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A New Doctor Who audio play, featuring Paul McGann as the Doctor and Julie Cox as his travelling companion, Frankenstein writer Mary Shelley.

This follows on from The Silver Turk (Doctor Who) and The Witch from the Well (Doctor Who) but all three stories in this trilogy do pretty much stand on their own, so casual listeners could get into this easily without having heard the other two.

This one runs for four episodes of twenty five minutes in length each [approx] and is spread over two cds.

The story sees the Doctor and Mary arrive on the planet Draxine, where two city states of human colonists live in harmony.

Supposedly.

Because when they get there, they find that one city has been destroyed. And the president of the other one assassinated by a lady who is now a wanted fugitive. The former vice president has been thrust into a role he never expected to get.

But worse lies in store. Because the dead of the destroyed city have come back to life. Their skeletons are on the march.

And they may not be the only undead on the planet....

As with the first two stories in this trilogy, Paul Mcgann gets some great dialogue which he delivers with aplomb. And Julie Cox makes Mary a hugely appealing character, full of initiative and determination and a strong sense of right and wrong.

The guest characters in this one are nicely written and portrayed, which lives it well above average. An early scene featuring a tough veteran soldier and a scared young recruit encountering the dead is a good example of this. The same goes for the new president, who turns into a character of great depth.

But the main point of this one is to examine Mary's relationship with the Doctor. Because as the opening scene shows, she's at that point lots of companions reach when they realise their feelings for him. An uneasy ride lies ahead for Mary though as she witnesses many horrors on the planet. And learns a few truths about the Doctor also.

The third episode does keep you guessing about what's really going on here.

And whilst certain elements of the fourth do feel familiar, there's a lot of originality about it.

One minor quibble is that this features, as has been occasionally common of these audios of late, some monster voices that are a bit hard to hear. But it also features two other voices treated with special sound that are really quite effective, so it's a minor complaint.

The ending of part four has to bring this trilogy of travels for the Doctor and Mary to a close. But is it the end of the story as well?

No spoilers. But do be sure to listen after the closing music of part four for an extra scene.

A very good piece of science fiction, a fast paced story, and one with great character moments, this is a really good release.

There's just over ten minutes of music from the story on the last track of disc one.

A trailer for the next Doctor Who audio play from Big Finish after that above mentioned extra scene on disc two.

And roughly fifteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew right after that.
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This is the hundred and fifty fifth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Paul McGann as Eight and Julie Cox as Mary Shelly. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with cliffhangers and original theme music between each. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are some interviews with cast and crew at the end of the second disc and a few minutes of the soundtrack at the end of disc 1.

This is the third in a trilogy of adventures that teams the Eighth Doctor with autheress and adventuress Mary Shelly. You do not need to have listened to any of the previous outings to get into this story. The Doctor and Mary land on what should be a peaceful planet, only to find some very strange tings going on. A city state has been totally destroyed, and there is an army of skeletons on the march. The pair have to walk along some dark paths until the truth is brought out and the situation resolved.

This is another high octane and generally fun adventure, with a witty script that delivers some great lines and situations for Eight and his companion. Paul McGann plays it with a feverish energy, really bringing out the tiggerish side of his Doctor’s personality. With its blend of horror and humour it almost harks back to the Robert Holmes glory days of the show. It’s a great blend. Personally I loved this release and hope that there will be more Eighth Doctor/ Mary releases soon, though a glance through the release schedules up to mid 2014 suggest I will be disappointed for some time to come. It was a cracking trilogy, a real triumph for the Big Finish team. 5 stars.
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on 10 October 2015
Written by Jason Arnopp and directed by Barnaby Edwards ‘Army of Death’ is the third story in the 2011 Eighth Doctor audio trilogy, and was recorded on 7 and 8 April 2011. The trilogy started with ‘The Witch from the Well’ and was followed by ‘The Silver Turk’. The Doctor and Mary Shelly land on the frontier world of Draxine where there has been an assassination. The dead are rising from their graves. There are utterances of supernatural forces at play.

The soundscape is nuanced, and modern sounding, but doesn’t particularly pull you in. The Robot voices lack sophistication sounding silly and unconvincing. The guitar element of the music would sound more at home in a Western, and seems to chop and change between that and something more pan pipe based. The Modulation applied to Harmon’s voice makes him sound like Arcturus from ‘The Curse of Peladon’, and the Bone Lord sounds like Borussa from ‘The Five Doctors’.

Julie Cox who, plays Mary Shelly, is a fine actress and was superb in the two preceding adventures but the character just seems to get shunted into the back ground most of the time. Mary has also started to develop a crush on the Doctor which doesn’t seem to add anything to the narrative other than Mary putting the Doctor on a pedestal and ultimately feeling disappointed and leaving. Watch out for the scene after the credits of the final episode. The Bone Lord is a rather pantomime villain that makes the Master look profound. McGann gives a lively performance which is nice as sometimes he just sounds too laid back. Shame the story couldn’t match his enthusiasm.

There are a lot of elements that don’t quite gel for me. The effects are unsophisticated and average, but the music sits on top of the action rather than feel a part of it, the humour is glib and it’s also rather tropey with corrupt and incompetent officials. The Doctor gets arrested, and split up from Mary Shelly. There are Fantasy elements thrown in with the SF elements, the flying robots, hover cars and laser guns shooting at walking skeletons. Of course, there is a pseudo-scientific reason for the walking dead and powers of darkness which means we are treated to some techno-babble to go with it. The dialogue is another weak point. Harmon going on about Powers of Darkness and shattering bones are unbelievably two dimensional. I know villains aren’t always the most nuanced of character, but it’s not just him, his dialogue is just the easiest to pick out: “I shall shatter this force field then I shall shatter you, Bone by Bone!”

I always find the political intrigue of an alien society elements of a narrative quite uninteresting. This story bears similarities to ‘Creature from the Pit’ and the TV Peladon stories all of which I quite like. You don’t need to have heard the other trilogy stories to appreciate any one in isolation, but hearing ‘Mary’s Story’, the final story on the short story compilation ‘Company of Friends’ might help. It’s easy to find negatives with this production because the execution is lacking, but this is actually more middle of the road than anything. Thankfully it’s kept quite short at one and a half hours.
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As much as I like Paul McGann's portrayal of the eighth incarnation of The Doctor, I really don't think he has been served well in terms of stories his Doctor has appeared in. This audio drama begins well but soon tails off into disjointed confusion, and left me uncaring as to the outcome - not something the Big Finish monthly DW releases usually do.
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