Writers and Actors Wanted for New Doomwatch Series

23 01 2010

Something a bit different today. A new group of audio producers are planning to create their own modern audio season of Doomwatch. About a scientific government agency responsible for investigating and combating various ecological and technological dangers. Being a frequently mentioned series in classic Who circles, I’m happy to give a little extra exposure here. So if you are interested in flexing your writing or acting skills, now is the time to get in at the ground floor. They are especially interested in finding regular contributers.

You can get a feel for what the series and the planned ‘fourth’ season will be like at their website, plus updates about the project on their blog.

Sound good?
Get in touch with Scott Burditt and give a few details of what you’d like to offer, or to ask any questions. Email: snhbuk@googlemail.com


DAM Productions: Sliding Doctors

17 01 2010

The first new audio of 2010 comes from DAM productions. It’s an audiobook, although with three cast members doing the reading. If anyone is wondering I’m not going to blog all new Doctor Who fan audiobooks, but DAMs have been of such quality and part of their series that I’m happy to cover them. Sliding Doctors, as the title suggests, has two possible futures at the heart of the story, and is a part of season two.

Link: http://www.doctorwho.damproductions.org/2001/01/sliding-doctors.html

2009 Audio Roundup

15 01 2010

Taking a quick glance back over the past year there have been at least 25 new stories released, from 8 different audio producers. With a variety of styles among them. I thought I’d try to capture some of what’s gone on, and the more memorable moments.

BrokenSea kicked off the year and their second season with ‘The Three Fold Solution‘, which saw off The Rani’s plans for immortal power in grand style. Those of you that like their fan audios continuity heavy, with plenty of nods to classic stories, will be right at home with BrokenSea. New Earth, Cat People, Androzani, Omega, the Waterfield family, Sarah Jane, Judoon, Slitheen, Romana, K-9 and more are all in there. But the biggest name drop of all must be Doctor Who – the TV show. In ‘Take Two‘ The Doctor and Olivia actually land on the set of the BBC production of Doctor Who, with a very northern Doctor and papier mache Judoon heads. It’s a surprisingly bold episode for a series that generally plays it straight. A good bit of fun and the fourth wall thankfully remains intact.

BrokenSea put out 13 episodes over 2009, although some are rather short. Regardless, it is one of the most ambitious productions and the only one that closely resembles the new series format. Not to mention the only series that runs punctually all year. Where it differs from the new series is by having less individual stories, and in this case it’s a good thing. With shorter episodes it is more about ongoing interconnecting stories and subplots that combine into a larger, and in the end quite epic tale. The first three episodes felt more standlone before it launched into the main plot. I must admit it was a little hard to follow at some points in the middle of the series. It was easier to save up episodes and listen to a few in a row, so I didn’t forget important names and plot points as the story jumped back and forth across different time zones. The style is very emotionally charged and leans toward sci-fi fantasy where many things are the stuff of legends. Gallifreyan mythology and Rassilons days have been a common theme. In one interesting episode, ‘The Untimely Dead‘ we learn a lot of detail about the time war and Gallifrey’s demise, an episode made even better by the well voiced return of K-9. K-9 is cool.

The mid-season stories contained a lot of intrigue, but I must admit to a touch of confusion about Amanda Waterfield and her story arc being introduced so early. It feels like there are some loose ends which may be answered this year. However, the series comes into it’s own in the last third with political and corporate machinations (Timmin has been a great character), good cliffhangers and surprises, and of course a full blown cyber invasion (sadly I thought the cyber voices needed some more work). This season proved to be worth the time invested and was an improvement on last year. The Seven Percent storyline was woven in very nicely, and a lot of Doctor Who fans will have recognised in ‘A Road Untaken‘ that the rebels have been dropped in a Blake’s 7 scenario. Creator Steven Jay Cohen has said that the spin off series of The Seven Percent will be a re-imagining of Blake’s 7, and judging by this should be worth a listen. Steven Jay Cohen has stepped down as head writer for BrokenSea’s Doctor Who series this year, and will no doubt turn his attention to completing The Seven Percent mini series. I’ll be sure to blog it’s first release.

I’ve spent a lot of time on that so moving on… A notable release in February was the last part to DAM Productions‘ ‘Tempromancy of the Daleks‘. A story which had been staggering to conclusion since it’s first episode was released in September 2005. This fourth and final episode wraps up one of my favourite cliffhangers, where they reveal an entire planet as the interior of a TARDIS. The end of ‘Tempromancy of the Daleks’ drew a line under the early era of DAMs audios. The improvement in quality seen in 2005 has continued since, making them a strong contender for the highest quality production in 2009. DAM also get my vote for the most unusual release schedule; taking a timey wimey spaghetti like approach. Season 2 has started, while more stories have been announced for season 1, and other releases made from the fourth season with a different Doctor – plus the short trips and side steps. Phew. Proper time travelers this lot. And what’s happened to Dalek Universe II? There was a nifty trailer out in January but sadly no sign of it since.

Most of DAM‘s stories are written by different authors and are generally under 30 minutes. Yet unlike other audios, the stories fit the time and don’t feel empty or rushed. DAM have shown a knack for successfully selecting and dramatising these vignettes. The only exception for me being ‘Shuck‘, which I felt would have benefited from a longer more complex plot to ramp up the tension. That aside, DAM always put together a good show with appropriate scores and a seamless sound mix. Stories develop with mystery, are peppered with humour, and the TARDIS crew have a good camaraderie. Although in my favourite DAM release of the year, ‘The Doll’s House‘, the camaraderie between Season 4’s Doctor (Matthew Chambers) and companion Sam is intentionally absent as she is in a rotten mood. I don’t know what it is about irate companions and anyone who mentions Werthers Originals that always gives me the giggles. The Doll’s House has the TARDIS unable to leave a creepy anachronistic mansion, with the banter and mystery in the first half nicely giving way to more perilous chills in the second.

One point of interest about DAM before I forget. In the second season Alice seems to have briefly caught sight of a red phone box in two of the stories. Smells like a story arc could be brewing, something to keep an ear out for.

It seems audio producers find Doctor Who pairs well with horrorish elements. I’ve mentioned ‘The Doll’s House and ‘Shuck‘, which featured the legend of a savage black beast and a touch of grave digging. DWAD gave us a truly macabre story in ‘Alive‘, introducing a very unusual alien race that creates its offspring from the body parts of inferior species. Darker Projects returned in style with a very eerie first episode of ‘The Dreamers‘ featuring an abandoned future London and siren like shining horses. The whole story has a mystical or nightmarish fairy tale quality. Darker Projects have taken more risks than most this year by giving us a more adult Doctor Who series, using a little profanity and exploring the fallout of The Doctor’s former relationship with Emma. I think it’s paid off and been one of their best stories to date, with some great writing and acting from the leads.

Compared to last year there was a lack of Xmas stories released, with only newcomers Giant Gnome Productions truly holding the fort. The Gnomes’ historical story ‘The Black Peter‘ once again had that horrorish feeling thanks to the locale and a background of witchcraft. They go all out in whoishly bizarre fashion as The Doctor defeats some demonic aliens by impersonating Santa!

Another newcomer this year is Cat Flap Audios. A young group just finding their feet in audio drama. I’ve not blogged their recent releases due to a mistake getting updates on youtube. They have taken a less troden angle doing missing stories for different Doctors. They recently piled on the snow with a third Doctor story ‘Mission to Antarctica‘, including a few Cybermen and UNIT. They have also ventured out into short audiobooks, something which DAM productions also started this year.

The other big series I’ve yet to mention is Planet Skaro Audios. Season three consisted of five stories, and heard the return of old characters like the blustering Baron of Boralis and mega villain Tor Garane. Both are amongst the most colourful performances this year, and the acting for Tor Garane perfectly hits the spot for this campy series. Once again there are ongoing plots that connect some of the stories, highlighting the shift to long running story arcs, mirroring the difference between the old and new series of Doctor Who. Surprisingly the first and Doctorless story A Baron for All Seasons is probably my favourite episode, with ‘Blood Money following up the consequences. It tells of the moral dilemma facing the Baron when The Galactic Bank (a very topical foe) turns Earth into a buy to let planet. A bidding war ensues as bank boss Tor Garane threatens to lease it to a savage race that would enslave humankind. It shows how Planet Skaro does a fine job balancing light heartedness with clever plots. They also have high production values. Another memorable story with some witty writing is ‘The Wealth of Craytians‘.

Dream Realm Enterprises added ‘Harbingers‘ to their series, with more planned that we’ll hopefully see this year. Two things make DRE stand out from the crowd. Firstly by having the best interpretation of the Doctor Who theme that I’ve heard; plus a very atmospheric, if sombre, soundtrack. Secondly, they have yet to set foot on Earth, choosing instead to concentrate on creating new worlds and alien races. Also in their favour is the attention paid to character development that drives the ongoing story and gives the regular cast, particularly companion Grae, something to get their teeth into.

Companions have had some pretty rough times this past year. Olivia left the BrokenSea series, having been forgotten and lost in a parallel world. Moira (DWAD) turned out to be an alien probe gone haywire in her last episode ‘The Eyes of All‘; surely one of the strangest departures yet. Emma (Darker Projects) discovered she was pregnant, only to have her supposedly human boyfriend turn out to be The Doctor in a chameleon arch disguise. In contrast though Emily (Giant Gnome) was given her sight back by The Doctor in ‘Springheel Jack‘.

And whilst I’m talking about characters I’d like to give James K Flynn a mention as my favourite Doctor (DWAD) this year. His delivery captures both the warmth and authority normally associated with the character. Naturally reeling off all manner of fantastical plots with utter sincerity, and this year doing more than his far share of moral outrage (perhaps there’s a bit of Pertwee in him). Definitely one of the most consistent and talented actors doing fan audios.

Other points of interest last year – The WhoCast reviewed a few audios from different producers in November. This was a very welcome podcast, and it would be good to see/hear more like it. I would like to add a review section to this site, but I’ve yet to find enough people writing them to get started. If anyone is interested then get in touch at the email below. Sadly I haven’t done any specials since uploading the Dogma Audios back catalogue in March (still in the Theatre). There are only so many re-releases that I can do, and it becomes more and more difficult as some people are near impossible to contact. Nevertheless I would like to add more features to the site, maybe a few more interviews. Also, if anyone has ideas to generally improve the site then leave a comment. Maybe you’d like to mention your favourite or least favourite audio from 2009. Or even if you want to slag me off or say something random. I’d love to hear from you.

You can reach me at —- botcherbys at googlemail dot com —-
Or you can leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you on your email.

Darker Projects: The Dreamers & BrokenSea: A Road Untaken

1 01 2010

The concluding episode of the Dreamers, and The Doctor moves against the Taibhsi and their dream realm.

Link: http://www.darkerprojects.com/doctorwho.php#0307

And the concluding part of BrokenSea’s second season. Likely to go with a bang. Also, as with last year, the seeds are being sown for season 3.

Link: http://brokensea.com/drwho/2009/12/30/brokensea-doctor-who-a-road-untaken-b2e13/