Welcome, one and all, to another rousing Big Finishing Move! I’m back again to don my critics cap and delve into the world of Big Finish audio dramas and let you know if a story is worthy investment of your time and money or if your efforts were better spent on things like springing for the the theater with the luxury reclining seats the next time you go to see a movie.
We’re back with the Seventh Doctor again as Doctor Who tries to point at other big sci-fi franchises and call them silly. Let’s see if they can pull that off in Bang-Bang-a-Boom!.
TARDIS Team: The Seventh Doctor and Mel
The Doctor and Mel arrive on a ship with dead bodies and is about to blow up due to a bomb. As they scamper back to the TARDIS they are beamed to the nearby space station Dark Space 8. Mistaken for the new incoming commander the Doctor assumes command of the station as it begins to host the famous-ish Intergalactic Song Contest. As the Doctor and Mel begin to juggle the complex politics and huge egos at work a series of murders begins among the contestants and crew. What is really going on with this contest and who is committing these murders? Can the Doctor and Mel find out in time!
This is Doctor Who having a go at several other sci-fi series, most notably Star Trek as well as the annual Eurovision Song Contest. I knew almost all of the sci-fi references off hand, but I didn’t know about the Eurovision Song Contest until this story including how the title is a play at the song that one it for the UK in 1969, Boom Bang-a-Bang. As I’ve stated before, I enjoy when Doctor Who teaches me about things I didn’t know existed so I found that a welcome treat while listening and doing a little research on this story.
Big Finish strives to deliver stories in the style and tone of that Doctor’s era, and while this is usually something I applaud (although I do wish they were more experimental at times) this practice does this story absolutely no favors. I love the Seventh Doctor, but some of his earliest adventures in which this tale tries to emulate, and let’s not mince words here, sucked. Bang-Bang-a-Boom! isn’t a bad story per se, it just isn’t a particularly good one either. This has parts that are Time And The Rani level writing, which is decidedly NOT a compliment. It feels as if the creators were so sure that what they were doing was novel and funny and too busy laughing at their own jokes to stop and make sure that the comedy worked for anyone else. There is good here, the premise of placing the Doctor into a story normally handled by other other major sci-fi franchises to poke fun at them is a cool idea and there are several well executed jokes. Down side here being that to get to those well placed jabs you need to suffer a flurry of punches that wouldn’t faze Glass Joe.
Now we come to the performances. Look, I’m a true blue sci-fi fan and as such I know that a certain amount of actors hamming it up is par for the course for Doctor Who as well as Star Trek and the other franchises spoofed in this story, in fact I don’t know how you would be able to get into the genre without a love of ham, the problem with the ham in this story is that it has started to go off. I can only conclude that the only character direction most of the actors got was “go as big as possible and all costs do not show any subtlety or nuance”. I understand the need for big broad characters in a comedy like this, I like it that way, but everything is pushed so far it borders on cacophony at points. Case in point I’d like to highlight Jane Goddard as Geri the Pakhar, a large rodent race. Goddard was able to contort her vocals to make Geri’s voice sound exactly what I would think a large alien mouse would sound like. I believed in her character immediately, and then after about five minutes of mousing it up full force on every line it made me want to go invest in mouse traps. These are good actors, but they needed someone to reign them in.
I don’t mean to focus so heavily on the negative, the story isn’t offensive or insulting in any way, it’s just that the bad weighs down the good like an albatross. There is something of value here for those willing to mine for it, but the time and investment to get to those points will prove too much for most. This is something for a particular niche of Who fandom who will probably love this, but unless you are one of those people or a Seventh Doctor completionist know that you can skip this one without a second thought.
Purchase Doctor Who: Bang-Bang-a-Boom! Here:
As you’re still poking about (thank you for reading all the way down here, by the way), why not give the rest of One Of Us a look through and see if you find anything you like. I feel you will be pleasantly surprised by all we have to offer.
Check out my introduction to this series as well as all my previous reviews. Links are below:
Big Finishing Move Special Edition: An Introduction To The Series
Phantasmagoria, The Fearmonger, The Light At The End, The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, Storm Warning, Blood of the Daleks, The Chimes of Midnight, Seasons of Fear, The King of Sontar, White Ghosts, Dark Eyes II, The Crooked Man, Project: Twilight, The Evil One, The Harvest, The Last Of The Colophon, The Council Of Nicaea, Destroy The Infinite, Afterlife, The Abandoned, Zygon Hunt, Revenge Of The Swarm, Philip Hinchcliffe Presents Box Set, Dark Eyes 3, Mask of Tragedy, The Fourth Doctor By Gareth Roberts, The Exxilions, The Darkness of Glass, Dark Eyes IV, Requiem for the Rocket Men, Signs And Wonders, Death Match, Suburban Hell, The Burning Prince, The Cloisters of Terror, The Acheron Pulse, The Fate of Krelos, The Shadow Heart, Return to Telos, The Sixth Doctor – The Last Adventure, Doom Collation I, The Yes Men, The War Doctor: Only The Monstrous, Wave of Destruction, The Labyrinth of Buda Castle, The War Doctor Volume 02: Infernal Devices, Doom Coalition 2, The Paradox Planet, Legacy of Death, The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume 1, Gallery of Ghouls, The Trouble with Drax, The Pursuit of History And Casualties of Time (dual review), Aquitaine, The Peterloo Massacre, Doom Coalition 3, The War Doctor Volume 03: Agents of Chaos, The Beast of Kravenos, Colditz, A Thousand Tiny Wings, Survival of the Fittest, The Architects Of History, Doom Coalition 4, Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures Vol. 2
All images © Big Finish Productions and/or the BBC