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Big Finish

Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Dramas: 3/20/2016

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who - and let’s face it, you are…you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t - then you’re probably at least partially aware of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas, if only in reference. If you’re like me, you first caught this reference when you visited either Paul McGann’s Wikipedia page or the 8th Doctor’s Wikipedia page. But, if you’re also like me, you let that reference slide because you were too obsessed with the TV show and felt like you didn’t have time to listen to audio dramas.

Well, I’ve slowly come around to it. My Whovian obsession started over three years ago. For the first year of the obsession, I limited the obsession to the TV show, particularly the 2005 series and on. I’d literally watch every available episode on Netflix and then start over. I cycled through every episode at least a couple dozen times in that first year.

Eventually my obsession expanded to the Doctor Who comics. This was my entry point for the Classic Doctors. Up to this point, I had watched the available classic Doctor Who episodes on Hulu and Netflix, but found the old series difficult to penetrate, in terms of entertainment, because the production value was campy and the acting sometimes felt too much like a stage play (which makes sense in context with the times. Television was still very much in its infancy and was largely treated as a play that was recorded). Initially, I treated the classic series academically, as this was my background – a text to study more than a text to enjoy. This has changed, largely because of the comics, which helped me to really get into the character and the stories without getting hung up on poorly executed stages and wooden acting.

Then my obsession spilled over into the Doctor Who novels. Currently, I have nineteen novels. Most of the novels are with the modern doctors, but one of my favorites is Shada, by Douglas Adams. Yes, that Douglas Adams of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy infamy. This novel features the 4th Doctor.

My love for the Doctor Who novels led me to start getting the audiobook versions so that I could listen to the Doctor while I exercised. Most of the audiobooks that I’ve purchased are read by actors. They’re fantastic. Arthur Darvill is an excellent reader and so is Matt Smith. Both treat each word as though it was a jewel leaving their mouth.

Eventually the audiobooks led me to the Big Finish audio dramas. I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get into it. With an audiobook, you have at least some narrative exposition to set the scene and provide context to the story. With an audio drama, it’s like having a TV show, but with only the audio. The story is built solely on dialogue and sound effects.

My fears were quickly assuaged. I’ve been devouring the Big Finish audio dramas for the last month. The Dark Eyes series is my favorite so far. It’s an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to explore the Big Finish Doctor Who stories. I quickly fell in love with the Doctor’s companion Molly O’Sullivan – an Irish nurse during World War I. Molly’s tough temperament and Irish rebel spirit are ideal traits for a companion who is very much on the same level as the Doctor. She’s played brilliantly by Ruth Bradley. It’s a shame we’ll never see her on the screen because I think she’d definitely be a fan favorite.

Speaking of fan favorites, the 8th Doctor has often been overlooked by Whovians because he only has the 1996 TV movie and a brief webisode prior to the 50th anniversary. McGann even stated himself that he worried and felt that his Doctor was more tolerated than celebrated -  a Doctor on the fringe of acceptance. But these audio dramas change that. I guarantee that the 8th Doctor will become one of your favorite Doctors from these audio dramas. His performance is exceptional. If there’s one negative thing I can say about these audio dramas, it’s that these audio stories stand as a reminder that the 8th Doctor was never given the opportunity to be the Doctor on screen, which truly is tragic. I think had he been given the opportunity, he’d surely be a fan favorite on par with the modern Doctors.

As for Paul McGann, I’m genuinely surprised that he isn’t a much bigger star than he is. His dramatic delivery is on par with the best in the industry and he certainly has the smoldering good looks of a leading actor. Months ago, I received a petition from a fellow Whovian that wanted to get the BBC to create a standalone series for the 8th Doctor. I signed the petition, knowing full well that it was a long shot.

So start listening to Big Finish Doctor Who adventures. You deserve it.

Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.