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Medicinal Purposes (Doctor Who) Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Aug 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Big Finish Productions Ltd (1 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781844350988
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844350988
  • ASIN: 1844350983
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 1.1 x 12.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 689,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.1 out of 5 stars
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This is the sixtieth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Colin Baker as Six, Maggie Stblaes as Evelyn and in a long overdue move, guests Leslie Philips as Dr. Knox. There are 4 episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes.

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.
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 27 Sept. 2013
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I was keen to get hold of this story, largely because I really like the partnership of the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn (played by Maggie Stables). But it took me a while to get around to listening to it, because I thought at first glance it was a straight historical story.

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.
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Stepping back to his first BF effort, comedy historian Robert Ross gives us a ghoulish period tale where the Sixth Doctor and Professor Evelyn Smythe land in early 19th century Edinburgh, the time of resurrection men Burke and Hare's crimes. Murder and duplicity are on the order. Except, something seems off about the place, and as it turns out, Burke and Hare are not exactly collaborators...

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.
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