Doctor Who – The Best of Big Finish, Part Five

In my last Best of Big Finish article I mentioned that I had finished most of the second series of Eighth Doctor audios, and I had only a handful of audios (including the infamous Zagreus) remaining in the Eighth Doctor’s first batch of stories. What makes these audios so fascinating is that, other than the less-than-stellar TV Movie from 1996 and the fantastic but brief Night of the Doctor from 2013, they are the only medium through which fans can experience the Eighth Doctor. Whilst we can all live in hope that one day the BBC will give Paul McGann a spinoff or mini-series of his own, in the meantime the stellar audios that he has been a part of can suffice for fans of McGann. All of these audios can be picked up on the Big Finish website for just £3 each, so they are definitely worth checking out.

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The Time of the Daleks

This audio is essentially a re-imagining of the lost Second Doctor episode The Evil of the Daleks, which is by no means a bad thing – since Evil can no longer be experienced, it makes sense to attempt a remake eventually – but the story is perhaps in places a little too close to Evil. Regardless, McGann and Fisher are brilliant as always, and the Daleks prove to be as menacing as ever.

What truly makes this audio worth the time is the fact that the Daleks quote Shakespeare throughout, something that is unnerving in context but hilarious to listen to, particularly since the plot revolves a fair amount around the Daleks attempting to remove all of Shakespeare from time, but in order to do that they have to learn Shakespeare themselves.

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Neverland

Neverland concludes the story arc involving Charley Pollard and the time-phenomenon that has pursued her and the Doctor since they met, and also leads into Zagreus, making it a fairly important audio in the Eighth Doctor’s early years. The audio features Lalla Ward as Romana II in her first encounter with the Eighth Doctor, and also features some interesting developments on Time Lord society, specifically their early methods of capitol punishment.

All in all, Neverland is essentially the ‘setup’ for the next audio, and given its successors infamous reputation it goes without saying that this audio is an important chapter in the Eighth Doctor’s adventures.

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Zagreus

As strange as it is, I actually quite liked Zagreus. I am aware of this audio’s controversial nature, and its placement as the ‘Marmite’ audio for most fans – they either love it or they hate it. To its credit, Zagreus attempts to do something radically different for a Doctor Who story, and it plays with some really interesting ideas. By far one of the best features of this story is the abundance of classic cast members, everyone from Louise Jameson to Jon Pertwee (the latter as a prerecording taken from a fan production). In a strange twist, however, the entire group of regular cast have been given totally random roles in this story, making it an interesting ride for those who are familiar with them all.

The first of two main weaknesses of Zagreus is the length – in fact, its length is its Achilles heel in many ways, as the second main weakness of Zagreus is the meandering plot – but the story could have been tightened up a lot more as the final product is a whopping four hours long – twice the length of a standard Big Finish production. True to Classic Who form, this means filler galore.

—- WARNING: SPOILERS FOR ZAGREUS TO FOLLOW —-

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Scherzo

This is a strange one. Scherzo is set directly after Zagreus and is the first in the ‘divergent universe’ arc that makes up the second major plot arc in the Eighth Doctor’s era after Charley. After the somewhat hectic and tragic conclusion to Zagreus, the Eighth Doctor and Charley end up in a totally new universe in which time no longer exists, and for most of the audio they cannot see or feel anything but each other – they are totally trapped in a universe in which the only thing that exists is sound.

This audio really showcases what the format of audio stories can do that the televised show could not, and really amps up the horror factor to the extent that this might be the scariest of the Big Finish audios that I have listened to so far, in a strange way. As the only two cast members, Paul McGann and India Fisher do a fantastic job here, and they are quickly becoming one of my favourite Doctor/Companion pairings.

So that concludes my thoughts on the next round of Eighth Doctor audios from Big Finish. If you enjoyed, be sure to leave a like and you can follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this. Thanks for reading!

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Doctor Who – The Best of Big Finish, Part Four

I have been listening to Big Finish for just over two months now, and yet already I have made my way through swathes of episodes by listening to them daily – whilst out and about walking around the park or to the gym, whilst cooking or doing housework, and also during long car journeys. The series has been very rewarding to listen to as a Doctor Who fan and I would thoroughly recommend any who have not already to check out Big Finish on their website. Many of the earlier audios are very cheap for a digital download and the bundles of the first dozen or so stories for each Doctor periodically go on sale so it is really easy to pick them up cheap.

Following on from my Best of Big Finish, Part Three comes the next installment in my Big Finish reviews series, as I make my way through Big Finish’s main range. Unlike most Big Finish audios, most of these require previous episodes for context and understanding, so to begin:

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The Mutant Phase

The first audio on this list is the third in the ‘Dalek Empire’ series, that also includes The Genocide Machine, The Apocalypse Element and the conclusion The Time of the Daleks. Featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa as well as a Dalek Emperor and Thals all attempting to prevent a history-altering mutation in the Dalek genome that could destroy both the Dalek race and the universe. The scope of this episode is larger than any in the Dalek Empire arc so far, and it links quite heavily with the 12-part First Doctor story The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but don’t let that put you off.

The Mutant Phase does a great job of maintaining the high stakes due to the temporal nature of it – usually when Big Finish does a ‘the Daleks invade this planet for this reason’ can get stale over time, but having a story in which the Daleks try to change all of history to rid themselves of a plague is fairly interesting, although there are more twists that make the reasoning by this and the Doctor’s motives more convoluted.

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Invaders from Mars

The fact alone that Simon Pegg is part of the cast tells you that this is going to be a fun one, but Invaders from Mars is a contender for funniest audio I have listened to so far in the series, although I am yet to listen to The Holy Terror. The story partly revolves around the 1938 Halloween radio transmission of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds perfomred by Orson Welles, but some comical twists add to the surreal humour of this story. Likewise, as this is an episode that is perhaps meant to be taken less seriously, there appears to be a higher amount of ‘silly voices’ involved in the production of this audio, and not all of them can be Simon Pegg.

In typical Big Finish style, however, there are some dark elements, and the story is not without its fair share of death – but Invaders from Mars is definitely worth a listen for fans of the Eighth Doctor and Charley, and also for fans of historicals. Interestingly, this audio is written by Mark Gatiss, who would go on to write a lot of stories for the new series including The Unquiet Dead and Empress of Mars, so he clearly has a thing for historicals and episodes with Mars in the title.

 

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Seasons of Fear

As far as ‘returning monsters’ go, you don’t really get more obscure than the return of the Nimon to Doctor Who in Seasons of Fear. The Nimon featured in just one episode of Classic Who, and yet still managed to get a return in NuWho in The God Complex (sort of), but that wasn’t before Big Finish had already granted them their glorious return here in a surprisingly standout episode featuring an almost comical relationship that develops between the Doctor and an immortal who serves a legion of Bull-people who want to supersede the Time Lords and become Masters of the universe.

The premise of this story is notable as it uses the time-travel elements of Doctor Who a lot more than most stories might, and the early parts almost give us a new location and time period each episode. The story flows consistently throughout, however, and the development of the character of Sebastian Grayle is both humorous and fascinatingly dark. Overall this is well worth a listen as it provides crucial development for the arc of the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard.

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Embrace the Darkness

When Big Finish does creepy well, it does it really well, and and Embrace the Darkness sums up creepy – its essentially a sinister horror in audio form that also features a helping of sci-fi concepts and great characters and voice acting. The story is a basic ‘base-under-siege’ formula, but the execution makes it notable as the aliens in this are by no means as malevolent as one might expect from a sci-fi horror story.

It cannot be understated how good India Fisher is as a companion, particularly as she is able to bring her audio-only character Charley to life, and her chemistry with Paul McGann makes every audio with the pair acting together a treat.

As this is the third Eighth Doctor story on the list, it is important to note at this point that I am on an Eighth Doctor binge, and my next Big Finish Review will feature the next few Eighth Doctor audios as well as the infamous Zagreus.

So that was my list of the Best of Big Finish, Part Four. If you enjoyed then be sure to leave a like, and you can follow Sacred Icon either here or on Facebook for more content like this. Thanks for reading!

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Doctor Who – The Best of Big Finish, Part Two

Continuing from my previous articles on both my First Impressions of Big Finish and my Best of Big Finish, Part One, I now present the next chapter in my review series of the Doctor Who audios. These are reviewed in the order in which I listened to them, and I find that listening to the Big Finish audios in chronological order eases new listeners into the format, although most of these listed here could probably serve as jumping-on points, particularly since they are all so cheap on the Big Finish website. So, to begin:

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The Juggernauts

This story, for Davros, is a directly prelude to the TV episode Remembrance of the Daleks and goes into the detail of how Davros would come to form the ideas for the Imperial Daleks, as well as the first ‘appearance’ of Davros’ white chair (as seen on the cover). The Juggernauts also features the audio debut of the Mechanoids, former mechanical servants of humanity that debuted in the TV episode The Chase. Interestingly, what makes this story so good as Bonnie Langford as Mel, it really shows how much more maturely her character is being handled by Big Finish than it was by the main show in the 80s. She shows her vast intelligence and adaptability as she successfully establishes herself as a leading member of Davros’s team, and even earns the evil scientists’s respect.

The Juggernauts also demonstrates an important point in the Daleks personal history – Davros is pushed closer and closer to abandoning his creations after their constant mistreatment of him, and this lays the groundwork for the formation of the Imperial Dalek faction, a development that is essential for the plot of Remembrance.

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Master

Master is a masterpiece, thanks primarily to the fantastic voice work of both Sylvester McCoy and Geoffrey Beevers as the Doctor and ‘John Smith’ – a human who was once the Time Lord known as the Master. Knowing nothing of his former life, the Master gets a chance to live out an ordinary, human life for 10 years, and this plot development allows for some reflective conversation between the Doctor and his old friend, even if the latter has no idea who he is. It may seem odd for those who have only seen him on TV, but Geoffrey Beevers is fast becoming my favorite incarnation. True, I am yet to hear any Alex Macqueen, but for that I’d either have to listen to the Dark Eyes series or the Two Masters trilogy, which is a bit further down the line, but so far Beevers has been perfect as an audio-focused incarnation, since his real strength is in the quality of his voice acting and the silky smooth texture of his voice.

In truth, all of the audios with Beevers are a treat, but Master really demonstrates the versatility of him as an actor. He plays off Sylvester McCoy perfectly, and this audio really goes into detail about the backstory of the Doctor and the Master as children on Gallifrey, and is a great listen for lore fanatics.

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The Harvest

Audio-only Seventh Doctor companion Hex makes his debut in this story, making this an essential for listening to other stories in the Hex arc – Enemy of the Daleks being another great one. The wacky music and interesting framing (from Hex’s perspective for the early parts) gives this story unique character. Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy are, as always, brilliant, and they have great chemistry with newcomer Philip Olivier. This story is part of a trilogy, the other installments being The Reaping and The Gathering, both of which loosely link with this story.

This story is a really interesting twist on the classic Cyberman story, with an added element of subterfuge and deception. This story essentially depicts a small group of Cybermen that are prepared to risk everything to survive, even defy their very nature. Voice acting on behalf of William Boyde gives the mysterious ‘Subject One’ great personality, and I almost felt sorry for it initially. Overall, this story is a classic ‘companion introduction’ story that also doubles as a pretty decent Cyberman story. There’s also a really funny bit of dialogue near the start between the Seventh Doctor and the computer that gets me every time.

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The Marian Conspiracy

Going backwards slightly in the Big Finish chronology, The Marian Conspiracy is another companion debut story – this time of Sixth Doctor companion Evelyn Smythe. What makes this story so interesting is that it is a pure historical, meaning there is no alien invasion to thwart, simply the natural progression of human history. The conflict in this story arises from the tumultuous time period in which it is set – during the reign of Queen Mary I. Despite her reputation, this audio presents a more balanced view of things, with the views of both Mary and Elizabeth’s supporters explained in their context. This is a great one for history lovers, particularly since Evelyn gets to utilize her experience as a history teacher in a time period that she specializes in.  Overall, this is a great listen and definitely adds to my collection of good Sixth Doctor stories.

So that’s the end of Part 2 of my Best of Big Finish, I hope you enjoyed and if you did then be sure to leave a like, and you can follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this. Also, check out the read more tab below for articles related to this one. Thanks for reading!

Read more in this series with the links below:

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Genesis of the Daleks – The Rebirth

Genesis of the Daleks is one of those classic Doctor Who episodes that is often considered to be the best, alongside other popular Tom Baker episodes like The Ark in Space and The Deadly Assassin, and with good reason. Genesis appears at the height of Philip Hinchcliffe’s run on the show, an era defined by its dark imagery and thrilling sci-fi concepts – and if Hinchcliffe’s era is the Golden Age of Classic Who, then Genesis of the Daleks is the crown jewel.

Rarely does a six-part episode make good use of its run-time, with other Dalek six-parters like Planet of the Daleks and The Chase falling victim to pacing issues as the writers padded out the length, but Genesis of the Daleks is a great example of a six-parter done well – it seems as though to cut anything out of Genesis would detract from the story, as opposed to many other six-parters in which it seems entire episodes could be removed with little or no impact on the story. Genesis incorporates the capture-and-escape formula of many other Classic Doctor Who episodes, but spreads the narrative focus across enough elements to maintain the viewer’s interest. Combining this technique with the rich amount of political intrigue and conflicting motivations of each of the main characters creates a story in which the plot propels the audience through a dark and exciting tale of betrayal, obsession, murder, desperation and genocide and managing to keep the tension high throughout all six parts.

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As the name implies, a key element to this episode is the Daleks themselves – and Genesis of the Daleks manages to find the exact balance between keeping the Daleks as the narrative focus without dedicating so much screen-time to them that they become boring. Throughout the episode the ever-present threat of the Daleks looms, and their sporadic appearances early on divulge enough information about their nature to make this episode accessible for newcomers to the show, and this was undoubtedly the intention of Terry Nation – the original creator of the Daleks and writer of this episode. In fact, this episode acts as a sort of ‘reboot’ of the Daleks – it tells the story of their origins that differs from the exposition explaining their origins that we hear in The Daleks written over ten years prior, and the Daleks had gone through several character shifts throughout the 60s – Terry Nation clearly didn’t know what to do with the Daleks initially – they appear less aggressive and overtly evil in their debut, and The Chase portrayed the Daleks as comical buffoons whilst The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Dalek’ Master Plan painted them as more sinister characters, a characterisation which thankfully stuck and contributes greatly to the atmosphere in Genesis of the Daleks.

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Terry Nation seemingly killed the Daleks off for good in The Evil of the Daleks, though they were sheepishly brought back to Doctor Who under Jon Pertwee’s tenure after a disappointing American movie breakthrough. Nation had several misfires in Dalek story quality in the early 1970s – Day of the Daleks was limited by its physical props and quality of effects that was only corrected years later, Planet of the Daleks is a classic example of a four-parter padded out to fill a six-episode runtime, and Death to the Daleks explores interesting ideas but ultimately its reception was lackluster. And so, Genesis of the Daleks explores an idea that, until then, Terry Nation had only briefly explained in passing – the origin of the Daleks, and an explanation of how they came to be. Before Genesis, the original evolution of the Daleks was explained in a comic book – one of the many contributions to the Dalekmania of the 1960s was a range of bizarre and colourful comic books – but Nation was nudged towards writing an episode around the Daleks origins by the producers, since his recent scripts had become rather samey. As a result, by a collaboration between arguably the best showrunner that Doctor Who has had in its run and the man who originally created the Daleks and was responsible for their direction as a character, Genesis of the Daleks was born.

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But a question remained How could a race like the Daleks actually evolve? Genesis answers this question in the most practical way possible – the Daleks did not evolve, they were created. But in establishing this concept, Terry Nation also had to establish the concept of a creator. And thus the character of Davros began to take shape – and he was actualised by the fantastic Michael Wisher, who sadly did not go on to play Davros in later appearances of the character due to filming commitments, but here he shines as a psychotic megalomaniac, hell-bent on achieving his goal whatever the cost may be. The character of Davros was designed to provide a more human angle to the Daleks and a means of conveying their intentions in a way that did not devolve into chants of ‘Exterminate’. And although Davros would go on to draw attention away from the Daleks in subsequent appearances, here he shines as a player in the plot in his own right. His debates with the Doctor about the morality of what he is hoping to achieve are fascinating, and set the scene for continuations of their debate in the future.

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The introduction of Davros is one of this episodes core strengths, but the other supporting characters in this episode cannot be underestimated. Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter are, as always, on point with their representations of Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan. The trio spend most of their time apart in this episode, with Harry assisting the Doctor in his quest to prevent the Daleks from ever having been created, and Sarah Jane simply attempting to survive, first on the harsh war-torn surface of Skaro and then deep within the Thal city. By far one of the best aspects of this episode is the cunning and manipulative Nyder, who serves as Davros’ right hand man, playing double-agent and essentially collaborating with every evil act which Davros commits in this episode – and he even carries out some of these deeds himself. Another particularly interesting character is the young General – we see him arguing with the Doctor early in the episode, convinced of the Kaled superiority, but he also works with the Doctor later in the story – similarly, the scientist Ronson falls victim to Davros’ earlier scheming due to his mercy towards the Doctor and concern over the morality of creating a creature as merciless as a Dalek.

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However, this episode also introduces a moral dilemma that resonates throughout the show well into the New Series. The Doctor is determined to avoid the inevitable choice of having to destroy the Daleks by relying on his ability to persuade or manipulate the Kaled scientists into betraying Davros and changing the Daleks, restoring their positive emotions. But as the options begin to run out, and Davros tightens his grip over the Kaled bunker using any means necessary, the Doctor is eventually faced with a choice – to destroy the Daleks, or to not destroy them. At this point he seems paralysed, unable to decide which is best – in destroying the Daleks before they have a chance to evolve, he becomes like them, and that is something he cannot face.

So those are my thoughts on Genesis of the Daleks, leave a like if you enjoyed and be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us here on WordPress for more content like this!

Also, click the link below to see my collection of Genesis of the Daleks figures:

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Classic Series Dalek Customs Collection Tour – 1970s era Daleks

Doctor Who – The New Logo

So the BBC just revealed the new logo for Series 11 of Doctor Who, which stars Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteen Doctor. For many, this new era of Doctor Who represents a time of great change, and with good reason – this has been the biggest ‘reboot’ of Doctor Who since the revival in 2005, seeing a new Doctor, a new showrunner, a new composer, a new TARDIS and now, inevitably, a new logo. And, to quote Jodie herself, it is brilliant.

Like the previous iteration, the BBC have opted for a more minimalist look, as this logo lacks any background like Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker’s ‘diamond’ or Christopher Eccleston/David Tennant’s ‘surfboard’, opting instead for a stark gold design that stands out on its own. Unlike the previous logo, however, the font is thinner and incorporates a ‘strike-through’ motif that was incorporated into its reveal video – the TARDIS cuts through the logo while in flight, perhaps hinting at what we should expect from the new title sequence?

As for the video itself, the brief but eerie take on the theme coupled with the fluctuating sound effect of the TARDIS in flight gives the whole thing an air of mystery, but overall the design foretells a fresh new take on the show’s look under Chibnall which has some fans worried – will this new incarnation of the show we all love be too different? Judging by what we have seen already from leaked set photos and videos, it would appear not – but with a fantastic actress at the helm and a promising set of supporting cast including Bradley Walsh from The Chase, Mandip Gill from Hollyoaks and Tosin Cole from both EastEnders and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, new era looks set to continue where the fantastic Peter Capaldi left off and take the show in new and exciting directions.

Also revealed is a smaller version of the logo, which is similar to the ‘DW’ variant of the previous logo. This will undoubtedly be used for marketing purposes – on toy packaging, decorating the spines of books and audiobooks to come, and perhaps even being integrated into the title sequence somehow.

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Doctor Who is a show that embodies change, and this process is one of many previous re-imaginings of the show’s look. Ultimately, however, what matters is the quality of the show itself – but fans like myself can rest easy knowing that the show is in capable hands. There is some sad news, however, in that longstanding composer for the show, Murray Gold, officially announced that he has left the show, leaving a set of intimidating shoes to fill for any budding BBC composer. Whether they choose a fresh face or a veteran, let’s hope that the new series incorporates subtle nods to the show’s history in its soundtrack whilst also looking to the future with new themes for the Doctor, various companions, and perhaps even the Daleks, although keeping the Dalek themes would be no bad thing.

If you have any thoughts or feelings about the new logo, be sure to leave them in the comments below. Like and Share if you enjoyed this little review of the logo, and be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us here on WordPress for more content like this!

 

Classic and New Series Dalek Customs Collection Tour – Special Weapons Daleks REVISITED

Welcome to the next instalment in a series of Dalek customs showcases, this will essentially be a tour through my collection of Special Weapons Dalek figures as well as a few custom-made New Series Special Weapons variants that have been custom painted. Although many of these have featured before, there is a bonus extra custom at the end that has never been seen before and I want to review each figure separately rather than as an ‘all-in-one’ like I did in my previous Tours. All of these customs are made by me unless stated otherwise in the description.

Remembrance of the Daleks Box Set Special Weapons Dalek Figure:

The original Special Weapons Dalek figure was highly sought after for years following its release, especially since at the time it was totally unique. The Remembrance of the Daleks Box Set is probably one of the best releases Character Options has had so far, particularly since it is the only four-pack Dalek Box Set to actually contain four Daleks, rather than two Daleks, a Davros and a Doctor as in previous box sets for Genesis, Destiny, Resurrection and Revelation of the Daleks. Unfortunately, the one thing that does let this set down somewhat is the paint applications, particularly on the Renegade Dalek and this Special Weapons Dalek. Whilst it looks good from a distance, i.e. on a shelf, upon closer inspection it is clear that there was actually very little effort put in to the detailing on this figure. The oil patches between each hemisphere on the lower section are simply singular splodges of grey wash, and the detailing on the back of the midsection is plainly obvious as a simple brush stroke on each side. Thankfully, the detailing on the cannon is excellent, and overall the figure is screen-accurate, but the paint applications could use a lot of work.

Sound FX Talking Special Weapons Dalek Figure:

It should be immediately apparent that this figure is an almost universal improvement over the original, but let’s break down why this is the case. For a start, the paint applications are much improved, with a much more convincing oily effect on the lower section and a less obvious brush marks on the midsection. The area around the cannon is also different, it now has an excellent dirtied bronze effect which looks great, and the cannon itself is detailed in light silver too, making it look dirty and scratched, like it should. Overall, this figure looks a lot better, but what really makes this figure an essential for any Dalek collection is the Sound Effects. Although the cannon blasting sound used is not screen-accurate, what makes this figure unique is that it has its own voice, despite the fact that the Special Weapons Dalek never talks on-screen. Using a secret activation method, you can ‘unlock’ this figures talking mode and behold the beefy, guttural voice that this behemoth never had. Awesome.

Renegade Special Weapons Dalek Custom Figure:

Although painting over a Special Weapons Dalek seemed wrong at the time, the results of this custom speak for themselves. Based on the alternate versions of the Special Weapons Dalek featured in the War of the Daleks tabletop game, as well as early drafts for Remembrance of the Daleks, this Renegade Special Weapons Dalek is one of my favourite customs. Originally this started out as a standard Remembrance Special Weapons Dalek, so it does not have the sound effects, but I was able to salvage a ring of midsection slats from a former custom of the Renegade Dalek Supreme (which then went on to become my custom Dalek Battle Computer) to adhere to the back of the midsection of this figure. I got the idea to do this from Librarian-Bot, an artist on DeviantArt who does various renders of different Daleks, you can check that out here:

https://librarian-bot.deviantart.com/art/Empire-Special-Weapons-Dalek-332505248

Asylum War of the Daleks Special Weapons Dalek Custom Figure:

As this has appeared before, those who have read my Asylum Customs Collection Tours will be familiar with it. However, there is more I have to say about it, and so it features again here. The damaged cannon on this figure made it impossible to repaint as an intact Special Weapons Dalek, since the cannons are practically irreplaceable, but this made it perfect for use as an Asylum custom. Oddly enough, the Asylum stamp on this figure was already present when I bought it, albeit heavily faded – I believe this figure to be none other than CaptainJimiPie’s Asylum Special Weapons Dalek, as featured in his Asylum Daleks Custom Figure Showcase at 3:20, the link to that video will be down below. The colour scheme that I chose for this figure is based on the War of the Daleks Special Weapons Dalek, that was painted to serve as a Special Weapons Dalek for a faction of Daleks that used the Movie colour schemes.
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Time War Temporal Weapons Dalek Custom Figure:

This was another custom inspired by a Librarian-Bot, and also by the cover art for the War Doctor novel Engines of War. The best thing about this custom is that it looks the part, and I refrained from dirtying this one up too much as in-canon the Temporal Weapons Dalek is actually regarded with much more respect from its brethren than standard Special Weapons Daleks. Overall, this was actually quite an easy custom to make, as the Dalek X figure already has a particularly good colour scheme and so minimal painting was required, and all I needed to do was remove the front, use hot glue to fit a part underneath (in this case, part of a mechanism for a Classic Dalek’s dome) and then hot glue the oversized gunstick and wires in and finish with some light paint detailing. Check out Librarian-Bot’s renders for a better idea of what the base idea for this custom was here:
https://www.deviantart.com/art/Time-War-Temporal-Weapons-Dalek-491249304

Bonus – Paradigm Special Weapons Dalek Custom Figure:

It can be hard to figure out what to do with New Dalek Paradigm figures, particularly since they barely had 3 episodes before they were ditched by the Doctor Who production team. The most common customs you see of Paradigm Daleks are very much akin to the sort of customs I have been doing already, either Paradigm Daleks in different colour schemes, Paradigm Daleks in the Asylum or, as this custom is supposed to represent, ‘what would a Special Weapons Paradigm Dalek look like?’. Opinions may vary on this custom, and in all honesty, my opinion of it varies from time to time. In the right light it can look menacing, but often it just comes off as ridiculous. The genesis of this idea was way back in 2010, when the Doctor Who production team apparently decided that the odd back-panel of the New Paradigm Daleks was in fact a ‘hatch’, that would at some point in the future be revealed as a storage compartment for extra weapons for the Daleks. This got many people thinking, what sort of weapons? And people connected the dots. Whilst it would have been nice to see a Special Weapons Dalek in the New Series, chances are if they ever did include it, it would not be a Paradigm Dalek. Nonetheless, this custom took a long time to make and so it will remain on my shelf forever in stubborn denial of the futility of its existence.

For those who are interested, here is CaptainJimiPie’s Asylum Daleks Custom Figure Showcase at the exact point in which the Special Weapons Dalek appears. After comparing this one with my War of the Daleks Special Weapons Custom I have concluded that it is the same figure, but it is open to discussion. Until then, I hope you enjoyed.

 

 

 

The 10 NuWho Series’ Ranked Worst to Best

Ranking the 10 NuWho series’ is difficult. particularly because there is no right answer. Each and every series has its good episodes and bad episodes, and there is no universally accepted ranking of the series that will please everybody. As such, this list will be my opinion only, and will (for the sake of simplicity), include both the 2010 specials and the 2013 specials as separate entries. Be sure not to take this list too seriously, after all, it is only one writer’s view, and I’d love to read your version of this list in the comments below, and I’ll try and make this list as unpredictable as possible.

12: Series 7

Okay, well perhaps this was a bit predictable.

Series 7 only makes the bottom because its unlike any other series of NuWho in that there are hardly any truly memorable episodes. I genuinely struggled to remember them all, and that’s probably something to do with the terrible formatting of this series. From what I remember, the best episode in the series is probably Cold War, with A Town Called Mercy and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship in close second. And that’s really about it for good episodes: Series 7 has such godawful episodes as Asylum of the Daleks, The Power of Three and The Name of the Doctor, a finale that achieved nothing and, according to some, throws the entire canonicity of the Classic series into doubt. So yeah, Series 7 misses badly.

11: Series 6

Again, I struggled to put Series 6 anywhere but here because even though it has three of my favourite episodes of all time (The Doctor’s Wife, The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex,) the split into two parts really damages the Series. Despite having what is arguably one of the biggest ‘reveals’ in recent Doctor Who history, Series 6’s truncated nature makes this reveal seem undeserving and could have benefited from more build-up. The stories are messy, there’s too much focus on Doctor Who ‘going American’ and Night Terrors is not scary regardless of what anyone says. Plus, there isn’t a single dedicated Dalek episode, and the only Cyberman episode it gets is Closing Time. The less said about that the better.

10: 2013 Specials

Almost forgot about these, didn’t you?

Technically this hardly counts as a series since its barely 3 episodes, but the 2013 specials are packaged differently from Series 7 by the BBC and as such as considered a seperate entity. This is very convenient for me because it means I can distinguish between these episodes that are, for the most part, decent episodes in their own right, from the shambles that was Series 7.

That being said, the 2013 specials are only really higher than Series 7 because of the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, and the 8-minute long minisode Night of the Doctor starring Paul McGann as his first on-screen reprisal of the role of the Eight Doctor since 1996. Unfortunately, this series is dragged down by the confusing mess that is Time of the Doctor, which offers some truly awesome moments but little more other than that.

9: Series 2

David Tennant’s first series has some fantastic episodes, not least the superlative The Girl in the Fireplace and the chilling two-parter The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. However, this series has an Achilles heel – Peter Kay. Love and Monsters stands as one of the worst episodes in Doctor Who history, and despite a recent resurgence of alternative interpretations of the episode that attempt to explain away the goofy comedy and terrible monster design, this episode will always remain one of my least favourite episodes of Doctor Who that, coupled with Fear Her, Army of Ghosts and The Idiot’s Lantern makes Series 2 one of the lower tier entries in my opinion. I still love Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel though, and if it weren’t for the recent World Enough and Time I’d put them at the top of my best Cyberman stories list… which I haven’t actually made yet. Whoops.

8: Series 8

Peter Capaldi’s opening series is so close to being fantastic, the only reason why it ranks low on this list is because of one major drawback. Clara. Why on earth Clara didn’t leave after the Name of the Doctor is anybody’s guess, and whilst she is more of a character in this series rather than a plot device, the character she has developed into in this series almost makes me miss the cardboard cutout Clara we got in Series 7. She is bossy, self-righteous and tries too hard to be the Doctor. Is she the worst companion of all time? No. But if it was just this series to go off of, she would be in the top 3 worst companions easily. So despite there being a few true gems in this series, like Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline, Into the Dalek and Death in Heaven, Clara brings the whole series down in my opinion.

7: 2010 Specials

David Tennant’s final run of episodes barely stands as a series in its own right, but unlike the 2013 specials that are boxed separately from Series 7 despite only having a whopping 2 and a half episodes, the 2010 specials were all we got from Doctor Who in 2010, since Series 4 ended with Tennant still in the role and yet it would still be 5 more episodes before he regenerates and Matt Smith takes over for Series 5. Because it was to be Tennant’s final run and the writers believed we needed something a bit more ‘epic’, we ended up with a run of episodes that are comparable in many ways to Marmite – you either love them or you hate them. This is perfectly demonstrated by fan reaction to The End of Time, with both parts seeming too drawn out and overblown. Also, “I don’t want to go?” Seriously?

6: Series 9

As we get closer to the top spot its hard to actually rank the top 5 or 6 in any order, since I love most of the new series of Doctor Who so much. However, Series 9 is certainly placed here as the official ‘least favourite of my favourite Doctor Who series’s.’ Series 9 has some amazing episodes, and the fact that most of them are two-parters helps enormously, in fact, I would argue that there is no single two-part episode in this series that is anything less than good overall. However, an aspect of this series that falls flat is that a lot of the opening halves of the two-part episodes are a lot worse than their conclusions, with one obvious exception, and that being the masterpiece that is Heaven Sent, arguably the greatest episode of Doctor Who of all time, being followed by Hell Bent. Whether you like the Series 9 finale or not, no-one can argue that Hell Bent beats Heaven Sent. Apart from anything else, it negated an awesome and redeeming death for my least favourite NuWho companion and turned her into an immortal TARDIS-flying enigma. Talk about mixed feelings.

5: Series 4

I like Series 4 a lot, which is why it makes high on this list, but apparently I don’t like Series 4 as much as most other people seem to like Series 4. It constantly makes the top spot of fan polls on favourite series, and for good reason: It is the final proper series of the Tenth Doctor, who a lot of people like a lot. Also, it has Donna, who is one of my personal favourite companions, and yet Series 4 doesn’t make any higher on this list for me because it also represents what some have dubbed ‘the beginning of the end for Doctor Who’, and a lot of people seem to think that Series 4 is ‘as good as it gets’. These people often also seem to be the same sort of people who would tell you to ‘skip nine’, and that the classic series is ‘boring and doesn’t matter anyway’. So to those people I say, Series 4 is good, yes, but its not that good. Planet of the Ood and Midnight aside, its arguably quite mediocre, and if it weren’t for the duo of the Doctor and Donna, it wouldn’t poll anywhere nearly as high. Sorry.

4: Series 1

Speaking of Nine, Christopher Eccleston’s only series to date as the Ninth Doctor brought back Doctor Who in a big way, and set up the show to be one of the most popular BBC shows of the decade. With explosive epics like World War Three and The Parting of the Ways coupled with some great psychological horror in The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances its hard not to love this series, even if it did have three episodes dedicated to farting green aliens. Also, it has Dalek. That alone is enough to propel this series to the top 4. The only downside to this entire series for me is the unnecessary kiss at the end of the finale, which I have spent the rest of my life attempting to unsee. And no, I’m not talking about when Captain Jack kisses the Doctor. You know the bit I’m talking about. “Come here… I think you need a Doctor.” Curse you, Russell.

3: Series 3

So at number 3 we have Series 3, which also seems to be a divisive series among fans. On the one hand, people who love Martha argue that this series didn’t do her justice, and the constant pining for Rose that dominates the Doctor’s character for most of this series is a major drawback on it for me, and is what prevents this series from reaching the top spot. However, the best episodes in this series, Family of Blood/Human Nature, focus almost entirely on Martha and how she deals with situations without the Doctor, which obviously sets her up for her departure at the end of the series, making Martha the only NuWho companion to leave the Doctor on her own terms. No tears, no sudden death, no potentially problematic forced mind-erasure, just a simple “See ya Doctor”.  Also, this series has Blink, which has become hugely overrated but is still a fantastic episode.

2: Series 10

The most recent series of Doctor Who is, undoubtedly, one of its best. Where can I even begin with this series. Bill and the Doctor have a relationship unlike anything we’ve seen in NuWho before, which mirrors the Grandfather/Granddaughter relationship that the original pairing of the First Doctor and Susan obviously had, and yet it also has an element of a Teacher/Student dynamic, which makes Bill akin to a new Ace, thus elevating her into the pantheon of my top 3 favourite companions, at least. Also, Series 10 sees the return of John Simm as the Master, with arguably his best performance as the character to date, the redemption arc for Missy that truly brings the character full circle, a great Dalek cameo in the first episode, and the return of the Mondasian Cybermen. And that’s not even scratching the surface of some of the episodes. Extremis, Oxygen, The Eaters of Light, World Enough and Time, The Doctor Falls, and even Knock Knock all rank as some of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who of all time. And, at last, after trying for what must be over 10 years, we finally get a good Mark Gatiss episode. Bravo.

1: Series 5

And so, we reach the top spot, and it was difficult to decide what to place here, since I could just as easily have argued the case for any of the past 3 or 4 entries being number one themselves. However, I have to put Series 5 in the top spot due to what it represents, how it performs as a standalone series, and how it contributed to keeping Doctor Who stable in what was, all things considered, a very unstable time for the show.

Series 5 successfully pulled off the transition from Russel T. Davies to Steven Moffat, and replaced David Tennant with Matt Smith. Although this wasn’t the first time the Doctor had changed actors in NuWho, this was the first radical shift in the show’s identity post-2005. And despite all the naysayers claiming that Doctor Who would die with Tennant’s departure, Series 5 went on to be one of the most critically acclaimed series of Doctor Who, with fantastic episodes such as Amy’s Choice, Vincent and the Doctor and The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. The opener, The Eleventh Hour, stands to this day as one of the best opening episodes for a new Doctor in the history of the show, beaten only by Troughton’s The Power of the Daleks. And the finale represents a significant shift from the Davies-style ‘epic finale’ to a more reserved and simple setup of the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River being chased around a museum by a Dalek with the fate of the universe at stake. It screams Classic Who in so many ways.

And despite what they would later become, the trio of the Doctor, Amy and Rory stands at its strongest in this series. Series 5 predates the sickening soap-opera antics of Series 6 and 7 and we get the trio’s dynamic in its purest form, with Matt Smith playing a fantastic Doctor with his ability to appear ancient and otherworldly despite being only 26 at the time. Amy is a fantastic companion in this series, and arguably overall if we ignore Series 7. But the best thing about Series 5 by far is the character development of Rory, which is handled far better than Russel’s take on Mickey Smith in my opinion, since in the space on one series we see Rory go from a timid, nervous nurse to a strong and capable member of the TARDIS team who makes a huge sacrifice in the name of love and gets the girl in the end as icing on the cake. Aww.

Do you agree with this list?

Probably not, I’d wager. But regardless, be sure to leave your thoughts on this list (and perhaps your own version of this ranking) in the comments, It’s always interesting to read about why people love or hate particular Doctors, Seasons or Episodes, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you favourite or least favourite series of Doctor Who is.