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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sands of Life
The Sands of Life is a hugely entertaining release. Tom Baker is on top form in a script that gives him some good dialogue, getting the balance of humour and drama about right. He is well supported by Mary Tamm in a story that makes use of her Time Lady status, and by a terrific performance from David Warner as the head of a powerful business empire. There is a clear...
Published on 28 Feb. 2013 by Mark J. Heckford

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I did not like it, but the next story (the second half) is much better
The Sands of Life is one half of an adventure, concluded by War Against the Laan. They really should have been one disc. Padding it out to two you get lots of helicopter scenes and periodic incidental music. Bizarrely split into three episodes (title music therefore pads it out further).

Some nice ideas are set up, the Doctor and Romana well written and...
Published on 29 Mar. 2013 by R. Le Quin


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sands of Life, 28 Feb. 2013
By 
Mark J. Heckford (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
The Sands of Life is a hugely entertaining release. Tom Baker is on top form in a script that gives him some good dialogue, getting the balance of humour and drama about right. He is well supported by Mary Tamm in a story that makes use of her Time Lady status, and by a terrific performance from David Warner as the head of a powerful business empire. There is a clear premise, and it is explored well, with the future Earth being shown as a global state that uses the wealth of David Warner's businesses to bank-roll its actions, good and bad. Sound effects and music help to create a story that I could clearly and easily visualise throughout, helping to make this one of the strongest Tom Baker stories from Big Finish. It has two small flaws; one is a sudden and jarring reference to badger culling that is so much out of place (seeming to be lifted from the news of 2013 and dropped into the middle of an adventure set in another era) and the portrayal of the global government military in a stereotype of 'shoot first' thinking complete with American accent. I would have enjoyed this a little more had the military been written in a rather more intelligent way, defending the Earth in the best way they can, even if very misguided. This is the first of several linked releases, and the end of the story is a cliff-hanger. It isn't perfect, but it is fun; I will certainly be listening to this one again. Worth buying; and at the same time, maybe treat yourself to 'Robophobia' or 'The Silver Turk'. All in all a good day at the office for Big Finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Earth Adventure with the Laan - Part 1, 7 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
(cries) "THE SANDS OF LIFE!!!! THE SANDS OF LIFE!!!"

I loved listening to `The Sands of Life'. This is the first disc of the Laan story that is spread across 2-discs with the Fourth Doctor and Romana with K9. I can't understand why they can't make `The Sands of Life' and `War Against The Laan' a 2-disc set instead of two separate CD releases between February and March.

`The Sands of Time' contains three episodes, which is odd as usually the Fourth Doctor Adventure contain two episodes on one disc. This story is notable for being the first and only five-part `Doctor Who' adventure in the Tom Baker era, since `The Sands of Life' contains the first three episodes whilst `War Against The Laan' contains the last two.

Nicholas Briggs wrote and directed this story for the second series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish, and it's based on a outrageous idea by Tom Baker. Tom Baker presented his ideas for the Big Finish adventures with the Fourth Doctor to producers David Richardson and Nick Briggs and one of these ideas was about space whales. Nick hooked onto that idea Tom suggested and turned into a story that became a fast-paced five-part adventure with the Doctor, Romana and K9.

After enjoying listening to 'The Auntie Matter' with Tom Baker and Mary Tamm, I was really excited and keen to continue listening to more stories from that season with the two together. Following Mary Tamm's death in 2012 the previous year before this CD's release, it made these adventures including this one so precious to listen to in memory of the lovely lady who played `the noblest Romana of them all'. Nick Briggs writes well for the Doctor, Romana and K9. As David Richardson rightly points out in the sleeve notes, these audio stories do have the feel of Season 16 about them with the Doctor, Romana and K9. I wish they could have been made for telly.

I've had the CD cover for `The Sands of Life' signed in 2013 by John Leeson who plays K9 and David Warner who guest stars as Cuthbert. I enjoyed meeting John in Slough when I asked him to sign this and also David when I met him Swansea.

`The Sands of Life' begins the Laan story with the Doctor, Romana and K-9 in the TARDIS experiencing time distortions and a mass of alien whales approaching in the vortex. They arrive on Earth somewhere in the future, as the TARDIS ends up in the Sahara Desert. Pretty soon, the Doctor and Romana are caught up in a web of events as space whales called in Laan live in the `sands of life' and a bitter reaction from the humans is aroused that could mean the outbreak of war. Can the Doctor and Romana prevent an outbreak of war between humans and the Laan? More than that, can they deal with the bitter rivalry they receive from Cuthbert, all-powerful CEO of the futuristic Conglomerate who wants the Laan for his own business interests?

This is a pretty fast-paced adventure that I couldn't help enjoying from beginning to end. I'm sure Douglas Adams would have liked this story if he commissioned this as script editor of the series. The story contains non-stop action from beginning to end. We have very little time to know who the characters are in these three episodes, but I'm sure that will come later in the finale of this story and we get to know who Cuthbert is and why he really wants the Laan destroyed; and who President Sheridan Moorkurk is since we barely much of her in the story. Apart from that, it's a gripping first three episodes with some lovely interaction between the Doctor, Romana and K-9 that I enjoyed.

Tom Baker is on top-form as the Doctor in this story. I enjoyed every scene with Romana and K9 and also when he's confronting Cuthbert with that sparkling electricity between the two actors. I like the scenes when both he and Romana are interrogated by General Vincent in Episode 2 and the scene cuts between both how Romana and the Doctor witnessed events, and the Doctor's being very Tom in his scenes. The Doctor calls Romana `Leela' and K9 `Sarah Jane' for some strange reason, and we get flashback scenes with the Doctor saying famous lines from previous stories including `Genesis of the Daleks' and recently in `Destination: Nerva' which I liked. Tom's Doctor doesn't like what's happening with the Laan and gets angry when Cuthbert orders Mr Dorrick to open fire on one of them.

Mary Tamm as Romana is lovely as ever. It's hard to believe Mary's no longer with us as I listened to this story. Romana gets to experience psychic contact with the Laan in this story. They seem to want to talk to her rather than the Doctor. Romana manages to stop the Laan from dragging her down in the Sahara sands after she's been pulled down at the end of `Episode 1'. Romana gets interrogated rather forcefully by General Vincent and is separated from the Doctor when she's taken to use to communicate with these whale creatures for the humans. I really like how Romana and the Doctor work things out and unravel what these Laan creatures are and how they're connected to the time vortex. Some scenes with Romana and the Doctor depict why they work so well.

It was great to hear K9 return to `Doctor Who' with the Doctor and Romana. I love K9, wonderfully voiced by John Leeson. K9 gets cooped up in the TARDIS for most of the story but I love his scenes with `the master' and `the mistress' when discovering a parrot or encountering time distortions in the vortex. K9 gets to help the Doctor with looking for Romana in the sands of the Sahara desert. Unfortunately K9 gets crushed by one of the whales at the end of Episode 3, which shocked as I wondered whether K9 would survive the rest of the series. I told John Leeson at a convention about this and agreed with me. Sadly K9 doesn't appear in `War Against The Laan' and we'll have to find out in 'Phantoms of the Deep' to learn what's become of K9.

This story features a very special guest star from the Hollywood movies. Hayley Atwell guest stars as President Sheridan Moorkurk of the planet Earth. Hayley recently did `Captain America - The First Avenger' and has appeared with Billie Piper in both ITV's `Mansfield Park' and in `The Sally Lockhart Mysteries' for BBC1. Hayley plays the Earth President in this Laan story. She doesn't have a big part to play on the first three episodes of the story, although she like Romana has had telepathic contact with the Laan. She gets bullied by Cuthbert over her presidency. We'll have to find out more about President Moorkurk and what she's like in the concluding installment of this Laan story.

It was great to hear David Warner playing Cuthbert in this story. David has done quite a number of these Big Finish audios with `Doctor Who' and seems to be really enjoying them. I really like the character he plays in Cuthbert and like his profile picture blazed on the CD cover for `The Sands of Life' with the Doctor, Romana and K-9 underneath. Cuthbert is in charge of the powerful business Conglomerate, and has Mr Dorrick helping him in his business transactions. He seems to be world famous even though the Doctor hardly knows him. He has a grudge against President Moorkurk being Earth President and is really against the Laan for accidentally destroying one of his space platforms.

Toby Hadoke appears in this story playing Mr Dorrick, Cuthbert's sort-of personal secretary. Toby is well-known for his stand-up comedy shows `Mothballs Ate My Doctor Who Scarf' and ` My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver' which I've seen, and he's also acted in many Big Finish audios. I'm sure Toby was delighted to be working with Tom Baker. Mr Dorrick in this story is a mild-mannered and slightly timid character who's afraid of his boss Cuthbert. He carries out orders on Cuthbert's behalf whether it's business transactions or killing one of the Laan. I really the double-act between Dorrick and Cuthbert and Toby and David play out their scenes very well in the story.

The voices of the Laan are down by Jane Slavin, who's worked with Tom Baker before on previous Big Finish audios including 'The Valley of Death'. The Laan are a mass of aliens who live in the Sahara Desert as they live and breathe what they call `the sands of life'. They appear at first to be worm creatures before it turns out they're actually space whales. The Laan are telepathic and can travel in time and space through the vortex like the Doctor and Romana. They keep repeating "The Sands of Life!" to Romana before perfecting their form of contact using words. They are the cause of some explosions and upset the humans like Cuthbert who want to provoke a war with them.

The first disc ends on a cliff-hanger with Episode 3 having K9 crushed by a whale and Romana and the Doctor making contact with one of the three elders of the Laan. Pretty soon, Cuthbert orders Mr Dorrick to open fire on the Laan provoking an act of violence. Cuthbert keeps giving the order to fire despite the Doctor's protests. It's very likely that an all-out war between humans and Laan will begin...

TO BE CONTINUED...

The CD extras on `The Sands of Life' include an interview with John Leeson and Tom Baker talking about K9's appearance in this story and also in the series in general. Both John and Tom share nostalgic memories of working on the series which I enjoyed listening to. There's also a 'coming soon' trailer for the following installment of the Laan story - 'War Against The Laan'.

This is a great beginning to a fast-paced adventure with the Doctor, Romana and K9 and featuring guest appearances from David Warner, Hayley Atwell and Toby Hadoke. I wondered what's going to happen next as I eagerly waited for the concluding installment of this tale.

Find out what happens to the Doctor and Romana, as the Laan story concludes in 'War Against the Laan'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Traditional 70's Doctor Who Adventure, 15 Jun. 2014
By 
Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
Doctor Who The Sands Of Life.
Doctor: Fourth Doctor.
Companion(s): Romana, K9
Main enemy: Cuthbert, The Laan
Main setting: The Sahara Desert, Africa
Writer: Nicholas Briggs
Director: Nicholas Briggs
1xCD, 3 episodes of a 5 part audio adventure.
Running time 75 minutes.

Extras.
Trailer for War Against The Laan.
Behind the scenes interviews.

Trivia.
1)Hayley Atwell starred in Captain America The First Avenger as Peggy Carter & featured in several Big Finish audio adventures.
2)The Laan can navigate through the Time Vortex.
3)The Doctor mistakenly calls Romana Leela and K9 Sarah Jane.
4)Unusually this story is in three parts, very few of Big Finish Productions' stories are told across three parts.
5)The parrot would remain in the TARDIS until at least the Doctor's eighth incarnation. (Audio: The Light at the End).
6)First apperance by Cuthbert played by David Warner.

Plot Synopsis.
Sheridan Moorkurk has just been elected president of Earth but the harsh realities of who really runs the planet are just beginning to dawn on her & what's more, she's starting to hear voicescalling out to her.

Meanwhile, the Fourth Doctor & Romana encounter a mass of invasion of aliens called the Laan are heading to Earth.

The Laan who have already made the mistake of upsetting the infamous Cuthbert, all-powerful CEO of The Conglomerate, by destroying one of his space platforms.

Will the Doctor & Romana be able to avert an inter-species war by peaceful means or will Cuthbert bring about a war with the Laan that will destroy all life on Earth?

Timelord Thoughts.
The Sands Of Life is a big Fourth Doctor audio adventure with the first 3 parts told on this release will it's conclusion features on the next Fourth Doctor release War Against The Laan.

Writer Nicholas Brings seems to have captured the tone of season 16 with this adventure giving a alien invasion plot that could destroy the Earth with the Doctor having to intervene in the events while this plotis nothing new Briggs at least keeps it well paced & gets good performances out of his cast.

Tom Baker is on cracking form as the Doctor delivering some great moments of eccentricity.

Tom Bakers Doctor like the actor playing him has a huge personality as Tom's incarnation of the Doctor needs to be pitied against a actor as strong as him & David Warner is more than up to the task who delivers a superb believable performance as the mysterious Cuthbert whos motive become questionable, Warner gives the character a underling edge of sinister without the usual megalomania as these two excellent actors spark off one another giving the play such drama.

The late Mary Tamm is on sparkling form as Romana in this story who shares a great on screen chemistry with Tom Baker as the duos bickering humour is reminiscent of the season 16 The Key To Time series yet showcases a underlying mutual respect.

This is a very plot based story which could've benefited from a bit more character development especially Hayley Atwells character Sheridan Moorkuck which needed more backstory & feels underwritten in this adventure here.

I'm pleased this was extended to 3 parts because it gives the story time to breathe & adds some nice touches to the storys setting, I feel sometimes the 60 minute format of the first Tom Baker season felt at times Big Finish were cutting down on details to squeeze a four part Doctor Who adventure into two.

But overall this is mostly an enjoyable audio adventure that ends with a great cliffhanger to be resolved the concluding part of this story War against The Laan, But as they say that's another story.

Timelord Rating.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor in the desert, 25 Mar. 2013
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
Second in the latest series of Doctor Who audio stories that feature Tom Baker as the Doctor and Mary Tamm as Romana. In this one they are joined by John Leeson as K9.

This story runs for three episodes, which vary in length from twenty nine to twenty three minutes, and is complete on a single cd.

It can be heard without having heard any of the previous Fourth Doctor audios. Although you need to be aware that it ends on a cliffhanger which will be resolved in the next story in this run. Thus it does feel like the first half of a bigger story rather than something that's complete in it's own right.

Set on Earth, somewhen in the future, the story sees the result of the election for President of Earth return the first ever independent candidate to the role. But she has a few lessons to learn. And a strange problem.

A ruthless tycoon sees a horde of aliens headed towards Earth.

They land in the Sahara desert. With the TARDIS following along.

With the military and the corporation on the scene, can the Doctor and Romana find why the aliens have come to Earth? And can they prevent a war that could prove very costly to all sides?

This does have a very 1970's feel to it, and there are moments when you can imagine the visuals in the style of the show at the time. Even the incidental music feels like something out of this particular tv era of the show.

The first episode offers lots of intriguing set up, a great performance by David Warner as the aforementioned tycoon Cutherbert. He does a good accent and makes him more ruthless than evil.

The three TARDIS crew members are all at the top of their game and have some excellent scenes together.

And a decent cliffhanger makes you want to know what will happen next.

The next two episodes aren't quite as strong, and it's a bit of a shame that the three leads are separated for most of them. It gets into more conventional Doctor Who territory with the two Time Lords having to deal with typical human reactions to this kind of thing.

Episode three does start off with a bit too much in the way of shooting and explosions, but it all does come together rather well in the end as various plot strands are brought together.

Not all the answers are forthcoming, and as mentioned it does end on a cliffhanger that will be resolved in the next release.

Said story is Dr Who 2.3 War Against the Laan CD (Dr Who Big Finish), and there is a trailer for it on the cd track right after the end of part three.

So whilst this isn't a particularly stand out story it does though offer some great acting and some good Doctor Who in a fond nostalgic style. Thus it makes for quite a pleasant listen.

The final track of the cd is a short - four minutes approx - chat with John Leeson. Plus Tom Baker. This is also worth a listen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sands of Life, 20 Nov. 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
This is an original audio adventure featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, with the wonderful Mary Tamm as Romana, his timelady travelling companion. Caught up in the eddy of what appears to be an enormous number of beings travelling to Earth, the Tardis and its crew set off in hot pursuit. But a ruthless businessman, Cuthbert, CEO of the global power Conglomerate, is also tracking the alien beings, because they ruined a very expensive and mysterious experiment he was carrying out in space. Can the Doctor and Romana find out what the aliens are doing? Can K-9 get the sand out of his insides? And what does the Sahara desert have to do with anything? Find out all this, and more in this great adventure.

I really enjoyed this, and the story finishes at a point which leads on to another adventure War Against the Laan. So you really need to get that story to find out where this story leads to.

This story really truly felt like a story from 1978 - even the music seemed eerily reminiscent of the right time and place. The sound effects in the story seemed, for some reason to be very distinct as well - even the footprints and walking across the sand seemed to be absolutely spot-on - you could hear the characters right beside you and `feel' the desert air. Great stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I did not like it, but the next story (the second half) is much better, 29 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
The Sands of Life is one half of an adventure, concluded by War Against the Laan. They really should have been one disc. Padding it out to two you get lots of helicopter scenes and periodic incidental music. Bizarrely split into three episodes (title music therefore pads it out further).

Some nice ideas are set up, the Doctor and Romana well written and performed, but that's about it. An otherwise excellent writer, who has contributed so much good stuff to Doctor Who faltered a bit here, and no-one seemed willing to tell him.

I really did not enjoy this story, but the ideas carried through to the next story are progressed well.

2 stars because I did not enjoy this story, I think it poorly judged; better condensed to 15 minutes or so and shoved onto the front of War Against the Laan, the two of which would have made a 4 star story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A telepathic sea cow travelling in the time vortex, 7 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
After their visit to the 1920s, the Doctor and Romana now end up in Earth’s future. A new world president has been elected but much of the power seems to lie with the Conglomerate led by the mercurial and ruthless Cuthbert. But the Doctor and Romana are not the only alien visitors. As the Conglomerate begins what it considers its greatest experiment a strange species arrives through the space time vortex.

The Laan are quite an intriguing and fairly original species. Like quite a few aliens that have appeared in the programme over the last few years, they are based around having a particular defining characteristic. Theirs’ is the ability to warp the fabric of time and space to migrate. It is an interesting concept.

The aliens are not the bad guys in this adventure though. In a story that touches on issues such as corporations vs. government, the evils of capitalism, exploitation by big business and a lack of environmental concern, the role of villain falls to Cuthbert and his Conglomerate. Cuthbert’s only concern is that his experiment is ruined. He represents the greedy, self-obsessed, empire building business man and David Warner plays him perfectly. One of the defining moments of the character is where he, unlike the Doctor’s usual enemies and with a typical business attitude, seeks to employ the Doctor rather than kill him.

One of the most interesting elements of the play is a sequence involving the interrogation of both Romana and the Doctor. These interrogations are performed in different rooms but the questioning is alternated between the two providing an elementary contrast between the replies of each. It is a good use of the audio format.

The main problem with this release is that it treads water a bit. Not a great deal actually happens considering it is spread over three episodes rather than two. It isn’t really a story in its own right. Unlike the previous Fourth Doctor audio series where ‘The Trail of the White Worm’ and ‘The Oseidon Adventure’ are virtually two separate stories where one lead to the other, both ‘The Sands of Life’ and the following ‘War Against the Laan’ are really all the same five part story. ‘The Sands of Life’ can’t really be listened to independently or as a standalone release. It seems to act as little more than a warm up to ‘War Against the Laan’, establishing the setting, scenario and characters and building up to the outbreak of war. As such it seems strange that it gets one episode more than usual. It doesn’t need the extra length and there is some padding involved. However, if the purpose of ‘The Sands of Life’ is to act as a build-up to ‘War Against the Laan’ then it does it quite well. It is also nice to have a long Fourth Doctor story especially considering that both the final two stories of this series are set in the same time and involve some of the same characters.
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3.0 out of 5 stars it is a pretty thin intro story and could have been told in ..., 9 Aug. 2014
By 
Roy WD (ROCHESTER,KENT United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
Inevitably any listening is tinged with the sadness of knowing that Mary Tamm died shortly after recording her Baker audios. This one is hampered by two main problems 1. it is a pretty thin intro story and could have been told in half the time. 2. A bit of an 'actor's indulgence' appears to have been allowed-with the usually excellent David Warner playing Cuthbert (really?) with a hybrid northernish accent. Not the best entry point for the Baker stories.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more like it but minus a star for cliff-hanger!, 19 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) (Audio CD)
I think I am one of many who found themselves disappointed with the quality of the 4th Doctor & Leela stories-not with the actors I hasten to add who were perfect but with the quality of the stories. I felt, with the exception of Energy of the Daleks, that the stories were under-par and far too short (you're just getting into it and it's over!). I just didn't think they were worthy of the talents of Tom Baker & Louise Jameson. I felt the stories in the "Lost stories" set were so much better as they were longer and gave the plots & characters enough time to breathe. Plus the pacing seemed less rushed as there wasn't so much to be crammed into a short running time.

So I approached the 4th Doctor & Romana stories with caution. And, of course, sadness as Mary Tamm is no longer with us. On the one hand great excitement to hear her voice again while on the other real sadness knowing these stories would be the last time.

The 1st story (the Auntie Matter) had a very nice "behind the scenes" which included a tribute to Mary. Tom Baker's comments about her were very touching. Plus the story itself was a promising start for this particular series. This is the 2nd story and I think some lessons have been learned from the aforementioned Doctor/Leela stories. It is longer so there is more time for the story to develop. Plus there is now more room for longer solo scenes for both the Doctor and Romana and gives each more time to shine. I feel in this story that Mary Tamm is now very comfortable with playing Romana again after so long (yes she did reprise the role previously in one of the stories in the "Gallifrey" series, but she was almost totally alone in that story and there was no interaction with the Doctor of course). I really felt that this was the Romana I remember, with nice touches of the comic sarcasm that she had in the classic TV series. Here it was directed effectively at the military. I could just picture her giving one of her withering looks!

The story itself is a very simple one- (basic outline-no spoilers)large numbers of a race of aliens have come to a future earth with a mysterious plan and the military and a mysterious corporation are attempting to stop them.

The only niggle I have with this story is with the cliff-hanger ending. I think that is a bit of a cheat. Fans will buy this series anyway so it seems a bit mean to try to force them to. However, that doesn't detract from the fine performances, apart from that American accent-oh dear! American fans beware!
(The 3* is only because of the cliff-hanger ending! The story and performances are worth 4-5*)
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The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures)
The Sands of Life (Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures) by Nicholas Briggs (Audio CD - 1 Feb. 2013)
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