Confession #58: I'm Spoiled for Choice

You may have noticed that I've been doing lots of Confessions lately. Now that the DVD range has effectively come to an end (barring any future recoveries or reconstructions), I just don't have new material to review. Sure, I could go back through the catalog and cover the older releases, but that feels like grasping at straws. Instead, I'd like to branch out from the "canon" (ha ha—as if that meant the same thing for every fan) of the televised adventures and start exploring the Big Finish audio adventures.

One of the big reasons I want to go this direction is that I think it's a wonderful but less well known branch of the Whoniverse. I'm almost certainly suffering a bit of "this is how it is for me, so that's how it likely is for everyone," but if there's more to be discovered here, why not bring my readers along for the ride?

Further, I'm thinking back to a panel I sat in on at Gally this past year. The topic of Big Finish audios came up, and I remember the moderator asking how many in the audience had ever listened to one. A decent number of hands went up—maybe half. Then he asked how many planned to listen to one at some point in the future. A sea of hands filled the air. The panel seemed impressed. Cleverly, I thought, they followed up with "How many of you don't plan ever to listen to one?" Every hand went down, and not a one went up.

So it seems to me that perhaps there's an audience for a set of reviews of Big Finish stories. The question then becomes, "where do I start?"

I've asked before for recommendations, and have a list of stories that some of my more knowledgeable friends think I should try. Since I gathered those titles, though, many more have been released, and Tom Baker has returned as the Fourth Doctor, too. Thus, I'm utterly spoiled for choice: there are literally hundreds of stories available, just within the Main Range.

There are a limited few titles I've already heard, either on BBC Radio 7 (now BBC Radio 4 Extra) or via purchased downloads (mostly from the Eighth Doctor Adventures), and I'd certainly be willing to give them another listen and review them here. But I want to write about what you want to read about.

So I'm asking for reader input. You can vote in my reader poll for the general case, to help me decide with which Doctor to begin, and/or you can comment and tell me your favorite "don't miss" adventures. Should I be listening to The Evil One, Spare Parts, Davros, The Fires of Vulcan, or Dark Eyes? Should I be exploring more obscure titles? Let me know! Your opinion counts.

I can hardly wait to see where you all point me.



I recommend starting with the 8th Doctor adventures (don't listen to Dark Eyes until you've listened to those). They are my absolute favorites. Start with the first and work your way up. Those are still my absolute favorites. It's also nice to see what sort of Doctor Paul McGann is.

By Robin Burks (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

I haven't heard all of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, but I've heard at least most of the ones with Lucie. I loved Dark Eyes, and haven't listened to Dark Eyes 2 yet, though I have it. Do you think Eight's adventures are a good place to start writing reviews?

By mrfranklin

Yeah, I definitely think they're a good place to start for reviews, but I'm biased because they're my favorites.

By Robin Burks (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

Well, of course! We're all biased. :) And that's why I'm asking—what do people want me to write about? If it's your faves, then so be it! Your vote has been duly recorded. :D

By mrfranklin

Out of the ones you listed in your last paragraph: Spare Parts. Creepy as hell (and an awesome story). .5th Doctor and Nyssa and that's all I'm going to say.

By yanajenn (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

I've heard that title in particular bandied about quite a bit, so it's definitely on my short list. :) Will add it to the queue!

By mrfranklin
PaulGreaves's picture

I'm going to suggest a top twenty stories you should listen to from the first 50 Main Range releases. My reasoning for this is a) you have to start somewhere and b) BF produce so much now that it's easy for people to suggest what is fresh in their minds and miss some of the gems from the early days. Having listened to them all from the beginning I'm very much in favour of going back to where it all began. Also, BF often have sales of their first 50 so you may be able to pick some up quite cheaply :)

So, the first twenty I suggest you listen to are (in order of BF release, not order of preference):

1. The Marian Conspiracy (BF #6)
2. The Spectre of Lanyon Moor (BF #9)
3. The Apocalypse Element (BF #11)
4. The Fires of Vulcan (BF #12)
5. The Holy Terror (BF #14)
6. The Mutant Phase (BF #15)
7. Storm Warning (BF #16)
8. Loups-Garoux (BF #20)
9. The Eye of the Scorpion (BF #24)
10. The One Doctor (BF #27)
11. The Chimes of Midnight (BF #29)
12. Seasons of Fear (BF #30)
13. Neverland (BF #33)
14. Spare Parts (BF #34)
15. The Church and the Crown (BF #38)
16. Jubilee (BF #40)
17. Creatures of Beauty (BF #44)
18. Omega (BF #47)
19. Davros (BF #48)
20. Master (BF #49

For me, these are some of the highlights from the very strong opening fifty. There are a mixture of Doctors 5-8 in here although there a greater number of Doctor 6. This is largely down to the fact that Colin and BF were keen to rehabilitate his Doctor and put a lot of time and energy into doing so with (I think) tremendous results. Numbers 7, 11, 12 and 13 are Eight Doctor stories and should be listened to consecutively. Without giving spoilers away you'll understand why once you've listened to them :)

I'd also like to suggest that when you listen to any of them, try it at night, relaxed in a comfy chair, with the lights off and let the soundscapes transport you. Sounds flowery I know but without any distractions around you the soundscapes are incredible.

By PaulGreaves --


mrfranklin's picture

An excellent list, Paul—thank you! Two of those I've already heard, but it's been a long time, so it will be nice to go back to them.

It may take me a while to get into a listening groove. When I review, I take notes as I go; that may not work as well with the audio adventures as with the televised ones. I appreciate the suggestion, though, as it serves as a good reminder not to allow other senses to distract me.

By mrfranklin
PaulGreaves's picture

Well, I might as well carry on and then you have my recommendations :)

1. The Wormery (BF #51)
2. Arrangements for War (BF #57)
3. The Harvest (BF#58)
4. The Juggernauts (BF #65)
5. The Council of Nicea (BF#71)
6. Terror Firma (BF #72)
7. Thicker Than Water (#73)
8. Singularity (BF #76)
9. Night Thoughts (BF #79)
10. The Kingmaker (BF #81)
11. The Nowhere Place (BF #84)
12. Red (BF #85)
13. The Reaping (BF #86)
14. Memory Lane (BF #88)
15. Year of the Pig (BF #90)
16. Circular Time (BF #91)
17. Valhalla (BF #96)
18. Frozen Time (BF #98)
19. Son of the Dragon (BF #99)
20. 100 (BF #100)

By PaulGreaves --


PaulGreaves's picture

1. The Girl Who Never Was (BF #103)
2. The Bride of Peladon (BF #104)
3. The Condemned (BF #105)
4. The Haunting of Thomas Brewster (BF #107)
5. Forty-Five (BF #115)
6. The Magic Mousetrap (BF #120)
7. Enemy of the Daleks (BF #121)
8. The Company of Friends (BF #123)
9. Castle of Fear (BF #127)
10. The Eternal Summer (BF #128)
11. A Thousand Tiny Wings (BF #130)
12. Survival of the Fittest (BF #131)
13. The Architects of History (BF #132)
14. City of Spires (BF #133)
15. Cobwebs (BF #136)
16. A Death in the Family (BF #140)
17. The Demons of Red Lodge & Other Stories (BF #142)
18. The Crimes of Thomas Brewster (BF #143)
19. Robophobia (BF #149)
20. Recorded Time (BF #150)

They haven't quite reached 200 in the Main Range yet (June 2015), so I'll save the next batch until then :)

Of course, all this is subjective opinion and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who'd disagree with me over my choices but I've tried to be as fair and rounded as possible!

By PaulGreaves --


I've fallen out of the habit, but I used to listen to the audios while doing house work, particularly while washing dishes. I'm a bit of a completionist, so I was listening to them in order. I would suggest starting with a review of the first of the main range as it has multiple doctors and does serve as an introduction to the audios as a whole.

As far as recommendations, Night Thoughts is the only Doctor Who story, other than Midnight, to scare me. That cold, pit of your stomach fear. Might be because I was listening at night, in the dark, alone, or my frame of mind, but it got me. ...Ish is great if you're a word nerd and The Maltese Penguin is fantastically funny, especially if you like The Maltese Falcon/Noir. Otherwise, I can't talk up McGann's audios enough. Some get if in the plot/logic category, but they're all worth a listen.

By Sarah Maggie (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

Thanks for your additional recommendations, Sarah! I have listened to several audio adventures already, but ideas on where to start reviews are most welcome. For example, I've heard a lot about Frobisher, but haven't heard any stories with him yet, so I was happy to see The Maltese Penguin on your list, too! :)

By mrfranklin
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