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Five Big Finish plays

Embrace the Darkness: The Eighth Doctor and Charley, and a planet lost in darkness. Thought it built up very well, but felt a little confused by the resolution.

Time of the Daleks: The Eighth Doctor and Charley end up in a complex time-paradox plot with a near-future British dictator and the Daleks. This completely lost me when it became apparent that the Daleks wanted to restore Shakespeare to history, from which he had mysteriously gone missing. Daleks with literary taste of any kind? Seems utterly out of character.

Neverland: Of the three Eighth Doctor plays I listened to last week, this was the best, by Alan Barnes, who is very definitely one of my favourite DW writers. Charley's introduction to the Whoniverse came when the Doctor rescued her from the crash of the R101 in Storm Warning; the paradox created by her surviving has reverberated up and down time and space, in the background but increasingly intrusive in the last few McGann stories; now it comes centre stage, with a fascinating set of twists through Time Lord culture and politics. Really enjoyed it.

Spare Parts was the best of the five Doctor Who plays I listened to last week, and perhaps my favourite of the fifty or so Big Finish stories I have listened to so far. The title of course comes from this chilling exchange from Episode Two of The Tenth Planet (1966), between the newly introduced Cybermen and one of the scientists in the base they have just invaded, in literally the first scene in Doctor Who in which the Cybermen speak. The scene is set on Mondas, with the dying population, willingly or not, handing over their destinies to the process of becoming Cybermen, under the control of the sinister Committee. Lots of fantastic performances and atmospheric scene-setting, with Sally Knyvette (Jenna in Blake's 7) particularly memorable as a despairing doctor. One of the other characters is called Yvonne Hartley, presumably reflected in Yvonne Hartman of Torchwood in Army of Ghosts and Doomsday. (The writer of Spare Parts, Marc Platt, got a credit for inspiring The Age of Steel and Rise of the Cybermen, though the stories end up in rather different places.) This is a terribly sad and bleak story, but I have to say that if I was trying to convert someone to the Big Finish series this is where I would start.

...ish: Sixth Doctor and Peri trying to be funny and meta about language. Didn't really work for me.

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