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Old December 11 2013, 02:08 PM   #1
Emperor-Tiberius
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Location: Kavala, Greece
The Eighties Doctor(s): Big Finish vs. BBCTV

I've been listening to a lot of Big Finish audio stories lately, mostly centered around the Fifth and Eighth Doctors (nearly done on the latter), and just started on Sixth's run, and doing so in a chronological run to get the advantage of intentions by BF for the said stories. I stopped after Revelation of the Daleks because, quite frankly, season 22 was the worst season of DW I've ever seen - even with gems like Vengeance on Varos and the audio Davros included. But I started listening again to the Lost Stories of his, and then got into Whispers of Terror, ...ish and The Reaping, and I was amazed how most of the Lost Stories and all the BF originals by not only good and well-written they were, but by how narratively cohesive and consistent they were. Moreover, the Sixth Doctor gains a lot more understanding and the writers seem to have a far better understanding of his idiosyncrasies and what not. He's still not my favorite Doctor, but he's evolved from his brutish self in S22.

And that got me thinking. Likewise with the Fifth, I had a real problem going through a lot of his stories - Warriors of the Deep, Time Flight and King's Demons are appalling, for that matter. He barely has a top 10 of stories, and even then, I don't think he was ever written in the show in a comprehensible, all-encompassing way. Now, I know the stories were written with certain time constraints, and that all Doctors were basically written the same, but I feel Pertwee was allowed to have more character in his stories, for instance, than Davison had with his. And of course Tom Baker had seven years, which gave him quite a leverage in fine-tuning and perfecting his character. In Big Finish, though, the Fifth Doctor seems to, at the best of times - The Burning Prince, Spare Parts, Mutant Phase, Primeval and Loup-Garoux, for example, he's been written pretty much the way Robert Holmes redefined him in Caves of Androzani - dynamic, compassionate but not naive (at least not TOO naive), resourceful and all that stuff. Not to say this wasn't always his characterization - but the Big Finish audios seem to be able to get stories that allow the character to shine through, and without necessarily putting the rest of the characters or story down for his sake. I got the feeling that the Fifth wasn't needed for quite a few of his adventures, and was mostly spouting exposition endleslsy - and thats despite the fact that Peter Davison seemingly gave his all in every performance, and indeed has worked on the character considerably more than the script editors and JNT ever did.

I can't comment on the Seventh Doctor yet, as I've not listened to many audios of his other than Master (which was amazing, though), but my question is: Do the audio stories by Big Finish actually improve upon the Doctors themselves, and their companions? Moreover, to anyone who has gone through most if not all of the BF stuff, does your perception of the characters change after the said immersion? Is, for instance, the Sixth Doctor one of your faves because of those audios, or do you like him less because he's not edgy anymore (and similarly for the others)?

Finally, what did BF do right where BBC got wrong? Its widely accepted that the 80s were the weakest era of DW, after all, so... What do you think?

Bonus question: Which of the three do you think has the best collection of audio stories?
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"Spock...?" Kirk said, whispering.
"I am... most pleased to see again, Captain" Spock formally replied.
McCoy shook his head in disgust. "Oh, for crying out loud, Spock. Its been eighty years!"
"Seventy eight point four years, Doctor."

The Holy Three meet again, in The Return
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