back in the long hot summer of nineteen ninety whatever-it-was. The
excitement. The anticipation. Those striking full-page adverts in DWM.
Doctor Who was back, and such was the hype and hysteria, that audio
sounded an almost better medium than telly for it return to.
In the end, "Sirens" wound up as, oddly enough, a fairly unpopular
release. The alarm bells were ringing at the time when they decided to do
a multi-Doctor story first, but we quite fairly put that down to the over
excitement of a group of fans appearing professional enough to blag the
keys to the toy shop, even if they were clearly not going to politely
decline to play merry havoc with all the fun things inside. Happily,
"Sirens" is now regarded as a false start, the indulgence blip before the
"quality" of stories like "Phantasmagoria" and "The Marian Conspiracy" set
in. Originality and some good old historicals are what we wanted, and we
got them once "Sirens" had been got out the system.
Which is odd, considering that in many ways it stands as a typical
template for everything that would follow. Look at it, in all it's
well-meaning, exciting, terrible glory. All Big Finish is here. There are
lots of Doctors, a mystical cult, a time paradox, some awful acting, a
woman playing three parts, Gallifrey, a Seventh Doctor we don't remember
and Nick Briggs does everything. With hindsight, everything individually
has the potential to be great but we could have done without getting it
all at once. It's like a sampler for what they could do, a "Now That's
What I Call Big Finish" compilation album as a first release. And everyone
knows "Now" albums are a hollow pleasure, cheap thrills enjoyed in the
belief that proper long players are easily substituted for a quick
run-through of the best singles.
Splitting the story between all three Doctors was a bold move. Perhaps it
can be seen as generosity outweighing common sense? Certainly one can now
see the commercial benefits of keeping the momentum going over three
months of new Doctors, rather than just one. But in rewarding us with this
big sticky cake of an adventure, we were also robbed of a few other
treats; a rounded story for one, character progression for another. This
story would act as a good idea for future purchasers of how a number of
stories would be seasoned, "The Apocalypse Element", "Land of the Dead",
maybe even "Zagreus" with its indigestible Time Lord-adled conclusion.
Perhaps that was the idea. But weren't we always going to buy them all
We were pleased. But then, who isn't pleased, if not rapturous, to be
given a "Now" CD as a birthday present? It's a safety-net gift, containing
little depth but which is bound to contain something to please everyone.
They probably figured it couldn't fail.
Part 1 - Tracks 1-6
Part 2 - Tracks 7-11
Part 3 - Tracks 1-5
Part 4 - Tracks 6-11