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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruritanian Classic, 29 July 2012
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This review is from: Doctor Who: The Androids Of Tara (Classic Audio Original) (Audio CD)
In their search for the fourth segment of the Key to Time, the Doctor and Romana arrive on Tara, a pseudo-medieval planet with androids and electrical weapons. Prince Reynart is about to be crowned King of Tara, but only if he makes it to the ceremony. The wicked Count Grendel of Gracht is intent on seizing the throne for himself, and he has one major advantage: languishing in his dungeons is the Prince's beloved, the Princess Strella, an exact double of Romana.

"The Androids of Tara" was writer David Fisher's second script for the Key to Time season, following "The Stones of Blood", which is also available in a new audio novelisation. In the nineteen-seventies, when Target books were publishing novelisations of the stories, Fisher himself wasn't offered the opportunity of novelising his story, and it became one of the weaker efforts from the prolific Terrence Dicks. Now, following the success of "The Stones of Blood", Fisher has once again been given the opportunity of producing an entirely new version for the audio books range, and it's an opportunity he seizes with both hands, clearly relishing the chance to flesh-out the story. The world of Tara, a curious mix of the medieval and the technological, is presented in much more detail than was possible on screen, and Fisher makes the most of the opportunity to provide some background to the world. The differences in behaviour between `real' characters and their android duplicates are cleverly presented.

The story is essentially a rerun of the Ruritanian classic, "The Prisoner of Zenda", and here, as in the TV version, Fisher has fun playing with, and subverting, the expected tropes of the swashbuckling genre, particularly the charming, witty villain, Count Grendel, who, beneath his debonair exterior, is totally ruthless. The lesser characters aren't forgotten, though, and there is time to show the unrequited love of Grendel's technician, Madam Lamia. This is a particularly good story for the companion, Romana, who gets much more to do here than is usually the case. This is signposted right at the start when, upon arrival, the Doctor sends Romana to locate the segment of the Key to Time, while he takes the opportunity for some fishing. "The Androids of Tara" also marks the first real hint of "Star Wars" in the Doctor Who universe, its electrical swords recalling the flashier light sabres.

John Leeson, on TV the voice of K9, has an ideal voice for audio recordings, and breathes life into the story, carefully differentiating between the different characters. The music and sound-effects, while still over-literal and often unnecessary, aren't as intrusive as on some other releases. "The Androids of Tara" is a first-rate addition to the growing collection of Target audio readings.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Jan 2015 08:37:31 GMT
Excellent review of this brilliant audio adaption Paul.
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Location: Darwen, Lancashire

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