Joseph A. Morrison
25. Fan of Doctor Who, Blake's 7, The Prisoner and more old-fashioned TV. Reviewer, wannabe writer and general twit.
Bernard Cribbins Tribute
These are words I hoped I would never have to write. I believed Bernard Cribbins would live forever - I think we all did. For pretty much everyone alive in the UK today, we all have a collective memory of Bernard Cribbins, whether it be as station porter Albert Perks, the voice of the Wombles, Donna's grandad Wilfred Mott or even as himself, reading a story on the TV. We've all seen his face, and heard his voice, and he remains an iconic figure in the world of entertainment. He could do anything from comedy, to straight drama, children's entertainment to hit chart songs, and yet more besides. He was adored by millions, yet wore this adoration incredibly lightly, and, as a result, ended up being loved even more. He remained active right up to his death, and the outpouring of sadness over his passing shows the effect he will continue to have. Below is my personal tribute to Bernard Cribbins - one of the finest entertainers this country has ever produced.
David Warner Tribute
Actor David Warner, known for roles on stage, radio, television and film has passed away aged 80. If you are a fan of any of these mediums, you will have heard of Warner, or seen some of his work: by many in the industry, he was regarded as one of the very best, and held in the same acclaim as actors like Ian McShain, Derek Jacobi, and the late John Hurt. Having starred in a number of high-profile roles in popular films and TV shows, as well having won an Emmy in 1981 and enjoyed a long association with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, Warner has left a lasting legacy, and many fans of his work. His captivating presence on stage and screen made him popular with audiences, and his easy-going demeanour and playful attitude made him popular with actors too. He remains one of this country's finest actors, and, in the post below, I hope I can sum up the words to accurately and fairly pay tribute to one of the greatest actors of our generation.
Doctor Who: Relative Dimensions Review
Big Finish have a good track record with regards to Christmas specials. Throughout their various ranges and series, the company has carved out a little niche at producing Christmas specials that fit the time of year without being too sentimental and over-indulgent. From the Doctor Who Monthly Adventures to Dark Shadows, there's a wide range to choose from. But one range that has, more than any other, enjoyed a number of these Christmas episodes is the Eighth Doctor Adventures. "Relative Dimensions" is one of these, and is perhaps the most obvious Christmas special Big Finish have ever put out. A Christmas party in the TARDIS might not seem to be the most traditional idea for a Doctor Who story, but that's where "Relative Dimensions"' strengths lie. It's a very unconventional Doctor Who story, and it is, for me, one of the best Christmas Doctor Who stories in the show's history.
Blake's 7: Warship Review
One of Big Finish's most exciting products in their Blake's 7 range has to be their very first full-cast audio, "Warship". After a number of narrated Liberator Chronicles box sets and books, "Warship" was perhaps the closest Big Finish had got to telling an authentic Blake's 7 story up till that point, and, as such, was highly anticipated by fans. Set in the gap in between series two and three, and telling the story of the Liberator's fight against the alien fleet featured in the final episode of series two, the anticipation was even higher. Fortunately, this is a tight, exciting audio drama that bridges the gap between series two and three fantastically, and affords Jenna and Blake the departure from the Liberator that they weren't given in the TV series.
Doctor Who: Recorded Time and Other Stories Review
When the Monthly Adventures reached 150 releases in August 2011, it was an occasion Big Finish couldn't resist celebrating. As such - "Recorded Time and Other Stories" was born: four 1-part stories, taking the Sixth Doctor and Peri to a wide variety of times and places, and into a wide array of stories, that all showcase the flexibility of the Doctor Who format. Unlike the four-part stories that normally make up the Monthly Adventures, these 25-minute long stories cover a lot of ground much faster - and can tackle ideas and concepts that a longer story would struggle with. As such, this release has some truly ground-breaking concepts, and each story works as a fun, punchy instalment of Doctor Who that pushes the boundaries of the types of stories you can tell in the format.
#60yearsofJamesBond: A View to a Kill
"A View to a Kill" was, in many ways, an ending for the Bond franchise. A full stop on a type of Bond film that dominated the series for many years; an ending for various players who had become intrinsic parts of the series and its continued success. Over the years, it is one that, like a fair amount of the late 70s/early 80s Bond films, has come in for a large amount of criticism, and is one that Bond fans and aficionados do not look back on with much affection. Many take issue with the campy comedy. Some take issue with Roger Moore's advancing age. Others take issue with the story and the plot, as well as some of the guest acting from Christopher Walken, Grace Jones and Tanya Roberts. However, to this Bond fan, "A View to a Kill" does represent a bridge between the previous thirteen films, and what was to come later under Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, with some attempts to bring the Bond films forward into the 1980s. It's just a shame that there's also plenty of things holding this film back - often things that, if the producers were more daring, wouldn't have been problems.
Doctor Who: The Juggernauts Review
Big Finish have, perhaps more so than the TV series, the ability to bring together loads of different elements from the history of Doctor Who. Marketed specifically for fans, who know the lore and history of the show inside out, bringing back an obscure robot race from the mid 1960s is no issue, nor is plugging a point of continuity from two linked stories from the 1980s. So, a story like "The Juggernauts" is designed purely for the fans, and it works because it doesn't need to keep new fans and casual viewers in the loop. This is a story that plays on the relationship between the Doctor and Davros, and picks up on threads present in previous Big Finish audios to feature the character, most notably the seminal "Davros", as well as developing the character of Mel beyond the one-dimensional caricature she was often forced to play in the TV series. And it does all these jobs superbly.
Doctor Who: The Zygon Who Fell to Earth Review
"The Zygon Who Fell to Earth" is probably one of the most deceptive Eighth Doctor Adventures Big Finish has ever released. Starting out as a light, comedic story about a Zygon abandoning his roots, this soon becomes a much darker story, one that has far-reaching effects on the adventures of the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller. And it remains to this day one of my favourites: I love the contrasting tones the story plays with, and its strong focus on the characters at the story's heart gives it a strong emotional hook that isn't too kitsch or cliched. This story also reintroduces a classic Doctor Who villain in a way that doesn't just re-tread their first appearance, and adds new aspects to them, without making them completely unrecognisable, as the Modern Series sometimes has a tendency to do with returning Classic Series foes.
#60yearsofJamesBond: Diamonds are Forever
In 1971, James Bond was going through a bit of a crisis. After star Sean Connery decided he wanted to leave after 1967's "You Only Live Twice", producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli cast George Lazenby for 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". However, due to a combination of poor relations and Lazenby's agent believing the franchise to be over, he didn't sign on for another film. This left Saltzman and Broccoli in a bit of a bind: either recast the role, which could present similar problems to those encountered previously, or try to entice Connery back. In the end, studio United Artists decided for them: get Connery back, and money was no object. Connery ended up returning for $1.25 million, a then unheard of sum, and a huge amount of creative control over this film and two back-to-back films of his choice. After a rocky few years, the producers decided they wanted to go back to the formula of "Goldfinger", the movie that had really launched Bond onto the global stage: big action set pieces, extravagant villains, direction from Guy Hamilton and a theme song sung by Shirley Bassey. And, while being a commercial and box office smash back in 1971, it is a film that isn't looked back upon as one of the greats, with an outrageous plot and a lacklustre central performance from Connery. In contrast to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", which has gone up in appreciation since its release, this is a film that time has not been kind to, and doesn't stand out as one of the greats - even for comedy camp value, which this film provides in spades.
Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: The Time Vampire Review
Before 2012, and Tom Baker's return to the part of the Fourth Doctor, the Companion Chronicles were the only way to enjoy new stories with one of the most-beloved Doctors in the show's history. One of the most highly-acclaimed releases during this time was "The Catalyst", the first story in the range to feature Louise Jameson as Leela. This was followed by sequel story "Empathy Games" and then, in 2010, the trilogy was completed with "The Time Vampire". Stepping up a level from the previous two stories, this one reunited Louise with John Leeson as the voice of K9 in a time-twisting narrative that really demands the listener pay attention. It's an incredibly complex story, and I'm not entirely sure I agree with everything it does regarding Leela. However, I do admire this release's ambition, and I think it ties together a number of plot points from the previous two releases really interestingly and satisfactorily.
Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: Bernice Summerfield and the Criminal Code Review
Bernice Summerfield remains, to this day, the most enduring Doctor Who companion who has never featured in the TV show. The famous space archaeologist with a complicated history with the Doctor (no, not that one!) has remained popular with Doctor Who fans since her inception thirty years ago, and, thanks to Lisa Bowerman's portrayal with Big Finish since 1998, she has gone on to develop an even greater following. Added to that, Lisa Bowerman has gone on to become the most prolific director of the Companion Chronicles range, directing a large number of varied titles. So, it was really only a matter of time before Benny would get her own Companion Chronicle, and "Bernice Summerfield and the Criminal Code" was the chance to get up close and personal with our favourite archaeologist. Unlike a lot of the Virgin New Adventures that defined this era, this story is light-hearted fun, albeit with a darker edge befitting the era this belongs to.
Doctor Who: Patient Zero Review
One of the most highly-regarded story strands from Big Finish remains the Sixth Doctor and Charlotte Pollard adventures. Released between 2008 and 2009, this short run of plays remains a fan-favourite, thanks to the unusual pairing of a classic Doctor with a future companion, and a strong sequence of stories that really explored this unorthodox dynamic. But all good things must come to an end, and "Patient Zero" opens the trilogy of stories designed to bring Charlotte Pollard's time in the TARDIS to a close. Bringing together a number of threads that had been running through Big Finish's audios for quite some time, "Patient Zero" has a grand scale, and a great sense of the stakes never being higher. Coupled with some of the best performances in a Big Finish audio drama ever, this definitely stands out as a classic, even today in the era of multi box-set arcs and the like.