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Huw Davies (Taunton, England)

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Doctor Who Sensorites (Classic Novels)
Doctor Who Sensorites (Classic Novels)
by Nigel Robinson
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 11.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Another enjoyable reading from William Russell, 18 July 2012
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The 'Ian' actor William Russell has been reading Dr Who audiobooks since the range began in 2005, and this is another addition to what has become a successful run of stories read by the man who has become a fan favourite.

The book itself, by Nigel Robinson, is nothing to write home about; as solid a book as it is, it doesn't stray from the plot at all and adds only trivial details and character development. However it tells the story well and does contain some atmospheric passages, particularly at the start.

Sound design is always a strong point on this range and this doesn't disappoint - regular composer Simon Power does another sterling job, with music and effects which embellish but don't infringe - my only criticism would be the repetition of some music from earlier releases, but that's not to say the music is used inappropriately.

If you're on a slight income and are looking to buy only the very best of these releases, this probably isn't for you. However if you're a Dr Who or William Russell junkie then this is a sure-fire addition to your collection!


The Anachronauts (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles)
The Anachronauts (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles)
by Simon Guerrier
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 11.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great story for Steven and Sara, 24 May 2012
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This is another of Big Finish's Companion Chronicles series, this time focussing on the First Doctor's companions Steven and Sara, played by Blue Peter favourite Peter Purves and Upstairs Downstairs creator and star Jean Marsh. Their previous Companion Chronicles were amongst the strongest in the series, so this double-disc encounter was highly anticipated.

Like Steven and Sara's previous adventures this story is scripted by the talented writer that is Simon Guerrier. He once again crafts an imaginative and complex tale which twists and turns, with layers of exposition and an exciting twist (though here there are 3 - so lap it up!).

Purves and Marsh are both accomplished performers and they both play their characters with gusto. Marsh has always been my favourite of the two - her acting contains subtleties which sometimes amaze me - yet Purves too does a great job, especially with his performance 'as' William Hartnell, which along with William Russell's interpretation is exceptional.

My one gripe with 'The Anachronauts' is a small one, though it does unfortunately merit the drop from 5 to 4 stars. The problem is - and it's a pity really - but this play doesn't have the 'wow' factor that previous Steven/Sara encounters like 'Home Truths' and 'The First Wave' had. Nevertheless this is highly recommended - especially for fans of either Purves or Marsh's previous Chronicles.


Fatherland
Fatherland

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling tale of an alternate history, 24 May 2012
This review is from: Fatherland (Kindle Edition)
The premise behind 'Fatherland' seems basic - "what if the Nazis had won World War II?". However instead of focussing on Hitler and his cronies, Robert Harris takes the angle of looking at how the regime would affect the Third Reich's citizens.

Without giving away too much of the plot, this book explores one Nazisceptic policeman's battle to discover the truth behind a conspiracy in 1960s Nazi Germany. The main character of Xavier March is described so well one almost believes they know him by the 2nd or 3rd page, and other characters are fleshed out just as well. The idea of a fully-fledged Nazi society is explored not through copious info-dumps early on, an instead through careful exposition through dialogue - it marks Harris out as a very subtle and intelligent novelist.

This is a book which not only has an astonishingly good plot but is also the very definition of a thriller, in that you feel yourself becoming totally absorbed. This book can be devoured in huge chunks very enjoyably, and is better for it. 100% recommended.


Doctor Who: The Rescue & The Romans [DVD]
Doctor Who: The Rescue & The Romans [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Hartnell
Price: 11.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two brilliant stories, 13 Jan 2012
Being nearly 50 years old both of these stories' reputations have been lost in the midsts of time, subject to fan myths about how good or not they really are - UNTIL NOW!

The reputation of 'The Rescue' as dull and having a 'Scooby Doo-type' mystery where there is only 1 possible suspect is, frankly, wrong. Once you know the identity of Koquillion it's obvious - but that's what's so delightful about this story. The way the conceit is set up makes it a highly enjoyable story, and when the secret is exposed it rounds it off perfectly. THIS is how to do a 2-parter: a simple story, fitting in a new character on the way; not the over-convoluted 45-minute stories of today.

'The Romans' is the earliest comedy historical episode in 'Doctor Who', of which there were a few until the whole historical genre was phased out early in Patrick Troughton's era. Personally I find all of Doctor Who's early historicals highly enjoyable and find it's the sci-fi elements of later historicals in the colour days which ruined the genre's reputation. Here the costumes and sets are brilliantly sumptuous and the story is somewhat of a mini-epic: the Doctor, Vicki, Ian and Barbara all journey to Rome - the former 2 as the lyre player "Maximus Petullian" and his assitant, the latter as slaves. They eventually get to Rome and meet gladiators, slave traders and the Emperor Nero. While the historical accuracy is questionable it's a brilliant farce and serves as light relief compared to some of the heavier historicals such as 'Marco Polo' and 'The Massacre'.

These 2 stories are a great slice of early '60s Doctor Who and are essential for any fan.


Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD]
Doctor Who - Earth Story (The Gunfighters/The Awakening) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Davison
Price: 13.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1 story lets down another - and it's not what you think!, 13 Jan 2012
This is a most bizarre pairing of stories, simply because they're set on Earth - so pretty much any other unreleased story could also have been plonked into this boxset. It contains the 1966 story 'The Gunfighters', featuring William Hartnell in the Wild West, and the 1984 story 'The Awakening' a 2-parter starring Peter Davison's exploits in a sleepy English village.

The former story was pleasantly surprising in that it was highly enjoyable! Lambasted for near-on 50 years now this story has had a reputation for being boring, poorly executed and with a highly irritating musical soundtrack. While I will readily agree with the final point - 'The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon' is sung throughout and becomes jarring by Episode 2, especially when the writers run out of lyrics and just started setting the plot to music. However the story itself is riveting - it's a western for god's sake, AND it's the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral - and all the cast play their parts admirably, particularly Anthony Jacobs as Doc Holliday and of course William Hartnell as the other 'Doc'! The sets also look perfectly passable - wooden and flat, just like your average western. This is a brilliant story and its humourous tone echoes many modern-day historical stories.

'The Awakening' was lauded as an "underrated classic" before this boxset was released, so I couldn't wait to get it out of the box. When I did, however, I was bitterly disappointed. The whole plot is exceedingly dull - a monster in a church makes the locals' Civil war reenactment get out of hand - and the acting is poor; Polly James' scream at the end of Part 1 says it all for her, and Keith Jayne as Will Chandler is very boring and stereotypical in playing his west-country medieval simpleton role. When the real villain is revealed, the Malus, it looks well - comical! It can only move its mouth and eyes, and just looks like rubber (and it is).

I absolutely adored 'The Gunfighters' yet deplore 'The Awakening' - so that's why this gets half marks; 3 stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2012 11:23 PM BST


Doctor Who Revisitations 2 (The Seeds of Death / Carnival of Monsters / Resurrection of the Daleks) [DVD]
Doctor Who Revisitations 2 (The Seeds of Death / Carnival of Monsters / Resurrection of the Daleks) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Patrick Troughton
Price: 14.50

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the haters and pay up!!, 13 Jan 2012
You will no doubt have read the reviews elsewhere on this product's page which moan about the fact 2|entertain is re-releasing these DVDs, "forcing" us consumers to buy them. Well have I got news for you - you don't HAVE to buy them! The fact that every story on here is already on general release shows that they aren't trying to diddle you by making you get 1 new thing with 1 old thing.

Right rant over - on with the review. Revisitations 2 is a great set, building on the successes of Revisitations 1, and with stronger stories (though I think Doctor Who Revisitations 3 (The Tomb of the Cybermen/Robots of Death/The Three Doctors) [DVD] is going to pip it to the post). The stories are as good as ever - 'Seeds' is an enjoyable base-under-siege Troughton story featuring the evil Ice Warriors, 'Carnival' is a great self-contained Pertwee adventure and 'Resurrection' gives us gritty action and Daleks rolled into one.

The extras are the new boys on this set. For 'Seeds' there are 3 main new features - a making of (something the original release was devoid of), and 2 monster documentaries - one is an interview with 'Seeds' director Michael Ferguson on some of the Doctor Who monsters he has worked with over the years; very informative. The second details 'Monsters Who Came Back For More' and although nice to watch is nothing new to Whovians.

On the 'Carnival' disc there is a really enjoyable making-of called 'Destroy All Monsters' which is packed to the brim with B-movie and comic-book graphics - well worth a watch just for those! There's also a new commentary, some featurettes and 1 final documentary - the excellent 'On Target', this time profiling Ian Marter's work for the novelisation series.

Finally for 'Resurrection' there is a new commentary also, plus the story is presented in both the 4x25 min and 2x45 min formats (it was originally made in the former then edited down to make way for the Winter Olympics). As well as some featurettes there is a landmarkish documentary called 'Come In Number Five' detailing Peter Davison's era of Doctor Who, presented by none other than Doctor #10 himself, Mr. David Tennant.


Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma
Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma
by Eric Saward
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 13.25

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but enjoyable, 11 Jan 2012
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Rightly lambasted for being a pretty crummy script and having even worse production values, the Doctor Who TV story Doctor Who - The Twin Dilemma [DVD] [1984] is probably not top of any fan's 'favourite story' list. However the novelisation is slightly different.

Obviously Eric Saward, the book's author and the story's script editor, had to stick reasonably closely to the script to warrant it the description of a "novelisation", so some slightly ridiculous elements of the plot do remain (using maths to blow up planets being #1 on that list). That said, however, Saward does a great thing by totally embellishing the plot with many different character quirks - far from being a bit of background detail, these range from a complete biological explanation of how the Time Lord regeneration process works to the alcoholic tendencies of Professor Sylvest. They really help flesh out the plot and give it a new lease of life.

Saward's writing style is a bit odd to say the least - sarcastic, descriptive and witty - a strange mix which does prompt some confused faces from time to time when one thinks: why would ANYONE even have the brain to think this string of words and put them on the page?! But nevertheless it's a refreshing tone from the usual Terrance Dicks we have come to know and love (and then slightly fall out of love with).

If you're new to Doctor Who novelisation CDs this will probably put you off through sheer fear at its bizarreness. However if you're reasonably well-versed in their ways you'll love this totally sideways take on a story you thought you hated.


Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood (Classic Novels)
Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood (Classic Novels)
by David Fisher
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 13.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sausage sandwiches all round!, 10 Jan 2012
As with all of Terrance Dicks' Doctor Who novelisations the original "Doctor Who and the Stones of Blood" is an enjoyable book, but sticks closely to the scripts and is at times formulaic (Dicks wrote over 60 novelisations so this is understandable). For this release the story's original writer David Fisher has re-novelised the 1978 serial and with it added much more detail, particularly into the history of the stone circle which features prominently throughout. It's a great, deep, retelling and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The release is read by Susan Engel who played Vivien Fay in original story. She provides a brooding, bassy performance which adds to heighten the tension of this gothic tale. K9's voice is provided by original voice actor John Leeson - another solid portrayal from him, though as K9 has little dialogue until Disc 3 his appearances can seem contractual obligations at best. That said his role picks up later, so it's not all bad.

Overall a great idea and one AudioGo are planning to repeat with a new novelisation of 'Resurrection of the Daleks', a story which for rights reasons was never novelised.


The King's Speech: Based on the Recently Discovered Diaries of Lionel Logue
The King's Speech: Based on the Recently Discovered Diaries of Lionel Logue
Price: 3.96

5.0 out of 5 stars A high quality biog and a potted history in one, 8 Jan 2012
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When I first heard of this I was immediately worried that it would be a run-of-the-mill biography of King George VI, much of which we would have heard before, merely peppered with mentions of his speech impediment. Luckily this is quite the opposite - it is mainly focussed on Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who help cure the King's stammer and (possibly), by extension, saved the British monarchy after one of its biggest crises - the abdication of Edward VIII.

The main reason this focusses on Logue is probably due to the fact it was written by his grandson Mark, who discovered his diaries and other possessions. They appear to have been very extensive and give us a total insight into Logue's life. There are occasional sections dealing only with George and Edward but these are sprinkled with written correspondence between George and Logue, detailing each's inner thoughts.

I would 100% recommend this book, and if you have a Kindle it's only 1.19 at the moment, so grab it while it's cheap!


A History of the World in 100 Objects
A History of the World in 100 Objects
by Dr Neil MacGregor
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars An exemplary exhibit, 29 Dec 2011
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'A History of the World in 100 Objects' is the companion book to the Radio 4 series of the same name, where the director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor picks 100 objects from all over the world which signify the progression of Earth's history.

The book itself is not a straight transcript of the radio series but the content is very similar and any quotes from experts (for example David Attenborough, Kofi Annan and Bob Geldof) are identical. Nevertheless it is a brilliant book with some stunningly good photographs of the objects - comments that the black background to the pictures detracts from the experience are unfounded.

This is a thoroughly commendable book, and I advise you to shell out for this and the CD version if you can, where the whole 100-episode series is presented on 20 CDs; both essential purchases which will be lauded for years to come.


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