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Live 34 (Doctor Who) Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Sep 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Audiobook, 1 Sep 2005
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Big Finish Productions Ltd (1 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844350991
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844350995
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 1.3 x 12.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 805,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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This is the seventy fourth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Sylvester McCoy as Seven, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Philip Olivier as new companion Hex Schofield. There are 4 episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, two episodes per disc on 2 discs. There is no theme music between episodes, just radio static.

Live 34 is an excellent experimental release that really works well. Structured as four half hour live broadcasts from Live 34, a radio station broadcasting live news to Earth Colony 34, and telling the story in real time over these broadcasts, it is an inspired idea. It tells a somewhat standard story of the Doctor and his friends trying to overthrow a corrupt political regime, but tells it purely from the point of view of the journalists reporting on various incidents. It is the imagination of the story telling tat saves this from being run of the mill and elevates it.

All the actors put in good performances, and you really do feel you are listening to live news reporting. It's an excellent production, 5 stars for this one. I would that all BF's experiments were so successful!
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Live 34 is a perfectly ordinary tale of rebellion and the overthrow of a neo-fascist regime. What sets it apart from other Doctor Who audios is the manner in which it is told. The story is told, without real episode breaks and certainly without any theme music, as a series of radio broadcasts (rolling news programme, documentary and radio phone-in). The background doesn't even get as far as mentioning the planet or country in which the story takes place. It seems like a simple step on from the earlier story, also featuring McCoy and Aldred, 'The Fearmonger' but this new story has the edge because of the interesting method of storytelling.
This is both a benefit and a curse: the main problem with the story is that it still SOUNDS too Earth-centric and therefore loses some of its impact. On the much more positive side this allows the characters to shine without any jarring bumps into the plot. The fun of the whole enterprise is trying to work out how the main characters will get onto the radio broadcast.
As with all Big Finish audios this script needed at least a couple more refinements and a truly decent script editor would have tightened up both the dialogue and the mystery of the planet/country itself but, overall, this has proved to be the most enjoyable audio for over a year from the sadly variable Big Finish.
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Live 34 is somewhat baffling at first but once you get used to the fact that it is played as a series of news reports delivered by 'alternative' comedian and presenter Andrew Collins on a colony in a far off world, it becomes fascinating. The colony is a troubled one (of course it is) and The Doctor and his companions Ace and Hex become the focus of the news reports when they are accused of being terrorists (of course they are; well Ace actually is I suppose with her homemeade gelignite and penchant for blowing things up).

The concept is a brave one and generally works well, particularly as the cast are on rattling good form and the adventure moves along at a fast pace.
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The inherent problem with this audio play is not the experimental nature of its production - a series of radio broadcasts. It may be a mute point but...well, i fail to see what makes it Doctor Who, beyond the inclusion of the Doctor, Ace and Hex. Replace these characters with...(random name choice) Bob, Sarah and Steven, and this would play out exactly the same. Yes; its set on the Earth colony of 34 (i did like this idea, suggesting that there are a number of colonies all given numbers - its a fitting imaginationless future), so its sci-fi by default, but theres no monsters, no aliens (despite mention of possibilities). And to cap it all off, the theme music is absent; which, in one way, works to its benefit - its a fantastic experiment to narrate it in the form of radio and not have it a story per se, but at the same time, if you're going to remove what makes it Doctor Who completely...

However, if you are quite happy to forgive its lack of Whoness (and i am still trying to) then it succeeds. The story is well told, cleverly paced and formed. But again, its just a simple government revolution story with not much to throw it above any other political drama.

The cast are good fun to listen to (Sylvester in particular), and i think the newsreader nails newsreaderness, (i only just read it is by a real newsreader).

So in conclusion; its alright for a listen, but avoid if you're a doctor who fan looking for some top Who action. No cliffhangers either.
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By Paul Tapner TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 July 2006
A nice experiment, presenting the story in the form of radio news broadcasts that the tardis crew pop in and out of, makes this an interesting listen. I'm not sure it would stand up to repeated ones.

The newsreader at the centre of this story never really convinces as a character - and he's apparently played by a real newsreader, so that's odd - characters behave because the plot requires them to do things that way, and the situation gets close to the point of absurdity as the story develops. Hopefully it's not an attempt at modern political satire as it would come over as very paranoid and hysterical if it was.

But for something a little different, it's worth one go.
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