Big Finish Productions has, since 1999, had the license from the BBC to make Doctor Who audio plays. Big Finish has turned this into a gold mine. They have created new stories for the five remaining classic Doctor Who actors (Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann) and for many of the remaining companions as well. New companions for the Doctor have been created, old characters have been given new spinoff series, and the Whoniverse has been explored and expanded unbound by visual effects. The BBC seems to be quite pleased by Big Finish. Not only were the Eight Doctor’s Big Finish companions named-checked in “The Night of the Doctor,” their license has been extended til 2020.
However, one area has been verboten. The BBC has made any reference to the new Doctor Who series off limits. So no Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, or Twelve Doctors or any of the new companions, monsters, or events can be used in any Big Finish production.
Big Finish has announced several new series featuring big chunks of the new Doctor Who universe such as a new UNIT series starring Jemma Redgrave as UNIT head Kate Stewart and Ingrid Oliver as UNIT scientist/Doctor Who fangirl Osgood as they battle the Nestene Consciousness and its plastic Auton foot soldiers. Also, Torchwood comes back from the dead with John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness. No word yet on what Torchwood will be facing as that is still classified. Another character coming back from the beyond is River Song, played by the enticing Alex Kingston. In Doctor Who: The Diary of River Song, She will be meeting the Eight Doctor played by Paul McGann… in fashion that could be called… somehow… timey whimey, I guess? Ever wonder how Winston Churchill got to know the Doctor so well that the prime minister could call the TARDIS direct line? You will find out in Doctor Who: The Churchill Years, Ian McNeice reprising his role from Victory of the Daleks. Churchill will share his encounters with the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors where they battle threats from across the Channel and beyond the stars. Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters is where classic Doctors face some of the monsters from the new series suck as the Fifth Doctors facing the Weeping Angels and the Seventh Doctor dealing with the Sycorax.
With all these new series as well as the other material they have to play with like The Prisoner, Blake’s 7, The Survivors, Dark Shadows, The Avengers, and more, Big Finish might be at a loss for what to produce next.
Just in case, fortunately, I have a few suggestions…and my rates are reasonable.
1. The Paternoster Gang. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that the Silurian Madame Vastra, the human Jenny Flint, and the Sontaran Strax aren’t part of the Big Finish New Who line. Now, Steven Moffat has said that he nixed the idea of the BBC making a spin-off show due to his other commitments…but surely he knows that Big Finish would give the Gang the treatment they deserve. Hell, Dan Starkey (Strax) has already been a Sontaran on several Big Finish audios, so he can show the others where the studio is. The other reason may be that Big Finish produces another series featuring Victorian sleuthing. Well, yes…that one, but I’m talking about Jago & Litefoot, a series based on the two characters that assisted the Doctor and Leela during The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are a delight as investigators of infernal incidents…but London is a big city. Surely there is enough supernatural and super-scientific crime to go around. Think of the crossover potential!
2. Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Now I know some are you are thinking that Kolchak already got a remake back in 2005. I’m suggesting that Big Finish make a good remake. I know it will not be easy to find someone to replace Darren McGavin as intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak, but there are good actors who can recreate his doggedness and wise-cracking nature. Even better, due to the audio format, you can easily reproduce that wonderful 70s sleaziness without having to spend the money to bring it to Mad Men levels. Of course, keeping it in the 70s removes the problem of cell phone use and researching through Google. Kolchak will still have to find odd experts of the oddness to figure out what’s he is dealing with. With more creative freedom, you can play with the formula and expand both Kolchak’s character and the world he lived in. Big Finish has done a great job bringing back the cult supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows so this seems like a natural.
3. Warehouse 13. I think we can all agree that the last season of Warehouse 13 was a rushed affair with the whole Myka/Pete relationship shoved down our throats. However, the series as a whole has some great characters and really made some effort to go into the history of their artifacts. It even had one of the best “reset button” plot devices ever in Ferdinand Magellan’s astrolabe. Now, with the audio format, you do lose the beautiful prop work that the show used to recreate various artifacts through the ages. That would be more of a challenge to Big Finish than a hindrance. Bringing back the cast wouldn’t be that much of a problem either. Audioplays don’t take as much time to record as it takes to film a TV episode. Usually a Big Finish Doctor Who story takes about two or three days, depending on the script. Even if Joanne Kelly, Eddie McClintock, Allison Scagliotti, Saul Rubinek, and CCH Pounder have regular series or movie work, I’m sure they could they could find a couple of weeks to get together and “snag it, Bag it, and tag it”.
4. The Sandbaggers. OK, this one is a little obscure, just go with me on this. The Sandbaggers was an ITV series about an elite group of British agents in MI6 who would go out into the field for dangerous, sensitive, vital missions to safeguard British interests and democracy. This was as far away from James Bond as you could get: no gadgets, no beautiful women, and no glamour. It was more concerned with with budget cuts, scheming co-workers, and playing politics along with the Great Game. The head of Operations, Neil D. Burnside, was a hard headed, callous, ruthless cold warrior who tried to keep his team operational but didn’t bat an eye when sometimes a Sandbagger didn’t come back. The show abruptly ended when the creator and head writer Ian Mackintosh was presumably lost when his aircraft disappeared over Alaska. Now, this show is a bit more gritty than the usual Big Finish fare but it would make for some fabulous drama. The show ended just before the Cold War heated up a few notches and before the Falklands War. Burnside would probably be happy with the Thatcherite revolution in foreign policy and the budget increases given to his department. But with the CIA becoming more gung-ho and demands on his team becoming more frequent and dangerous, Burnside might find himself in the uncomfortable role as the voice of restraint. With the critical success of FX 80s Cold War drama, The Americans, this might be an opportunity for Big Finish to start a more adult line.
5. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. Let’s be honest: who doesn’t want to hear about the exploits of a physicist/neurosurgeon/test pilot/rock musician/adventurer and his merry band of scientists/rock band/sidekicks? You could layer the satire and comedy on deep with this remake and Big Finish could go balls to the walls nuts with this. The movie had a jet car that could pass through solid objects, extra-dimensional alien Rastafarians, other extra-dimensional aliens running a defense contractor, and the possible end of world. Insanity is part of the formula. And we were promised that Buckaroo Banzai would fight the World Crime League. Maybe Peter Weller could hold off on studying Italian Renaissance art for a couple of weeks to reprise his role and record?
So what do you guys think would be good actors to fill in for the original actors not available to lend their voices? Any properties you want to add to the list? Know anyone at Big Finish and feel like passing this along to them? Feel free to use out comments. Also, share Needcoffee to all your friends. They will love you and think you are a good person. We already know that, but it can only help to spread this knowledge around.