This is exciting isn’t it? A new box set from Big Finish that introduces the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors to New-Who monsters! The Fifth Doctor against the Weeping Angels, the Sixth Doctor with the Judoon, Seven meets the Sycorax and the Eighth Doctor is amidst the Time War with a new batch of Sontarans. Today, we’re reviewing the first story in this box set, Fallen Angels.
2015: When sightseers Joel and Gabby Finch encounter a strange man in Edwardian cricketing garb in the Sistine Chapel, their honeymoon suddenly takes a terrifying turn.
1511: Michelangelo is commissioned to create some very special sculptures by a mysterious sect. But as he carves, angels seem to emerge fully-formed from the rock. Almost as if they are alive…
From Michelangelo’s workshop to the catacombs of Rome, the Fifth Doctor must keep his wits about him and his eyes wide open as he confronts the Weeping Angels.
Philomena Cunk is in Doctor Who. I should probably clarify for those who aren’t aware, but Philomena Cunk is a character in Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, Yearly Wipe and any other type of Wipe that Charlie Brooker does. If you’re into comedy, I highly recommend you YouTube any of Philomena Cunk’s ‘Moments of Wonder’. She even did a special documentary called ‘Cunk On Shakespeare’. Anyway, Philomena Cunk is played by the brilliant Diana Morgan, and she’s in Fallen Angels!
Sorry about that outburst; I just bloody love Diane Morgan.
We start the story with Joel and Gabby Finch, newlyweds who are on honeymoon and searching for a famous realistic statue of Moses. Whilst breaking the law. Mr. and Mrs. Finch encounter a moving statue and a sinister Spaniard who are seemingly working together. Who knew that the Weeping Angels had partners?
The Fifth Doctor arrives in 1511 to see a young woman trying to use her mobile phone to call for help. Gabby Finch. Ever being the dapper young gentleman, the Doctor sees that Gabby might be in trouble and offers to help. How kind.
It’s not long before Joel too is whisked back in time, again to 1511 but to Michelangelo’s workshop, where the artist is being pressured to hurry up on a commission of a sculpture. I think we all know what that sculpture is going to transpire to be…
Considering just how timey-wimey the Weeping Angels really are, the story itself manages to use the timey-wimeyness to it’s advantage; using flashbacks which are also in a way flashforwards to add to the story. Phil Mulryne has done an incredible job of getting the balance of linear and non-linear aspects both spot on.
Matthew Kelly’s portrayal of Michelangelo is brilliant, and I think that making him rather irrational and unlikable is a genius move; not everyone who has gone down in the annuls of history would have been kind, caring and warm after all.
I was surprised just how quickly Joel and Gabby were reunited, even if it was there understanding of one another that made such a quick reunification possible. The scene where they meet too is absolutely brilliant, the newlyweds passionate kiss in front of the Doctor is downright hilarious, with the Doctor saying that he’s not used to having to witness this kind of thing. Of course, for the listeners, this is very tongue in cheek, as in just a few regenerations, this Time Lord won’t be witnessing the snogging, but will be partaking in the activity. I can see the first seven Doctors shuddering at the thought.
The Fifth Doctors explanation of how the Weeping Angels work is extremely eloquent and yet straight to the point. Normally, I find the expositional scenes in Doctor Who to last slightly too long and feel forced in to bring the listener up to speed with what’s going on, but in this instance, that was not the case at all. To be honest, hearing Peter Davison just say the words Weeping Angels is a treat in itself.
Many of you reading this, especially if you’re reading this before you’ve listened to Fallen Angels, may be wondering how you can make the Weeping Angels work on a purely audio format, as they are based purely on their movement, and, apart from the exception of Angel Bob, they’re all silent. I must confess that I was skeptical when I read the news that Big Finish were going to try and tackle these stone psychopaths, as I didn’t want lots of clunky “Oh look, that statue has moved. It’s getting closer to me. Oh dear!” style lines in the story. Admittedly, there are a few descriptive lines like that to help the listener understand what’s going on, but I think a massive amount of kudos has to go to Howard Carter for overcoming this hurdle brilliantly in this story.
The latter half of Fallen Angels seems to mix Doctor Who with Indiana Jones, with catacombs and secret entrances, a secret sect and flickering flames being utilised to their full potential.*
Considering that the Weeping Angels are in fact beings that look like angels, I must admit that I was surprised when they were seemingly used as a religious deity. Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees. I love being surprised nowadays, it seems to be a rarer and rarer occurrence. Thank you Phil Mulryne!
I never thought that I might have some sense of remorse for a Weeping Angel, but one of the angels has a tragic backstory that made me almost feel sorry for what it had to endure. Almost. Poor angel.
The scene where the Doctor, Gabby, Joel and Michelangelo are left alone in the dark with a Weeping Angel on the loose is brilliantly atmospheric, dark and scary, but I thought that it was far too short to make the Angels seem like a really dangerous threat. Luckily, there’s a similar scene immediately after which is just the right amount of creepy, even if it made Michelangelo into a reluctant Indiana Jones figure.
The conclusion to Fallen Angels is the most bittersweet ending that I can remember Big Finish ever producing. Even if it is lightened by the Fifth Doctor almost mirroring a famous speech that the Tenth Doctor gave to Sally Sparrow all those years in the future. Isn’t time travelling confusing?
Overall, Fallen Angels is an absolutely solid start to the Classic Doctors, New Monsters box set; everyone involved did their jobs brilliantly, and I’m still pleased that Diane Morgan was involved; please can we have her back again? She was brilliant. As was everyone else. It seems kind of moronic writing this, but who knew the Weeping Angels would be their most terrifying when you couldn’t see them? I mean, the whole premise is that if you can see them you’re safe. Well done Big Finish, well done indeed.
*Just after I typed this, Joel comments at how the events are just like Indiana Jones. Great minds think alike!
Should you want to purchase Fallen Angels, it’s currently available as part of the Classic Doctors, New Monsters box set from Big Finish which can be purchased here for £20.00 for either the CD or the download.