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3.3 out of 5 stars11
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Third in the Serpent Crest series, a run of Doctor Who audio stories from the BBC with Tom Baker in the lead.

This one runs for seventy five minutes [approx] and is one long episode, the only breaks being the usual cd chapter ones.

The inlay contains cast and copyright information plus a mock up of a story, which has a bearing on the events here.

This does have a brief reprise of the events in the first two Serpent Crest audios right at the start. But new listeners are better off starting with those as it's not really a great jumping on point.

The end of part two saw the Doctor and some others pulled into an alien artefact which has great powers.

Here, they find themselves in the middle of a story that could have come out of the Arabian Nights.

In fact, a certain storyteller is telling the tale as it happens.

Can the Doctor and Mrs. Wibbsey make Aladdin realise who he really is? And can they find a way out?

And what will happen to the storyteller?

This deliberately takes on the style of an Arabian nights tale. And plays some clever tricks in regards to the narrative, and what it's like for those who are inside it. This makes it a bit slowly paced for the most part - the opening narration from the storyteller does go on for a little bit too long - but the dialogue scenes between the characters in the tale are pretty good.

The resolution lacks dramatic impact, though. But a scene which follows involving the fate of the storyteller is rather memorable.

And then there's another scene which ties up a lot of the loose ends of the story so far. And rather lacks dramatic impact as well. Making this one end on a rather low key note.

It's not quite an extraneous chapter in the narrative, but it's just not quite as involving as it could be.

This is not the end of Serpent Crest though, and previews of parts four and five promise they could be rather special. So I will be back for them.
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on 12 March 2012
This is episode three in the (at time of writing) latest Tom Baker audio serial, DOCTOR WHO SERPENT CREST - ALADDIN TIME, written by Paul Magrs (the G is silent, fans) from AUDIOGO. I've listened to episode one (TSAR WARS) but missed episode two and so I come to this thing with a handicap but the virtue in reviewing this release almost as a standalone lies in just that: does the story work in its own right or is it a necessity to buy the previous realises? I think this is an approach worth taking because not everyone is blessed with a large budget for indulgencies and so some may be tempted to dip into a series rather than commit to buying a boxed set with a hefty price tag (which one would expect, given that this will eventually turn up as part of a five-CD set, remember). The added complication is that Tom is back in the saddle and so a lot of fans will probably want to sign on for at least a few of these tales even if coughing up £50 for a series may be out of the question.

The tone of episode one and three is pretty much the same. Think Douglas Adams era WHO. If you've like me and find pretty much everything Adams has done as a series of tired exercises in over-extended satire licensed by his Oxbridge connections then you should avoid this, period. The Doctor's scarf becomes a snake-like entity and this feels a lot like the Colin Baker period in the DOCTOR WHO MONTHLY magazine (remember the brilliant Rupert Bear parody? Yes, like that). But, again, if you're also like me and think Tom Baker is a genius, then you're pretty much stuck with the dilemma: it's Tom and so has to be worth hearing. And that's it. I opted to listen to this thing solely because Tom is bringing us NEW WHO from the best Doctor. And one cannot argue with that. Fans are going to pick up the Baker releases just to hear Tom: it would hardly matter if a duck had crapped out the script; if Tom agreed to read it, me, I'd want to hear what he made of it.

As for influences, think Troughton's Doctor in the Land of Fiction (see DOCTOR WHO - THE MIND ROBBER). No, Tom does not meet Gulliver but he does find himself re-enacting the story of Aladdin (not quite the panto) and meets Scherazade (Sophie Ward) who narrates the story. In this case, Tom and his Holmes-influenced companion, Mrs Wibbsey, are trapped in an egg that creates its own mini-universe and in this case stages the story of Aladdin, populating it with people from the outside (real) world for reasons not worth going into here.

Two of the characters we encountered previously, the boy Andrew and Mr Beaulieu, turn up respectively as Aladdin and the magician who forces him to investigate the cavern of the 40 thieves to recover the magic lamp; while Andrew struggles to remember who he really is, Mr Beaulieu realises that the environment is fake early on but plays along in order to reach the conclusion of the story and find a way out. The Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey turn up and they are entirely unaffected by the story-telling environment, which is convenient, and soon find themselves travelling through the caves with Aladdin/Andrew, pursued by the magician. That's pretty much it, no complications, as linear as linear narrative gets. Passing references to the fact that Andrew and Mr Bealieu are part- or entirely non-human will make no sense unless you've heard at least episode one, though.

Other quibbles? Well, I wondered why the Story so far was offered as a series of clips and then segued into Scherazade's narrative: why not have the character run through the recap as well? But despite feeling a sense of tiresome déjà vu throughout, Tom won me over as he always does. He's bluff, chatty and daft as ever. And new boy Matt seems to vanish into the ether in comparison. This is not a bad effort. It's just average, workmanlike: writing by numbers as it hits WHO-specific storytelling beats; but, with Tom driving it, it's like watching a Volkswagen with a Porsche engine. Nevertheless, if money is tight, give it a miss.

Rating: Thanks to Tom, 5/5 Take Tom out of the equation: 1/5
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This is the third of the five part series Serpent Crest, featuring the Robotov Empire, the dangerous and apparently malevolent Skishtari egg, and the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey trying to put things right. In this story, the Doctor and Mrs W are in a storyland built around the familiar Aladdin stories; magicians, caves with unimaginable treasures, Aladdin and the magician trying to find the lamp; but what does it all mean? And how do they get back to Hexford and sort things out, as they seem to be going from bad to worse?

Tom Baker and Susan Jameson are in top form again, and they have a good supporting cast as the other characters in the stories. But it does flag a bit - perhaps it just suffers from being the third part in a five part story, but it never really seemed to make much headway in the overall story arc. And I was never really that fond of Aladdin stories anyway. Never mind, by the end of the story, the Doctor is ready to take Boolin and Alex back, and Mrs Wibbsey sets off to do the washing up. And hopefully Mike Yates will be all right, having been in the hospital since the initial attack by the Robotovs several episodes ago. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, I'm sure, so we'll head to episode 4 to see where the story goes next.
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Released in 2011, this is the third part of a set of 5 interlinked stories featuring many people’s favourite doctor, the 4th incarnation as portrayed by Tom Baker. It is the third and final such series to be produced by the BBC before Tom finally agreed to work with Big Finish. It’s one episode, about an hour long on a single disc.

This is a totally redundant episode in the series. You could skip straight to episode 4 and not miss a thing. The Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey find themselves trapped in an Arabian Nightsesque world, in which storytellers have power. They wander around doing nothing very interesting, meeting a few uninteresting people until an uninteresting conclusion is reached. On the plus side Tom Baker seems genuinely interested and gives it a good go, his performance manages to lift the uninteresting material a little. The rest of it is either forgettable, or the bits that I can remember (a sentient scarf?) are pretty awful. 2 stars for this, it does nothing to advance the ongoing story arc and is a flat and lifeless adventure.
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For this range I actually found Aladdin Time to be rather pedestrian. Contrary to some reports Tom Baker was practically reserved in this installment, and it was hard to care too much about any the of characters - especially the boy, who comes across as so wooden this may as well be called 'Pinnochio Time'! Even the usually reliable Mrs Wibbsey has become rather too one-dimensional, and despite Andrew Sach's brilliant portrayal of the Doctor's scarf come to life as a sort-of genie, this feels like a series that needs an injection of something to get it up and running again.
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on 8 March 2012
All of these Paul majrs serials are too long with their "Key to Time" like story arcs (It didn't work on TV and it doesn't work here.) The Doctor is living in a cottage, completely out of character with the Fourth Doctor; and with an irritating house keeper called Mrs Wibsey. Nick Courtney was meant to have returned as the Brigadier but due to his ailing health (and subsequent death) is replaced here with Richard Franklin's Captain Yates. A poor and very dull substitute. I'd have preferred Ian Chesterton or even Sgt Benton to dull old Yates. Tom is allowed to be over the top and wildly eccentric so much so that he is mad old Tom Baker more often than the Fouth Doctor. The only good thing about these audios is that they paved the way for Baker to finally work for Big Finish productions who do a much better job at audio Who than the BBC themselves.
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on 26 January 2012
Quite liked this one. I really enjoyed part one, though part two lacked a bit. Then along comes this, pretty clever and I tell you what parts 4 & 5 are exceptional. Really good work here and on we go to Big Finish...
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on 11 February 2013
This is not a good doctor who audio adventure. It is quite boring and because its boring it feels like it goes on forever. Try 1001 Nights instead. Still I like Tom Baker in this.
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on 30 November 2011
I've always liked the more creative and imaginative stories in these series - there's none moreso than this one.

Following the rather dark and sinister goings on in story 2 it was nice to have this colourful tale as a contrast. The setting of the story is as much a mystery to the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey as it is the listener. I loved the fact we were lost in this bizarre landscape together.

Tom and Susan have great chemistry in Aladdin Time (hardly surprising perhaps as this is story number 13 in their epic saga!) - the Doctors affection for Mrs Wibbsey and vice versa makes the tale very heartwarming too. It's pitched perfectly for listening on a wintry evening in the runup to Christmas.

Andrew Sachs as the scarf isn't as mad as it sounds - nor is setting the story amidst the fictional tale of Aladdin. I was bracing myself for a "and then they all woke up and it had been a dream" denouement and i'm happy to say there's no such cop out.

I note that Mr Shaw felt the story, although laden with great acting and one liners, was without a plot. I do disagree. I feel like this story continued the journey to what looks like an epic finale, just not at a breakneck speed. For me the journey can be just as exciting as the destination.

Bring on David Troughton as 'The Visitor' in Part 4!
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on 28 February 2015
Very pleased with everything from start to finish.
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