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"What Phantasmagoria is this?",
This review is from: Phantasmagoria (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
"The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Turlough to the London of 1702 where a mysterious highwayman roams the streets, a local occultist has made contact with the dead and gentlemen of fashion are disappearing, only to find themselves in a chamber whose walls weep blood...
"The time-travellers become enmeshed in the hideous plans of Sir Nikolas Valentine, a gambler at the mysterious Diabola Club who always seems to have a winning hand..."
The second Big Finish Audio Adventure, and the first to feature Peter Davison in the leading role (aided by Mark Strickson as Turlough), gets the series off to a further strong start. Written by Mark Gatiss, the story borrows somewhat from both The Visitation and Ghost Light, but works out remarkably well and, I would say, is better than The Unquiet Dead, Gatiss' episode of the new TV series with Christopher Eccleston.
The story is populated by a variety of well-voiced characters, with particular credit going to David Ryall as the smooth and enigmatic Sir Nikolas Valentine and an unrecognisable turn by Gatiss himself as Jasper Jeake (the League of Gentlemen voice skills working in his favour there). Davison and Strickson are both immediately recognisable, although both are sounding older.
The story is well written and the cliff hangers reasonably done, although the first episode gets things off to a confusing start, with a wide range of unrelated characters introduced at an early stage (in the absense of visual information, telling these characters apart at first is tricky). The story soon warms up over episodes two and three, however, and comes to a good conclusion in episode four, by which time everything has pretty much fallen into place.
It's fun to hear the Fifth Doctor and Turlough once again. Both are also largely on character; Turlough is perhaps more pleasant and helpful than he was on the TV series, but still has that slight air of self-centredness that his character has always carried.
On the whole, a strong story that bodes well for the rest of the series.