, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 1

The Doctor and Liv are in pursuit of Helen and the Eleven after the conclusion of the Doom Coalition series, and this brings us to the first of the Ravenous box sets. Separating Helen from the Doctor and Liv is an interesting series arc for this box set, and provides a more pressing reason for them to go searching for the Eleven following the events of Doom Coalition and it also allows for some interesting character development between Helen and the Eleven later on. Ravenous represents a new era for the Eighth Doctor in more ways than one – the first box set of this series is the last to use to the silver Classic Series logo as all audios from this point forward use the new branding for the 2018 rebranding of Doctor Who.

1.1 – Their Finest Hour

Set during World War 2, Their Finest Hour features Ian McNeice who reprises his role as Winston Churchill that he played in Victory of the Daleks, as Churchill calls the Doctor on the eve of the Battle of Britain after several RAF fighters mysteriously disappear. It is interesting to note that Liv Chenka has no idea who Churchill is, as although she is Human she is from another planet in the far future, and all of her information about Earth’s history comes from the other companions she meets such as Molly and Helen, and there is a nice reference to Molly early on as Liv compares the two World Wars that she has now experienced at two different points in her travels with the Doctor. Although World War 2 is a fairly well-used setting for Doctor Who stories at this point, this audio focuses on a very specific aspect of the war that has not been explored in Doctor Who much.

This audio prominently features the Polish pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain, who in real-life history escaped the Nazi occupation of Poland and flew for the RAF in the Battle of Britain. This story’s two Polish pilots, Jan Ostowicz and Wilhelm Rozycki, are the two main pilot characters in the story, and honestly it is refreshing to have a World War 2 story that isn’t populated with over-the-top tally-ho British characters with faux-toff accents that are overused tropes of this historical era, and the pilot characters are very memorable and likeable in their characterisation which is a great surprise. After the sheer number of British pilot stereotype characters that have been featured in Big Finish’s early days, this audio comes as a breath of fresh air.

Their Finest Hour doesn’t shy away from a realistic depiction of war, and the characters are realistically depicted by a great cast. Paul McGann and Nicola Walker are great as always, Liv gets some great scenes as she is separated from the Doctor and trapped on an alien ship with one of the pilots and so must assume a Doctor-like role in order to escape. One of the most memorable things about this audio is its ending, which is suitably bleak given the setting and delivers a great gut-punch that hits home how horrible life was on the front line for those fighting in World War 2, particularly the Battle of Britain. As a series opener, Their Finest Hour does a great job, and it makes a really good first impression for the Ravenous saga.

1.2 – How to Make a Killing in Time Travel

This story begins with the much-maligned scientist Stralla Cushing attempting to invent time travel for her brutish boss, Cornelius Morningstar. Her experiments draw the attention of the TARDIS, and The Doctor and Liv are diverted in their search for Helen to the space station Scapegrace. Unfortunately, several other parties are aware of the developments in temporal technology taking place on the station and the cross-interferences of each group causes absolute chaos as the story progresses. This audio sometimes feels like a play, there are a few larger-than-life characters and bizarre creatures with enigmatic character traits, this is perhaps the closest this era gets to feeling like the Hartnell era, but at the same time it is also fast-paced and snappy like a New Series story. Liv is particularly funny in this story as she calls out the Doctor on his initial blasé approach to meddling, as his assurances that everything will be sorted in a jiffy are, of course, naively optimistic.

The story does take a few dark turns, however, and there are some great performances from the supporting cast that sell the grimmer scenes in this audio, and everyone from the comically deranged Morningstar to the charismatic duo of Gorl and Dron are memorable and give this story a very unique identity. The title is also fitting, as the invention of time travel and the string of crimes and blackmails that follow are the catalyst for a fascinating temporal murder mystery, with an interesting twist that the audience are aware of what is going on and yet all of the characters, including the Doctor and Liv, blunder through the story completely unawares. In a very Much Ado About Nothing-style series of mishaps and innuendos one murder causes a chain of events that threatens to destroy an entire civilisation.

Although this audio plays itself as somewhat of a comedic story, with the ending being played for laughs more than anything, this is a genuinely exciting listen and there are some great character moments between the Doctor and Liv. How to Make a Killing in Time Travel is a fun standalone story that has little to do with the wider story of the Ravenous series, but this is ideal as the next two stories return to the more pressing issue of Helen’s kidnapping. Nonetheless, some of Big Finish’s best earlier works are standalone audios, and this story continues that tradition with a fun run-around that makes for a nice diversion whilst also offering some funny and heart-warming character moments between the Doctor and Liv.

1.3 – World of Damnation

The tone shifts dramatically for the next story, World of Damnation, as the Eleven and Helen are trapped on Rykerzon, a maximum-security prison for the most dangerous criminals. To address the elephant in the room, this audio features the return of the Kandyman from the Seventh Doctor TV story The Happiness Patrol in 1988, who menaced the citizens of Terra Alpha with his deadly desserts. He is seemingly up to his old tricks in this audio after reconstituting himself with a new grotesque body, as he serves sickeningly sweet treats to the prisoners and officials alike on on Rykerzon. The Eleven is held prisoner, and Helen acts as a carer and emotional mentor for him, taking on an almost motherly role as the two characters are given months of time together to form a bizarre ‘friendship’. The scenes between these two characters throughout this audio are some of the most fascinating in the series, and it is good that the Ravenous series is doing more with the character of the Eleven as he is a really fun anti-villain to have around and there is a lot of potential with the character.

The Doctor and Liv finally arrive in pursuit of Helen and the Eleven, and are immediately separated, as is customary. Liv meets up with two of the best of the supporting cast, Ruzalla and Crabhead, who explain that the Kandyman has taken control of the prison and now treats the majority of the prisoners like animals, feeding them troughs of desserts to placate them as a form of crowd control. The setting of a decrepit prison being subverted by the Kandyman and transformed into a sickening sweet factory has some great potential that World of Damnation takes full advantage of.

Oddly enough, despite his notorious reputation in the fanbase, the return of the Kandyman is pulled off exceptionally in this audio as his completely reformatted body allows him to be reintroduced as almost a completely different character. Although the horrific, high-pitched voice of the Kandyman in the Classic Series was one of his defining features, the design of the creature caused several issues for the show and its appearance detracted from any potential explanation for its bizarre sugar-related philosophy. This audio sets up the Kandyman as an actual character rather than a monster, and without the insane voice and stomping costume the character has been changed for the better for audio. He even gets a great reunion scene with the Doctor as the two meet again after many years. The cliff-hanger ending to this story is also suitably gut-punching, though not for the reasons you might expect.

1.4 – Sweet Salvation

After finally meeting back up with Helen at the end of the last story, the Doctor senses that something isn’t right. As it happens, he is right, as the Eleven and the Kandyman have made an alliance to take over not only Rykerzon but the nearby Colony 23 as well, using pacifying sweets and fizzy drinks to take over the planet. As their plan is set into motion the Doctor, Liv and Helen as well as former prison occupant Ruzalla meet up at last and begin to unravel what is going on. This is somewhat of a low-key finale for the first series of Ravenous, though as with Doom Coalition before it lower-stakes finales allow for more room for character development. This story tests the trust between the Doctor and Helen as he suspects her of being manipulated by the Eleven and continues to question her motivations, much to the chagrin of Liv who trusts Helen implicitly. Overall the pairing of Helen and Liv has been a highlight of this era, and there is no better showcase of this than their relationship in the Ravenous series.

Speaking of great character pairings, the matchup of the Kandyman and the Eleven is an interesting choice to say the least, as both villains are suitably deranged and maniacal so the two complement each other quite well, though one has to wonder how anyone was fooled by their attempts to impersonate legitimate officials to deal with the people of Colony 23. The basic plan of influencing the population using particular flavours is interesting and fits with the character, as he is once again playing the role of enforcer for a tyrannical regime as he was in The Happiness Patrol. The Kandyman has some great interactions with some of the Eleven’s earlier personalities, particularly the child-like Three and animalistic Six, as their kid-in-a-candy-shop glee at being evil matches up well with an actual evil Kandyman.

Overall Sweet Salvation wraps up the first box set of the Ravenous series with a great character-focused finale and it sets up several plot threads for later in the series, including the Eleven’s developing character as well as the mysterious screeching entities that are pursuing him and the Doctor. Although this box set is only the first in the Ravenous series, it represents the end of an era in one crucial respect: this is the last box set to use the classic Doctor Who logo on its branding, as releases from this point onward use the new branding introduced in 2018 for the New Series under Chris Chibnall. There is a lot more to Ravenous 2 than a simple change of box art design, however, as from here things start to get spooky, as the next box set in the Ravenous series has one defining theme – Monsters.

Next – Eighth Doctor Big Finish Audios Review – Ravenous 2

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