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1.2 - Judoon in Chains >

1.1 - Fallen Angels

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Classic Doctors, New Monsters - Volume 1
7.9
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Reviewed By: KamelionReview Date: 5/8/19 4:46 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Released July 28th, 2016

Location : Rome
Dates : 1511 & 2015

To match one of New Who's best villains with classic Who's Peter Davison was one of the best ideas Big Finish ever came up with. They took a genius concept and didn't stop with the greatness of just the idea, they followed through with this slam dunk of an outstanding start to this new series of classic Doctors with modern monsters. One might think that the Weeping Angels would be a difficult antagonists to portray with just audio but it sure did work out perfectly fine. In the beginning when the angels were fed a couple on their honeymoon (yes, fed to the Weeping Angels) it was extremely obvious what just happened with the perfect slam of a sound where you just knew. They were sent back to 1511. BF uses the same sounds as the TV episodes so if you have seen the TV episodes first that is going to be a great help and pretty much all that is needed prior for an optimal listening experience.

Enter Michelangelo. So Big Finish didn't want to stop with just a classic Doctor with a new era monster. They had to make it an historical with this colourful character. Michelangelo as performed by Matthew Kelly was a crazy fun treat which will put this BF story down in history simply due to Michelangelo, whom The Doctor just so happens to consider the greatest artist of all time.

So if the scales had to tip one way or the other; Is this more new who or classic who? Did we go back to the Peter Davison era of #5 in feel or have we come forward to the new who treatment? New who for sure. This is as if Peter Davison is now in new who as he has become modern to 2015 complete with his knowledge of current technology. Oddly this story feels as if it could have been done with Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi or Jodie Whittaker.

While this story is a single hour long episode it felt to me as if it were two parts as the second half ramps up in complexity and change in the same way that back to back episodes in teh 1980's episodic format can feel very different. Big Finish pulled out their talents here just showing how well they can do Who while being true to Who yet innovative at the same time and even in this case somewhat celebratory.

Fairly soon I will have finished listening to every Big Finish story with Peter Davison and that will mark the first Doctor I have completed out of their entire catalog. This episode or story rather has a different feel to it than any other Peter Davison dramas that I have heard. This leaves in in huge hopes that there will be more of these box sets but that is not looking good right now at the time of this writing. This was released as part of four stories in the Classic Doctors New Monsters Volume 1 in summer of 2016. Another four stories were released as a box set in the Classic Doctors New Monsters V2 in summer of 2017. I have listened to all eight of these and love them all. Big Finish has skipped summer of 2018 and now here it will be summer of 2019 in just a few weeks. So that is not looking good for any possible future of Classic Doctors New Monsters. Pray for it I guess.

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Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 4/9/17 12:07 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

When Big Finish confirmed they had the new series license, one of the first audio box sets they announced was Classic Doctors, New Monsters: a set of audio dramas that team up the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Doctors with a monster from the new series of Doctor Who. For the fifth Doctor, Big Finish Productions opted for arguably the most iconic of the new series' creations: the Weeping Angels. A strange choice for audio given that they are silent creatures...

Fallen Angels sees honeymooning couple Joel (Sacha Dhawan) and Gabby Finch (Diane Morgan) visit the Sistine Chapel in Rome, where they meet the Doctor (Peter Davison) and a Weeping Angel that sends the pair back in time to 1511 Rome. Gabby encounters the Doctor again, only he can't remember meeting her as it hasn't happened for him yet. Joel meanwhile finds himself in the workshop of Michelangelo (Matthew Kelly) who has been commissioned by the priest to carve an Angel free.

What's brilliant about this story is how Big Finish have decided to make the plot as timey wimey as possible. To me the quintessential Weeping Angel story given their ability to send people back in time is one that uses time travel almost as a character in its own right rather than just as a means to get the Doctor and characters from A to B. Everything you would expect from a time travel Doctor Who story with the Weeping Angels is there: the Doctor meeting people out of order, previous supporting characters returning as old men having lived a long life after being sent to the past by a Weeping Angel, jokes about future inventions that are accidentally invented in the past (in this case, sandwiches - although the Doctor claims he invented them first). Writer Phil Mulryne understands exactly what makes a Weeping Angel story work and you can see why Big Finish opted to hire him for this story.

I know any Doctor Who fans on here who haven't listened to this will be asking if the Weeping Angels work on audio. Well, it does take a while for the audio story to work out exactly how to use them effectively without the need of visual aid but by the final act you forget any notion that the Weeping Angels might not work in an audio drama. Sounds of the Weeping Angel's movements from the TV Series are used extremely well and act as good indicators of what would be occurring on-screen without the need of endless exposition. In fact, there's hardly any exposition to speak of here. The geniuses at Big Finish don't need it. The most expositional dialogue is along the lines of 'It's pointing at me'; the rest only requires you to listen.

One thing other than the Weeping Angels that this story takes from the new series is the 'celebrity historical', where the Doctor and 'companions' (or in this case, the honeymooning couple) meet a historical celebrity from the past whom the Doctor happens to be a fan of. Only in this case it's Joel who is the fanboy. This is a good decision by Big Finish and Phil Mulryne as it makes it feel like a new series story told with a classic series Doctor (exactly what these box sets should be about). Matthew Kelly does such a good job at portraying Michelangelo too. He's a real coup for Big Finish and probably one of their best supporting actors so far. Disappointingly none of the characters get to say 'Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be....'

The main problem with this story comes from the writing's portrayal of the fifth Doctor. For some reason Peter Davison's Doctor here appears more like Matt Smith's eleventh. It feels odd hearing Peter Davison as the Doctor making blokey jokes about data roaming and I would have preferred to have heard a characterisation more faithful to the classic series interpretation of his Doctor (such as in the excellent Mutant Phase). Bar the final line that cheekily hints at the 10th and 11th Doctor's use of the phrase 'timey wimey', Fallen Angels is a story where you could easily swap the fifth Doctor for the eleventh and it would work much better. Especially when the main supporting characters of this release are extremely similar to a certain other husband and wife duo.

I'm talking, of course, about Amy and Rory. Joel and Gabby bare a few similarities to the 11th Doctor's popular companion duo. Both are extremely loyal, have an ever-lasting love and affection for one another and will do whatever it takes to stay together. Joel, like Rory, is the awkward one of the pair (although to be fair his love of art and culture means he acts significantly different after the initial shock than Rory would around Michelangelo) whilst Gabby has the childlike innocence that Amy would often possess in the latter's fairytale-esque wonder and idolisation of the Doctor. Just like Amy and Rory their affection for one another is a big part of who their characters are. It's a shame that this story couldn't have been kept back for a potential future 11th Doctor full cast audio drama release as it doesn't feel much like a fifth Doctor story.

Overall, Fallen Angels is an excellent first instalment in the Classic Doctors, New Monsters series but unfortunately suffers from poor characterisation of the fifth Doctor and supporting characters who feel incredibly similar to Amy and Rory. The Weeping Angels are surprisingly effective on audio however and the decision to make the first Big Finish Weeping Angel story a timey wimey one is a strong one. Even if it doesn't feel like a Peter Davison story, thanks to the celebrity historical aspect it does feel like a new series story told with a classic series Doctor. Matthew Kelly is perfect as Michelangelo and it would be nice to hear him return to Big Finish again. Fallen Angels may not be the strongest fifth Doctor release but it does prove that the Weeping Angels absolutely can work on audio.
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Reviewed By: Queen DragonReview Date: 1/17/17 11:02 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

I am still a bit uncertain about the logic of the earlier Doctor encountering the Angels, but gave up trying to work it out and suspended disbelief, because I so much wanted to hear what Davison's Doctor did with them. The technical challenges of making the angels work for audio were well-handled, Peter Davison was great, and the story was entertaining, though I found it hard to invest much emotion in the companions or their fate (can we please have an angels story without a couple?).
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Reviewed By: JacobzReview Date: 10/7/16 9:54 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Davison seems to thrive handling this new monster, and he does well in the hour-long format. The side characters are all pretty good, but one or two are lackluster. Cool sound design, and the angels are utilized in a really cool way in audio.

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