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on 13 July 2013
Sometimes, these Doctor-crossing-his-own-path stories need to be told, despite being reminded on-screen by some writers that it is not possible. The Wrong Doctors is done so in a clever way. It needs to be clever to work and unless you have absolute concentration, you will invariably lose the time track at some point. For me this story therefore does not quite hit five stars because of the potential confusion. There are plenty of easy-to-follow stories that are five star, that this one will alienate all bar the absolute aficionado. I always have one request from any audio story or book; I don't want to be alienated, I want to be part of it. Here, the interesting theme and performances allow one to skip any misunderstood parts and enjoy the rest of the narrative.

In my view, Big Finish often better the classic stories (and certainly the new series). Added to which the younger and then more inexperienced actors and actresses have opportunity to flourish a quarter of a century later. Melanie Bush is a great character, and I have very much enjoyed her Big Finish work. Had not appreciated that it has been some years since she has done any.

Of all the Doctors to have a two-Doctor story where it is the same incarnation at different points in time, Colin Baker is the obvious choice.

Very ambitious and a nice experiment. Exploring the name theme, we had The One Doctor a few years ago (Colin Baker again), had it not been for the 1985 story The Two Doctors, this would invariably have been called The Two Doctors, ..., unless of course there were more than two unlikely, but one can never be sure when one really considers such a plot.
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This is the 169th story in the Big Finish Main Range, and is the first in a series of three stories which re-introduces the character of Melanie Bush, the companion first seen with the Sixth Doctor in the tv series when she appears in a story (Terror of the Vervoids) brought by the Valeyard in evidence against the Doctor at the Doctor’s Trial (Trial of a Time Lord).

Mel has appeared in other BF stories, but the story of how she came to first travel with the Doctor has never been addressed in a specific story, and this story puts this to rights. The Doctor has farewelled his companion Evelyn Smythe, and decides that this is the time in his timeline when he should sort out the meeting of himself with Mel, so sets off to the village of Pease Pottage, where Mel lives on Earth in 1987. But something seems to have gone terribly wrong, because there are two Tardises, two Doctors, and two Mels in Pease Pottage; and there are aspects of Pease Pottage that just don’t seem quite right. What is an iguanadon doing in the garden? And what exactly is going on in Pease Pottage?

This is a really valiant attempt to put right the introduction of Mel into the life of the Doctor. The two lead parts, played by Bonnie Langford and Colin Baker are tremendously well played by the actors. Listening to the extras on the cd, it is interesting to hear Colin Baker talk about the challenges of playing himself at two different points in his own timelined. Visually, it would be relatively easy to do a story like that on tv, where the Doctor is wearing a different coat, and subtle changes could be made to ‘show’ the differences. In an audio story, the Doctor’s mannerisms and character must be shown only through the medium of voice. This is done very well with the script, but remarkably well by Colin in his manner and tone, and in the delivery of his voice. There’s never any doubt in the story which Doctor is speaking. Similarly, the two Mels, one younger and one slightly older and worldly-wise after her travels with the Doctor, are played with subtle differences and nuances by Bonnie Langford very well.

The story itself I thought got a bit over-clever in its attempt to shove so much action into the narrative. The ‘aliens’ that appear part way through the story really didn’t seem to be needed to add to the storyline at all. They seemed a distraction, and their over-the-top management speak in cheesy American accents just seemed a bit silly, and diluted the rest of the story. The motivation and the reality of Stapleton Petherbridge, and the others of the Pease Pottage village where the Doctors and Mels find themselves was quite enough of a story in itself without the clutter added in. As a result, I think the real story got rather overshadowed and there were some points where both the Doctor and Mel made great leaps in logic to work out what was going on without showing their reasoning to us at all; as a result, the tension was not resolved satisfactorily for the listener, as the storyline had become too busy, and the resolution too rushed. A pity, as there were some really great elements in the story, but overall I felt a bit disappointed with the end result.
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*Contains Spoilers*

This is the hundred and sixty ninth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford as Six and Mel. 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.

As a consequence of it’s very long history, time travelling subject matter and the many writers/producers etc that have worked on the show, it is inevitable that there are a few continuity problems that crop up from time to time in Dr. Who. Most are minor things that only serious fans who have watched all the DVD’s will notice, but there are some big glaring points that would be noticeable to the casual viewer. And chief among these over the years is probably the Mel Bush problem. First introduced as a future companion of the Dr in trial of a Time Lord, where he is being shown his own future, but then that future Mel seems to start travelling with him there and then. So just where and how did he meet her, and what about all the apparent paradoxes?

With this release Big Finish have attempted to answer some of the questions, and to give Mel an introduction to the show. And they do it in style. I’ll not try to summarise the plot, it’s one of those tangled webs of time that might require a second listen to get it all straight. But there is so much to enjoy here. Not least is the amazing performance of Colin Baker. Here he plays two versions of the Sixth Doctor, the younger, brasher version that we remember from his TV days, and the older, wiser version that we have grown to love through the audio adventures. Colin manages to differentiate between the two versions beautifully, and the listener is never in doubt as to whom it is that they are hearing. It’s a startlingly good performance, which along with his double role in the highly recommended ‘Curse Of Davros’ shows what an amazingly good actor he is.

It’s a story that has everything, from high octane action, character development, comedy, dinosaurs, a great performance from Bonnie Langford, a timey-wimey plot (that works really well) and some really touching scenes. It sorts out the paradox beautifully, and really could not be better. 5 stars and well done Big Finish, keep up the good work!
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A new Doctor Who audio story. This one features Colin Baker as the Doctor, and is the start of a new trilogy of tales featuring him plus Bonnie Langford as his companion Melanie Bush. This is the first of these she's been available for in five years, so it's a welcome return.

It doesn't tie into any other stories, so casual listeners can get into it easily enough. Since it attempts to resolve the rather muddled continuity involving Mel at the end of Colin Baker's era on tv it does help to be aware of that. But if you're going to be listening to this then you will doubtless be familiar with that particular tv run, so it shouldn't be a problem.

The story does take place after the departure of Evelyn Smythe, longtime companion of the Sixth Doctor. But only in audio stories. A lady who was more than a match for him and his personality and had a very mellowing effect on him. The opening scene deals with that, so anyone who hasn't heard an Evelyn audio might be lost. But will be fine afterwards.

The story runs for four episodes of twenty seven to thirty four minutes each [approx] and is spread over two discs.

Since the Doctor always knew that he would one day end up travelling with Mel, he decides as ever to look forward rather than back, and heads off to Pease Pottage, her home village, to find her.

But at the same moment, a slightly younger Sixth Doctor is going there as well. Right after the end of a trial of a timelord. Taking Mel home. So that his future self will be able to meet her.

The one thing timelords should never do is cross their own time track. But when the younger sixth Doctor finds strange things going on in the village, he can't help but get involved.

Soon, multiple Sixth Doctors and multiple Mels are all over the place.

And that's the least of Pease Pottage's problems. There's also the iguanadon. Plus a very sinister local man. Time travel can be very dangerous...

The first two episodes of this are amazingly good fun, especially when Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford are in scenes. Both adjust their performances to take into account which different version of the character they are. And some of the resulting dialogue is incredibly funny and quite simply brilliant at points.

Although the moments when the story is focusing on the villain of the piece and the other strange things going on aren't quite as fun, they do intrigue greatly.

It all does get very involved in the last two parts, though. And you will have to think very hard about things in order to keep a grip on the story. These parts don't have nearly as many great Doctor and Mel moments as the first two, though, so they're not quite as fun a listen as those were. The third part rallies superbly though in the final third when plot twists and villainous scheming are made apparent.

To be followed by an equally involved part four. The strong moments for the Doctor and Mel in this are more touching character rather than humorous interaction, though.

But even though the first half of this is slightly stronger than the second, this is still a clever and original and brilliantly acted piece of work. And it is well worth five stars. And a listen.

There's just over eighteen minutes of music from the story on the final four tracks of disc one.

A trailer for the next release in this run of three stories Dr Who Spaceport Fear CD (Dr Who Big Finish) on the track on disc two after the end of part four.

Plus just over ten minutes of interviews with cast and crew on the two tracks post that.
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on 1 September 2015
You wait ages for Mel to be introduced and two come along at once! It’s kind of a multi-doctor story isn’t it? TV Six vs. BF Six. Interesting or confusing? Why not both? Have your cake and eat it I say! Only ‘Doctor Who’ can make story out of a continuity hole.

We are introduced to a Mel singing a neat little ditty about her home town ‘Pease Pottage’. It makes me wonder where Bonnie ends and Mel begins as Mel was supposed to be a computer programmer with an eidetic memory?! And she has chosen to use her memory skills to memorise a patriotic ditty for her hometown. There is a certain tongue in cheek element at times but it never feels out of place and just adds to the flavour of an already odd but enjoyable story. The tone reminds me of ‘The One Doctor’ light hearted but not as panto as the aforementioned.

It’s taken me sometime to really get used to the audio only format but even now my mind tends to wonder for a minute or two, so this one sets a real challenge. Six and Six but which is which? Personally I found it awkward at times but not impossible. The sound of the recording is modern, clean and fresh – although the score itself is a bit uninspired at times. The acting is pitched at the right level all round; although Tony Gardener (Stapleton Petherbridge) starts hamming it up towards the end. The story itself is well thought out and written if a little over ambitious considering the format. I mean come on who doesn’t want to see Mel knock her-self out. It leaves important questions like was it a right hook or a left? I wonder if Nick Briggs was pulling his hair out in the director’s chair?

You may have noticed I haven’t really commented on the plot simply because trying to keep track is so confusing. No wonder Colin has that look on his faces on the cover. But it’s ok because they throw a spice girls joke in as a bonus, Yay!

There is a lot going on in this one. I don’t think it’s for everybody and perhaps not beginners but it’s enjoyable – which is good but because you might have to listen to it twice!
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on 14 April 2013
Excellent romp for the sixth Doctor! Mel was cool too. Nice to clear up her timeline a little the appearance from nowhere in the series was annoying.
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on 16 February 2013
Colin Bakreater is called the worst Doctor, however on audio Colin is great. And in this story he has to play two versions of the Doctor and has to be one of the best stories he has ever done.
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