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The Audio Drama / Comedy Thread (BBC, Big Finish Others)


#1

Been considering this for a while and think there’s enough to distinguish it from the general music / listening thread. (Of course, if that’s not so, can always be merged with that thread.)

My reason for it was that, while they’re linked strongly to Doctor Who, Big Finish don’t just do that, but entire swathes of other products. At the same time the BBC has a steady stream of output across the various genres, older comedy examples are Bleak Expectations and Old Harry’s Game, more recent example is Cabin Pressure. On the more serious side they’ve done a trilogy of Gaiman: Neverwhere, How the Marquis Got His Coat Back and Good Omens. Probably far, far more I don’t know of, in which case this could be a dangerous undertaking with regard to my bank account.

A production that falls into ‘other’ would be the audio adaptation of the DHC comics Star Wars: Dark Empire.

Tonight, I finally got around to listening the the second play in the Dan Dare Volume 1 set, The Red Moon Mystery.

While I really liked and appreciated the ingenuity demonstrated in reworking and revising the classic story Voyage to Venus, for you couldn’t really do a literal adaptation of that over 50 years later and have it hold up. There’s simply too much known about Venus for it to work. I was less convinced by the idea to try and have conflicts between Peabody, Digby and Dare, who also had an ill-fitting chip on his shoulder over his dad being done over in a government inquiry on a spaceship crash, of which his dad piloted.

This second play manages to succeed on both grounds, the plot is a really smart reworking and the characters are far better, with better interplay and dialogue, well pretty much everything. Hugely enjoyable in every respect and it also gave a new dimension to Lieutenant Digby, who was leading a Marine squad.

I’ll get around to the third and last one of this first set, but on the strength and improvement demonstrated by this one, I’ve gone and pre-ordered Volume 2, due April 2017.


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#2

Great idea for a thread Ben

I think that we have listened to a lot of the same stuff. I tend to listen to audio dramas on my headphones on the way to work…so I get through quite a lot of them.

As you know I am fairly evangelical about Big Finish. They recently released the last War Doctor Box set with John Hurt. This one (Casualties of War) sees the artist formerly known as the Doctor coming face to face with a former companion, and dealing with the consequences of the Time War. The fourth and final box set of Doctor Who: Doom Coalition..

I’m also listening to a BBC series called Pilgrim. It is about a man who was cursed by the fairies with immortality. You would class it as urban fantasy. It is not a million miles away from Hellblazer.

I will add some reviews in the next couple of days.


#3

I haven’t listened to this, but it might be worth checking out. The BBC have done an audio adaptation of The War of the Worlds

And as I mentioned the late (and much lamented) John Hurt above


#4

The new Humble Bundle is on Who/Torchwood audio dramas:


#5

Listened to Dan Dare: Marooned on Mercury the other day.

In a lot of ways this is probably the most faithful of the adaptations, in that I don’t think they’ve had to change much. Where the image of Venus has changed over the last 60 years, Mercury’s status as a hot hellhole hasn’t.

It all unfolds well and the final cliffhanger to this trio sets up another classic story very effectively, while resolving the primary ongoing plot from Voyage to Venus.


#6

I just finished listening to the second volume of Dan Dare this afternoon. It is a step up again from the first volume. It is a lot starker than the first and it goes into the character’s personalities a bit more. It feels like that it is drawing a bit more from the science fiction that came after (like Star Wars or Alien) than the first volume, but still keeping that British fair play/sense of decency thing.

I don’t really want to spoil it, but I enjoyed this set a lot.


#7

I’ve got it downstairs, demanding to be listened to, politely of course.


#8

They get out through the ringer in this one. I am not overly familiar with the original comics, but I thought it was a lot more dramatic.

Which is my way of saying

Enjoy


#9

I have been meaning to post here for a while now, but haven’t got around to it. In the meantime, I have been listening to a lot of different series.

I mentioned Pilgrim: Collected Series 1-4 before. It is written by Sebastien Baczkiewicz, with whom I was hitherto unfamiliar, but I loved this. It is a collection of BBC Radio 4 afternoon plays about an man who was cursed on the road to Canterbury in 1185, by the King of the Fairies, for denying the existance of the world of magic. He is given immortality and is forced to work as an emissary of the fairies (or Greyfolk) in the world of men.

Based in the modern day, I initially thought that this was a bit like Hellblazer, and while there are parallels, it is quite different and the show evolves as it goes on. William Palmer (the Pilgrim of the title) isn’t a ducker and diver like John Constantine. He has a conscience, but mostly he is a bit world weary. He wishes to finally have his death. He doesn’t want to get involved a lot of the time.

I also thought that this was going to be an urban fantasy. I’m not sure that the holds true either. The stories happen at a very mundance, almost kitchen sink level, but it has an element of folk horror to it. It is about old magic coming from the dark places that people have forgotten about, and bargains struck long ago and long forgotten.

One of the things that I like about Pilgrim is that the story doesn’t stay static. The character and his circumstances are changed by what happens to him throughout.

I listened to this in the car over the course of a couple of weeks and absolutely loved it. There are 16 disks in the first box set, making up 12 hours approx of listening. I have already ordered the box set for series 5 - 7.

So if that sounds like your own particular cup of Earl Grey, give it a shot.

Big Finish are currently doing a series of HG Wells adaptions. They did The Invisible Man recently with John Hurt in the title role and the second release in the series was The First Men in the Moon. While I have read some Wells (The Time Machine and the War of the Worlds), I wasn’t familiar with this story at all. So I was a bit surprised about how funny it was. It is a bit of a satire on British colonialism,

The performances were great, including Nigel Planer as Professor Cavor.

The next HG Wells adaptation on the agenda is The Shape of Things to Come with BF Stalwart Nicola Walker in the lead. I have downloaded it but will get around to listening sometime next week.

I also listened to a series called Hood from Spiteful Puppet. The series has 4 separate stories (Noble Secrets, The Scribe of Sherwood, Warrior’s Harvest and Kings Command). Of those, all but Scribe of Sherwood are full cast audios.

The series is yet another take on Robin Hood. The main protagonist is Philip DeNicolet - Sherrif of Nottingham. He is basically a good man, but naive and a little blinded by love. The initial story sees him being robbed by a servant of Nottingham’s taxes for the year. In order to keep the woman he loves, and regain his position, and avoid execution, he must turn to outlaws to get the money back. Things do not quite go his way.

I liked the opening story. It had a neo-noir feel to it. Philip is a man trapped in a world, where he doesn’t quite grasp how dangerous things are. Friends are not necessarily friends. Lady Marian isn’t necessarily all sweetness and light. He has to make compromises to try to get himself clear. And he has to adopt an alias (two guesses what the alias is :slight_smile:).

The Scribe of Sherwood has a smaller cast and goes into backstory of the characters. Rather than a full cast story, it is mostly played as a tale told to Alan A Dale by the fireside,

The last two stories have a bit more of a straight adventure feel to them, with fewer complications. The characters are in a very different place. Warrior’s Harvest has a hint of bringing the band back together. King’s Command is a riff on Star Wars/The Hidden Fortress with the Philip, John, Will and Co. attempting to rescue Queen Eleanor from a besieged castle. And just to remind you that they are riffing on Star Wars, they refer to an ale house as a “Wretched hive of scum and villainy” and they get passage on a ship owned by a Captain Han. Not so subtle.

I found this show enjoyable. The dialogue and the acting are a bit rough in places. I suspect that I am a little bit spoiled by the production values on Big Finish. I would give this a qualified recommendation.

In closing, if campy soap opera horror is your thing, Big Finish is doing a 50% off offer on their Dark Shadows range this weekend.

https://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/dark-shadows---50-off


#10

My copy of Pilgrim Collected Series 5-7 arrived minus the first two disks. I’m not impressed at all.

On the upside, I listened to The Shape of Things to Come adapted by Guy Adams this week. It is the next in a series of HG Wells adaptations by Big Finish. Whereas the first two (Invisible Man and First Men in the Moon) tried to set things in their historical context, this story starts in the modern day. Philip Day is taken by a historian and time traveller of the future through an alternate history of the twentieth century, where the Second World War starts differently and civilisation slowly slides into collapse before re-emerging as something different. The big question behind this is whether the sacrifice needed to reforge society is justified by the what it creates. There is a case made for the suppression of organised religion and nationalities.

It is an really enjoyable play and quite tense…and harrowing in places. Jane is played by Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka to people who know the 8th Doctor audios, from lots of TV stuff if you don’t).

Given the current political climate, it seems oddly prescient…which is odd for a story written so long ago.


#11

Also posted in the Doctor Who thread

Some Big Finish news…The Tenth Doctor and Rose are making a comeback in a new series of audio adventures, with David Tennant and Billie Piper.

https://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/doctor-who---the-tenth-doctor2

The previous run with Catherine Tate was fantastic…and there is a sale on that at the moment.


#12

For anyone who’s interested, the second series of John Finnemore’s Double Acts is available on the BBC IPlayer at the moment. They are really, really good.


#13

I’ve been listening to them. They are good. Finnemore is just great.


#14

This is a little bit silly, but I enjoyed it.


#15

Have people been listening to John Finnemore’s (He of the wonderful Cabin Pressure) Double Acts?
They have been picking up some amazing talent: Palin, Una Stubbs, John Bird and Alison Steadman

Some are funny, some are fun, all have some twists and turns. Out of the twelve, only one missed the mark for me.

of the ones available the Goliath Window is a super introduction: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06mv2nd

Penguin Diplomacy is a close second favourite: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08vzj4j

Listen to them before they timeout…


#16

Yes, a couple of posts upthread Simon mentioned them. They are great. I’ve only listened to the first three so far.


#17

The Rebel Alliance with Una Stubbs was funny and quite sweet as well.


#18

I just listened to Penguin Diplomacy last night. It’s a good one.


#19

Anyone listened to these: https://splendidchaps.bandcamp.com/album/night-terrace-season-one


#20

For anyone who’s interested, Big Finish are doing a David Warner sale this weekend.

David Warner has done a lot of stuff for Big Finish, between playing alternate universe versions of the Doctor or playing Steel in Sapphire and Steel.

There is some good stuff in this sale.

https://www.bigfinish.com/news/v/in-celebration-of-david-warner