TinDogPodcast reviews: #DoctorWho Main Range 239 Ironbright from @bigfinish the most Steampunk story to come out of BF in ages. A psudo-historical with knobs on. A superb story from the brilliant author of #TheMiddle.
I thoroughly enjoyed that as well. (Perhaps I might have enjoyed it a little bit more if I'd brushed up on the history involved a bit beforehand as I seemed to have a poor sense of how much history was in danger of being changed at any particular point, which is of course in no way the story's fault).
Not only did Iron Bright seem commendably inventive, but consistently so (wow!) with notably good use of characters (as well as the inclusion of some pleasantly likable ones), admirably moralistic (and generally skillful and creative about it) - oh, and did we mention it's also a thrilling historical?
I have to agree with others here that Iron Bright is a great story.
I really enjoyed Iron Bright. I've taken to not reading up on what a lot of BF releases' synopsis are before listening so I can be surprised more so I was quite happy to get a celebrity historical. Isambard Brunel is someone I know quite a bit about from school but his father not so much. It was interesting to have this genius seen through the prism of his father's work too. I think it shows that Chris did his homework or knows the players and era well as it sounded a lot more authentic than some BF historical pieces. The devil is, indeed, in the detail.
Chris Fairbanks accent though...not today, thank you. His performance was fine though - and I'm always happy to have Auf Wiedershen Pet alumni on board.
I'm on record as saying that Chris Chapman writes a fantastic Who story but for me he's now 3/3 in his main ranges. Really terrific and I can't wait to see what he does next.
Maybe I was just imagining it, but man did this one ever feel long. That's just an observation though, not a criticism.
This was a really rich, engaging story. The story was interesting both in premise and execution, the world(s) were beautifully realized, and the characters were richly fleshed-out and believable. Really good stuff, all around.
For some reason, possibly the new design of the packaging, this felt for me as a 'new direction' release. It is an ideal 'jumping on' story for the new/casual listener and is equally well suited for regular listeners and/or subscribers. With the move away from 'linked' trilogies of individual Doctors, this felt like the start of a new approach. Whilst the same could have possibly been said about Lure of the Nomad, I think this story does this far better - no new 'companions' with 'backstories', no real references to the past and the use of the new series logo. How ironic that the Sixth Doctor should be used - just shows how successful Baker (and Big Finish) have been in rehabilitating this, much maligned, incarnation.
OK - what about the story? I found this enjoyable and interesting. I agree with the previous post about the length of the story - it does feel much longer than other released, but in a positive way. The characterisation is good here and the main cast is well developed/sketched out. As ever, Baker is excellent and gives a great performance as the Sixth Doctor. Pity, as always, that this is a side we never saw on the TV. With a better story that Lure of the Nomad, Baker is on top form and appears to be really enjoying himself. The Doctor interacts well with all the characters and even though he disapproves of the actions of the antagonist, he isn't shouty or aggressive.
Even though the Doctor is technically travelling 'alone', he soon finds an adoptive companion in Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The relationship between Doctor and new companion an interesting one - Brunel is one of the Doctor's 'heroes' and is someone that he clearly admires/respects. As the Doctor knows the 'outcome' of Brunel's life, he has to tread and fine line between letting Brunel make his own decisions and inadvertently giving him a helping hand. There are a couple of occasions where the Doctor uses phrases and terms that, whilst correct, are anachronistic for Brunel's time. The fact that the Doctor seems to 'trust' Brunel is interesting - especially as he seems to know that Brunel will want to know more about the TARDIS and its origins. Although Brunel and the Doctor make a great pairing I do wonder whether an early nineteenth century gentleman would have been as willing to believe that the Doctor is an alien and/or coped well with the experience of other worlds/realms - perhaps with the colonisation of the world and the expansion of the British Empire, these places would simply be seen as 'other' territories for the Crown. I just think Brunel comes across as a bit too trusting of the Doctor.
I thought the plot was different. The first half was more of a standard 'ghost in tunnel' adventure, with the second more an experience on an alien world. For me, I preferred the first half - the atmospheric tunnels come across well on audio and, having just driven through the said tunnel on a journey back from London, found the history of its construction more appealing. It also shows the strength of having the threat come to Earth - Jon Pertwee's 'Tooting Bec' effect displayed well. The second half reminded me of Conan-Doyle's 'the Lost World' with a military expedition going to find an alien land. I also got a Philip Pullman vibe with the idea of the city that could be seen/accessed from Earth and the different windows between worlds. Similarly, the transfer of material between Earth and the other world (and the effect of this) was also very reminiscent of His Dark Materials. It also reminded me a lot of the Russel T. Davies story The Unquiet Dead and it was good to see the Tributes used as something more than just banal spectres.
Pollution from the Industrial Revolution spilling into the other world and causing damage to be a great plot device. It hits home - especially as London is now suffering from said pollution itself. The fact that the smoke and fumes are damaging the inhabitants serves as a good illustration of the dangers of modernisation. It is done subtly and, like with The Middle, raises an issue without being 'preachy'.
The ending of the story is a good one, with an obvious nod back to Revelation of the Daleks. Possibly there is an avenue here - more adventures with Sixie and Brunel? (HINT, HINT!!)
A very good release, an improvement on Lure of the Nomad. Really enjoyed this one.
I didn't perhaps enjoy this story quite as much as some others, but I think that's more to do with my drifting away from Doctor Who recently (this happens: I'll probably drift back some time soon). Anyway, I thought it was good, solid stuff, nicely written and well-deserving of a relisten at some stage to catch up with some elements I undoubtedly missed. Very nice dialogue and character moments, not least for old Sixie, who seems have been given a little of his old bombast in recent audios. I especially liked his recovering consciousness, and muttering dialogue from an adventure several regenerations ago – a nice throwback to that episode of The Mysterious Planet when he did much the same thing.
Having been looking forward to Christopher Fairbank's involvement, I found his accent hard to take seriously.
The incidental score by Andy Hardwick is the usual incidental score by Andy Hardwick. Kudos to him, though, for not resorting to comedy music when somebody sees the TARDIS interior for the first time. And despite my ongoing quibbles with his musical score(s), his sound design is wonderful.
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