Sunday, July 27, 2008

All Things Stephen

Happy belated birthday to us!

No one ever accused us of being punctual, so we're finally celebrating our one year anniversary a month after the fact. We started the afternoon off with some nice ribeye steaks from the local grocery store and Curve Ball beer from Pyramid, the makers of apricot hefeweizen so fine that it was declared "apricotty!" by Rob Shearman. Curve Ball is a seasonal kolsch style ale with herbal tones in the brew. One of the few beers that Tim and I can both agree on being a rather tasty brew.

That massive squeeing sound you might've heard nearly a month ago was probably from me as the latest round of guests for Chicago TARDIS was announced. Time Team favorites Lisa Bowerman and Simon Guerrier were announced along with long time authors Kate Orman and Jon Blum are now confirmed for Chicago. They join Paul Cornell, Lis Sladen, Colin Baker, Nick Briggs, Jason Haigh-Ellery and Gary Russell Thanksgiving weekend. Not that any of my loyal 30 were waiting on pins and needles, but I'm attending Chicago putting the band back together with Dan and John.

And don't forget to get your tickets for Gallifrey 20 in February. Tickets are currently $45 and I think go up at the end of the month. Along with the whole Time Team about half the active membership of the local Houston Who group we're a part of will also be there.

You can read about Simon Guerrier creating a new audio friend for Doctor Who here and check out some podcasts wtih Paul Cornell here and here.

With the pimping and digesting of steak out of the way we put our first audio in, The Greatest Shop in the Galaxy, the season three premiere for the Benny series.

Tim: We've made if that far already?

Me: Yep.

Benny lodges a diary entry talking about her archaelogy/shoe expedition and spending Adrian's money on things for the baby.

Angelie: (eyes raised wide) Baby?

I pause the audio and give a rundown of how Benny's body got knocked up by Adrian while it was inhabited by a god.

We get introduced to Joggon who's apparently the reincarnated form of Daffy Duck as he's spraying spittle all over the place.

Tim: Say it, don't spray it. At least we're not complaining about sound design.

Benny encounters a Lara Croft style display for selling her books and then realizes she probably needs a book on the local latrines so she can appear to be an expert on the local latrines. In between dealing with Adrian's spiteful credit card she has to fend off the advances of her local host and all leather cow shoes coming back to life.

Me: The ever riveting Benny shoe fetish sequence. Seriously, before this I never knew Benny was a descendent of Imelda Marcos.

Customers start getting killed by the Borvali as if the Borvali are trying to get the last Cabbagge Patch kid.

Angelie: That's what Benny gets for not going to Payless for her shoes.

Then we switch to Joggon having some spittle laden orgasm over things going pear shaped.

Borvali keep on killing people and time begins to go all wibbley wobbley as Benny and Keelor end up back in time, meeting Keelor's grandfather. They survive a Borvali attack and end up in the Borvali grocery store that serves humans in various flavors. Benny starts smacking Keelor as he explains the extent to which capitalism is employed. The extent of Keelor's greed is exposed as we learn he's working with Joggon to do an old school hostile takeover of the Gigamarket.

Benny's mothering instincts kick in as she saves a Borvali child. She then slaps Tarband around as she talks him out of killing the child. Apparently Tarband gets off on being slapped around by women as he mentions he might get to like her.

Me: Isn't this like a first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Tim: Yeah, it's a bit like a mix between "Yesterday's Enterprise" and "We'll Always Have Paris".

They all keep blowing up as time keeps repeating itself.

Tim: They also put in Groundhog Day.

Benny goes all medieval on the computer complaining about how all she wanted was some shoes to make her feel like a woman. Joggon eventually gets way too happy over the stock market and presumably dies from sensory overload.

Tim: Definitely not a pleasant sound.

Me: Well, we didn't complain once about sound design.

Anglie: No. It was very quick paced.

Tim: We could actually hear what was going on even though it was a bit confusing involving confusing time travel. It didn't drag anywhere.

Angelie: Nope.

After a discussion of whether or not we should go on an ice cream run we move on to Red Dawn, the beginning of the All Things Stephen portion of our belated first anniversary celebration with the return of Stephen Fewell, this time as the villian in this 5th Doctor and Peri adventure. Also showing up is Georgia Moffatt, known to Classic Who fans as the Doctor's Daughter and to New Who fans as The Doctor's Daughter. Also known to New Who fans as the Doctor's Girlfriend, not to be confused with Doctor Girlfriend.

Tim: Seriously? Isn't that kind of incestous?

Me: It is kind of Tom Bakerish.

We quickly encounter the first of many instances of poor casting by Big Finish when it comes to American accents. Peri actually gets to show off her botanical knowledge and that she's learned something along the way.

Tim: At least they mention the American space program as opposed to creating a fake British one like they did during the Pertwee years.

Things happen and eventually the Doctor meets up with the NASA gang.

Tim: Did I miss them getting together?

Me: It happened like two mintues ago.

Tim: And there was no conversation going "Wow! We didn't expect to find any humans on Mars."?

Me: Nope.

We get a stereotypical cliffhanger as it finally dawns on the Doctor they they're gonna run into Ice Warriors on Mars.

Tim: That went by fast.

Me: How often do you hear about Peri being right?

The body count begins as the Ice Warriors shoot the pilot.

Tim: Nice. They used the original sound effect.

The Ice Warriors realize that maybe shooting the pilot was a bad idea and ask that she be brought to some place to heal her.

Me: (as Ice Warrior) And I've heard earth girls are easy.

It takes forever for the pilot to die. Meanwhile Paul screws things up as he takes an Ice Warrior hostage.

Me: The Doctor probably should've called about the ice warrior coming over before he left to go to the NASA craft to fetch Peri.

We get towards the end of the second episode and finally start to get a reason for Webster's actions. Apparently his father's corporation wants to create a breed of Earth Warriors.

Tim: With clamps for hands?

Me: Would that mean they'd drag out the "th" sound?

After smacking Peri around Webster gets the NASA vessel to launch. Which pisses the ice warriors off and they fire missles at the vessel. Earth Girls do it for themselves as they try to take control of the situation, Peri unties the ice warrior and Tanya tries to evade the missles. Missles aren't evaded but Webster is knocked out allowing a moment of peace in the craft which is good since they now have to reland without crashing.

Webster regains consciousness and picks up where he left off, pissing the ice warriors off. One bomb placed near a dead ice warrior's head later and Webster along with Tanya and the Doctor are making a run for the border. Insert some prattling by Webster about placing the metal by the Doctor's chin and threatening to blow his head off.

Me: That's a rather shitty cliffhanger.

Tim: Next time I'll use the real batteries.

Tim figures out what's going on with Tanya about 3 minutes before she does. Insert long winded ice warrior conversations that involve them reading from the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition and The Art of War. The head ice warrior offers himself for the Doctor. Then we get a history lesson on the Brookings Report.

With about ten minutes left we finally get title.

Tim: Look! There's Jennifer Grey.

The head ice warrior ends up dying via the title and that lets the ice warriors drop what sounds like a nuclear bomb on top of Webster.

Me: As good as The Whispers of Terror was by Justin Richards, this is pretty much crap ala' Dragon's Wrath. Honestly, did he blow his wad on The Whispers of Terror? Nicola Bryant really does nothing in this audio that couldn't been given to another character. Fewell, Jezek, and Moffatt do what they can to rise above the script, but when you're given crap there's only so much you can do. Especially Fewell who towards the end is saddled with your stereotypical psychotic villian who basically gets done in by his own lack of morals. Overall a bit of a step back when you compare this to the previous two audios, The Genocide Machines and The Marian Conspiracy.

Tim: I don't think it's that terrible. It started out pretty good and then it just dragged towards the end. I think I liked the first three episodes. They used the Ice Warriors fairly well. They're more interesting in this than in the two Pertwee episodes they appear in. Plus there was no shrill sentient one eyed pickle.

It's on to the second half of the Stephen Fewell double feature as we put on The Green Eyed Monsters, the return of Jason Kane to the audios, not having heard from him since Just War. For those that are interested an early version of the script is up for perusal on Dave Stone's website.

The second season theme returns until Dave Stone messes with the fourth wall and reveals that Benny is listening to a recording to the theme wondering what she was thinking. Benny's trying to record a new diary for Peter until the interruptions begin. Not only does Stephen Fewell return, but Harry Myers does as well as Adrian, who creates a reason to see Benny and give Peter a rather sad fluffy rabbit. Jason shows up and we hit testosterone factor 10 as Jason and Adrian try to become the alpha male in Benny's life. Benny gives them the chance when she gets an offer to investigate and authenticate various artefacts and totems on Goronos IV. She jumps at the chance, dumping Peter off with Jason and Adrian.

Much laughter ensues in the living room as we get the first scene of Jason and Adrian trying to take care of Peter. Then we get background on the Goronos System and an explanation why Benny needs to identify and authenticate certain artefacts and totems. Only Dave Stone would think to pull off a visual gag in the audio medium involving a diaper and make slingblade-esque twins lovable.

Jason tempts fate by mentioning how they've managed to take care of the baby. Murphy's Law steps in when gunmen storm into the room, shoot Jason and Adrian, and steal Peter. Meanwhile Benny is discovering that the artefacts and totems she's investigating are all fake. Lady Ashantra shows Benny that she's got Peter and uses him as leverage for Benny to validate the artefacts and totems.

Angelie: What a bitch!

Tim: She's a big bitch. The biggest bitch in the whole wide world.

Jason throws his weight around to get Peter returned in one piece. Then he throws it around some more to get the Corvette of battle cruisers. We get a tender moment as Jason and Adrian share why they're still pining away for Benny. The day is eventually saved and we some more of Dave Stone messing with things as Benny has to referee Jason and Adrian all through the end credits.

Me: As I've said before, the audio medium is perfect for Dave Stone. It allows him to do his thing without having a broad enough canvas to confuse the audience. And being from the New Adventures era of things along with the creator of Jason he's got an ear for their dynamic and how each character would react. It's definitely nice to see Fewell back who easily slips back into the role of Jason and picks up where he left off without really missing a beat. Same for Harry Myers who gets some nice work to do as Adrian.

We'll return next month with The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, Dance of the Dead, and The Mirror Effect.