Medicinal Purposes (Doctor Who) Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Aug 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
The Doctor and Evelyn arrive in Edinburgh, apparently just as Burke and Hare are in the middle of their infamous careers. But it soon seems that not all is as it seems - just why has no one ever heard of William Burke? And just what is Dr. Knox really up to? And what does Daft Jamie really see?
This starts off as an excellent production. Full of bags of atmosphere as all the actors ham it up to evoke the seedy, terrifying, smelly feel of old Edinburgh. There is an interesting moral argument expressed - The crimes of Burke and Hare were horrendous, but they allowed medical science to advance. Does that in some way make them acceptable, or even laudable? And what is the limit of such acceptability? And finally there is a delicious performance from Leslie Philips, who manages to steal every scene, even from an in form Colin Baker who is no mean scene stealer himself.
But for all that it starts out well, this is a slightly disappointing production, mainly due to a problem that Big Finish quite often seem to suffer. They just don't seem to know how to end it. So when the end comes it is somewhat rushed, a bit confusing, and to be honest didn't really make much sense. But apart from that this is a decent adventure, with much to enjoy, especially Philips in fine devilish form as the sneering Knox. 4 stars in all.
But boy was I wrong! This story, which starts off with the Doctor and Evelyn landing in Edinburgh in 1827 shows a city seemingly at the mercy of Burke and Hare, the infamous (to us, now) bodysnatchers. Back then, nobody knew who was killing people or apparently removing buried bodies - or did they? The Doctor and Evelyn find two locals who seem to be in the thick of the action, Mary Patterson and Daft Jamie (played with utter brilliance by David Tennant - I didn't realise until the end when I read the credits that it was even him!). And Burke and Hare seem to be taking orders from a local doctor, Doctor Robert Knox. So far, all so historically correct. And then it gets even more interesting. The direction the story then goes in is really brilliant. A historical story, interesting in its own right, becomes even more intriguing when the Doctor gets involved.
By the end of the story, I felt deeply involved in the whole story; Leslie Richards as Doctor Knox was so ghastly that you could just visualise the whole action in every scene he was in. Even Burke and Hare were presented in a way that was not totally without some feeling of potential redemption. And poor Daft Jamie was so sad that I felt really quite lost as the story ended. The Doctor, a Timelord who so often defies being characterised in his stories as `human' shows a lot more humanity than most, and Evelyn learns another sad lesson about travelling through time.
This is great stuff; definitely a story that rewards repeated listening and one that will be kept and treasured.
Despite my less than pleased sentiments on 'Pier Pressure', Ross' first script is still a familiar but much stronger work: what opens as a very traditional historical right out of the early years of Who slowly morphs into something else, and mixed with a sense of morbid foreboding given what the Doctor knows happens to certain characters, the audio play balances chills and occasional laughs rather well, though this a more serious story than his follow up. Everything you'd want, from graveyards, dark tunnels and lonely streets to hawking whores and even a hanging, are present as Ross creates a very frightening and miserable Edinburgh that befits such lurid subject matter. And while the second half does go a little more exposition heavy as it pulls a 'Stones of Blood' on us with what's really going on, at least the plot is always moving forward and the sit downs are less frequents than in 'Pier Pressure'. The only other gripe is that, while questioning the Doctor's morality is interesting and especially so with the more alien Six, his reasoning about medical science and Burke and Hare doesn't make much sense, and just feels like a shoehorned attempt to make the story seem smarter than it actually is.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent adventure - plenty of plot twists and turns. David Tennant has fun in a guest role and Leslie Phillips is a worthy opponent for the Dr.Published on 21 Oct. 2012 by Caracatus
This is the only Doctor Who story that had me frightened in my own house. This story is dark and frightening. It's one of the best i've seen. Read morePublished on 17 Jun. 2011 by GM
This is a tale of two halves. It starts off brilliantly with wonderfully drawn characters and a good sense of atmosphere and mystery. Read morePublished on 1 Jan. 2010 by Varian Beauregard
`An interesting moral dilemma'...Medicinal Purposes is one of those historical yarns that Big Finish (and indeed the BBC) does so well. Read morePublished on 17 Nov. 2007 by Captain Pugwash
"The infamous body snatchers William Burke and William Hare are at large. The local prostitutes dull their fear with cheap whisky. Read more
Medicinal Purposes has the 6th Doctor and Evelyn encountering infamous Scottish murderers and grave robbers Burke and Hare. Read morePublished on 21 Nov. 2004 by Jane Aland