This is the hundred and sixty eighth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton as Five and Nyssa. There are four episodes, roughly 30 minutes each, complete with cliffhangers and original theme music between each. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are some interviews with cast and crew at the end of the second disc and a few minutes of the soundtrack at the end of disc 1. This is one of the compendium style releases in the range which have served Nyssa and the Fifth Doctor either very well (Circular Time) or very poorly (Demons of Red Lodge) in the past. This release is middling, neither hitting the heights nor being truly dreadful. It is an OK listen and passes a couple of hours inoffensively enough.
The framing device for the four stories is that Nyssa is taking on the role of Scherezade, telling tales to the Sultan in order to keep the Doctor alive. Thus we get four rather different tales of the Doctor. The tales however are not quite as interesting as the snippets of framing device or the final segment in which everything coalesces and a final thrilling showdown is reached. Extra marks for this release for giving Nyssa such a prominent role, and one which really allows her to shine. There hasn’t been enough solo Nyssa in the main range since the reintroduction of Tegan and Turlough, and a decent part for her is always welcome. And the finale is a great idea, showing that indeed, there can only be the one Doctor. The play also earns marks for the appearance of Alexander Siddig as the Sultan and Nadim Sawalha as the Doctor’s fellow prisoner. These are great performances, but are relegated to the framing story so do not appear in the stories that Nyssa relates.
All in all not bad, but nothing here really pushes the buttons to lift it to greatness. 4 stars because I really liked Sutton, Siddig and Sawalha in it.
Latest Doctor Who audio story. This one features Peter Davison as the Doctor. Along with Sarah Sutton as his companion Nyssa.
Whereas many of these of late are part of trilogies or stories that benefit from listening to ones that have come before, this is one is completely self contained. Thus casual listeners can pick it up and get into it without any problem.
It adopts a format Big Finish have used before, of telling short self contained stories.
Although whereas previous releases of that nature have just been four stand alone stories, this one is a bit more involved.
In a land ruled by a powerful Sultan, the Doctor and Nyssa have come to his palace. Looking for a certain something. But the Doctor is captured, and Nyssa can only save him by spinning tales of their adventures to the Sultan.
Meanwhile, in the Dungeons, the Doctor makes some surprising discoveries...
The homages to the Arabian Knights are obvious. Whilst you have the main story of Nyssa having to deal with the Sultan whilst the Doctor has to deal with what he discovers, there are self contained stories of him and Nyssa also. These being told by Nyssa, one in each of the first three episodes.
The one in the first episode takes a while to come along, since the bulk of the first half of that is all about the main story. But this particular one is a clever and fast paced tale of guilt and morality and how you shouldn't always judge by appearance.
The one in the second episode is set in Victorian London, where a lady of noble birth has a madwoman locked up in her attic. She is looking after them for an old friend of her father's. Who then comes to call.
While the set up of this one may be obvious, and one big cliche is involved, it has excellent supporting characters. Who are very much people of their time. And the Doctor's interaction with them is great fun, which makes for a delightful listen.
The story in part three is a very clever tale all about storytelling itself. And a world where it is greatly prized. The structure of this one is something that you might have to spend a moment thinking about come the end, but it's full of original ideas and very well played.
Whilst all these stories are being told in the first three parts, the narrative does flash back to the Doctor's storyline every so often. This has a lot of twists and turns and surprising developments. All of which come to a head in part four. This just deals with the main story and doesn't have Nyssa telling any tales. Whereas what has come before has been stories about the Doctor, this one is, in essance, a story about the Doctor himself. And it does develop and resolve itself in a pretty original manner.
The sound design and the production do vividly create the setting and the style of the whole thing very nicely.
The four episodes are spread over two discs, and run from thirty one to twenty six minutes in length [approx].
It's an excellent tale with a lot to delight, and it's well worth a listen.
There's thirteen minutes [approx] of music from the story on the final track of disc one.
A trailer for the next release in this range on the penultimate track of disc two.
And just under fifteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew on the track after that. These are worth listening to especially for Peter Davison's comments on the fiftieth anniversary of the show.....