Red Dawn (Doctor Who) Audio CD – Audiobook, 30 May 2000
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|Audio CD, Audiobook, 30 May 2000||
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Top Customer Reviews
There is a great story in this - the Fifth Doctor, accompanied by his companion Peri Brown are travelling somewhere where Peri, a keen botanist can study plant life. But somehow the Tardis lands in ... where exactly? The Doctor and Peri go exploring and find they are inside some kind of structure; but where are the corridors leading them?
Meanwhile, out in space a NASA-funded space mission to Mars is about to land. They are tasked with exploring an `anomaly' on the planet surface. But the anomaly has more questions than answers for the crew of the Ares One. And someone isn't playing by the rules.
Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant are great in their roles as the Doctor and Peri, and it's great to see the Ice Warriors back in this story. The voices of the Ice Warriors is one area where BF particularly seem to have picked up the technical stakes; in this story, there's no sense of the size and menace of the huge Ice Warriors and the difference between them and their War Lord from their voices, which ideally there should be, and there definitely is in stories where the sound is able to offer that differentiation to the listener.Read more ›
Five and Peri land in an intriguing structure on the surface of Mars, just as an Earth expedition also arrives. It's no big spoiler (due to the cover picture) to reveal that the Ice Warriors are soon involved, in what turns into an excellent outing for what has always been one of the more morally complex creatures the Doctor has encountered.
What follows is a rip roaring adventure that explores the concepts of honour, nobility and decency. There are plenty of thrills and spills as Five and Peri try to resolve matters. But at the heart of the story are the Ice Warriors, and their code. Well scripted to give an intelligent, reasonable alien it is a thoughtful script and, for me, a real winner. The actors playing the Ice Warriors also do a great job of characterisation through the hissing speech effects, and really convey the essential nobility of the race.
The only let down to this otherwise excellent production is the somewhat intrusive background music that comes to the fore in the moments of high drama, and really fails to underline the danger, it only serves to annoy somewhat. So 4 stars for this release.
"While the NASA team investigate an "anomaly" on the planet's surface, the Doctor and Peri find themselves inside a strange alien building. What is its purpose? And what is frozen inside the blocks of ice that guard the doorways? If the Doctor has a sense of deja-vu, it's because he's about to meet some old adversaries, as well as some new ones..."
Justin Richards' Red Dawn is one of those Big Finish stories that doesn't entirely live up to expectations. Apart from anything, it feels very short, with one episode only being twenty minutes in length.
The return of the ice warriors is a nice idea, but they lose something in translation from screen to sound. None the less they are recogniseable, and the entente cordiale that they spend much of the story in with the Doctor and the crew from NASA reminds one of The Curse of Peladon. Unfortunately, with the real villain of the piece being one of the American astronauts, the appearance by the ice warriors is somewhat wasted.
The cast are good, with Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant in fine form. Peri is perhaps a bit too plucky and comfortable with the Doctor given the story's position in the timeline, but it makes a change from her on-screen bickering with the Sixth Doctor in the following two seasons of the original TV series. There are no real standout performances amongst the supporting cast, some of whom who aren't given a great deal to do, but they all read their parts well.
What lets Red Dawn down is the lack of a real story. None the less, it's an enjoyable 110 minutes, and the sound design is excellent as ever, with Russell Stone's morose score being one of the best aspects of the production.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The performances are good, if not spectacular. Peter Davison is on fine form as the Doctor and the script suits him and his Doctor rather well as he ultimately finds himself uncovering first a mystery and they trying to sort out an increasingly difficult situation. Nicola Bryant as Peri doesn't quite fare as well though, largely due to a script that gives her very little to do (more on that latter). The story's two American characters, the astronauts Forbes and Roberts who are played, respectively, by Robert Jezek and Maureen Oakeley, do alright in terms of both performances and accents (and certainly better than they would nearly a year later in Minuet In Hell). The story's other two characters Paul and Tanya, played by Stephen Fewell (better known to Big Finish listeners as Jason Kane, the ex-husband of Bernice Summerfield) and Davison's real life daughter Georgia Moffatt, do okay given what the script presents them with, though Moffatt comes across at times of exposition, as simply reading off the page rather than acting. They aren't the only members of the cast though.
The story of course sees the audio debut of the Ice Warriors and brings in a number of new voices. Matthew Brenher's Lord Zzarl in particular echoes some of the voices heard from various Ice Lords in the TV series while Alistair Lock does a similair job in capturing the voice of the Ice Warriors in his performances as Sstast. Where the Ice Warriors are let down a bit is when Big Finish's behind the scenes personnel such as director Gary Russell step in to play some of the others and are instantly noticeable and frankly not that good. Overall though, the performances of the Ice Warriors and the human characters alike work, even if there's nothing spectacular in them.
Where Red Dawn is blessed is in its sound design. As well as reusing sound effects from the original series, such as for the Ice Warriors' weapons for example, Alistair Lock also does a fantastic job of putting together a soundscape capable of taking the listener to the Red Planet. Ever present in the background of scenes set on the surface for example is subtle howling wind while episodes one and three in particular do a strong job of believably presenting a NASA mission to Mars. Also worth mentioning is the music of Russell Stone which, while it certainly does capture the feel of some early 80s TV Who scores, also can be downright distracting at times. The results over all though are strong and quite effective.
Where perhaps the story is a bit thin is in its script. Being early on in Big Finish's run, this hails from a time when Big Finish was still mainly aiming to emulate the TV series and in that regards it works. Writer Justin Richards captures the feeling of TV stories such as Tomb of The Cybermen (which came just a couple of stories before the Ice Warriors themselves were introduced) while also coming across as a story from the fifth Doctor's era. That is perhaps the story's problem though. It's predictable for the most part, the characters are more or less two dimensional and Peri does very little except be what she was on TV: stand around and complain a lot. Also, the handling of the Mars mission in part one echoes a bit too much Stephen Baxter's Voyage right down to a moment in the middle of the landing (not that I wish to accuse anyone of plagiarism, though it might be worth noting that BBC Radio 4 broadcast a serialized dramatization of the novel just a matter of months before this went into studio). In short: It's too traditional for it's own good.
There are some interesting ideas here though. They range from the Webster Corporation teaming up with NASA for the Mars mission (shades of which we're starting to see in the real world) to the further exploration of the Ice Warriors and their background. Intriguingly enough, the story isn't quite as implausible as you might think about the ongoing conspiracy theories about Martian “ruins” and the fact that the Brookings Report is in fact real (though it's rather clumsily explained in a moment where it does nothing except drag the story out).
At the end of the day, Red Dawn can be best described as being okay. It's decently acted, solidly produced and has traditional Doctor Who written all over it. Yet perhaps for those very reasons, it's often overlooked because there's not much to make it stand out from the crowd. It's okay but nothing special.
The first being the first straight (non transition) adventure of the 5th Doctor and Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant). She spent most of her run in the TV series with Doctor #6 (Colin Baker) and had already appeared in #3 of the audio run with him. Her introduction to the series was the swan song to Turlough and the 2nd was the end of Davidson's run. So she never got a chance to actually have a companion relationship with the 5th Doctor.
Peter Davidson meanwhile was very busy when the (then) new Doctor Who audio series came out. He was featured in 5 of the first 10 releases. Audio #8 gave him the chance not only to work with Bryant but also to work with his real life daughter Georgia Moffett who even more ironically would 8 years later be cast as the Daughter of the Doctor in the revived TV series.
We see an early earth expedition to the planet Mars with the Doctor and Peri landing there about the same time, both parties being surprised to meet the other. Their discovery of what appear to be frozen statues turn out (of course) to be Ice Warriors. In a final irony to the items above the Doctor and Peri spend a fair amount of time apart which gives both of them to shine as solid and strong characters.
In the old series it wasn't always a given that the Ice Warriors were the cause of grief and I won't spoil the plot here now, but suffice to say like most of the early stories, the plot is strong the acting is solid and Davidson's 5th Doctor and Bryant's Peri just shine in the role that they clearly enjoy returning to.
What you will notice when you have heard more of them is that the shine doesn't fade from either actor even now 10 years later, but that fact really comes through here.
This one's a keeper.
I'm at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to reviewing this audio. Having never seen an episode featuring the ice Warriors, I can't tell you if they are accurately portrayed.
What I can tell you is this: Red Dawn is an enjoyable adventure that reminds me of the Pertwee era. The story is quite atmospheric and explores themes of honour and sacrifice. The Ice Warriors are depicted as noble beings whose civilisation and civility are far in advance of humanity's.
Of course, the best thing about this audio is the paring of Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant. She spent most of her time on the show as Colin Baker's companion, so it is nice to see her character interacting with the Fifth Doctor.