Profile for Alaran > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Alaran
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,985
Helpful Votes: 328

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Alaran

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Doctor Who: The Three Doctors
Doctor Who: The Three Doctors
by Terrance Dicks
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Time Lord legend takes on three incarnations of the Doctor, 7 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Through a point of singularity at the centre of a black hole exists an anti-matter world with a sole inhabitant, an entity so powerful that he threatens the entire universe. Not even the Time Lords can stop him and the Doctor faces a foe that he alone cannot overcome. Fortunately though he is not alone as this time there are three Doctors.

The novelisation is more or less what appears on screen. Little is added by Dicks but he does expand considerably on Omega’s world. Most notably the appearance of Omega’s ‘palace’ is given far more detail than ever seen in the programme. There is also a touch more opulence to it and it seems more in tune with Omega’s mood. There is also a description of an immense sacred flame not really visualised on screen. Even Omega’s minions, referred to in the novelisation as ‘blob men’, are given more attention. Here they break apart and reform like a living jelly substance. They also seem one and the same with the anti-matter mass that hunts the Doctor and attacks UNIT HQ.

Despite being called ‘The Three Doctors’ it only really extensively features two of them, leaving the First Doctor in a minor adversary capacity. The advantage of this is that it leads to the main joy of the story, the relationship between the Third and Second Doctors. No one probably understands the characters of the Third and Second Doctors better than Terrance Dicks. Thus, amongst his vast multitude of Target novelsations this is, perhaps, the one he is best suited to write. He captures their petty bickering but begrudging respect for each other perfectly. But then much of this is gained from the scripted dialogue and the adlibs of the actors. Dicks clearly enjoys the interaction between these two Doctors and expands upon it in his later script for ‘The Five Doctors’. Interestingly enough the Doctors are not referred to as the First, Second and Third Doctors. Dicks continues to refer to Pertwee’s version as ‘The Doctor’ whilst Troughton’s oddly becomes ‘Doctor Two’ rather than the Second Doctor. This is supposed to be more from Jo’s viewpoint though and it does seem fitting for her character. The First Doctor meanwhile is generally referred to along the lines of being 'an old man on the screen'.

The story is also notable for its expansion on Time Lord society. In the televised version the ranking between President and Chancellor is fairly vague. However, there is no doubt in the novelisation that the Preseident outranks the Chancellor, which was later clarified in the programme during ‘The Deadly Assassin’. The novelisation also states that this president was one of the three judges that presided over the trial of the Second Doctor. It is an intriguing link to ‘The War Games’.

This is a strong novelisation of a very enjoyable story which contains some of the best dialogue to appear in Doctor Who.


The Exxilons (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
The Exxilons (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new look at the Exxilons, 31 Jan. 2015
Not an explosive of a start as the previous series opener, ‘The King of Sontar’, but it does feature an old monster/alien to good effect.

The Exxilons are hardly an obvious choice for a returning enemy. In their only television appearance, ‘Death to the Daleks’, they were obviously overshadowed by the Daleks. With the exception of Bellal, who proved an enjoyable sidekick for the Third Doctor, they weren’t, perhaps, the most memorable of alien species.

The story is concerned with a technologically superior species exploiting one less advanced; a typical issue of empire and colonisation and a scenario the Doctor can’t help getting involved in. The Exxilons are very different from their television counterparts. Much of what they are and how they behave in this play is derived from the various bits of information Bellal shares with the Third Doctor concerning the history of his people’s civilisation. What we learn about the Exxilons in ‘Death to the Daleks’ is the foundation of this story. Much like in the aforementioned serial where the main threat doesn’t actually come from the Exxilons or the Daleks, the major threat is again the Great City and the Beacon; its vampiric influence reaching far from Exxilon itself.

Due to the nature of audiobooks meaning you can’t actually see the Exxilons there is an attempt made to deceive the audience concerning them. However, most listeners will probably be familiar with ‘Death to the Daleks’ so won’t be fooled for long, if at all.

The adventure must take place sometime after the end of the last series and ‘Zygon Hunt’. K-9 is now accompanying Leela and the Doctor which suggests events have at least moved past ‘The Invisible Enemy’ and the introduction of K-9. It should give the Tardis team a different dynamic for the series. However, K-9 doesn’t really have a vital role in this story which could easily do without his presence.

The story offers a different and viable use of a returning monster, one who, I believe, has not featured in any Big Finish audios before, and only in a couple of novels. Much more is revealed and confirmed about them making the Exxilons a more interesting species. It is for this more than anything else that the play is worth listening to. Best of all there is no cliff hanger involving a ‘scary floor’.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2015 10:06 AM GMT


The Oseidon Adventure (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
The Oseidon Adventure (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Alan Barnes
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Kraals, 28 Jan. 2015
Any suspense that may have been aroused by the cliff hanger at the end of the previous story is a bit wasted considering the title and cover for this audiobook. That aside it is good to see the Kraals eventually return. The Kraals were created by Terry Nation, and though they were no Daleks they are much better than the Vord. So it is a little surprising that they have never been re-used until now.

The Kraals suffer in two ways in this audio. Firstly they have a lot of similarities to the Sontarans, and the play could easily have featured them instead of the Kraals. This is exacerbated by the casting of Dan Starkey (who plays Strax and numerous other Sontarans) as Marshal Grinmal. This issue is acknowledged by the cast and production crew in the extra features that accompany the play but there is, perhaps, little that can be done about it with no visual reference. Besides, my three year old self believed ‘The Android Invasion’ featured Sontarans.

The second issue with the Kraals, and this exacerbates the first, is that they aren’t really the main focus of the story and there is little to distinguish them as a species within it. This is because the Master and the Kraals’ androids are focussed on instead.

This all leads to a lot of messing around with doubles/android duplicates. Similar tricks were used to greater effect in ‘The Android Invasion’ and other Doctor Who stories. After a while it becomes a bit repetitive and irritating. Even so it is amusing to see the Master become a victim of himself.
As this is a Fourth Doctor story this is the decayed version of the Master seeking to replenish himself somehow as he does in both ‘The Deadly Assassin’ and ‘The Keeper of Traken’. Leela’s response to him and later interaction is one of the best aspects of the story. Similar to her experience with the Daleks two stories previous to this, Leela’s mind is not easily possessed.

The play seems to be unnecessarily generous to the extremely right wing Spindleton. The play endeavours to try and make him a sympathetic figure in its latter stages. This feels a little false, however. Throughout this play and the previous he seems a much more willing participant in the Master’s schemes, hoping to benefit from them, rather than a mesmerised victim. The Spindleton/Simpleton running joke also wears a bit thin.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2015 9:37 AM GMT


Trail of the White Worm (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
Trail of the White Worm (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Alan Barnes
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who are the Master's allies?, 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As might be surmised by the title, this story is based upon Bram Stoker’s ‘The Lair of the White Worm’, which is turn was loosely based around the legend of the Lambton Worm. Of course, this being Doctor Who, this is a science fiction version of the legend. The adventure is, therefore, somewhat reminiscent of the Phillip Hinchcliffe era in that it is a fusion of Gothic horror and science fiction; as is Bram Stoker’s own ‘The Lady of the Shroud’.

There are several characters loosely based around those to be found in ‘The Lair of the White Worm’. Demesne is clearly supposed to be the Lady Arabella equivalent whereas the role of Oolanga is usurped by the character Mwalimu. Even without any knowledge of Swahili is quite obvious that this means ‘master’, especially if like me you can’t help but spend the first ten minutes of the play waiting for the word ‘master’ to pop up in another language or in an anagram form. The Doctor and Leela don’t seem to correspond particularly to Stoker’s characters. However, they do sort of fulfil the same purpose/role as the two main protagonists in the film version of ‘The Lair of the White Worm’, one of whom, interesting enough, was played by Peter Capaldi.

The plot works effectively well within the context of loosely basing it around ‘The Lair of the White Worm’. The separation of Leela from the Doctor allows for a more amusing side to the adventure. It leaves the Doctor to amusingly verbally spar with the aristocratic Demesne whilst Leela debates with the imperialistic, right wing Colonel Spindleton, and his tank. Unfortunately the plot suffers a little in lacking some originality when it comes to the Master. Like many Third Doctor serials he is doing his usual, assuming a false name and attempting a dubious alliance with some alien faction.

There is plenty of action and humour throughout, some good sound effects and an imaginative science fiction use of the White Worm. The play also ends on what is perhaps the best cliff hanger of this series. This release and the next, ‘The Oseidon Adventure’, are really the same four part story. So this play doesn’t have an ending as such, which de-values it a little. It might have been better to sell/market it as a four episode serial rather than two separate stories that can’t really work independently of each other.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2015 9:39 AM GMT


Mitosis (Reckoners 1.5)
Mitosis (Reckoners 1.5)
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clone Wars, 25 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
‘Mitosis’ is a short story that takes place between the first two books of The Reckoners series and forms a type of transition between them. After the events of ‘Steelheart’ the city of Newcago is now a different place. Virtually everything in the city may still be converted into metal due to the powers of Steelheart but the population no longer lives under the oppression of a believed to be immortal tyrant. After their recent victory the group of rebels known as the Reckoners are trying to maintain the freedom of the city by vigilantly protecting the city from incursion by other Epics seeking to replace those already deposed. In a way they have become some form of security force that police the metal streets. The Reckoners and the populace no longer live in fear of Steelheart and his allies but in fear of what might replace them. Newcago is a tense city with a tenuous freedom.

The novella focusses on one such incursion, by that of an Epic known as Mitosis. Mitosis, as his name suggests, possesses an ability/power that is based upon some sort of cell division that enables him to generate multiple functioning copies of himself. Such a special ability or something similar has appeared in things before but, perhaps, not so well thought out as it is exhibited here. Sanderson has really considered the nature of the ability.

Mitosis is not merely looking just to replace the vacuum left by Steelheart. He is more interested in discovering what has happened in Newcago during the events of the first book, ‘Steelheart’. He wants information on David and what he has achieved, perceiving him as a possible new threat to Epics. As such David is the only character from the first book to have a major role in this story. Essentially the plot is centred round the meeting of David and Mitosis.

At a full price of £8.99 the hard back edition is incredibly expensive for a story of such low word count. I think it is the only version of the novella you can get in print and it is a nicely designed and presented book that matches that of other novels by the author. I don’t know what, if anything, accompanies the ebook version but the printed version is bolstered by some special features. These include artwork and profiles of future characters and a preview of the next Reckoners full novel. It offers a taste of what is to come in Firefight and makes for a good collector’s edition.


Energy of the Daleks (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
Energy of the Daleks (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Leela finally clashes with the Daleks, 24 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It was inevitable that with Tom Baker finally joining Big Finish that it wouldn’t be long before the Fourth Doctor tangled with the Daleks again. During the seven year tenure of Tom Baker as the Doctor the Daleks actually only made two appearances. Furthermore, in both ‘Genesis’ and ‘Destiny’ the main focus is upon Davros and the Doctor interacts far more with the Dalek’s creator than with them. A further clash between the Fourth Doctor and the Daleks is, therefore, quite welcome.

This is another crazy ‘master plan’ from the Daleks that the Doctor must prevent. In several ways ‘Energy of the Daleks’ could be classified as a fairly traditional Dalek story. It is a Daleks invade the Earth plot where they behave as typical Daleks wanting to steal the planet’s energy and enslave the human race before they can become a possible future threat. There are even Robomen. The Robomen are probably put to better use in this story than any other as the Dalek’s possession of humans is key to their plans.

Nothing new is offered about the Daleks and there are times when the absence of Davros or a Dalek Supreme variant can be felt. Baker’s Doctor works brilliantly when he has a major antagonist he can argue and debate with. Leela’s interaction with the Daleks is of much more interest, which is why she spends much more time in their company than the Doctor does. Of course this is the first, and as yet only, time Leela has encountered these implacable foes. Her reaction to their design, appearance and behaviour is a refreshing perspective. The most interesting element of the play is the Dalek’s inability to convert her into their slave using the Roboman mind conversion because her natural primitive instinct are too strong and her will too determined.

The play hurtles along at breakneck speed. This makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience with lots of action. All the cast seem to be having a lot of fun. However, it does also feel like it stampedes towards the end a little too quickly and finishes somewhat abruptly.

Even though this was the first audio recorded for this series the decision to place it midway through is probably a wise one as there is no time for the characters of the Fourth Doctor and Leela to receive any type of re-introduction, such as, ‘Destination Nerva’ allows for.

Don’t expect anything particularly original but do expect an enjoyable Dalek romp.


The Wrath of the Iceni (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
The Wrath of the Iceni (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by John Dorney
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Leela and Boudicca Vs. Romans, 22 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After a less than successful visit to a museum in the previous story in an effort to further Leela’s education, The Doctor decides that his companion needs to experience history as it really is. This premise results in a story more in keeping with some of those characteristic of the First Doctor in that it is purely historical, featuring historical personages and no aliens/monsters. The story needs no other elements though. It is set during a vital time in British history and the story is gripping, gritty and tense.

It is a wonderful idea to have Leela meet Boudicca and it is primarily the relationship between the two of them that is the focus of the play. Virtually nothing is known of who Boudicca was as an individual that doesn’t come from Roman historians and her reputation as a freedom fighter symbol is a retrospective and probably over-glamourized one. There is, therefore, plenty of scope for versatility in characterising the famed historical figure. John Dorney presents an impressive and multi-layered character and Ella Kenion gives a strong and convincing performance that brings the character to life. This Boudicca is not the demonised foe of the Romans nor someone seen in an overly heroic light. There is even a possible comparison with Davros in that all she wants from the Doctor is practically what Davros wanted in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’.

Initially Leela is somewhat naïve and easily impressed by Boudicca; even to the point of taking her side over the Doctor. But to Leela’s more ‘black and white’ thinking Boudicca’s outlook makes sense. The complexity of human nature is the nature she learns from this adventure.

The concentration upon Leela and Boudicca does have the negative effect that the Doctor is somewhat pushed to one side. He still has plenty to do but a large proportion of this involves hanging around with de-facto companion Bragnar and trying to stay out of the affairs of history.

This leads to one of the major elements of the play; the question of interfering in history. Here the Doctor takes the stance of refraining from altering ‘fixed points in time’ much like he states in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’, which also of course featured Romans. Ironically it is in ‘The Romans’ that the Doctor drastically effects history. Inevitably this leads to a division from Leela who sees things in a much more simple way: the Romans are oppressors and must be stopped. However, much like in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ the Doctor allows himself to attempt to save at least someone.

Essentially this is a Leela story. Her interaction and dialogue with Boudicca is superb and the two actresses concerned do a sterling job. Possibly the best audio of this particular Fourth Doctor series; but you can’t really go wrong with Leela and Boudicca fighting Romans, nor with a play that suggests Morris Dancing is as evil as the Daleks or Cybermen.


The Renaissance Man (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
The Renaissance Man (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Justin Richards
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A theme park for academics and experts, 20 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As part of Leela’s continuing education (which is to become an underlying theme throughout Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor and Leela plays) the Doctor decides to expand Leela’s knowledge of her ancestors by taking her to the Morovanian Museum, supposedly the greatest collection of human knowledge and artefacts. It soon becomes apparent that this is a museum of a very different sort and the Tardis crew soon become murder suspects in what appears to be an English country village.

Much of the play is concerned with the difference between and knowledge and learning, between information and understanding. It fits in well to the ongoing theme of Leela’s education, first emphasised in ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’. Harcourt, the Renaissance Man of the title, believes he and the museum are on a quest for knowledge that will give birth to a new era of learning, but to the Doctor he is merely stealing knowledge with no perspective or comprehension of what he takes. It is a knowledge without foundation or application. The small debate as to who is the cleverest man in the room (a nod to the Eleventh Doctor story ‘The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon’) represents the opposing sides. To Harcourt it is himself because he possesses and has access to a larger source of information. But to the Doctor this information is a meaningless list of data if there is no understanding of it.

In a museum where the exhibits miraculously appear with every source of information obtained irrespective of authenticity, the Fourth Doctor is clearly in his element inventing ludicrous ‘facts’ to beguile and defeat Harcourt. It is obvious that Baker is taking enthusiastic delight in this.

Not the best story in this series but still fairly entertaining.


Destination: Nerva (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
Destination: Nerva (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.68

3.0 out of 5 stars This place really does have troubled history, 20 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Even though the Fourth Doctor has had three years of audio adventures during his stay at Nest Cottage with Mrs. Wibbsey, this is Tom Baker’s first foray into Big Finish.

The story takes place immediately after the close of ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ and, despite a quick trip in the Tardis, the earlier stages are still set in Victorian London, where British forces are clashing with another alien traveller with disastrous affects for the future. Via a warp distortion the action soon leads to a return to the eponymous Nerva Beacon.

Nerva was in some way (including Transmat or Timelord abduction) used almost as a base of operations through most of Tom Baker’s first year as the Doctor; serving as the main locale for ‘The Ark in Space’ and ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’. It does, therefore, seem somehow apt that this first Big Finish audio for the Fourth Doctor should see him return here. The use of Nerva is, perhaps, a bit of a gimmick, although a welcome one. It isn’t really relevant to the story what particular space station events take place on.

As with the previous visits to Nerva this is the station from another time period. It is earlier in its life where it seems to be little more than a space docking station rather than the Beacon that serves as a race bank for the human race. It is a Nerva in a state of decay. Its technical systems are failing and its human crew are succumbing to a strange infection.

As might be expected there are the inevitable references to past Fourth Doctor adventures. These are enjoyable nods which don’t distract from the plot, rather adding to it. Interestingly the Doctor announces at one point that he once knew a butler named Butler. I’m not sure if this is a reference to the unmade script from the Fourth Doctor’s third year, ‘Foe from the Future’, which was, strangely, made as an audio during the same year as this play was produced.

Tom Baker seems to effortlessly slide back into his version of the Doctor and despite character developments in the ‘Gallifrey’ series Louise Jameson provides a Leela much like that of her first few appearances. That both come straight from ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ helps this immensely, providing great continuity.

The Drelleran aren’t perhaps the most interesting of aliens. This is because they aren’t actually present for many events in the story and thus very little is to be learned about them. Rather the focus of the story is upon issues concerned with the evils of empire, which the Drellerans are essentially victims of.

Even though there are some nice ideas that provide the listener with plenty to contemplate, the story, perhaps, isn’t that involved or gripping. It is more of a vessel for re-introducing the Tardis team of the Fourth Doctor and Leela; and for that it works very well.


Doctor Who-Time Monster (Doctor Who Library)
Doctor Who-Time Monster (Doctor Who Library)
by Terrance Dicks
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars The fall of Atlantis...again, 18 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The televised version of this story is often much maligned. Personally I quite enjoy it. It’s wacky and frivolous but it is intended as a bit of fun. It certainly doesn’t take itself seriously. The novelisation more than adequately captures the spirit of the story and is thus an entertaining, light read.

Despite failed alliances with the likes of the Axons, Autons and Sea Devils, the Master’s schemes of using an ally to enable him to take over the universe become even crazier as he seeks to enlist, and somehow control, a monstrous entity from the dawn of creation that consumes time itself. For a highly intelligent man the Master doesn’t seem to learn from his errors. However, there is much to be enjoyed from the Master in this story. His struggle to maintain patience with his technical assistants Ruth and Stuart when he clearly wants to order them around can be quite entertaining and his dalliance with Galleia reveals that he is also capable of utilising seduction to accomplish his objectives.

The televised version sustained its length well with the change in setting to legendary Atlantis. The balance between the modern day locale and Atlantis was better balanced in the programme. The novelisation tends to cram the Atlantis sequences into the latter stages of the story. It would have been preferable perhaps for it to devote more time to exploring the characters and society of the ancient kingdom. This is the Atlantis that theories surmise was destroyed by the volcanic explosion upon the Greek island of Thera over three and half millennia ago rather than other popular ideas that it lies in the centre of the Atlantic ocean or that the sinking of Atlantis is an anecdote for the fall of Troy. This is reflected in the use of ancient Greek affectations and a strong Minoan influence in the story. Even the Minotaur that according to legend dwelt in the corridors of Knossos on Crete is transposed to this Atlantean setting.

The manifestation of Kronos is not quite so random and jarring as it appeared in the programme. Without the vision of some odd special effects he actually comes over a bit more plausible in text.

Dicks approaches the story with humour and vitality that makes this a fun, tongue in cheek read, if not the most logical or sensible of stories. And quite how this story fits in with ‘The Underwater Menace’ is another matter.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20