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Doctor Who: The Androids Of Tara (Classic Audio Original)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2012
In their search for the fourth segment of the Key to Time, the Doctor and Romana arrive on Tara, a pseudo-medieval planet with androids and electrical weapons. Prince Reynart is about to be crowned King of Tara, but only if he makes it to the ceremony. The wicked Count Grendel of Gracht is intent on seizing the throne for himself, and he has one major advantage: languishing in his dungeons is the Prince's beloved, the Princess Strella, an exact double of Romana.

"The Androids of Tara" was writer David Fisher's second script for the Key to Time season, following "The Stones of Blood", which is also available in a new audio novelisation. In the nineteen-seventies, when Target books were publishing novelisations of the stories, Fisher himself wasn't offered the opportunity of novelising his story, and it became one of the weaker efforts from the prolific Terrence Dicks. Now, following the success of "The Stones of Blood", Fisher has once again been given the opportunity of producing an entirely new version for the audio books range, and it's an opportunity he seizes with both hands, clearly relishing the chance to flesh-out the story. The world of Tara, a curious mix of the medieval and the technological, is presented in much more detail than was possible on screen, and Fisher makes the most of the opportunity to provide some background to the world. The differences in behaviour between `real' characters and their android duplicates are cleverly presented.

The story is essentially a rerun of the Ruritanian classic, "The Prisoner of Zenda", and here, as in the TV version, Fisher has fun playing with, and subverting, the expected tropes of the swashbuckling genre, particularly the charming, witty villain, Count Grendel, who, beneath his debonair exterior, is totally ruthless. The lesser characters aren't forgotten, though, and there is time to show the unrequited love of Grendel's technician, Madam Lamia. This is a particularly good story for the companion, Romana, who gets much more to do here than is usually the case. This is signposted right at the start when, upon arrival, the Doctor sends Romana to locate the segment of the Key to Time, while he takes the opportunity for some fishing. "The Androids of Tara" also marks the first real hint of "Star Wars" in the Doctor Who universe, its electrical swords recalling the flashier light sabres.

John Leeson, on TV the voice of K9, has an ideal voice for audio recordings, and breathes life into the story, carefully differentiating between the different characters. The music and sound-effects, while still over-literal and often unnecessary, aren't as intrusive as on some other releases. "The Androids of Tara" is a first-rate addition to the growing collection of Target audio readings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the fourth in the linked stories about the Key to Time, where the Doctor and his Timelady companion Romana are finding the segments of the Key to Time on behalf of the White Guardian.

In this story, the finding and retrieving of the segment of the Key is easy - done in the first five minutes! But from there, things get really tricky. Getting back to the Tardis becomes impossible for Romana as she is captured by the dashing Count Grendel of Gracht. The Doctor, meanwhile, has been caught fishing without a license, and finds himself on the other side of the political divide assisting Prince Reynart.

I remember seeing this story on tv and finding it a bit confusing. This audio story, written specifically for the medium by the writer of the original tv story, fills out much much more of the background of the characters and the history of Tara. This is great, as we get to find out why such a backwardly feudal society has ended up with seemingly forward-thinking technological advances such as robotics. The Counts of Gracht are explained, in their full horrific family dynastical circumstances, and we understand much more of the politics, with Prince Reynart and Princess Strella, as well as the robotics engineer Madam Lamia.

The story is well-read by John Leeson, who played K-9 in the Doctor Who series, and K-9 has a small part to play in this story; he does get taken out of the action in a rather undignified manner but redeems himself at the end. The story is well written and has taken full advantage of being able to be written in a more complete manner for the audio story. John Leeson's reading is very good, although I did find that his characterisation of Count Grendel sounded uncannily like Basil Fawlty. Still, added to the character all round.

This is highly recommended and a great listening experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2012
David Fisher, author of the original story, has produced a new novelisation, specifically for this audio release. The Target book, written in the late 1970's by Terrance Dicks, was quite perfunctory, so Fisher is able to flesh out the characters a little more.

To be honest, he doesn't change that much, but the relationship between the villainous Count Grendel and his assistant Lamia is expanded and strengthened from the TV version.

Searching for the fourth segment of the Key To Time, the Doctor, Romana and K9 find themselves on the planet of Tara. Finding the segment is easy enough, but the Doctor is then unwillingly drawn into royal intrigue as he fights to stop Count Grendel usurping the throne from the rightful heir Prince Reynart. Romana also tangles with the wily Grendel, who finds her of great value - since she bears an uncanny resemblance to Princess Strella - second in line to the throne .....

John Leeson, the voice of K9 for three of the four years that the tin dog was the Doctor's companion, is a skillful audiobook reader. With less intrusive music and sound effects than some of the other releases, The Androids of Tara is an enjoyable pastiche of The Prisoner Of Zenda, and Fisher's new adaptation is an entertaining addition to the Classic Novels series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As part of AudioGo's revamping of several tales, the Androids of Tara has been rewritten by its original TV author, David Fisher. Whilst the opportunity to embellish one of the original Target books may seem attractive, this adds little to the original book and certainly seems to be a dubious release for a series proclaiming to feature the original "classic books" Yes - the covers of the rewritten books are different (as was Castrovalva) it still sits oddly among a set of almost original books (another Key to Time story - Stones of blood received he same treatment last year)

The reading by K9 voicer John Leeson is enjoyable and lively.
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on 15 September 2012
If you are looking for an `old school' audiobook reading that plainly and simply does what it "says on the tin" then this latest release from AUDIOGO's foray into the TARGET DOCTOR WHO novelisation archive will be ideal for you.

For me, it's disappointing, and this is regrettable, as AUDIOGO have released a series of exemplarily unabridged audiobooks that have exceeded all expectation for the format.

However, if David Troughton's reading of DOCTOR WHO - THE WAR GAMES (2010) was AUDIOGO 4.0vr then John Leeson's perfunctory reading of David Fisher's DOCTOR WHO - THE ANDROIDS OF TARA is AUDIOGO1.0vr. It's a retrograde step, whether artistically or due to financial restraint (a cost cutting exercise?), and fails to entertain, engage or thrill from start to finish. Aural wallpaper. Flock with all its flock sandpapered off smooth.

Both the reading and production is, and this next statement may please a select few, very BBC RADIO 4 as it's staid, accessible and free from frivolousness.

The only highlight was hearing `a fan favourite' metallic companion, K9, unleashed by Leeson;

K9: He lost, Master.

The remaining characters struggle to be anything other than one-dimensional under Leeson's pedestrian reading and, probably for the first time, the 'minimal' of special sound effect & atmospheric treatment hinders his contribution further. Certainly, other Reviewers have publicly criticised the overbearing (their word, not mine) use of additional sound effects, however, I feel that supplementary contribution from the likes of MEON SOUND (Simon Power) and Simon Hunt (contributing to the NEW SERIES audiobook range) categorically add value to any reading.

Overall, it was a either a challenge and/or torment to struggle through this reading of the fourth story of the themed Season 16 (THE KEY TO TIME).
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