Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hex meets the Doctor and Ace and faces the Cybermen, 28 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Harvest (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
`The Harvest' starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Phillip Olivier is a tense and gripping audio drama that really works. It's such an exciting story to listen to, and I enjoyed it. It features the return of some old foes and introduces the start of a new companion for the Doctor. You really won't regret listening to this. It's brilliant.

This is the third of a trilogy of stories featuring the Cybermen that started with 'The Reaping' and 'The Gathering'. But it wasn't always like this. For a start, `The Harvest' was made before `The Reaping' and `The Gathering' was ever made. But with clever plot threads and story weaving, Joseph Lidster decided to interlink his two fantastic plays into this one written by Dan Abnett. Dan is a very clever writer for writing strong drama and from his experience of working in comics makes the action dynamic and enjoyable to listen to. He expresses a fondness for writing the Seventh Doctor and Ace and has had the pleasure of introducing a new companion in the form of Hex.

The story of `The Harvest' is about a young man named Thomas Hector Schofield - Hex to his friends - who works at St. Gart's Hospital in Shoreditch, London. It's his birthday on the 12th October 2021. And it's not going very well. For one thing a flatmate of his has recently been reported to A&E at the hospital and soon reported dead. Hex is upset at this and can't have the heart or stomach to go to his birthday party at the White Rabbit.

He meets an attractive girl who works in Human Resources called Dorothy McShane (or `Just McShane' as she prefers to be called). Becoming friends, Hex shares his grief over the loss of his friend with `McShane'. Eventually Hex gets run over by a jerk in a car trying to kill him before `McShane' saves his life. Curious about `McShane' going into a junkyard in Totter's Lane, he follows her to find an old battered blue box. Curiosity getting the better of him, he's allowed inside to find the blue box bigger on the inside than the outside. He meets `McShane' and a mysterious man with an umbrella who calls himself - `the Doctor'.

This is a great introductory story for Phillip Olivier as the new companion Hex. I've had the pleasure of meeting Phillip recently at a convention in Newcastle who was really a nice chap. Here he plays a young man with a Northern accent becoming the companion. It's a nice chance to have someone who doesn't come from the home counties and his voice sounds down to Earth (no pun intended) and has its Merseyside tones.

Hex is such an interesting character in this story. He's a nurse who shows concern for his patients and is horrified by anything gory or anything that doesn't seem right. He's curious about `McShane' wondering who she is and why she seems so interested in him. When he walks into the TARDIS, he's gobsmacked. The Doctor is rather annoyed by his `OMG' moments when he sees something extraordinary and fantastic, but he comes to enlist `Mr Hex's' help and is worthy to be a companion. This is the start of Hex's new adventures with the Doctor and Ace and it truly is a good one.

Sophie Aldred is lovely as Ace in this, or as she prefers to be called `McShane'. She's still in shock from the events of 'Colditz' and is now using her alias as McShane to grow up as she did recently also in 'The Rapture'. But she gets on well with Hex and manages to get into working in HR at St. Gart's Hospital.

Ace is really into the action as she, Hex and the Doctor investigate the mysterious goings-on on xeno-technology being used at the hospital. She eventually gets captured but she has enough tough talk to fight herself out of a dangerous and life-threatening situation. I've been lucky to have met Sophie five times already at conventions and am hoping to meet her again soon at another one this year.

Sylvester McCoy's really good in this too as the Doctor. He has an idea of what's going and is working things out with regards to this mystery at St. Gart's hospital. He's being mysterious and manipulative as ever with an agenda of his own. He learns something about Hex when accessing the System and is intrigued by it. What that `something' is I'm intrigued as well.

I like how Sylvester's Doctor gets on with Hex's character in telling him about the TARDIS and who their enemies are and trying to calm Hex when feeling guilty about leaving Ace behind in `Part Three'. I like it when the Doctor confronts Subject One (played by William Boyde) or when he defies Garnier (played by David Warwick). Sylvester's on top form as the Doctor in this story and having met and seen him at conventions it's great to hear him.

The guest cast in this story are as follows. As mentioned before there's William Boyde playing the mysterious Subject One. There's David Warwick playing the ruthless Executive Security Officer (XSO) David Garnier (who was in `Doctor Who' before with Tom Baker in `The Pirate Planet' and has done various Big Finish audios). There's also Janie Booth as System (the same `System' that was in `The Gathering' - the second story of this trilogy). There's also Richard Derrington as Dr Stephen Farrer; Paul Lacoux as Hex's friend Dr Mark Mathias and Mark Donovan as the hulking Polk. A great cast for such a thrilling story as this.

Also returning to confront the Doctor are his oldest foes - the Cybermen. They were kept well-hidden until the end of `Part Two' of this story when Ace calls out their name. They're not featured so heavily in this story with their mechanical footsteps and deep voices, but their presence is felt throughout with cyber technology, half-converted cyber humans and the revelation that Subject One happens to be the Cyber Leader. The theme of emotion is also challenged and touched upon in this story where Subject One and the Cybermen are concerned as Subject One experiences emotions especially towards the end of this story. Ace almost gets converted by Cybermen only to be saved by Hex in `Part Four' which was really exciting.

The music and sound design of this story is in similar tones with the later stories of `The Reaping' and `The Gathering', which I'm sure Joe Lidster had in mind to keep consistent with this story.

By the end, the Doctor, Ace and Hex defeat the Cybermen and stop the xeno-technology. The Doctor and Ace say goodbye to Hex as they go back to the TARDIS. But Hex follows and chases after them and manages to get to them before they get away. He wants to join them in their travels. He knows it'll be dangerous but he's willing to give it a try. The Doctor and Ace happily accept Hex into their company and the new trio is formed as they go into the TARDIS to have adventures. It's a great way to end the story and a new beginning of a series of adventures between Hex, Ace and the Seventh Doctor.

There are some trailers at the end of Disc 2 following this. There's a trailer for 'Medicinal Purposes' starring Colin Baker, introduced by none other than David Tennant himself. There's a trailer for another Colin Baker called 'Arrangements for War'. Both stories are with Colin and Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe. There's also a trailer for the third series of `Dalek Empire' that also features David Tennant.

So `The Harvest' is a great conclusion to a trilogy of stories with the Cybermen and a great new beginning for a companion in `Doctor Who'. Hex has become a popular character in Big Finish with the Seventh Doctor and Ace and for many `Doctor Who' fans. I'm glad to have listened to this first adventure of Hex and am hoping to hear more following this and find out where Hex is going with Ace and the Doctor. And certainly Phillip gets on very well with Sophie and Sylvester who welcome him in their team.

The next story with the Doctor, Ace and Hex is 'Dreamtime'.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Jan 2014 11:11:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Jan 2014 11:13:56 GMT
timelord007 says:
Brilliant outstanding review this Tim.

I love this story as It's a great adventure with Cybermen & again you structured the review adding your point of view which is very good as it gives the review a personal touch.

Enjoyed this review very much.

What do you think of the new Doctors costume???, Personally I love it.

I thought your Night of the Doctor would've got more votes as I thought it excellently written.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jan 2014 13:45:20 GMT
Tim Bradley says:
Thanks for your comments, timelord.
Glad you enjoyed my review.

I like the new look for Peter Capaldi. It's very good.

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