On this episode of THE ALEX SIGSWORTH PODCAST (recorded Monday 6th June 2016), I review Novel Adapatations #6: Damaged Goods.
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Welcome to The Alex Sigsworth Podcast, episode one, for June 2016. Damaged Goods Adapted by Jonathan Morris, from the novel Damaged Goods by Russell T. Davies Starring Sylvester McCoy Hello! This is the first of what will hopefully be many Doctor Who podcasts. I’ve been wanting to do a Doctor Who podcast for a long time now, and it’s come together from me having also wanted to follow Big Finish as well. I considered for a long time doing a podcast about many things, but ultimately I decided to keep it simple by following one thing, which I decided would be Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio dramas. If you haven’t listened to Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio dramas, you really should. They’re basically Doctor Who episodes that you can only hear, not see. But they’re totally portable. With a Big Finish account, you can download any purchases onto any device and listen to them whenever you like. I’ll review any of Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio dramas, but right now, I’m reviewing my own back catalogue, and then I’ll move into others available from Big Finish’s own discography. The only “rule” is that the Doctor has to be in it. Every review I publish will be listed in a playlist for its featured incarnation, for example: Damaged Goods, starring Sylvester McCoy, will be available in the Sylvester McCoy playlist, et cetera. I don’t have the capacity to release one every week, so instead I’m doing them every month, since Big Finish’s main Doctor Who range is also released on every last Thursday of the month, to coincide with publication of Doctor Who Magazine. I bought Damaged Goods on the basis of it being based on Russell T. Davies’ novel, though that novel is still on my To-Read list. Even then, there are many differences in the story content alone. The Damaged Goods novel was written as a Virgin new Adventure, which was targeted toward the adult fans that had grown-up with Doctor Who. The Virgin new Adventures would never be made as episodes given the post-watershed tone; the closest the Doctor Who universe (that’s with a lowercase U, by the way) has come to the Virgin new Adventures on television is Torchwood, which makes sense; Torchwood and Damaged Goods both come from Davies. And the Torchwood Institute does have a presence in the Damaged Goods audio drama, retrospectively - the Damaged Goods novel instead features the Brotherhood of the Flesh, and in adapting the Brotherhood of the Flesh to the Torchwood Institute, certain liberties had to be taken; the Virgin new Adventures were written as prose serials, functioning like a continuing season (a style that Davies introduced to Doctor Who when he relaunched it). So the Damaged Goods novel establishes certain plot strands - like the Brotherhood of the Flesh - that only developed in successive New Adventures books. But the Damaged Goods audio drama has been adapted as a standalone, so the Torchwood Institute is used instead. There are other changes as well, due to Big Finish’s wider listener demographic - while the Virgin novel Damaged Goods explicitly uses cocaine as its substance, the Big Finish audio drama Damaged Goods uses the fictitious “Smile”, which is more sinister, because it doesn’t exist, therefore is more believable as an N-Form compound than something that does exist. The N-Forms are described in more detail in the prose Damaged Goods, whereas the N-Forms are only vaguely described by the Doctor in the audio drama Damaged Goods. Originally, the N-Forms were a remnant from the Time War against the Great Vampires, whereas the N-Form is activated in this account by a signal from an upcoming Time War - in many ways, Damaged Goods, in both media, is a prologue to the New Series, introducing elements that Davies would include in his version of Doctor Who (in the same way that his successor, Steven Moffat, did in the same way with the Virgin short story Continuity Errors, which was published in Decalog 3: Consequences). That’s why Damaged Goods is such a unique work of Doctor Who fiction, in that it’s a prototype for what Doctor Who became in its relaunch. Not narratively - the retrospective references to what will happen in the New Series are new elements written for this audio drama adaptation - but the elements that carried-over - the council estate setting, the sexual themes, the popular culture references and the soap opera tone - makes Damaged Goods a pilot episode in audio form. There’s more story substance in Damaged Goods than in other, more conventional Big Finish releases. And of them all, Damaged Goods feels the most like an episode. Big Finish’s popularity comes from it creating new episodes of old Doctor Who that feels like the era it’s imitating, but with well-written scripts and an almost-unlimited budget. Generally, a lot of what Big Finish does is better than what the British Broadcasting Corporation does. Feeling the most like a Doctor Who episode is to be expected from a story from Doctor Who’s first showrunner. Whether or not that’s a good thing is a different argument entirely... And now for an update from the world of Big Finish: In June 2016, Big Finish brings you The two Masters, the conclusion of a trilogy. In part one, And you Will Obey Me, Peter Davison’s Doctor faced Geoffrey Beevers’ Master. In part two, Vampire of the Mind, Colin Baker’s Doctor faced Alex Macqueen’s Master. In part three, The two Masters, Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor faces Geoffrey Beevers’ and Alex Macqueen’s Master. The two Masters reunites Geoffrey Beevers, who starred as the Master in the television serial The Keeper of Traken, and Alex Macqueen, who was introduced as Big Finish’ original incarnation of the Master in UNIT: Dominion. The two Masters is written by John Dorney and stars Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor.