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This review is from: Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Audio CD)
The most enjoyable of the series so far, `Babblesphere' successfully captures the sardonic wit and light-hearted banter that characterised the television show during Douglas Adam's time as writer and script editor (fortunately without any of the crass comedy exhibited in the early stages of `The Horns of Nimon' for example). As such it serves as a more than adequate tribute to the later years of Tom Baker. The drawback being that the excellent Philip Hinchcliffe era of the Fourth Doctor gets no representation in this series.
As Romana references a couple of times during the course of this story, the Doctor has battled quite a few mad computers with delusions of grandeur. However, this story doesn't really re-cover old ground and is distinctly original and different. It involves a computer enslaving the human colony of Hephastos through a social media network known as the eponymous Babblesphere. The author manages to maintain a light tone in mocking obsessions with such things like Twitter and Facebook whilst simultaneously creating a sense of threat to society if such things get out of control. There is something of a social critique on modern times.
With the pedisiquads (I have no idea how to spell that) there is the inclusion of some robots to generally act as minions for the computer and perform the usual chasing and incarceration of the TARDIS crew. Their voices are quite good in a gravelly, mechanical way, but they do sound a bit like they could be adolescent Daleks. There isn't a great deal to them but they adequately serve their purpose in this story.
Lalla Ward is one of the many Doctor Who actors who exhibit a very pronounced and distinctive voice. It lends itself perfectly to audio. Her narration is outstanding and it is a joy to listen to her re-visit the role of Romana. Her Tom Baker `impersonation' leaves a lot to be desired though. The tone and inflection feel all wrong but I suspect this is also something to do with the dialogue, which doesn't feel quite right for the Fourth Doctor. In fact her impersonation of the Eleventh Doctor is actually better.
Her other voices are all fairly strong and entertaining; although the performance as Phylis does sound like an impersonation of Joanna Scanlan.
The only disappointing aspect of this audiobook is the lack of the Fourth Doctor. There is a vast section during the middle of it where he doesn't even appear and I can't help thinking that this audio would have been even better if Tom Baker had performed on it. But that is not what this range is about.
As with the previous stories in the series the Eleventh Doctor makes a brief, unexplained appearance. This time he interacts a bit more with the story, directly helping and instructing the Fourth Doctor and Romana. There is no further clue to what the Eleventh Doctor is up to, however. Hopefully this will develop well as the series continues.
I admit that a Doctor Who adventure featuring the Fourth Doctor and Romana which makes fun of things such as Twitter and Facebook is and idea easily sold to me. Even so, there is plenty here to entertain and amuse as well as to contemplate. This makes this a strong addition to the range.