Review: UNIT: Shutdown

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Writers: Matt Fitton & Andrew Smith

RRP: £20.00 (CD) / £20.00 (Download)

Release Date: June 2016

Reviewed by: Bedwyr Gullidge for Doctor Who Online


2.1 Power Cell by Matt Fitton

"Osgood and Captain Josh Carter are sent to investigate the disappearance of a UNIT scientist.

Meanwhile, alien technology has fallen into the hands of Lyme Industries, and Kate Stewart can't persuade the company’s CEO, Felicity Lyme, to give it back.

But UNIT find themselves fighting a third battle when innocent people start to die. Who are the mysterious assassins? And what does Felicity Lyme want with top secret alien technology?"

UNIT is back! Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver return to their roles of Kate Stewart and Osgood for a second outing with Big Finish. UNIT: Extinction was the skilled storyteller’s first venture into the world of modern Doctor Who created in 2005 and such was its success the team have returned for a second outing in a proper, full-fledged drama featuring the popular characters seen in only a handful of onscreen stories. It is such a joy to have more adventures with these individuals because it allows for more time to be dedicated to them alone, for instance, more scenes that they dominate instead of the Doctor, which aids their personal growth and builds that connection with the audience still further. As an example, the story opens with Osgood at a pub quiz, something which there simply would not be time for during a television episode that needs to grab the audience’s attention immediately and to engage them enough to quell the impulse to change the channel.

Osgood and Kate Stewart are the leading stars of the series and hopefully draw in new listeners to the wonders of Big Finish audio adventures. Ingrid Oliver’s Osgood has become a popular choice for cosplay fans but she is far more than a clothes horse and is a wonderfully rounded character; her likeable nature without question and she even uses a cloister bell message alert tone. Similarly, Kate Stewart maintains an approachable connection to her inferiors, despite her seniority, much like her father did. Jemma Redgrave is very respectful of the legacy passed down to her by her character's onscreen father, the sadly missed Doctor Who legend Nicholas Courtney. This story also draws an element from the UNIT era of Third Doctor Jon Pertwee which the Brigadier played such a key role in.

Writer Matt Fitton creates a tale which shines an investigatory light on Whitehall figures in a similar way that the Third Doctor's era provided scathing critiques on those Governmental types, such as Chinn in The Claws of Axos or Walker the Parliamentary Private Secretary in The Sea Devils. The timing of this subject matter also seems appropriate given the current political turmoil in Westminster, with Kate Stewart stating categorically, “I don't trust the Government” and seemingly capturing the mood of a nation. In the UK we fear the intrusion of public companies, siphoning off our most valuable resources for the sake of profit margins, the privatisation of the NHS for example, is a constant concern these days. For UNIT it is their alien technology which they place the highest value upon and so must be recovered from the hands of the unknown but wonderfully intriguing Miss Lyme, expertly played by Alice Krige. These competing ideologies, supposedly in partnership and on the same side but yet the potential selling off of those shared secrets, adds further to the developing intrigue.

However this story is not only a satirical perspective on the Government, as the first part draws to a close with an action sequence of unidentified, but clearly alien, creatures attacking Osgood in her own flat. Things are developing quickly and the adventure has only just begun…


2.2 Death In Geneva by Andrew Smith

"With few people left to trust, and with assassins on their tail, Kate and Osgood race to UNIT Command in Geneva. Will General Avary be able to help them?

But when death follows UNIT all the way from the English countryside to the snowy slopes of the Alps, Captain Carter finds himself in a race against time.

As the body count rises, Kate struggles to separate friend from foe, danger circles Osgood ever closer, and, high in the mountains, Josh comes face to face with the enemy..."

In a move borrowed from Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart himself, Kate and Osgood head to Geneva to gain support from UNIT Central Command. Unlike the television production of the 1970’s the limitless scope of Big Finish allows listeners to follow the action to Geneva. Unfortunately, the danger follows too and even in Switzerland not everyone can be trusted. Slowly the UNIT team begin to unravel events and learn more about the mysterious Tengobushi as the bodies start piling up and innocent people are now being caught in the crossfire.

This episode starts with a bang and maintains that pace throughout, gripping the audience with numerous twists and turns along the way as Kate and Osgood come under seemingly constant attack. Continuing the work of Matt Fitton, Andrew Smith picks up the momentum created by the introductory first episode, skilfully teasing out more information for the developing plot. Although the Kate Stewart and Osgood pairing receive the bulk of the attention - and rightly so - they are in reality two thirds of a trio which also includes James Joyce as Captain Josh Carter. Admittedly Carter has a curiously convenient knack for turning up at the most opportune moment, which happens a lot in this four part story, but when under threat from lightning fast alien ninja warriors UNIT need a military leader and Joyce is perfect in his role - one which will be vital in the next episode…


2.3 The Battle Of The Tower by Andrew Smith

"The threat is now clear, and Kate Stewart retreats to UNIT HQ with her most trusted colleagues. She has no choice but to place the Black Archive into lockdown, and the Tower of London is where UNIT will make its stand.

While the capital sleeps, an alien horde is gathering, ready to rise from the shadows to attack Earth’s greatest defence force inside its own stronghold.

The Tower is infiltrated, and UNIT must hold the line. At any cost. Lock and load..."

The action packed pace of Death in Geneva continues as UNIT retreat to the stronghold of the Tower of London - first identified as a UNIT base in The Christmas Invasion. This episode also allows a period of downtime to expand on the plot as UNIT attempt to identify and understand the alien trinket which has drawn the Tengobushi to London so they can recover it. Osgood and Kate Stewart are able to investigate the artefact, postulating why the Tengobushi want it back so badly and revealing crucial plot points required for the story’s final resolution to the audience.

Like an episode of Game of Thrones, these early parts of the episode provide material that adds depth and detail to the story that would be quickly skirted over in a Doctor Who television episode, limited by a finite running time.

Other nice story touches include the revelation that the Yeoman warders are in fact members of UNIT capable of reporting to Kate Stewart. There are also lovely references for fans of the televised output such as name checking Malcolm who appeared in Planet of the Dead and the Ravens needing batteries as mentioned in The Day of the Doctor.  When the Tengobushi do reach the Tower and begin their attack, the action comes thick and fast, the accompanying soundscape headed by director Ken Bentley aiding in the dynamism that builds nicely for a spectacular conclusion… 


2.4 Ice Station Alpha by Matt Fitton

"Caught between human greed and an unstoppable alien power, Kate Stewart leads her closest allies on one final, desperate mission. This could be the very last chance for the human race.

But the UNIT team has been declared rogue, and ruthless military forces are in pursuit as they race across the globe. Kate calls Lieutenant Sam Bishop to their aid, while Josh and Osgood head out across the frozen Antarctic plains to try and prevent a disaster no-one else knows is coming."

In the concluding part we return to the original themes outlined at the very beginning, casting a scathing comment on the spurious methods of big business, plus raising doubts about the true motives of those individuals supposedly working to protect us. The tale also raises an interesting argument regarding UNIT’s own use of alien technologies and the dangers of allowing unregulated individuals equal free-reign. However whilst the small-minded humans argue amongst themselves a much more substantial power is closing in on the eye of the storm in Antartica…

This second adventure with Kate Stewart and Osgood is another triumph; superbly combining intelligent plotting from writers Matt Fitton and Andrew Smith with explosive action in a journey across planet Earth - the likes of which would be difficult to do justice to on a television budget. In a refreshing move, the lines between good and evil are masterfully blurred to deliver an excellent adventure which grips and thrills the listener throughout.



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Time Shadows

Time Shadows (Credit: Pseudoscope Publishing)
Time Shadows is a new, unofficial, unauthorized Doctor Who short-story anthology raising money for the Enable Community Foundation

The anthology from Pseudoscope Publishing features all televised Doctors, across 25 stories, including a five-part framing story with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara.
Synopsis

Tipped off by a mysterious raven man, the Twelfth Doctor and Clara travel to Refuge, home of the last vestiges of life near the end of the universe. There, they discover an ancient, powerful Time Lord relic. No sooner does it activate, than new thoughts, new memories form in the Doctor’s mind: new adventures of all his past selves.

Someone or something is tampering with time, changing the destination of the TARDIS, and altering the Doctor’s past. He and Clara must travel into danger, into darkness to set things right.
The book is edited by Matt Grady with Samuel Gibb, with a foreword by Gary Russell.

It features stories by Violet Addison, John Anderson, David Black, Andrew Blair, Simon Blake, Christopher Colley, John Davies, Abel Diaz, R.P. Fox, Stephen Hatcher, Chris Heffernan, Ian Howden, Pete Kempshall, J.R. Loflin, Kevin Mason, Roger McCoy, David McLain, Christopher Olsen, John Peel, Stuart Roth, Dale Smith, David N. Smith, and Nick Walters.

Further details on Time Shadows, including ordering information, are available on the Pseudoscope Publishing website

Steven Moffat To Receive Honorary Doctorate From UWS

Doctor Who Showrunner, Steven Moffat, is going to be honoured by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) at its graduation ceremony on Tuesday 5th July 2016 at Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church, Paisley - a ceremony that will, ironically, see him become The Doctor! :)

Steven, who was born and bred in Paisley, is best known for his role as writer and executive producer on award-winning BBC programmes, Doctor Who and Sherlock.  He was originally an English teacher working at Cowdenknowes High School in Greenock for over three years, and went on to experience success with his first foray into TV as the writer of the hit children's drama about a school newspaper, Press Gang, which ran from 1989-93.

Steven, who was awarded an OBE in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to television, said:

"It's always a joy to go home - but to go back to Paisley to receive a doctorate feels like I finally made it. I feel very honoured, and more importantly very happy."

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland, said:

“Steven is quite simply one of the country’s greatest screenwriters and through his work on both the small and big screen he has brought joy to millions of viewers worldwide. He is a further example of success from our wonderful town of Paisley in a long line of truly successful people brought up in the town.  Steven is great role model for anyone, not just our students, and demonstrates that your path in life will be determined by your own passion for the things you believe in and that anyone can have success if they work hard. Steven is a hugely deserving recipient of this Honorary Doctorate and we are delighted to honour him in his home town.”

[Source: UWS]

 

WARNING: American Auction Featuring Cyberman Helmet

DWO are issuing a warning to any Doctor Who fans in the USA considering bidding on a Cyberman helmet, claiming to be from the 1968 episode 'The Wheel In Space', in today's 'Profiles In History, Hollywood 83' auction.

The auction catalogue is claiming the helmet was screen used in the serial, but having researched the item, and sought expert advice from prop making guru's JBReplicas, DWO understand this to not be the case. If you look closely at the helmet being sold at the auction (image to the right), you will see the chin of the cyberman is pointy, as well as various discrepancies for the eye and mouth holes. Below this we have included an image from the cyberman used in the actual episode, and, as you can see, it is completely different.

We have included the official description for the lot (via Invaluable), below:

"968. Doctor Who screen used “Cyberman” helmet from the 1968 episode “Wheel in Space.” (BBC-TV, 1963-1989) One of the earliest versions of the Cybermen, the fearsome cyborgs in the Doctor Who universe. Constructed of fiberglass and painted silver to appear like metallic alloy. Following its use in the 1968 episode “Wheel in Space,” the BBC repurposed this helmet for personal appearance exhibitions in the early 1970s by adding metal mesh behind the eyes and mouth to hide and protect the actor in the suit. The clear acrylic “handlebars” were repurposed and replaced with plastic replacements. The back plate (held in place with putty during the production) is missing. Otherwise, in vintage fine condition. This helmet was donated by the BBC to The Doctor Who Experience in Llangollen, Wales where it was exhibited for several years; after which is was sold at Christie’s South Kensington 9 December 1999, lot 49. $15,000 - $20,000" 

The head, if sold, could fetch between $15,000-$20,000, but if this turns out (as we strongly believe) to not be a screen-used helmet, the actual figure which it is worth is between £150-£200!

DWO have contacted Profiles In History for comment... 

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[Sources: DWO; Julian Vince; JBReplicas; Invaluable]


 

Doctor Who Magazine – Issue #501 – Cover & Details

Doctor Who Magazine have sent DWO the cover and details for Issue 501 of DWM.

Following the spectacular 500th issue, Doctor Who Magazine is continuing its celebrations with an issue dedicated entirely to Tom Baker and the Fourth Doctor’s era of Doctor Who. 

Tom Baker: The Ultimate Interview is an extravaganza split into several gripping parts, in which Tom talks about life, death and, of course, Doctor Who…

"Life is too short to be dull. Be interesting. Because not very much else matters does it? In large areas of our lives, hardly anything matters at all. I mean, nothing can beat being with loving friends, and a few wines, and a few beers, and a few lies, and a few yarns. And to still be adored after 40-odd years… yeah that’s the life. Maybe I’m the longest-serving actor, in the whole history of actors, who’s actually still, 40-odd years later, adored for the same part and enjoying it in the same way. When I get sent messages from middle-aged men… or from the wives of middle-aged men, who say, ‘Tell Mr Baker he cannot imagine how important he was to my beloved husband when he was a boy’… it moves me deeply to think about it. I was just going to work. I didn’t know, to begin with, how far-reaching this role would be. I was aware of the excitement, and the generosity, and the affection of the fans, but how could I ever have dreamed of all this?" 

The interview extravaganza is split into seven gripping parts: The Unbreakable Tom Baker, The Insatiable Tom Baker, The Impeccable Tom Baker (with June Hudson), The Irrepressible Tom Baker, The Unstoppable Tom Baker (with Louise Jameson, John Leeson and Geoffrey Beevers), The Unforgettable Tom Baker and The Irreplaceable Tom Baker.

Also featured in the magazine is Part One of brand-new comic strip The Pestilent Heart, an extended Gallifrey Guardian reporting on the latest news from the set of the new series, and DWM’s issue 500 celebrations, competitions and the much-anticipated Cave of 500 Eyes answers.

The collectable souvenir edition, available from 30th June and priced £5.99, comes in a polybag containing four amazing art cards, two classic mini-posters, and a massive multi-Doctor poster.

**Anyone interested in purchasing signed prints of Tom Baker, as seen in this issue, can do so via the photographer for the issue; Legend Studios - www.theworldoflegend.com

+  Doctor Who Magazine Issue #501 is out on Today, priced £5.99.
+  Check Out The DWO Guide to Doctor Who Magazine!

[Source: Doctor Who Magazine]

Doctor Who Magazine Celebrates Tom Baker

Doctor Who Magazine 501Doctor Who Magazine 501Following the spectacular 500th issue, Doctor Who Magazine is continuing its celebrations with an issue dedicated entirely to Tom Baker and the Fourth Doctor’s era of Doctor Who.

Tom Baker: The Ultimate Interview sees Baker talks about life, death and, of course, Doctor Who…
Life is too short to be dull. Be interesting. Because not very much else matters does it? In large areas of our lives, hardly anything matters at all. I mean, nothing can beat being with loving friends, and a few wines, and a few beers, and a few lies, and a few yarns. And to still be adored after 40-odd years… yeah that’s the life.

Maybe I’m the longest-serving actor, in the whole history of actors, who’s actually still, 40-odd years later, adored for the same part and enjoying it in the same way. When I get sent messages from middle-aged men… or from the wives of middle-aged men, who say, ‘Tell Mr Baker he cannot imagine how important he was to my beloved husband when he was a boy’… it moves me deeply to think about it.

I was just going to work. I didn’t know, to begin with, how far-reaching this role would be. I was aware of the excitement, and the generosity, and the affection of the fans, but how could I ever have dreamed of all this?
The interviews are split into seven parts, The Unbreakable Tom Baker, The Insatiable Tom Baker, The Impeccable Tom Baker (with June Hudson), The Irrepressible Tom Baker, The Unstoppable Tom Baker (with Louise Jameson, John Leeson and Geoffrey Beevers), The Unforgettable Tom Baker and The Irreplaceable Tom Baker.

Also featured in the magazine is Part One of brand-new comic strip The Pestilent Heart, an extended Gallifrey Guardian reporting on the latest news from the set of the new series, and DWM’s issue 500 celebrations, competitions and the much-anticipated Cave of 500 Eyes answers.

The souvenir edition, available from 30 June and priced £5.99, comes in a polybag containing four art cards, two classic mini-posters, and a multi-Doctor poster.

Doctor Who Magazine 501 is on sale from Thursday 30 June 2016, price £5.99.

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen

Wednesday 6th July sees the release of Titan’s hotly anticipated special Doctor Who crossover event comic starring the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors.

Written by Cavan Scott (Ninth Doctor, Vikings) and George Mann (Eighth Doctor, Dark Souls), with art by Alessandro Vitti (Avengers Arena), Ivan Rodriguez (Doktor Sleepless), Walter Giovanni (Red Sonja) and Nicola Righi (Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor), Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen is a spectacular five-part, bi-weekly adventure featuring one of the Doctor’s most iconic foes – the Cybermen - who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.

As well as starring the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors, the series also features their comic companions – Gabby, Cindy, Alice, Rose (Billy Piper) and Captain Jack (John Barrowman)!

Issue #1 is available in stores and on digital platforms on Wednesday, July 6th 2016, supported by Titan’s third annual Doctor Who Comics Day event.

This year’s global Doctor Who Comics Day event on Saturday, July 9th, is set to be even bigger than previous years with new comics and collections, merchandise, variant covers, signings, and events across the globe at comic shops, bookstores, libraries, and on digital platforms.

For more information visit: DoctorWhoComicsDay.com

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the CybermenDoctor Who: Supremacy of the CybermenDoctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen
For the Cybermen’s 50th-anniversary… YOU WILL BE DELETED!

Exiled from Gallifrey at the very end of Time, Rassilon, fallen leader of the Time Lords, has been captured by the last of the Cybermen. Now the Cybermen have access to time travel. With it, every defeat is now a victory. Every foe is now dead — or Cyberized. Titan Comics’ 2016 Doctor Who event — and the biggest Doctor Who story of the year — begins here!
The debut issue comes with five variant covers to collect: an art cover by series artist Alessandro Vitti, a photo cover by Will Brooks, a cool Cybermen variant by Fabio Listrani, a blank sketch variant, and a fun coloring variant.