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Doctor Who -- The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
Doctor Who -- The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew Smith
Price: 11.70

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stonking, 13 Oct 2010
There's an unfortunate divide in opinions on this series, and it largely comes down to the split in the fanbase, one which to an extent has always existed in the show but has only been exacerbated since Russell T Davies' tenure.
Fortunately it's now the place of Steven Moffat to take over. Long one of my favourite writers, writer of the majority of my favourite recent British television; Coupling, Jekyll and of course many of the best episodes of Dr Who, including Blink and The Empty Child, and his first season as show runner in no way dissapoints.

Matt Smith is absolutely perfect in the role, despite his age he immediately comes off as an old, forgetful youthful and energetic explosion of a character. A charming combination of Patrick Troughton, William Hartnell and Tom Baker.

The Eleventh Hour is easily the strongest first episode for any Doctor since the 1st, within the space of the episode I quickly found myself forgetting anyone else had starred in the role.

The episodes to my mind never once falter. The two stand outs, to my mind are the unique and original Amy's Choice and Vincent and the Doctor. Both stretch far from the usual comfort zone of the show and are made wonderfully memorable as a result.

Moffat's output is consistently high, after four seasons of cliff hangers where the day has been saved by magic powers, deus ex machina or conveniently placed "destroy all daleks" buttons we're presented an intelligent, mad, almost psychedelic finale which younger viewers and older must pay close attention to and which links back to numerous, cleverly placed clues earlier in the series.

So in opposition to what some reviews have posted here I say the series started out simply filling the shoes and soared to dizzying heights. It may not appeal to all of the original audience, but it is a more intelligent show now, and has returned to include something for the adults as well as the eight year olds - it has returned to being, as I have always known it, a family show.

At the end of the day though the show is many things to many people, it has changed many times over the decades, and each time the reaction has been mixed. Those who had become used to the mindless cries of exterminate may not be welcoming this new format... to me however this has been the season of most consistently high quality since Tom Bakers first back in 1974, that being long before my own birth I am absolutely ecstatic about this return to form and hope that Steven Moffat, Matt Smith et al continue to produce such high quality entertainment.

There are a couple of low points, there are no episodes I would describe as poor (which is a remarkable improvement on the previous season), but the Silurian two parter, the Beast Below and Victory of the Daleks are all just so much filler, not that there is anything wrong with that, but it does leave just a little room for improvement in season 6.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2010 11:19 PM BST

The Nightmare Fair (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
The Nightmare Fair (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
by Graham Williams
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Who in every sense of the word, 3 April 2010
The first in the Big Finish range of "Lost Stories", scripts which made it to various stages of production for Doctor Who in 80s but for some reason or other did not make it to our screens.

Colin and Nicolas performances are superb (as they always are, and remain so throughout the range). Playing the part of the Celestial Toymaker is the same actor who played the main protagonist in the Tom Baker story "The Robots of Death", he truly makes the part his own, giving a wonderfully memorable performance and putting a much more interesting spin on the character.
The music and sound are both wonderfully 80s, if just a little bit better than they might have been.

The story can be boiled down to the most basic of Doctor Who formulas, that of capture and cunning escape, this however means that whilst this audio was made for Television it is very easy to follow (with the notable exception of the ending which is rather confusing and rushed through too quickly).

I can honestly say about this audio is that it is leaps and bounds beyond the original inspiration (The Celestial Toymaker) in terms of writing and performances, but that is not one of my favourites. Had this been made for Television I should imagine it would join the ranks of "The Visitation", nothing wrong with it, but nothing especially right, just enjoyable, traditional, Dr Who.

Paradise 5 (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
Paradise 5 (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
by P.J. Hammond
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 14.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid and worthy entry, 3 April 2010
Another contribution to the lost stories range. This episode was set to take the place of Terror of the Vervoids in the Trial of a Timelord story ark. The trial scenes have (fortunately) been removed.

The original script was written by PJ Hammond (Torchwood, Saphire and Steel), the majority of Episode 2 being his script, episodes 1, 3 and 4 being completed from his notes by Andy Lane.

I must say I've generally not enjoyed what I've heard of Andy Lanes work, and do have my doubts about the conclusion, however episode 1 has a wonderfully charming Douglas Adams feel, I'm inclined to call this his best work for Big Finish by a mile.

The story takes place on a space station, paradise 5, which is offically a luxurious resort for tired executives, but all is not as it seems (well it is Doctor Who). The twists aren't particularly earth shattering but the story is entertaining (if only to prompt your imagination to visualise the lovely Nicola Bryant in a variety of revealing outfits), and has strong performances all around. As ever the music and sound effects are superb.

I would liken this story to the Nightmare Fair, a solid, but not ground breaking tale, which is a wonderful reflection of the era and a little piece of lost history. Even if it is not the deepest the performances and the wonderful way in which the 80s feel is captured make it well worth the purchase.

The Hollows of Time (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
The Hollows of Time (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
by Christopher H. Bidmead
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 14.99

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Slow paced, confused and humourless, 3 April 2010
Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear.

Where to start?

I hate to do this, I hate to give a review like this but here is a play truly without merit. The science is well, not science, but that's never been a problem in Doctor Who so long as the explanation is entertaining enough to make you want to forget that fact... here it is not, indeed it is a struggle to really pay attention.

Humour is non-existant, this is the old sixth doctor which can be fine when handled correctly, however here not only the Doctor, but every character comes of as one dimensional and impossible to relate to.

Additionally we see the return of child actors. Unlike in Leviathan where the performance was brief (and played by an adult for a reason), here it is just one more annoyance, like the pair in the Twin Dilemma or Mission to Magnus.

On the plus side this release does see the return of the tractators, if you like that kind of thing. Unfortunately they serve little purpose in the story and have very little presence.

Make no mistake, this was an episode made for Television, and while I have my doubts a different format could have saved this uninspired tale it would have meant it was less confusing. Action scenes are clumsily described in this adaptation (which is a shame, and hard to forgive given the wonderful job Paul Finch did adapting the previous story).

Even the special features give the impression of problems behind the scenes and a general unhappiness with the script (although it is never said outright).

Performances are as good as ever, the ever fantastic Colin Baker is on form as ever, which almost convinced me to give another star, but to be honest, I can't as this was a painful listen which I hope never to repeat.

Blue Forgotten Planet (Doctor Who)
Blue Forgotten Planet (Doctor Who)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 13.04

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A more than satisfying conclusion, 30 Mar 2010
After the disappointing Paper Cuts this is a welcome relief.

As is becoming the trend for BF productions the music is superb as is the post production work and pacing. There are plenty of twists to keep the listener on his toes, as with all good science fiction the truth of the situation is far from immediately apparent.

This story is not only the conclusion to the trilogy, but also the final goodbye to Charley, one of my favourite companions.

I must say, Nick Briggs is fast becoming one of my favourite BF writers, impressive given his earlier contributions.
More like these please.

Paper Cuts (Doctor Who)
Paper Cuts (Doctor Who)
by Marc Platt
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 13.54

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre, 30 Mar 2010
This review is from: Paper Cuts (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
Sadly this is becoming a trend with Marc Platt plays (a shame given he is responsible for two of my favourite stories).

This story sees the re-introduction of the Draconians, one of the more positively remembered races, if only because their costumes stood the test of time unlike so many other alien races from the Pertwee period. Unfortunately there isn't really much of a purpose to their re-introduction, the plot could be serviced equally well with any other race.

At the end of the day I had trouble paying attention to this story, indeed I listened to part 3 many times over as I simply found myself tuning out. It's placement in an otherwise exciting and well placed trilogy is questionable, it adds nothing to the arc which feels odd given how tense blue forgotten planet and patient zero are. It does serve as a demonstration that Colin and Mila travelled together, but honestly this is explained in Blue Forgotten planet.
You can listen to this play without the other two parts of the trilogy, but my recommendation would be to listen to them and skip this one.

Patient Zero (Doctor Who)
Patient Zero (Doctor Who)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 12.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating, 30 Mar 2010
Somehow I'd been making poor choices with my Big Finish purchases which put me off the range for some time, this is the title which restored my faith in the publishers efforts.

The production quality is absolutely superb, as is the performances by all involved. This is an adrenaline ride from start to finish which is helped along by a wonderful score.

This is also the first time I've enjoyed a 6th/Charley pairing, my favourite Doctor and assistant should have been a wonderful mesh but this was the first time that I didn't find the Doctors distrust of Charley interfering with the dynamic.

The Nowhere Place (Doctor Who)
The Nowhere Place (Doctor Who)
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 13.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Big Finish audios, 15 Mar 2010
Big Finish productions are a weird animal. Due to the small but dedicated fan base risks can be taken and you often find a lot of pockets of fans advocating some of the crazier releases, which invariably, perhaps to my detriment, I don't enjoy.

This is not a crazy release, well it is, but it's your typical, beautifully walking the line Doctor Who kind of crazy.

The story its self is rather dark and very much in the stlye of seasons 22/26 from the classic series. The mysteries are suitably well established and it's highly unlikely you'll see the end twist coming (but fortunately this isn't a case of a writer struggling to explain their bizarre build up, everything does, quite impressively, fall into place). Good atmosphere and some great production quality.

Whilst some of the extras are somewhat unimpressive the performances from Baker and Stables are superb.

It's not an absolute classic, if I could give half stars then it would be 4.5, but it's damned close.

Leviathan (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
Leviathan (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories)
by Brian Finch
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 12.68

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Diamond in the Rough, 8 Feb 2010
Expectations for the Lost Stories may have been high amongst old school fans, however I'd wager few others have been particularly excited. Scripts abandoned from one of the shows shakiest eras? What a terrible idea I hear you say... only here is an absolute gem of a script, abandoned not due to quality of writing, but due to the budget required to produce such an imaginative piece. A budget which would most definitely have been beyond the resources of the show at the time.

The acting was superb, music and sound effects were brilliant, as was the post-process work on the voices, but most of all this was just a wonderfully imaginative script, dare I say it one of the best the show has ever had to it's name, right up there with the work of Robert Holmes and Steven Moffat.
As is stated on the CD extras, we should probably be glad this came to audio instead of TV, the production quality was superb and likely would not have worked so well on a 80s DW budget.
It's simply a shame Brian Finch didn't survive to hear the realisation of his vision, a greater shame still that nothing came of his attempt to become a regular writer for the show. Fortunately his son, Paul Finch, has done a fantastic job adapting it for audio; despite this being a television script the listener is never confused or disoriented, nor is there clumsy dialogue explaining events that can not be seen.

It's not unheard of for Big Finish audios to be adapted for Television (Dalek, Rise of the Cybermen), however there has never before been a story so begging for this treatment, with an absolute minimum of changes. I would dearly like to see that story get a retelling on the new series, if only so that it manages to reach a size of audience it deserves. Not only does the script not share the problems of it's era but much of the dialogue, pacing and ideas would feel very much at home in say Series 6 of NuWho.

The verdict, for those who tend to skip to the end: Absolutely fantastic. Buy it, now.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2014 3:17 PM GMT

Doctor Who: Peladon Tales (The Curse of Peladon / The Monster of Peladon) [DVD]
Doctor Who: Peladon Tales (The Curse of Peladon / The Monster of Peladon) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Price: 11.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise, 3 Feb 2010
I've never been a Pertwee fan, and impulse classic who buys have burned me before, so I wasn't too optimistic about this purchase. However as it turns out I had little reason to worry.

Rather than the traditional earthbound settings of the era both of these tales take place on the primitive planet Peladon. The sets are impressive for the era, and the costumes far more adventurous than we see in new who. The writing is excellent, as are the performances. Be warned that the character Alpha Centurai may irritate many, and fairly enough, indeed it's voice is the kind of thing which usually ruins stories for me, however for some reason I found the character likeable and memorable. This won't be the case for everyone I'm sure, but for me personally it wasn't an issue.

Whilst I take on board the complaint that monster of peladon offers little new, and wasn't really necessary it is still incredibly well executed and a joy to watch. Had it not been a sequel I'm sure it would be looked on far more favourably.

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