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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twittering, Doctor Who style!
Starting with Lalla Ward's mellifluous voice intoning what appears to be a tortured stream of tweets, before the relevant character's brain overheats, this story starts as oddly as it means to go on.
We return to English the moment the TARDIS dumps the Doctor and Romana into the story, but not just any English, this batch manages to capture the wit, brevity and...
Published 12 months ago by P. Kennard

versus
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ironically, it babbles on for far too long...
I thought a trip with the fun 4th/Romana pairing would be a great laugh, but unfortunately it's sucked dry by the insipid writing struggling to make the most out of what is, almost frustratingly, a very decent concept.

The writing just doesn't ring true on this one. The world of the Babblesphere is underdeveloped, the new characters caricatured and...
Published 16 months ago by Will Stanford


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twittering, Doctor Who style!, 2 Sep 2013
By 
P. Kennard (Worcestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
Starting with Lalla Ward's mellifluous voice intoning what appears to be a tortured stream of tweets, before the relevant character's brain overheats, this story starts as oddly as it means to go on.
We return to English the moment the TARDIS dumps the Doctor and Romana into the story, but not just any English, this batch manages to capture the wit, brevity and banter of later Fourth Doctor stories, retaining much of the humour that made the series so popular at the time. Even the relationship between the mercurial Fourth Doctor and Romana's constant upstaging has remained intact.
The story itself also mirrors the period's more serious side, taking scientific and sociological elements to their logical extreme, mixing Douglas Adams' perverse logic with just enough of Chrispher H Bidemead's science to make the concept as intelligent as it is engaging. Even the series' 'Arc' intrudes in a far more effective and positive way than the previous two stories, actually being aped by both the Doctor and Romana in a typical fourth-wall shattering way.

Lalla Ward guides us through the narrative with her usual elegance, leaving Roger Parrott little to do but fill in the occasional gaps. The writing and performance are so fluid, that you don't realise how much time has passed until you suddenly find yourself at the end, where a rather silly joke provides a finishing touch to an excellent production.
Recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rogue computers are our speciality, 9 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
The most enjoyable of the series so far, `Babblesphere' successfully captures the sardonic wit and light-hearted banter that characterised the television show during Douglas Adam's time as writer and script editor (fortunately without any of the crass comedy exhibited in the early stages of `The Horns of Nimon' for example). As such it serves as a more than adequate tribute to the later years of Tom Baker. The drawback being that the excellent Philip Hinchcliffe era of the Fourth Doctor gets no representation in this series.

As Romana references a couple of times during the course of this story, the Doctor has battled quite a few mad computers with delusions of grandeur. However, this story doesn't really re-cover old ground and is distinctly original and different. It involves a computer enslaving the human colony of Hephastos through a social media network known as the eponymous Babblesphere. The author manages to maintain a light tone in mocking obsessions with such things like Twitter and Facebook whilst simultaneously creating a sense of threat to society if such things get out of control. There is something of a social critique on modern times.

With the pedisiquads (I have no idea how to spell that) there is the inclusion of some robots to generally act as minions for the computer and perform the usual chasing and incarceration of the TARDIS crew. Their voices are quite good in a gravelly, mechanical way, but they do sound a bit like they could be adolescent Daleks. There isn't a great deal to them but they adequately serve their purpose in this story.

Lalla Ward is one of the many Doctor Who actors who exhibit a very pronounced and distinctive voice. It lends itself perfectly to audio. Her narration is outstanding and it is a joy to listen to her re-visit the role of Romana. Her Tom Baker `impersonation' leaves a lot to be desired though. The tone and inflection feel all wrong but I suspect this is also something to do with the dialogue, which doesn't feel quite right for the Fourth Doctor. In fact her impersonation of the Eleventh Doctor is actually better.
Her other voices are all fairly strong and entertaining; although the performance as Phylis does sound like an impersonation of Joanna Scanlan.

The only disappointing aspect of this audiobook is the lack of the Fourth Doctor. There is a vast section during the middle of it where he doesn't even appear and I can't help thinking that this audio would have been even better if Tom Baker had performed on it. But that is not what this range is about.

As with the previous stories in the series the Eleventh Doctor makes a brief, unexplained appearance. This time he interacts a bit more with the story, directly helping and instructing the Fourth Doctor and Romana. There is no further clue to what the Eleventh Doctor is up to, however. Hopefully this will develop well as the series continues.

I admit that a Doctor Who adventure featuring the Fourth Doctor and Romana which makes fun of things such as Twitter and Facebook is and idea easily sold to me. Even so, there is plenty here to entertain and amuse as well as to contemplate. This makes this a strong addition to the range.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A credit to the range!, 18 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
This story is great!
Lalla Ward is superb as Romana and the rest of the cast are good too.
A great story!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The anti-social network, 6 April 2013
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
This is the Fourth in a series of Doctor Who talking books entitled 'Destiny of the Doctor.' Each features a different incarnation of the Doctor. And although they are stand alone stories, there is a linking storyline running through all of them.

Since this has no tie in to any of the preceding ones, and since the linking storyline doesn't effect the main one in this release, it is something that casual listeners can get into quite easily without having heard any of the others in the range.

It runs for seventy minutes [approx] and is basically one long episode, complete on a single cd. The only breaks are the usual cd chapter ones.

The inlay gives minimal information about the era of the show in which this story is based, plus copyright details and advertises other bbc product.

this story is read by Lalla Ward, who played the second Romana opposite Tom Baker's Doctor in the last two years of his tenure on the show. She reads the narration in the third person, and does all the character voices, save for one which is read by a guest actor.

K9 doesn't feature in this. But his absence is explained. In a believable way.

In Babblesphere, the Doctor and Romana find themselves on a planet where civilisation is in decay. As the inhabitants spend all their time connected to a computer network that allows them to share their thoughts and feelings with everyone else. Not being part of the network is a crime. But someone has just died in mysterious circumstances. There is danger in the network....

This does have the feel of a story of the time, and you can easily visualise it in your mind's eye in the style of such. Even the music and the sound design do have the feel of the era. Said era did attract criticism for getting silly at times, but this never goes that far. It does bring in some eccentric characters but they're never over the top. There are some fun moments of Doctor and Romana banter that do show how well this writes the two characters.

It's a very good listen for the first third as it sets everything up, and Lalla Ward is a very good narrator. It does threaten to lose it's way slightly in the middle third as the story meanders a little. But it pulls itself together well in the final third for a good finale that is also well in keeping with the style of the times.

There's some obvious social satire here also, but that never gets the least bit annoying.

Regular listeners to this range will know how the linking theme works by now. Which does run the danger of getting repetitive. But this does do it slightly different. And it's fun also.

Not the best of the range, but a fun listen and worth getting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware the dangers of social networking!, 16 Feb 2014
By 
R. Wood "ryecroftwood2" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
Behind David Tennant (and possibly Matt Smith), Tom Baker is my favourite Doctor. Barmy, brilliant, gentleman-like, brave & compassionate (whilst at times dark and menacing), the Fourth Doctor had the image and the companions to cement his legacy forever as one of the all-time greats.

And of course, Tom Baker was in Genesis of the Daleks. Enough said(!).

So Babblesphere was a tale I couldn’t wait to indulge in. I’ve loved these Fourth Doctor adventures for audio release (i.e. Demon Quest), so I was expecting great things in part 4 of Destiny of the Doctor.

The Fourth Doctor and fellow Time Lord Romana arrive on the geologically-unstable planet of Hephastos, where the colony of composers, painters, authors and poets have become hopelessly lost in the Babble network. Privacy is a crime, and the collective’s home has fallen into despair & decay. But is there a manipulative force at work? And can the Doctor and Romana uncover the truth before it’s too late? For them & the colony?

It’s times like this where I really lament the tragic loss of Elizabeth Sladen (RIP). Sarah Jane Smith was THE companion/best friend of the Fourth Doctor (if not the Doctor as a WHOLE), and I wish she were still here to have been a part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, let alone this Destiny series. She’d have been the leading lady in this chapter, for sure. Alas, Lalla Ward is back as Romana and she provides a lively, boisterous narration for the story, which also translates well into voicing other characters and the Fourth Doctor himself.

For those who know little of the character, Romana is a female Time Lord (with Lalla’s role being a second incarnation of the character). She’s the Doctor’s equal here in terms of bravery & intellect, and also isn’t afraid to engage with him in mad banter (which isn’t typical of most Time Lords). Her ability to relate to the Doctor’s thoughts & feelings are due to her being a fellow Time Lord instead of a human. Thus, Romana is a treasured companion, and it’s a delight to have her here in absence of Sarah Jane.

Roger Parrott is the supporting voice-over as Aurelius, and adds tremendous characteristics with his voice. Coupled with some quality interactions with Romana & The Doctor, the results just blossom. The music and sound effects are as spot-on as ever in recreating the atmosphere of this era, and perhaps it’s more faithful than any other Destiny chapter in doing so. You can truly visualise Tom Baker and Lalla Ward back in the thick of it.

Jonathan Morris has written the story here and it is a fun one, with plenty of good dialogue and a clear moral of the story. Certainly, the dangers and disadvantages of social networking (and a society far too dependent on it) make for great food-for-thought, though the plot is very predictable. Until the stakes change two-thirds of the way through, when Jonathan’s story completely shatters expectations, changing into an epic battle of wits that steamrolls towards a rip-roaring climax. And it comes right in the nick of time, because without this major plot-twist, Babblesphere could’ve ended up being lacklustre.

As it stands, Babblesphere is NOT the Fourth Doctor chapter it could’ve been in the Destiny series, but it’s still a really fun one to indulge in. There are other Fourth Doctor audiobooks that are better than this one, but Babblesphere remains an enjoyable treat for those continuing to follow the Destiny of the Doctor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite amusing, 25 April 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
Great to hear Lalla Ward again, and a story which begins with some quite funny digs at our own era and preoccupations. Enjoyed it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tribute for Tom Baker - Celebrating 50 Years of Doctor Who, 19 April 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
April 2013. Time to celebrate Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor!

The Tom Baker years for me were 'Genesis of the Daleks'; 'The Robots of Death'; 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang'; 'The Key to Time' series and 'City of Death'.

The Fourth Doctor is a bohemian man with a long scarf who's back to travelling the stars after a long exile on Earth. He witnessed the creation of the Daleks and their creator Davros; battled a giant flesh-eating plant monster and elected himself President of the High Council of Time Lords on Gallifrey. I've personally done my own Tom Baker story.

He's had many travelling companions including lovely Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen); Leela (Louise Jameson (who I've met twice)); loveable K9 (voiced by John Leeson (who I've also met twice) and two Romanas (Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward). Tom Baker is also the Doctor who first met my favourite Doctor Who companion Nyssa of Traken (Sarah Sutton) as well as Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse).

Continuing in the `Destiny of the Doctor' series is Jonathan Morris' story `Babblesphere' produced by Big Finish and AudioGo.

As before like the first three audio releases (the previous one - 'Vengeance of the Stones'), this story is narrated and performed by an actor from the TV series and a guest star. This time, it's Lalla Ward (who played the second Romana opposite Tom Baker) and Roger Parrot as Aurelius.

I've met Jonathan Morris before this CD came out, at a convention in Tunbridge Wells last March. I had a nice chat talking to him about the stories he did, including the Peter Davison ones such as `The Haunting of Thomas Brewster'; `The Eternal Summer' and `Cobwebs'. It was a pleasure to meet him and he seemed a really nice guy.

For `Babblesphere', I got to hear a sound clip from that story at the Tunbridge Wells convention. Jonathan Morris writes this story in the form of the Douglas Adams era and it's pretty clear that there are obvious jokes and scenes filled with Adams-esque humour. Particularly the `mostly harmless' joke and the opening scene with Tiberius 134 (the mumbling little man) who dreamt he was a strange balloon and wondered what he was going to have for breakfast. Even with Lalla Ward reading it, I could help but laugh.

I've always liked the Douglas Adams stories of `Doctor Who'. Some of the science stuff is beyond me, but I've always liked his humour. I really enjoyed `City of Death'; `The Pirate Planet' and the three versions of `Shada' (the book; the audio and the DVD). I've also enjoyed `The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' on radio and the novel 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency'. Jonathan Morris manages to capture the feel and essence of Douglas Adams in 'Babblesphere' with complete authencity.

The setting of this story is very intriguing. A hostile volcanic world with the palace of Versailles in the middle of it containing this colony of composers; writers and artists. It certainly had that ridiculous feel of a French Revolutionary setting with men in their powdered wigs and women in their frocks and stylish make-up.

The Babble network is a very inspired idea. The thought of the colonists connected to each other by computer chips in their head, sharing every thought however trivial and sharing their personal lives with everyone is frightening if not disturbing. It puts me very much in mind of the social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Lalla Ward reprises her role as Romana in this story. It's very clear she enjoyed this one, as the Douglas Adams era was her favourite. I don't think she's does a very good impression of Tom Baker or any of the other characters, but she did a good job. I really enjoyed the novel `Shada' by Gareth Roberts and listening to the audiobook with Lalla Ward narrating and John Leeson playing K9, and it felt the same style here in 'Babblesphere' too.

I've recently met Lalla Ward at a convention in Slough in August since writing this review. I had a nice chat with her about this story, Douglas Adams and telling her I was a fan of 'Shada' to which she approved.

Roger Parrott not only plays Aurelius in this story but also the Prolocutor of the Babblesphere. As Aurelius, he's the outsider who doesn't want to get involved in the Babble network and rebels against it by removing his babble implant. He reminds me of the character in 'The Sun Makers' who doesn't want to pay taxes and almost commits suicide. The twist in his performance was unexpected as he gets possessed by the Prolocutor and forces the Doctor and Romana to access the network where they meet a meglomaniac computer like the ones from `The Face of Evil' and `Underworld'.

I would have liked to have seen more of the Doctor in this story since it tends to focus mostly on Romana's point of view with Aurelius and the elderly women rebels. I also would have liked to have heard more of the elderly women rebels like Phyllis and Hortensia and how they got on in the story. And I would have liked to have seen K9 in the story rather than be in the TARDIS for repairs and put on recharge like the sonic screwdriver. But then you can't have it all in such a short space of time as a 70-minute story.

The music and sound design in this story is very good. It put me in mind of the music composed by Dudley Simpson in many Tom Baker stories

The link between these `Destiny of the Doctor' stories is starting to make sense now as the Eleventh Doctor's popping in and out adds to something. Those moments in each of the stories where the future Doctor turns up unexpectedly to relay a message of importance culminates into something that's going to happen in the last of the series. I don't know what that something is yet. I'm looking forward to how it gets resolved in the end.

Next time it's 'Smoke and Mirrors' in the `Destiny of the Doctor' series with the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his companions Nyssa, Tegan and Adric.

`Babblesphere' overall is a very enjoyable story with the Fourth Doctor and Romana. It may not be the best of the series so far, but it certainly serves well to celebrate Tom Baker's reign as Doctor. Here's to next time.

The next story with the Doctor and Romana is 'Shada'.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Facebook of Evil, 6 May 2013
By 
R. C. McGinlay (Ilford, Essex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
The fourth instalment in this 50th-anniversary series is a curious mixture of authentic and anachronistic.

Remaining true to the television era that he is depicting (the humorous Season 17, when Douglas Adams was the script editor), writer Jonathan Morris offers us an appropriately offbeat adventure featuring officious robots, unlikely rebels, and plenty of verbal repartee between the Doctor and Romana (though some of this veers towards the bad-tempered tiffs of the subsequent season). Sound designer Steve Foxon matches the tone with some decidedly Dudley Simpson style music, together with technological bleeps and burbles of which the BBC Radiophonic Workshop would have been proud.

However, whereas the plots to the last couple of "Destiny of the Doctor" releases have been very much reflections of the past, the subject matter of "Babblesphere" is bang up to date (though it's possible that Adams might have predicted it). The writer satirises social networks such as Facebook and Twitter with all the subtlety of Robert Holmes's all-out attack on the Inland Revenue in "The Sun Makers". LOL! In common with that serial, a real-world phenomenon (if that's the right phrase to use with social media) is taken to its logical but unsettling extreme. Whereas Facebook can be a distraction in the modern workplace, the Babble network has caused a complete economic collapse. OMG! Echoing current fears about the sharing of personal information, privacy has been outlawed on the planet Hephastos, and any criticism of this policy is met with arguments that will sound all too familiar. Those wishing to keep secrets are regarded with suspicion - what have they got to hide?

There's a somewhat sexist premise at the heart of Morris's story, IMHO. Most of the rebels are elderly women (well realised, BTW, by narrator Lalla Ward), whose Babble implants have worn out through overuse, because of course women are incorrigible gossips. Another problem is the absence of the Doctor during the middle part of the story. During this time, Romana meets local inhabitant Aurelius (Roger Parrott), who explains his society's back story to her (and to us).

Fortunately, the two Time Lords are reunited in time for a splendidly satirical resolution, which should delight fans on at least a couple of levels. Regular listeners will by now be expecting a cameo appearance by the Eleventh Doctor, though this occurs rather late in the proceedings. If you are beginning to find these interruptions a little tiresome and predictable by now, the refreshing thing is that so does the Fourth Doctor! LMAO!

"Babblesphere" may have a few negative comments, but it's far from being an epic fail. Richard McGinlay likes this.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ironically, it babbles on for far too long..., 8 April 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
I thought a trip with the fun 4th/Romana pairing would be a great laugh, but unfortunately it's sucked dry by the insipid writing struggling to make the most out of what is, almost frustratingly, a very decent concept.

The writing just doesn't ring true on this one. The world of the Babblesphere is underdeveloped, the new characters caricatured and uninteresting, and the structuring poor. Unlike earlier stories, where separated Doctor and companion switched narratives between chapters, the Doctor is absent for a large part of the first half of the story and any action is hurried out of the way far too quickly to make way for yet more over-stating of the social network analogy. The ending initially feels hurried (and fairly obtuse), but then makes way to a seemingly interminable sequence of circular discussions for the last ten minutes. It makes for some very restless listening.

This last ten minutes also shoe-horns in the device that is linking the stories, highlighting more issues. This device is not being developed at all - there are no clues as to what is going on or what else links these stories. There is also no indication that the Doctor remembers when almost identical events happened in his Second and Third incarnations, which would be a nice recognition of the building mystery. I hope it is not all being saved for the last part in November, as right now it feels these stories are drifting away from each other too much and need reining back in.

But the biggest issue here is, as much as I hate to say it, Lalla Ward herself. Not only does she make an extremely unconvincing Fourth Doctor, with her un-Tom Baker like intonation in contrast to the rather excellent mimicry of the three previous readers (particularly Frazer Hines), she also manages to not sound much like her own character Romana either. It could be anyone reading these words, and so the essence of the late-70s Who team is not captured in any way. Her way of voicing the Doctor also hugely slows down the pace of the story, with lines Baker would have rattled through at a frenetic pace seeming to take an age. This is not helped by some sequences including a ridiculous amount of "he said"/"she said"s in a short space of time, when the different voices put on by Ward make them completely superfluous. Ward seems to approach the reading as if a bedtime story rather than an audio drama, not fully embodying any of the characters she reads. Couple this with the dubious scripting and you've got a very disappointing hour on your hands.

It's a great shame, because the concept of a super-social network gone wrong is wonderful, and does tie in nicely to the 70s evil robot trope (mentioned a few too many times to remain clever in dialogue) and Adams-esque style of the time. But it's squandered by ropey writing and a surprisingly poor voice performance. Hoping for much better things in future months.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor story 4), 18 April 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
Celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who, a brand new adventure for the Fourth Doctor. The violent, volcanic world of Hephastos is home to a colony of composers, painters, authors and poets, all striving to create the greatest works of art the universe has ever seen. But in pursuit of their goal, artistic collaboration has been taken a stage too far...When the Doctor and Romana arrive, they discover the colonists have neglected their well-being and their once beautiful habitat has now succumbed to decay. What's more, they are enslaved to the Babble network which occupies their every waking moment. Every thought, however trivial or insignificant, is shared with everyone else and privacy is now a crime. The colonists are being killed and the Doctor and Romana begin to suspect that a malevolent intelligence is at work...
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Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4)
Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) by Jonathan Morris (Audio CD - 4 April 2013)
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