Guys, I love Doctor Who. Unashamedly, unabashedly love it. It is by far my favorite TV show of all time as no other show can make me laugh or make me cry or give me chills or make me cry or make me think deep thoughts like Doctor Who can. Did I mention it can make me cry? One of the worst parts about being a Whovian though, is having to wait so long between episodes and seasons (or series for my British readers). We usually get one 12 episode season a year along with a Christmas special and sometimes not even that. So what’s a Whovian to do when he or she needs a fix of the madman in the blue box? Well luckily, that’s where the world of Doctor Who shines. Not only do we as Whovians have well over 800 episodes to keep us occupied, but we have hundreds of comics books, hundreds of novels, and, the subject of today’s review, dozens of full cast audio dramas! Now jumping headlong into the world of Doctor Who that exists beyond the TV show can be a daunting task given just how much stuff there is out there, but I feel that the audio dramas we’re going to talk about today are a fantastic place to start.
Following the ill-fated Doctor Who TV movie, produced in America by FOX, the newly regenerated Eighth Doctor had to live on in media outside of television, namely a series of novels and the Big Finnish Audio Dramas. For a while, the Eighth Doctor was part of the rotation of Doctors that featured in the Doctor Who monthly, main range of audio dramas but then the Eighth Doctor was given his own series of audios – The Eighth Doctor Adventures and Blood of the Daleks: Part 1 and Part 2 are the first two entries in that series. Here we meet the Doctor right as a brand new companion, Lucie Miller, is somehow dumped into the TARDIS and the Doctor is unable to return her to her normal place in time and space. As the Doctor tries to figure out who this woman is and why she appeared in his TARDIS he finds himself on a planet called Red Rocket Rising and soon the Daleks show up and do some very Dalek-y things.
I love this audio drama. McGann is fantastic as the Doctor and really knows how to act with just his voice. I feel like I can see his Doctor acting out this drama in my mind as I listen to it and feel his mannerisms through his voice. Just like every other Doctor, he is very distinctly his own character but also still very much the Doctor we know and love. He brings that requisite aloofness, charm, and sarcasm to the role along with his utter hatred of the Daleks but he also has a great way of delivering his lines that feels very different from any other Doctor, a key for any actor to be successful in the role.
Sheridan Smith makes her debut in the Blood of the Daleks as Lucie Miller, a woman from Northern England who is dumped on the TARDIS for reasons unknown and by parties unknown. While her back story and reason for being with the Doctor is a mystery, who she is as a person is not. Lucie is wonderfully standoffish and never cuts the Doctor any slack which comes as a welcome change from a long string of companions in New Who, who either idolize the Doctor or fawn over him (save Donna [my favorite companion]). We do get some teases as to the Lucie’s story which I, for one, can’t wait to hear unravel through out the rest of the audio dramas in this series.
The supporting cast is also spot on, featuring the voices of Anita Dobson, Kenneth Cranham, Hayley Atwell (YES, Marvel’s Peggy Carter herself), Katrina Olsson, Gerry O’Toole, and of course, the amazing Nicholas Briggs who always does a fantastic job as the voice of the Daleks. Briggs also directed this audio drama and did a fantastic job of it. I feel like the deeper I get into the world of Doctor Who, the more I see Briggs’ name on things!
One other thing of note here: Blood of the Daleks was released in the beginning of 2007, so almost two years after the show had restarted with the Ninth Doctor. Since Blood of the Daleks comes before the revival show within continuity but was produced after the revival show had started, the writers were able to include Easter eggs and story points that would play into what the show had begun doing. Case in point: the unseen Time War. When the show restarted, the Ninth Doctor tells us that all the Time Lords are gone, destroyed in the Time War, and we later learn that the Eighth Doctor was a conscientious objector in the Time War until it became too much and he regenerated into the War Doctor to go and fight. Also, there is no mention of the war until the Eighth Doctor’s time, so putting all that together we know that the Time War must have begun during the Eighth Doctor’s “lifespan”. In Blood of the Daleks, the Daleks mention that they have been fighting a war and the Doctor even notices that their ship looks like it has been through a battle. We never get any more detail than that but it seems to me like the audio dramas will start to show us little bits and pieces about the Time War.
If you want to dig deeper in to the world of Doctor Who, Blood of the Daleks is a great place to start. There isn’t any continuity to get bogged down with and you get exposure to a very underrepresented Doctor.
Until next time, Thank You for reading and…
SEE YOU AT THE CINEMA!