Monday, 25 June 2018

Terror of the Zy-Gougers

Some time ago now, Big Finish Productions - purveyors of fine audio dramas, principally based on licensed 'cult' properties - decided to let the first fifty of their Doctor Who audio dramas go out of print (continuing to sell them as downloads). Obviously, despite how cheap the downloads are, a fair number of Who fans do like physical media, and this means second-hand CD copies of all 50 plays have been subjected to considerable amounts of price gouging online, but exactly how much chiefly seems to depend on the quality and content of the stories.

Nowhere is this more apparent than The Chimes of Midnight, widely hailed as one of the best Doctor Who stories in any medium, which will now set you back more than five times as much as its price when it was originally released in 2002! (All prices given are correct as time of writing...) Another highly regarded story, Spare Parts (the 'Genesis of the Cybermen' story, which went on to inspire their return in the TV series in 2006) will cost you nearly £50.

Stories which are less well thought of, or have less of a 'hook', fare a bit better - several of them, such as The Rapture, can be yours for a mere £10, slightly cheaper than it was when it was first released. You do get the occasional anomaly, though - Jubilee, a highly-acclaimed Dalek story by popular writer Robert Shearman which was loosely adapted for the TV series, is only slightly more expensive to buy now than it would have been when it was new. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how fan opinion sways these prices in the vast majority of cases.

(Wouldn't it be nice if BF combated this with some limited-edition reissues of some of the most badly affected stories? Next year is the 20th anniversary of Doctor Who at Big Finish, so it'd be the perfect opportunity! The first few stories all used the Pertwee theme rather than era-specific ones due to rights issues, so it'd be a great chance to correct that, and even do some new behind-the-scenes features given BF didn't start doing those until 2007... Go on, you know you want to, BF.)

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Starlight Adventures

It's the mid-1980s, adventure gamebooks are at the height of their fame, and the place to go to get the original and the best is Puffin Books, the publishers of Fighting Fantasy.

Such was the concept's popularity that Puffin also published some rather curious offshoots: series that were not part of Fighting Fantasy, but looked a bit like them. They all had the 'ADVENTURE GAMEBOOKS' banner (sometimes referred to as the "sawtooth" design), the same basic cover design, and they all looked pretty similar internally... but they weren't actually part of the Fighting Fantasy banner. One of these was the Cretan Chronicles, which I have expressed my distaste for in an earlier article. Another was the Starlight Adventures - a series of gamebooks aimed at girls.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Long Reads #3

Time for the periodic roundup of the best of the blog over the last few months, I think, especially since over the summer there's a possibility I might not be able to post a new thing every week. Sorry about that.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Just Ask For South By South East... Yet Again

You know, it's really quite difficult to find pictures to illustrate an article about a television series from which no footage or still pictures are known to exist.
Way, way back in the mists of time of, erm, six months ago, I went on the trail of an incredibly obscure CITV series based on Anthony Horowitz's Diamond Brothers books, and was soon able to confirm that it did actually exist.

A few months later, on the Red Dwarf fansite Ganymede & Titan, I am one of the several people coming up with several thousand ridiculous ideas for episodes of Red Dwarf that are mostly puns on titles of existing episodes. The Diamond Brothers film and television series somehow come up in the course of that, and it turns out forum member bloodteller knows someone who saw it and has quite a lot of interesting information about it! Thanks to him for giving me permission to reproduce what he wrote here (here's a link to his original post).

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Lost in N-Space

The Summer of 1993: A brand new, fully dramatised Doctor Who radio drama, The Paradise of Death, is recorded and broadcast in five weekly parts on Radio 5 - the first new 'proper' Who made by the BBC since Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred went to find cities made of smoke and people made of song in December 1989. It stars Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney, and was written by the producer of Pertwee's television era, Barry Letts. Letts went on to novelise the story for Target Books the following year. (I'm going somewhere with all this, don't worry.)