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Andrew Brack (Atlanta, GA)

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The Girl Who Never Was (Doctor Who)
The Girl Who Never Was (Doctor Who)
by Alan Barnes
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And so concludes an era..., 18 Jan. 2008
Big Finish's Eighth Doctor has been through a lot in the last twelve months. He has gained a new companion on BBC7 and in the Monthly Series release before this, 'Absolution', he lost C'Rizz. This story follows on from that story and picks up the threads it left dangling. It is a story about the end of a relationship and coming to terms with that.

It is entirely appropriate that we end as we began - with Alan Barnes. He created Charley in the audio adventure 'Storm Warning' and shifted their relationship forward in 'Neverland'.

The script for 'The Girl Who Never Was' is much more complex than that of 'Storm Warning', spreading its narrative over multiple time zones. Complicated narrative structures can sometimes be the kiss of death for an audio as the medium requires concentration and engagement at the best of times but this holds up nicely with strong lead and guest performances keeping attention and a few superb twists along the way.

It is a script that draws together on what has come before however so unless you have heard previous Eighth Doctor and Charley stories you will likely feel lost and much less engaged. Likewise if you have never liked this pairing the story will likely leave you cold as much of its appeal is linked to its audience hoping that the Doctor and Charley do not part on bad terms.

In fact the strong emotions of Charley and the Doctor superbly contrast with the cold, emotionless Cybermen who serve as the physical threat to the Doctor and Charley. They sound excellent (Cyberfans: picture The Invasion Cybermen with Tenth Planet voices) but in many ways they are not the focus of this story. However I felt that this worked well and ensures that there is an action story there alongside the emotional journey of the Doctor and Charley.

'The Girl Who Never Was' is a very enjoyable audio adventure, mixing character drama and the return of one of the most popular 'monsters' in the Doctor Who canon. Whilst it will not suit those who have not been following the Eighth Doctor and Charley arc closely, for those who have it is a touching and emotional close to a memorable era of Doctor Who.

No Title Available

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea but poorly executed, 9 Jan. 2008
I imagine that I was not the only Labyrinth fan who was excited at the news that a twelve inch talking Jareth action figure was to be released. Given the high expectations it is a shame that the final product disappoints as it does.

The figure is pleasingly weighty and well-balanced making it durable and unlikely to suffer damage (in fact, it's more likely to damage whatever it falls onto). The attention to detail on the body is generally excellent with the plastic cloak looking particularly cool. This cloak also covers the on-off switch for the voice box which disguises this nicely.

Jareth comes with two accessories, a fist and a crystal goblin ball. The detail on the former is reasonable and the latter is a lot of fun, although it is not easy to balance the ball on Jareth's fingers unless your surface is absolutely flat.

The disappointment comes from the face and the voice box. Perhaps I was being a little naive expecting a Bowie likeness but the severe hair and facial structure look daft and far too masculine respectively. It seriously detracts from the figure's appeal and looks at odds with the detail lavished elsewhere.

The voice box similarly offers a reasonable set of phrases but certainly my companions when I activated it were all quick to notice that despite music and sound effects it does not sound like Bowie.

This figure is generally well-made but it is a real pity that David Bowie's likeness was not used.

Deal Or No Deal (Nintendo DS)
Deal Or No Deal (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Lucril
Price: £6.00

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive and shallow gaming experience, 13 Nov. 2007
I like Deal or No Deal a lot as a show, but essentially it is a fairly slim concept. You open boxes, the banker makes you an offer and you accept or reject. It can be really gripping television but sadly this attempt at making it into a game falls flat.

The Nintendo DS version has three options - the regular game, playing as the banker or a forfeits version. There is also a mini-game that crops up once a game and will soon become grating as you have to follow a moving box and correctly identify it. Whilst the makers clearly want to add some variety to the game, by only having one such challenge it quickly becomes a chore. It would have been better to have a number of assorted tasks that can be completed. Variable difficulty levels might have made it more entertaining too - I certainly never had any problem following the boxes.

The option to play as the banker is certainly an interesting twist (though the moving boxes mini-game makes an unwelcome appearance) though the novelty wears out fairly quickly.

The biggest problem with this title is repetition. You'll see the same tired old banker comments repeat each game, the musical score is bland and you will come to dread the appearance of the mini game.

Then again, it was a near-impossible task for the game's makers - without the tension in the studio the atmosphere of the show never really comes to life. Whilst it is fun to see a digital version of Noel Edmonds (and a number of interesting looking individuals holding boxes), the novelty quickly wears off.

The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby [2001] [DVD]
The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Dallimore

23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overplayed and unimaginative, 7 Jan. 2007
There have been a number of different versions of Nicholas Nickelby that I've seen now - the epic RSC version (which is over 7 hours long and thus the most comprehensive), the 1970s BBC version (which features Nigel Havers and does a good job of mixing the unpleasant aspects), the competent 1947 version and the lively, imaginatively-cast 2002 film. This is by far the least enjoyable one I've seen.

It focuses far too much on trying to portray the Squeers as unpleasantly as possible (something that is already evident enough through how they talk and the way they treat the boys - Mr and Mrs Squeers groping each other in as repulsive a fashion as possible in front of Nicholas strikes me as unnecessary and over the top). The 2002 film does this so much better by using Nicholas' reactions and through wonderful set design.

Everything is heavy-handed here. Not only do we have a scene where an "admirer" of Kate Nickleby threatens her honour but we have a fully-fledged rape attempt on a billiards table. Not only is a repulsive old man disgusting in his attitudes and how he dresses, he wiggles his tongue in a snake-like fashion.

Sophia Myles and James D'Arcy are both excellent in key roles but given the overwhelmingly oppressive tone of the production I cannot recommend this. The other adaptations listed at the start of this review are just better balanced and more enjoyable.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2012 9:30 PM GMT

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