ASSESSING STRESS #10: “The Eaters of Light”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

And this time, our roster is full, with Scarves, Scribbles and Tibère all there to answer the call (we’ve been doing some tai chi together through Skype, it is di-vine), along with guest contributor Ruth Long (who has already written for us, go check her stuff out! Also, her Tumblr is that way), aka the Lazy Cat, aka the world’s leading expert on Clara Oswald, aka an all-around awesome person.

Spoilers follow, obviously.

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ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION #6: The Lives of Captain Jack

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle “The Lives of Captain Jack”. A very rich (we wrote more about it than about some TV episodes!), very Marxist, very gay boxset from Big Finish.

 

Spoiler- free verdict

TIBERE: It’s a good set. If you got to take the obvious route and compare it to “Diary of River Song”, it works much, much better. It’s just a solid set with a good handle on Jack’s character, that aims for a collection of very specific, if not very original, storytelling beats and generally nails them pretty well. Really, above all it’s a really lovely homage to the tone of the Davies years, mostly series 1 but not only, with tons of fun little nods and fanservice. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s strong – and very, very thematically cohesive – work that definitely feels at home with Big Finish “fill the storytelling gaps” approach. It’s a lot like the Ninth Doctor Chronicles, that we tackled a couple months ago, that way – a loving and lovely little slice of Who exegesis. Although, maybe it doesn’t quite reach the same kind of heights – nothing too new under the sun. But still, it’s a really nice throwback, and, with two of BF’s best writers at the helm, it’s an ultra-competent, well-paced, really fun ride. I’d recommend it.

SCRIBBLES: I think the term for all this is “extremely competent fanservice.” Your mind will not be blown. You will not be shaken to your core. You won’t hear much that’s really too novel. But what you will hear is very well tailored to what it wants to be, channeling a series 1 tone and some political storytelling to create a pleasant love letter to the character. The format is a bit like “The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure,” really: a tribute to the phases in the life of a character, each showcasing a different aspect of what makes Jack a loveable character and each, while perhaps not saying anything new about him, showcasing the many aspects of his self. If you love Jack and the Russell T Davies era, it’ll be a bit like slipping into something comfortable and familiar from your childhood. It does what Big Finish often does well, a pleasant little nostalgia trip through new stories.

 

Spoilers follow.

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ASSESSING STRESS #9: “Empress of Mars”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

And, in what is starting to feel like a running gag, Scarves is sitting that one out. He was out at a cricket match. Little known fact: he’s actually the Fifth Doctor. I mean, he does have “celery” in his username. That’s a giveaway if ever there is one. But still! We soldiered on, and, for Queen and country (aka Michelle Gomez and the United Nations of Whozistan), we tackled the latest episode of series 10.

But eh, we have a guest! A jack-of-all-trades Who that we are only going to refer to as “Timey-Wimey” here (apparently he has a hit on his head, that’s why, don’t go and ask me, I know jack shit about it).

Spoilers follow, obviously. For both the episode and the fifth series of Game of Thrones, because of a shitty Tibère joke.

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ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION #5: Torchwood, series 3 – “torchwood_ cascade_ CDRip.tor”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things. Spoilers after the “read more” tag!

And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle the latest Torchwood audio, “torchwood_ cascade_ CDRip.tor”

And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle the latest Torchwood audio, “torchwood_ cascade_ CDRip.tor”

And tay, Tibère andribbles tackle e ltest Torcood audio, “torood_ casDRip.tor”

Adtaytreadrblestckleeltestorcoaudiotorood_ sDRp.tr

[critical programm error]

 

Spoiler-free verdict –

TIBERE: It’s a terrific audio. One of the best of an excellent range, really – maybe other episodes hit harder emotionally or have better character development, but this is a serious contender for tightest, best-constructed script so far. It’s complex, and voluntarily hard to approach and listen to, and I can get that it’s not necessarily for everyone, but it does what it does perfectly. It’s a continuity-heavy, meta, weird-ass triumph. And I love it.

SCRIBBLES: “torchwood_cascade_CDRip.tor” keeps up the pattern of this audio series, which is to say, it uses the trappings of Torchwood to tell stories daring and strange and unlike anything else we’ve really seen before. It’s a difficult story to dissect, at the very least on first listen, and builds a lot on the context of previous audios; certainly, some of its structural tricks wouldn’t work without hearing other audios, like “Zone 10“. But for fans of this range so far, you’ve gotta check this one out. It’s continuing to push and provoke with some of the most interesting aspects of Toshiko Sato, already one of the strongest Torchwood characters in my mind, and does inventive and clever things with the format beyond just the storytelling in a way that really makes for a compelling listen. Recommended for sure.

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ASSESSING STRESS #8: “The Lie of the Land”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

And we managed to get the band back together again! Yay us! Scarves came back from the Sahara, and he has started his own religion now, I think, but he managed to come back from us and we had a lovely time meditating together in the astral plane, chatting with the spirit of John Nathan-Turner and all those good things.

Also, we dragged a guest with us! James Kirkland, from Canada, Whovian, and independant writer/director, say hello everyone!

Spoilers follow, obviously.

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ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION #4: UNIT – Assembled

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle the latest UNIT release from Big Finish – Assembled. A tale of ecological activism, overracting lizards, and naked cavemen.

Spoilers follow.

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ASSESSING STRESS #7: “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

Dear diary. Today, Scarves is not here. Apparently he has joined a bunch of monks and has gone on a spiritual enlightenment journey through the Sahara. That’s weird. I hope those were nice monks, not like the ones in that episode. I don’t really know. Anyway, Scribbles and the other guy are here. And there’s also a guest, one of our contributors/readers. I’m not sure he has given a name to us, though. He’s very elusive. So we’re just going to call him the Elusive Whovian for the rest of the talk. That should work. Goodbye, dear diary. I must get back to eating my curry. See you.

Spoilers follow, obviously. For the episode, “Class” and the Da Vinci Code, if you care about the Da Vinci Code. If you do, we’re kind of judging you, tho.

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ASSESSING STRESS #6: “Extremis”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things. And finally, it happened. We got back to a full, four-people crew! Hurray us! Of course we had to extract Scarves from the little hut he had taken shelter in, somewhere near the Balkans, where he was hunting wolves and reading Mitlon, but Tibère had contacts among the French secret service, so it was a pretty smooth ride, all things considered.

And joining us today is David Nirved, writer of Who fanfiction and essays, generally awesome person, and the only hardcore “Fear Her” fan in the world. He’s the one that held Tibbles at gunpoint and forced him to write that article about it, if you recall the oh so old beginnings of this lovely blog. Anyway, let’s dive into it.

Oh, and a random piece of information – we’re going to run an article on the episode’s philosphical themes in the coming days! Stay tuned.

Spoilers follow, obviously. And it should be obvious if you have seen the episode – but be warned that we’re gonna talk about suicide in that talk, so have a content warning.

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ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION #3: The Ninth Doctor Chronicles

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle the new Ninth Doctor boxset from Big Finish, narrated by Nicholas Briggs. The process leading to that post was complex, we can tell you that. Lots of delay. Because of a multitude of reasons, among which a trip to Holland, a bowl full of peas, vicious stairs, a train accident, and capitalism. I know right. Tough times. Anyway, with some hope those two might have some insightful comments. For a change …

Spoilers follow, obviously.

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ASSESSING STRESS #5: “Oxygen”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things. And this week, we’re not late! But unfortunately, our numbers are still down. Scarves, alas, is not here this week. This is not because last week’s couple therapy failed when we discovered the therapist was actually the guru of a zoroastrian BDSM cult that sent a hundred masked assassins mounted on tiny Shetland ponies after him, by the way – no, it’s not that at all, just … life stuff. Yeah, let’s go with that, life stuff. So it’s only Scribbles and Tibbles here. But don’t worry, “Extremis” will normally have us return to a four-person crew.

Still, we managed to get a guest to accompany us on this fine day – dear Thomas Armstrong, who lives in the country of attractive Prime Ministers and elks, also known as Canada. Also she’s writing stuff for us (watch that space, good things comin’, yo – that’s how young people talk, right?), and, when he’s not doing that (and frankly, that’s a bit sad, who needs a life beyond a niche Who fansite?), she 1) dabbles occasionally in fanfiction (http://doctorwhofanfic.weebly.com/the-2017-specials.html ) and 2) co-hosts a blog about journeying with a friend through the Classic series  ( https://thelinearadventuresdoctorwho.wordpress.com/ )

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