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M. Wilberforce "mwilberforce" (Bristol, England)

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Red Dawn (Doctor Who)
Red Dawn (Doctor Who)
by Justin Richards
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The icssssssse warriorsssssss return, 11 April 2006
This review is from: Red Dawn (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
"Ares One: NASA's first manned mission to the dead planet Mars. But is Mars as dead as it first seems?
"While the NASA team investigate an "anomaly" on the planet's surface, the Doctor and Peri find themselves inside a strange alien building. What is its purpose? And what is frozen inside the blocks of ice that guard the doorways? If the Doctor has a sense of deja-vu, it's because he's about to meet some old adversaries, as well as some new ones..."
Justin Richards' Red Dawn is one of those Big Finish stories that doesn't entirely live up to expectations. Apart from anything, it feels very short, with one episode only being twenty minutes in length.
The return of the ice warriors is a nice idea, but they lose something in translation from screen to sound. None the less they are recogniseable, and the entente cordiale that they spend much of the story in with the Doctor and the crew from NASA reminds one of The Curse of Peladon. Unfortunately, with the real villain of the piece being one of the American astronauts, the appearance by the ice warriors is somewhat wasted.
The cast are good, with Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant in fine form. Peri is perhaps a bit too plucky and comfortable with the Doctor given the story's position in the timeline, but it makes a change from her on-screen bickering with the Sixth Doctor in the following two seasons of the original TV series. There are no real standout performances amongst the supporting cast, some of whom who aren't given a great deal to do, but they all read their parts well.
What lets Red Dawn down is the lack of a real story. None the less, it's an enjoyable 110 minutes, and the sound design is excellent as ever, with Russell Stone's morose score being one of the best aspects of the production.

Phantasmagoria (Doctor Who)
Phantasmagoria (Doctor Who)
by Mark Gatiss
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "What Phantasmagoria is this?", 11 April 2006
"The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Turlough to the London of 1702 where a mysterious highwayman roams the streets, a local occultist has made contact with the dead and gentlemen of fashion are disappearing, only to find themselves in a chamber whose walls weep blood...
"The time-travellers become enmeshed in the hideous plans of Sir Nikolas Valentine, a gambler at the mysterious Diabola Club who always seems to have a winning hand..."
The second Big Finish Audio Adventure, and the first to feature Peter Davison in the leading role (aided by Mark Strickson as Turlough), gets the series off to a further strong start. Written by Mark Gatiss, the story borrows somewhat from both The Visitation and Ghost Light, but works out remarkably well and, I would say, is better than The Unquiet Dead, Gatiss' episode of the new TV series with Christopher Eccleston.
The story is populated by a variety of well-voiced characters, with particular credit going to David Ryall as the smooth and enigmatic Sir Nikolas Valentine and an unrecognisable turn by Gatiss himself as Jasper Jeake (the League of Gentlemen voice skills working in his favour there). Davison and Strickson are both immediately recognisable, although both are sounding older.
The story is well written and the cliff hangers reasonably done, although the first episode gets things off to a confusing start, with a wide range of unrelated characters introduced at an early stage (in the absense of visual information, telling these characters apart at first is tricky). The story soon warms up over episodes two and three, however, and comes to a good conclusion in episode four, by which time everything has pretty much fallen into place.
It's fun to hear the Fifth Doctor and Turlough once again. Both are also largely on character; Turlough is perhaps more pleasant and helpful than he was on the TV series, but still has that slight air of self-centredness that his character has always carried.
On the whole, a strong story that bodes well for the rest of the series.

Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (Special Edition) [DVD] [1983]
Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (Special Edition) [DVD] [1983]
Dvd ~ William Hartnell
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £9.74

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The three-and-a-half Doctors, 11 April 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Story: 4/5 - Extras: 1/5
I can only assume that those involved in the making of this 90-minute special must have had fun doing it. An army of five... well, four Doctors (Tom Baker was unavailable for filming and makes his appearance via footage recycled from the untransmitted story Shada), and companions including Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Susan Foreman, Sarah Jane Smith, Tegan and Turlough (not to mention cameos by Jamie, Zoe, Liz Shaw, Captain Yates, K9 and an amused turn by Anthony Ainley as the Master) all get to run around the traditional Doctor Who quarries and misty hillsides and encounter a variety of foes. However, we are presented with a very enjoyable story, even if the reason for Tom Baker's absence feels extremely forced. Lookalike Richard Hurndall does a decent job of filling the role left absent by the late William Hartnell as the irascible First Doctor. Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton slip into their old roles with ease, and Peter Davison is his usual thoughtful self. Back on Gallifrey, the main story is ably supported by the cast of actors playing various members of the high council. The Doctors' adventures in the Death Zone makes for entertaining viewing, even if the much-hyped Dalek is little more than a cameo, and the final downfall of the eventual foe is gratifying (and inevitable) if a little cheesy. At the end of the day, The Five Doctors is an excellent way for the series to celebrate its 20th birthday.
Despite the release being a "Collector's Edition", however, the package of extras is very thin. Most of the effort has gone into the substantial remastering of this classic story, including the production of a 5.1 mix of the soundtrack, and the insertion of deleted scenes and new visual effects. This leaves very little from an extras point of view, apart from the option for an isolated musical score. There is no commentary; overall, a disappointing package.
Finally, the cover does not match the design of subsequent releases, but a new cover in the official house style is available to download if you search around a bit.

Doctor Who: The Mutant Phase
Doctor Who: The Mutant Phase
by Nicholas Briggs
Edition: Audio CD

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Daleks face an even more murderous foe..., 11 April 2006
"In the 22nd century, the Daleks have occupied planet Earth. By the 43rd century, only a handful of humans survive. Still further into the distant future, a Thal scientist must choose whether to betray his heritage, or see the universe destroyed.
"When the Doctor and Nyssa find themselves trapped in this deadly chain of events, they must decide who their real enemies are. What is certain, however, is that no matter where the Doctor turns... his arch enemies, the Daleks, will be waiting for him.
"What could possibly be worse than that? The Mutant Phase..."
The Mutant Phase is the third Big Finish release (after The Genocide Machine and The Apocalypse Element) to fall under the Dalek Empire brand. However, it has as little to do with the other two stories as they have with each other.
In fact, The Mutant Phase has more to do with "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" than anything else. Part of the story is set in the same timeframe, and features saucers and Robomen. A nice bit of continuity. Having said that, Earth in 2158 AD is just one of the many locations in space-time that Nicholas Briggs' storyline visits.
There's an epic feel to the The Mutant Phase lent to it by its aeon-spanning storyline, but unfortunately at four episodes it's not long enough to explore the contexts fully. Individually they are well-constructed, but the story gets confusing to follow as it cuts between them.
The core of the story revolves around a time paradox, and it's an interesting concept. The script, which despite its tight schedule manages to pause for a few nice character-centric moments, is well constructed, and is backed up by enthusiastic performances from the cast. Peter Davison's Doctor is more on-target than he has been in any Big Finish adventure up to this point, and Sarah Sutton is given more to do as Nyssa and makes the most of it. The Daleks are right on target too - with choruses of "Exterminate!" and orders to "Move!". As things go from bad to worse, however, we almost sympathise with the metal meanies from time to time.
The only character that left me puzzled was a Thal by the name of Ganatus. Was he meant to be the same Ganatus that aided the Doctor and almost romanced Barbara in The Daleks? If so, no reference is made to the past adventure.
Overall, a well-scripted and performed story with nice continuity references, let down only by trying to cram a little too much into its four short episodes.

Winter for the Adept (Doctor Who)
Winter for the Adept (Doctor Who)
by Andrew Cartmel
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big Finish continue to learn, 11 April 2006
"When a teleportation experiment goes badly wrong, Nyssa finds herself stranded on the freezing slopes of the Swiss Alps in 1963. But is it mere coincidence that she finds shelter in a snowbound school haunted by a malevolent poltergeist?
"When the Doctor arrives, Nyssa and the other inhabitants of the school soon discover that the ghost is merely part of a darker, deeper and more deadly game involving rogue psi talents and something else... Something not of this Earth."
Winter for the Adept, written by Who veteran Andrew Cartmel, is an intriguingly titled little number that takes the unusual approach of facing the Doctor and the supporting cast with an apparently supernatural foe. The poltergeist activity is a nice idea and, where it concerns the piano (a recurring motif in the story), is nicely executed - but elsewhere, it leads to my greatest criticism of the story: blatant narration!
Like in The Land of the Dead before it, the characters are often required to say the most painfully obvious, beat-you-about-the-head-with-it lines explaining to the listener what is happening on the imaginary screen. The second episode cliff-hanger is particularly guilty of this, and I'm afraid it does spoil the effect of the otherwise accomplished script and performances.
There are a range of distinct supporting characters, including special guest star Peter Jurasik as the sceptical Lt. Peter Sandoz and a plucky first appearance by India Fisher as one of the students (Fisher would later go on to play the Doctor's companion, Charley Pollard, in the Big Finish adventures starring Paul McGann). Certain characters, such as the eccentric headmistress Miss Tremayne, suffer from a lack of exposure - but overall the characters are well-drawn.
Winter for the Adept comes to a decent if somewhat unexpected conclusion, and one is not left with the feeling of time wasted; but it's a pity about the blatant narration, and a pity that a couple of the episodes come up short in length.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2014 11:54 AM GMT

The Land of the Dead (Doctor Who)
The Land of the Dead (Doctor Who)
by Stephen Cole
Edition: Audio CD

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alaska, Nyssa and exposition, 11 April 2006
"Landing in Alaska, the Doctor and Nyssa encounter a group of people in a most unusual house, cut off not only by the harsh climate but by their individual secrets and obsessions.
"Millionaire Shaun Brett is utilising chunks of the local area to construct a shrine to his dead father. But when deadly creatures start roaming outside, and a terrifying discovery is made inside the house, the Doctor realises that Brett has unleashed an unimaginably ancient force."
The Land of the Dead is an imaginative, if rather odd, concept. Most peculiar is the house, with its themed rooms of stone, earth, timber, sea, ice and bone - if only we could see this strange creation on the screen! However, visuals are really unimportant in this story, as it's the characters inhabiting the house that matter.
They include the bitter and twisted Shaun Brett (Christopher Scott), the ageing Eskimo Gaborik (Andrew Fettes), the half-American Tulung (Neil Roberts) and the artist Monica Lewis (as opposed to Lewinsky), in an engaging turn by Lucy Campbell.
Unlike some of the Big Finish Audio series, there is no problem identifying who is who in this particular tale. Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are in good and recogniseable form as the Doctor and Nyssa, and the remaining characters are all well-drawn and have distinctive voices. Whilst the monsters have a role to play, the crux of the story is really the personal struggle between Brett and Tulung, with the unfortunate Nyssa caught in the crossfire. In the absence of Nyssa's company, Monica Lewis makes a good companion to the Doctor during the last episode as she runs the gamut of stress from tense to wittering to sarcastic in what becomes something of a running joke.
Like many of the Big Finish stories, The Land of the Dead has good sound design and a decent script, this time written by Stephen Cole, which lets itself down only by including too much obvious descriptive exposition. I look forward to hearing more of the series.

Doctor Who - The Robots Of Death [1978] [DVD] [1963]
Doctor Who - The Robots Of Death [1978] [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £5.22

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best of 1970s Who, 11 April 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Story: 5/5 - Extras: 2/5
One of Doctor Who's finest stories, not for special effects or outstanding originality, but for the quality of the script and the performances of the cast. The premise of the story is unashamedly derivative, both of past Who stories and of the works of Isaac Asimov, but here it is cleverly mapped onto a claustrophobic, Christie-esque whodunnit that will keep the average viewer guessing until the true villain is eventually revealed.
The impassive, Art Deco robots are all the more menacing for their almost human appearance and voices. New arrival Louise Jameson is establishing herself well as the bright savage Leela, only occasionally slipping out of character, and Tom Baker is on good form as the enigmatic Fourth Doctor. The conclusion is ultimately satisfying and reasonably inventive.
The only letdown is the package of extras. This being Who's first release on DVD (apart from "The Five Doctors Collector's Edition"), we are presented with a limited range of bonus material that includes some unused model footage, a photo gallery and some studio floor plans, which forms a much lesser package than many later Who DVD releases. This is saved to some extent by an intermittently interesting commentary from producer Philip Hinchcliffe and writer Chris Boucher, but there are long pauses between their golden nuggets of information.

Doctor Who - The Ark In Space [1975] [DVD] [1963]
Doctor Who - The Ark In Space [1975] [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Giant space weevils of doom, 11 April 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Story: 4/5 - Extras: 3/5
Tom Baker's second story in the role (although The Sontaran Experiment was filmed first) is vintage Who. Scripted by prolific Who writer Robert Holmes, The Ark in Space is one of those entirely studio-bound stories with shonky model work and a rubber monster. As such, the futuristic setting looks pretty dated, but as the story relies as much on character work as it does on conventional sci-fi conceits, it doesn't really matter.
Even at this early stage, the Fourth Doctor's character is becoming well-established, complete with Tom Baker's trademark toothy grins and effective put-downs, and Ian Marter is very proper and British as over-his-head Naval medic Harry Sullivan. Only Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith gets a poor treatment here, made to act even more terrified and hopeless than usual (not to mention spending half of the first two episodes in cryogenic sleep).
The small guest cast is well performed, particularly Wendy Williams' Vira, whose certainty of and adherance to the established rules gradually unravels as the story continues. Kenton Moore as Noah and Richardson Morgan as Rogin are decent if more forgettable characters, with Noah's struggle against possession by the Wirrn being reasonably well-played.
Despite the obvious use of bubble wrap in the construction of the Wirrn larvae, The Ark in Space holds together well as a story. I always prefer my Who when it goes on location, but with a decent script a limited set budget can be overcome; maybe, however, the lighting could have been more moody. The model footage is looking old, but as a feature of the DVD one can enable a series of replacement CGI footage that looks pretty good.
In terms of special features, the leading feature is a moderately entertaining commentary by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and producer Philip Hinchcliffe. As well as the traditional photo gallery, there are a couple of interviews; some unused title sequence footage and model shots; a couple of related cuttings from the BBC archives; and of course the usual informative on-screen production notes. Not a bad package overall.

Doctor Who: Carnival Of Monsters [DVD] [1973] [1963]
Doctor Who: Carnival Of Monsters [DVD] [1973] [1963]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £13.99

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well, it's certainly diverse, 11 April 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Story: 3/5 - Extras: 4/5
Carnival of Monsters is described on the liner notes as "a quaint little story", and such a description wouldn't be so far for the truth. Written once again by Robert Holmes, Carnival seems to be as much a showcase for the then-new CSO (Colour Separation Overlay) filming techniques as it does a serious Doctor Who story.
Like all Holmes scripts, the story is filled with well-written characters who help to liven up events, from the witlessly beaureaucratic Inter Minor officials to the roguish Vorg and the utterly British ship's Lieutenant John Andrews (Ian Marter, who would later play the part of Fourth Doctor companion Harry Sullivan), but at the end of the day no amount of witty dialogue can entirely overcome the story's essential limitations - it's just plain surreal, and neither especially action-packed nor particularly thought-provoking.
On the other hand, the Drashigs (horrific alien inmates of the Scope) make for surprisingly good monsters, better than many rubber Who creatures of the day, aided by some neat sound effects. Given the age and budget of the story, some of the CSO is also surprisingly seamless (although some, such as the episode one cliff-hanger, is utterly chronic).
Carnival remains worth buying as a piece of true Who from the archives, and of course for the extras. Whilst there are no exclusive documentary features this time round, this is made up for to some extent by the quantity of stuff on offer: there are on-screen production notes and an audio commentary from Katy Manning and producer Barry Letts, extended and deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage, original model sequences, a 1970s BBC information film on the use of CSO presented by Barry Letts, a rare opportunity to see the title sequence accompanied by the (awful) scrapped Delaware version of the theme tune, and one or two other bits and bobs. Overall a decent selection of stuff.

Doctor Who - The Three Doctors [1972] [DVD] [1963]
Doctor Who - The Three Doctors [1972] [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £14.98

5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whoops..., 11 April 2006
Story: 2/5 - Extras: 3/5
Oh, dear! What should have been a legendary story to celebrate Doctor Who's tenth anniversary is, in fact, an overly rewritten, poorly edited and shoddily designed mess.
Bob Baker and Dave Martin's script has its moments, particularly revolving around the by turn tortured and malevolent Omega in episodes three and four (a powerful turn by actor Steven Thorne), but elsewhere the story is silly, uneven and (in the case of episode two) blatantly padded to make up for a shortage of material.
The Three Doctors is worth a watch to see the sparring between Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton. An obviously ill William Hartnell, however, adds little to the story during his brief stints on the TARDIS scanner, only adding to the unprofessional, sloppy feel as the actor reads his lines so poorly.
You do feel momentary sorry for Omega, an element that the story achieves quite well, but it's questionable whether it's enough to distract from the garish colours, cheesy blob monsters and the excessive use of CSO to compile difficult scenes.
The extras package is average, consisting of a few interesting but mostly irrelevant snippets from the archives, and a commentary by producer Barry Letts and actors Katy Manning and Nicholas Courtney (who seem to enjoy the story more than I did). The on-screen production notes are as informative as ever.
A poor story, but at least it's nostalgic!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2015 7:12 AM BST

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