It's funny, listening to this cd now, to realise just how far the BF audio productions have come over the years. This is only the 8th release of the Main Range Doctor Who full cast audio cds released by Big Finish in 2000, and since then BF productions have scaled new heights in pacing of stories, special effects, music and all types of sounds that come through in their stories to enhance the listeners' experience. This one is a little ... clunky. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, it's just not as sophisticated an audio experience as the more recent BF releases.
There is a great story in this - the Fifth Doctor, accompanied by his companion Peri Brown are travelling somewhere where Peri, a keen botanist can study plant life. But somehow the Tardis lands in ... where exactly? The Doctor and Peri go exploring and find they are inside some kind of structure; but where are the corridors leading them?
Meanwhile, out in space a NASA-funded space mission to Mars is about to land. They are tasked with exploring an `anomaly' on the planet surface. But the anomaly has more questions than answers for the crew of the Ares One. And someone isn't playing by the rules.
Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant are great in their roles as the Doctor and Peri, and it's great to see the Ice Warriors back in this story. The voices of the Ice Warriors is one area where BF particularly seem to have picked up the technical stakes; in this story, there's no sense of the size and menace of the huge Ice Warriors and the difference between them and their War Lord from their voices, which ideally there should be, and there definitely is in stories where the sound is able to offer that differentiation to the listener. And the pacing seems a little slow in this story; lots of room for cliffhangers which don't really live up to their expectations.
Overall, a great story, and a fantastic offering considering how far BF have come over the last 14 years in stories and productions. This is definitely a keeper for a Doctor Who fan and offers a great Ice Warriors and Mars story with the Fifth Doctor.
on 11 April 2006
"Ares One: NASA's first manned mission to the dead planet Mars. But is Mars as dead as it first seems?
"While the NASA team investigate an "anomaly" on the planet's surface, the Doctor and Peri find themselves inside a strange alien building. What is its purpose? And what is frozen inside the blocks of ice that guard the doorways? If the Doctor has a sense of deja-vu, it's because he's about to meet some old adversaries, as well as some new ones..."
Justin Richards' Red Dawn is one of those Big Finish stories that doesn't entirely live up to expectations. Apart from anything, it feels very short, with one episode only being twenty minutes in length.
The return of the ice warriors is a nice idea, but they lose something in translation from screen to sound. None the less they are recogniseable, and the entente cordiale that they spend much of the story in with the Doctor and the crew from NASA reminds one of The Curse of Peladon. Unfortunately, with the real villain of the piece being one of the American astronauts, the appearance by the ice warriors is somewhat wasted.
The cast are good, with Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant in fine form. Peri is perhaps a bit too plucky and comfortable with the Doctor given the story's position in the timeline, but it makes a change from her on-screen bickering with the Sixth Doctor in the following two seasons of the original TV series. There are no real standout performances amongst the supporting cast, some of whom who aren't given a great deal to do, but they all read their parts well.
What lets Red Dawn down is the lack of a real story. None the less, it's an enjoyable 110 minutes, and the sound design is excellent as ever, with Russell Stone's morose score being one of the best aspects of the production.
This is the eighth release from Big Finish in their range of audio only adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as Five and Nicola Bryant as Peri. 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.
Five and Peri land in an intriguing structure on the surface of Mars, just as an Earth expedition also arrives. It's no big spoiler (due to the cover picture) to reveal that the Ice Warriors are soon involved, in what turns into an excellent outing for what has always been one of the more morally complex creatures the Doctor has encountered.
What follows is a rip roaring adventure that explores the concepts of honour, nobility and decency. There are plenty of thrills and spills as Five and Peri try to resolve matters. But at the heart of the story are the Ice Warriors, and their code. Well scripted to give an intelligent, reasonable alien it is a thoughtful script and, for me, a real winner. The actors playing the Ice Warriors also do a great job of characterisation through the hissing speech effects, and really convey the essential nobility of the race.
The only let down to this otherwise excellent production is the somewhat intrusive background music that comes to the fore in the moments of high drama, and really fails to underline the danger, it only serves to annoy somewhat. So 4 stars for this release.
on 15 April 2009
A privately funded NASA mission to Mars seems to have a hidden purpose involving a mysterious anomaly that the crew of the Ares One have come to investigate. The Doctor and Peri arrive on a mysterious planet and begin to investigate, although the Doctor does not realise where he is straight away, the tomb like area they find themselves in contains several of those indigenous Martians that have become known as the Ice Warriors.
Justin Richards can usually be relied upon to produce a good tale but this is distinctly below-par. The problem is not in the writing itself but in that if offers nothing new; it's actually pretty forgettable. If you want a decent Ice-Warrior story then listen to the Judgement of Isskar instead.