This is the ninety sixth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Sylvester McCoy as a companionless Seven, and has welcome guest appearances from Philip Jackson (who really should do more of these!) and Susannah Yorke. Episodes are roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are also some excerpts of the music track on the end of disc one, and interviews with cast and crew at the end of disc 2.
This is an excellent production from Big Finish. It's a tale that just keeps you slightly off balance for the whole run time, just as soon as you think you have a handle on it, it changes again. A companionless Seventh Doctor arrives in Valhalla, an earth colony on Jupiter's moon Callisto. The Doctor is feeling his years (I get the feeling it is set well after his association with Ace and Hex, towards the end of this regeneration) and appears to be looking to settle down and retire from his peripatetic life. But Valhalla has problems, and it seems that only the Doctor can help. But was it his plan all along?
I love this characterisation of the older, weary Doctor. So far removed from the pratfalling twerp who emerged in Time and the Rani. McCoy plays it with just the right note of seen it all, done it all melancholia coupled with a menacing and dark undercurrent. When called upon to give the Doctor depth rather than just bellowing `Haaaaace' all the time he can really deliver, and gives one of his top ten performances here. Of especial note is a scene where he observes someone finding the body of a friend, and he has to convince himself to care and help. It's dark, and works very well.
There's a cracking story here, fleshed out by star turns by Philip Jackson and Susannah Yorke among others. The direction is tight, and the audio production really excellent. Right up there with the production of the Gathering. There is always something going on, more often than not just a constant slight scratching that suggests insects scuttling around in the skirting boards. It's really well done.
In all 5 stars for this excellent production. Dark, unsettling, with a great performance from McCoy. It's a joy.
As is Big Finish's now established custom, there are bonus interviews with cast and crew at the end of the second disc. There are some musical cues at the end of the first disc. To be honest these don't do much for me, but some might enjoy them. The interviews are better than those on earlier releases as both interviewer and interviewees get the hang of it.