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This is the sixty sixth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as 5, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and, in a very welcome return for someone who has been associated with the Doctor since the very beginning, William Russell as Lord Carlisle. There are 6 episodes, roughly 15-20 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Three episodes per disc on 2 discs.

The Doctor visits the planet Cray to witness one of his heroes, Lord Carlisle, negotiate his last peace treaty in the conclusion of Cray's civil war. But there are some problems - there appears to be no civil war, just a sport that has got out of hand, and Lord Carlisle claims the Doctor is his best friend, even though the Doc has never met him.

This starts out as an excellent play, with two really good ideas at its heart - the idea of war and sport being substituted is interesting, and the notion of the Doctor as a time traveller meeting people out of sequence is fascinating. For the first disc these are used to good effect and the story structure works quite well to provide a sense of mystery and edge of the seat excitement as the Doctor and Nyssa are plunged headlong into the `sport' of Naxy. It all falls apart a little with the twist at the start of disc 2 and the introduction of Morian. This leads to a less than satisfying ending and the introduction of a pantomime villain that really doesn't fit with the tenor of the start of the story.

It is largely saved by the dignity William Russell brings to the role of Lord Carlisle, as he realises the juncture that fate has brought him to. And of course, Davison and Sutton are great as Four and Nyssa, still exploring their relationship in the absence of Tegan and so soon after the death of Adric. Starts off well, has some good performances, but has a saggy unsatisfying middle section before rallying for a pretty good ending. 3 stars.
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on 28 April 2007
I was actually genuinely surprised by the storyline of this story. The murderous game is quite horrible, even if you only hear it. If this was a screen adventure and not just an audio, it would be worse than Terminator!

But the story is still very very good, and the characters are believable and yet much more serious due to the nature of the storyline. Peter Davison again gives a realistic performance as the Doctor. What would one do if forced to enter into a game that butchers thousands? Even an alien would be sick to the pit of their stomach, and Peter conveys this very well. Sarah Sutton of course is brilliant as Nyssa, who despite of many other views, is a good companion! Shes compassionate and caring, and thats the kind of person i like most.

And hearing William Russell too is a joy. He was excellent as Ian in 1963 and he's brilliant in this too in 2005! Cant wait for the next story with Morian, i want to see what happens to the bad guy. He cant get away forever surely?.....
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on 12 August 2007
"On the planet Cray, it's game time...
"The Gora and the Lineen are set to face off it the grudge match to end all grudge matches. The players are limbering up, the commentators are preparing, the fans are daubing themselves in their own team's colours.
"The arena is set, and the kick-off is approaching.
"When the Doctor and Nyssa arrive, however, they find that naxy is a sport that anyone can play... whether they want to or not. Cray's entire future depends on the match's outcome, but the time travellers soon realise that it is anything but just a game..."

"The Game", by Darin Henry, is a brave attempt by Big Finish Productions at a six-part story for Peter Davison's fifth Doctor. Thankfully, the story's six episodes each run at a trim twenty minutes, meaning that the story doesn't have time to sag around the middle like many of the televised six-part stories of the 1960s and 1970s tended to do.
Aside from its six-part format, "The Game" is most notable for the guest appearance of William Russell, who played Ian Chesterton opposite William Hartnell's first Doctor, as Lord Carlisle, a famed negotiator who is credited with the peaceful resolution of numerous bloody wars, but who seems strangely ill-at-ease with the negotiation he is about to undertake on Cray, and who claims that the Doctor is his best friend when the Doctor is certain that he and Lord Carlisle have never met.
The Doctor / Lord Carlisle storyline, which comes to a rather affecting and very well-played conclusion in the sixth episode, is, however, rather more of a subplot to the alpha story, which revolves around the game of naxy, a bloody sport that is costing the lives of thousands of Cray's people in something very akin to a civil war. The Doctor fails to realise at first exactly what naxy is, and quickly finds himself roped into playing the fatal game. After witnessing the slaughter of hundreds of Lineen players, the Doctor takes it upon himself to put an end to the sport, and turns to Lord Carlisle for assistance, but the famed negotiator seems strangely ineffectual and unable to help.
Aided by the ever more likeable Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, Peter Davison and William Russell put on a star turn in a disturbingly credible send-up of traditional team sports, and the sort of future that could arise if fan hooliganism is allowed to continue unchecked. Many of the minor supporting characters are exactly the kind of people one would find orbiting such a high-profile and brutal sport, from the "honourable" coach to the manipulative criminal mastermind, and all are well cast and played. The casting of real-life football / Robot Wars commentator Jonathan Pearce as naxy commentator Garny Diblick is worth a laugh and adds a degree of authenticity to the combat scenes, in which the action is primarily described in commentary form (a great move by the writer and director). The only spanner in the works is the performance of Ursula Burton as Ambassador Faye Davis, Lord Carlisle's assistant, whose voice sounds like a flat, monotonous version of the fifth Doctor's later companion Peri, and whose performance is almost entirely superficial.
The sound design in "The Game" is absolutely stunning, on par with Big Finish's finest work, and in conjunction with the good script and generally enthusiastic performances of the cast, rounds off what is a very well-balanced Doctor Who production.
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The doctor and nyssa visit a harsh world where people are crazy about a very violent sport. A visiting diplomat is trying to get the sport ended. But why does he feel out of his depth? And what villains are lurking the shadows? There is more to this world than meets the eye.

An attempt at doing a six part story that just about succeeds, by virtue of a few short episodes, this is a pretty decent audio. Nyssa gets a romance. The doctor gets some moments of moral indignation. And the story is kept going by new elements appearing as we go along, the same way they used to do it in tv six parters. This never feels like padding.

And the guest cast includes william russell - once ian chesterton in the tv days of william hartnell's doctor - as the diplomat. It is a pleasure to hear him again, and he turns in a superb performance. I'd almost recommend this on those grounds alone, but everything else about the story is good enough to make it a definite 4/5
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