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Alaska, Nyssa and exposition
on 11 April 2006
"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.