Joseph A. Morrison
26. Fan of Doctor Who, Blake's 7, The Prisoner and more old-fashioned TV. Reviewer, wannabe writer and general twit.
Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: Return of the Rocket Men Review
One of the breakaway hits of the Companion Chronicles series was John Dorney's "The Rocket Men", a powerfully emotional tale that introduced a brand new foe for the Doctor in the form of the Rocket Men. The jetpack-wielding pirates were a surprise hit with listeners, as was the story's emotional content, and a sequel was quickly developed. Now with a new writer and a new companion, however, could this sequel capture the same magic as the original, while still offering listeners something new and fresh? In a word - yes. Emphatically. "Return of the Rocket Men" is a perfect sequel, in that it recaptures what you loved about "The Rocket Men", but it also offers a completely new take on what made it a success. It makes, therefore, for a sequel that won't leave you disappointed, no matter what your expectations are for this story.
Dark Shadows: The House of Despair Review
Back in 2006, Big Finish decided to revive another long-running cult property with the same broad appeal as Doctor Who. This time, however, it wasn't to be a British institution that was revived: rather, it was ABC's American daytime soap opera Dark Shadows. Broadcast between 1966 and 1971, this series featured the usual mix of soap elements: family dramas, affairs, murders... only this one also included vampires, werewolves, time travel and the supernatural as well. It was phenomenally successful, and, as such, felt like a natural property for Big Finish to tackle. However, with a large number of the original cast no longer with us, it meant that producer and writer of this story Stuart Manning would have an interesting challenge in order to make the series work. In order to get around this, it was decided to only feature a small handful of the cast from the series, in contained, hour-long stories, and "The House of Despair" was the first of these. It's an ok start to Big Finish's Dark Shadows range, but it doesn't quite sell the series to new listeners quite as much as it needs to, and it doesn't quite fulfil the potential I know this series can reach on audio.
#60yearsofJamesBond: Die Another Day
Few Bond films stoke quite the reaction that "Die Another Day" does. The final Bond film to feature Pierce Brosnan was controversial from its release in 2002, and has remained so in the twenty years since. Many fans take issue with a number of elements of this film, including, but not limited to: the plot, the characters, the direction, the acting, the product placement, the CGI, the humour and the gadgets. That's quite a list, sure, but, perhaps, "Die Another Day"'s problems stretch quite a bit deeper. As the first Bond film of the 21st century, "Die Another Day" should have shown how Bond could survive in a new and changing world, with a cinema landscape that was radically different to the one the franchise had emerged into forty years previously. Instead, it reignited the debate that had seemed to have been settled back in the early 90s about Bond being outdated, and that maybe it was time to move on from this 60s stereotype of British masculinity. And it is hard to argue that this film gives this impression: far from being a celebration of the franchise's forty year history, this film nearly kills that legacy by being pretty much a train wreck from beginning to end.
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.
- Top Story - August 2022
David Warner TributeTop Story - August 2022
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.
- Top Story - May 2022
#60yearsofJamesBond: Diamonds are ForeverTop Story - May 2022
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.