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The Land of the Dead (Doctor Who)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Landing in Alaska, the Doctor and Nyssa encounter a group of people in a most unusual house, cut off not only by the harsh climate but by their individual secrets and obsessions.
"Millionaire Shaun Brett is utilising chunks of the local area to construct a shrine to his dead father. But when deadly creatures start roaming outside, and a terrifying discovery is made inside the house, the Doctor realises that Brett has unleashed an unimaginably ancient force."
The Land of the Dead is an imaginative, if rather odd, concept. Most peculiar is the house, with its themed rooms of stone, earth, timber, sea, ice and bone - if only we could see this strange creation on the screen! However, visuals are really unimportant in this story, as it's the characters inhabiting the house that matter.
They include the bitter and twisted Shaun Brett (Christopher Scott), the ageing Eskimo Gaborik (Andrew Fettes), the half-American Tulung (Neil Roberts) and the artist Monica Lewis (as opposed to Lewinsky), in an engaging turn by Lucy Campbell.
Unlike some of the Big Finish Audio series, there is no problem identifying who is who in this particular tale. Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are in good and recogniseable form as the Doctor and Nyssa, and the remaining characters are all well-drawn and have distinctive voices. Whilst the monsters have a role to play, the crux of the story is really the personal struggle between Brett and Tulung, with the unfortunate Nyssa caught in the crossfire. In the absence of Nyssa's company, Monica Lewis makes a good companion to the Doctor during the last episode as she runs the gamut of stress from tense to wittering to sarcastic in what becomes something of a running joke.
Like many of the Big Finish stories, The Land of the Dead has good sound design and a decent script, this time written by Stephen Cole, which lets itself down only by including too much obvious descriptive exposition. I look forward to hearing more of the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2014
'The Land of the Dead' is one of the most memorable stories of 'Doctor Who' in Big Finish's history.

It's significant being the first of a series of adventures with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa starring Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. I had listened to other audio adventures with the Doctor and Nyssa including 'Circular Time'. But it was nice to go back at the beginning where these adventures started.

The story of 'The Land of the Dead' takes place after the departure of Tegan in 'Time-Flight'. Their first audio adventure takes place in in Alaska where they arrive in 1964. During a snowstorm, the TARDIS almost collides with a plane before they dematerialise and jump ahead to 1994.

The TARDIS detects energy readings within Alaska. They go outside to explore and run into some mysterious creatures. The Doctor and Nyssa race to the house of millionaire Shaun Brett. They take refuge, but it isn't long before strange creatures with flesh-bones come out and terrorise.

I really like this story by Stephen Cole. The story was gripping to listen to with the Doctor and Nyssa. The sound effects and music are pretty atmospheric. I didn't fully understand the Permian skeletal creatures, but the Alaska setting made it with the Doctor and Nyssa treading the snowy landscapes.

This is a great story for Sarah Sutton as Nyssa who is tremendous. This is Sarah's first Big Finish audio and she has fond memories of it. I remember Sarah saying at conventions and in a DVD interview about the first day's recording and everyone awed by her and Peter like they've never been away.

Sarah sounds exactly the same as he was as Nyssa on TV. Her voice hasn't changed a bit as she sounds so young and beautiful. Sarah's chemistry with Peter is still the same and I like the camaraderie they share as this is where a long line of audios with Big Finish begins for Sarah.

Nyssa gets to have a voice of her own. I love that first scene with Nyssa and the Doctor in the TARDIS and when they walk through Alaska. I like Nyssa's scenes with Tulung who she forms a close friendship with as they both have lost their fathers and they share an adventure together.

Nyssa's psychic abilities are used again when she's sensing the Permian creatures. I liked it when Nyssa's on the phone to the Doctor, telling him to get out of there when one of the skeletal creatures breaks out. Nyssa does get taken hostage, but she stands up pretty well to Brett.

Peter Davison is great as the Doctor. Peter's energy is the same as ever and is exuberant throughout. I enjoyed how he takes an interest in the mysterious things, challenges Brett's work over the years and shows a concern for Nyssa. I like it when he and Gaborik rescue Nyssa from the sea room.

I found the Doctor's scenes with Monica Lewis very enjoyable as they bounce off each other and she's almost like Tegan and the Doctor having to tolerate her in his polite way. Peter's Doctor works out of the problem pretty well and knows what these creatures are and what's at stake.

The story's supporting cast is very small, consisting of four characters. But for their time in the story, they are captivating to listen to with such interesting journeys.

There's Lucy Campbell as Monica Lewis. She's an interior designer hired to build the monument in Brett's Alaskan rock face. She's spent three years of her life on this project and is easily frustrated. She complains to Brett, gets on well with Tulung and strikes a good friendship with the Doctor.

When trouble starts, Monica becomes shocked and sickened when one of the creatures breaks out. She can be pretty squeamish, but she's a willing to help the Doctor despite her reluctance. I found it funny when the Doctor suggested having a cup of tea and he expects her to make him one.

There's Christopher Scott as Shaun Brett. He's a complex character with mysterious motives. He seems charming at first, but there's more going on under that smooth surface. He's had a rough patch from his childhood. He's set up this monument in honour of his father who died years ago.

He's tied himself to Tulung who he blames his father for the death of his own father. There's this bitter rivalry between Brett and Tulung that's lasted for years. Brett loses it half way through the story and goes mad which builds up to a final showdown between him and Tulung.

There's Neil Roberts as Tulung who I liked. Tulung is a torn good hearted character who is tied to Shaun Brett. He's a man of mixed heritage as he's half-American and half-Koyukon, connecting him to his Eskimo origins. I enjoyed Tulung explaining things to Nyssa and the Doctor about his past.

I love Tulung's relationship with Nyssa and how she connects to him. Nyssa reveals to Tulung what she saw with the plane accident involving his father. This leads to an awkward position where Tulung believes Nyssa to be her guardian spirit, which I found rather sweet and unnerving at the same time.

And there's Andrew Fettes as Gaborik, a fifty-year old Eskimo. He's works for Mr Brett and is not a very cheerful person. He doesn't make friends with anyone despite working for them. He has this strong belief in the Raven Father and the sea spirit called Sedna from Adlivum, 'the land of the dead'.

Gaborik doesn't appreciate Tulung's enthusiasm for the Koyukon and threatens to leave Brett's house when the Permian creatures revive. Gaborik has an untimely and horrific demise when one of the creatures attacks him, ending his story abruptly in 'Part Two'.

There are some interesting revelations, connections and references to the dinosaurs and 'Earthshock' when the Doctor and Nyssa are investigating the Permian creatures.

The CD extras are as follows. There are trailers for two stories with the Seventh Doctor and Ace called `The Fearmonger' and `The Genocide Machine'. Inside the CD casing, there's a floor map of Brett's monument which is very handy to find where you are in this story.

This is a great start to the audio adventures of the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. I've had the CD cover of 'The Land of the Dead' signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton at a convention in Newcastle, 2013. This is a story full of atmosphere and adventure. I cherish this story featuring my favourite TARDIS team.

The next story for the Doctor and Nyssa is 'Winter for the Adept'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is the fourth release from Big Finish in their range of audio only adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as Five and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. This is a cracking adventure that really captures the feel of the old TV adventures, while subtly updating and making use of the fact that on audio the visual effects are so much easier to realise. There are four episodes, roughly 25 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some notes from the author.

The Doctor and Nyssa arrive in 1960s Alaska, the TARDIS on the trail of a mysterious energy source. They suddenly jump forward thirty years and on setting out to investigate they find themselves trapped in a house with the usual bunch of Dr. Who supporting characters and some very odd fossils.

This story does what classic Who did so well, and blends the superstitions of the Alaskan peoples with the science fiction elements beautifully to create a story that is tense and intelligent. The script writers have realised that the monsters are so much better in audio, and are not limited by dodgy screen effects. By letting the imagination work with the descriptions given by the characters you can conjure up some quite frightening images. It's really well done and makes the most of the new medium.

This is set in the period between Arc of Infinity and Timeflight, when Five and Nyssa were travelling alone without Tegan. This addresses a missed opportunity in the TV series to show the Dr and Nyssa travelling alone, as she was too often overshadowed by the annoying Adric and Tegan. Davison and Sutton step right back into the roles as though they had never been away, and it all works rather well. 4 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2013
Floating above the Arctic Alaska, the TARDIS narrowly avoids being ploughed into by a small plane, re-materialising thirty years later in the same spot ... Where the Doctor and Nyssa promptly get menaced by Hybrid Creatures...

And so starts another Fifth Doctor adventure, with just the one companion this time, in a base-under-siege story that despite some excellent supporting characters, struggles to keep the listener engaged. The first of the Big Finish audios to significantly overrun the '25-minutes per episode' format, this story feels overlong and suffers from real pacing issues, particularly in Episode 2. The author has gone to a great deal of effort to present a group of people with real histories and character, with extraordinary detail going into the background of the local people and their beliefs/motives. But it is this extensive detail that drags the story down; too much time is spent explaining the background to the story that nothing really happens for whole chunks of the running time.
I made it to the end thanks to some of the supporting characters: while a couple fit comfortably into the stock of caricatures often found in such adventures, one manages to spring out of the speakers so wonderfully that you almost wish she had decided to join the Doctor, if only to liven things up. I love Nyssa to bits, but even with half the story to herself, she still fails to be really engaging. Sarah Sutton does her best, but writers seem to have no idea how to get the best from the character. Meanwhile, the acerbic Monica ends up stealing all the best lines, puncturing the Doctor's pomposity and leaving him almost lost for words. This can only be a good thing, as he is in his 'teaching' phase where he likes to explain everything to anyone who'll listen, and even some of those who won't.

A Special Edition of this story, losing about half an hour, would make it far better and bring out the research and effort Stephen Cole put into this far more effectively. Another early story that could benefit from more experienced hands.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2009
Landing in Alaska, the Doctor and Nyssa encounter a group of people in a most unusual house, cut off not only by the harsh climate but by their individual secrets and obsessions.

Millionaire Shaun Brett is utilising chunks of the local area to construct a shrine to his dead father. But when deadly creatures start roaming outside, and a terrifying discovery is made inside the house, the Doctor realises that Brett has unleashed an unimaginably ancient force...

The early Big Finish audios were more closely linked to the classic series than in more recent times, and in many ways they were more accessible for it. Land of the Dead features the Fifth Doctor and his Trakenite companion Nyssa; ancient monsters, shifty people harbouring secrets and an 'ancient evil' make this more akin to the late 80s Sylvester McCoy period, however it is a strong and engaging story and kept me riveted throughout.
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on 6 June 2015
Good big finish story
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
after so many great big finish audios, its rare to come across even a little biot of a let down, as i love most of them. but this story is a weak one for me. it just takes too long to get started and when it has it isnt that interesting. The things that save it are Sarah Sutton giving a good performance as Nyssa and the shorter and faster paced final episodes on disc two. the first two episodes are really boring, with not much going on at all. but it gets better towards the end.
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