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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 November 2014
This is the fifth in the continuing series (of 11) stories featuring each of the eleven Doctors up to the time of the 50th anniversary. This story features a tale told of the time of the Fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, and told by Tegan, as played by Janet Fielding.

These stories operate a bit like the Companion Chronicles done by Big Finish, where one character narrates almost all the parts, and tells the story, with usually one other actor playing another main part. In this case, the character of Harry Houdini is played by Tim Beckmann. Each story has an element popped in somewhere during the run of the story which is contributing to an overall story arc which will (hopefully!) be revealed in all its glory in the eleventh, and final story.

In this story the Fifth Doctor and his companions Tegan, Nyssa and Adric have followed a signal sent by a psionic distress call. The Tardis lands in England in the 1920s and the travellers find themselves at a fairground, where the Doctor is delighted to meet up with an old friend of his, the great escapologist Harry Houdini. Houdini thinks there is something odd going on at the fair and he has called on the Doctor to help him solve the mystery. They have a history together, and Tegan is delighted to meet a real historical figure who she admires, even though the Doctor has failed (yet again!) to get her back to Heathrow in 1981 in time for her to start her new job.

This is a really good early Fifth Doctor story; Tegan is at her best in stepping forward to help out at every opportunity, Nyssa is quietly spoken, and Adric is at the stage of his Tardis career where he is trying to excel for the Doctor, and prove himself. The three companions are well portrayed in this story which is largely focused on their actions, while the Doctor works more in the background. However, all the travellers come together to solve the mystery, and to put to rest the plots of an old foe (no spoilers). In this story, the clue relating to the 11 Doctor story arc comes quite early on, and these clues are all starting to build up to a very intriguing storyline. I look forward to listening to the Sixth Doctor story to see what his tale is, and where the overall story arc leads next.
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on 13 April 2017
The plot of the story tends to be all over the place. I may not have been listening properly, but for me, the appearance of the (not actually present) adversary is never fully explained, nor his intention. Sub plots about wild animals being on the loose, Houdini's purpose and the hypnotised circus workers seem spuriously added to the plot. The interesting theme about an enemy existing in a mirror version of the circus is introduced, then seemingly forgotten. The conclusion is well done and the story and characters have the feel of the era the narrative represents, but it was confusing at times.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 September 2013
`Smoke and Mirrors' is, perhaps, quite an apt title for this audiobook. Although quite entertaining, various traps and chases appear to hide a lack of plot. Events seem little more than vessels to get to the introduction of the major villain.

However, on the plus side, Janet Fielding's narration is of a high quality and she gives an entertaining reading. Her performance of the villain is somewhat over the top and her Fifith Doctor is passable. But Tegan is, of course, spot on and the way she captures the naïve ignorance of supposedly highly intelligent non-humans, Nyssa and Adric, is a joy.

As with all this series it seems, this is a story quite centred around the narrating companion, in this case Tegan. With this TARDIS crew it is often Tegan that play the more ignorant role in events, surrounded as she is by three very intelligent colleagues. In this story, set on Earth in the 1920s, it is Tegan who is the knowledgeable one. For all their science and intelligence, Nyssa and Adric know nothing of Houdini, circuses or this particular period of Earth's history (it might help Adric to know about `The Life of Pi' in this story). This allows Tegan to take on more of a leadership role than usual.

Tim Beckmann certainly gives a charismatic and entertaining performance as Houdini but the script provides little believable reasoning for this motivations. Some vague posturing about feeling that the Doctor deosn;t trust him and the often repeated desire of knowledge in no way adequately describes his behaviour. I also can't help but feel that the Fifth isn't perhaps the most exciting incarnation to interact with Houdini. Surely some of the other Doctors would have been more fun; especially as this story suggests previous meetings.

*SPOILERS BELOW*

It really isn't much of a spoiler and, unfortunately, completely predictable once you start listening that the villain is going to be the Master. It is a very typical appearance and not very memorable. It feels like his inclusion in this story is just so that he has a t least an appearance in this anniversary series.

The sound effects and background noises are of a high quality and add atmosphere. This coupled with the fair amount of action cover the lack of plot. Despite its predictability it still manages to be entertaining.
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on 18 June 2013
Tegan, Nyssa, Adric, the 5th Doctor and Houdini!
What nore could you ask for in a story!!!
Janet Fielding is excellent in this story!
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on 29 June 2013
Fast-paced and worthy of the Doctor. I am so glad that someone had the idea of writing extra Who novels!
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on 20 November 2014
Arrived quickly packaged with the other cds that I ordered at the same time, unfortunately this one had a crack in the case but I had to give it to my husband anyway cause it arrived the day before his birthday. I did not bother to return it as we had an old case that we swapped it for which saved the hassel of returning it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 April 2013
Fifth release in the 'Destiny of the Doctor' series. These are a range of Doctor Who talking books that are being released at the rate of one a month, and which feature a different Doctor in each story.

Although the stories stand alone there is a linking theme to them which should all come to a head in the eleventh and final release.

You don't need to hear that or any of the previous releases in order to get into this one, though, as it does work fine on it's own.

This story features the Fifth Doctor. Along with companions Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric. The latter wasn't the most popular companion ever, but he rarely gets featured in original Doctor Who fiction of any kind, so it is rather nice to see him pop up here.

As with all this range, it's read by someone who played a companion to the Doctor during the particular era in which this is set. They narrate in the third person, and do all the voices save one which is performed by a guest actor.

This being a fifth Doctor story, it sees Janet Fielding - better known as Tegan - as the reader.

The story runs for an hour. It is basically one long episode, the only breaks being the usual cd chapter ones.

Minimal sleeve notes give copyright details, some info about the era of the show when the story is set, and advertise other bbc Doctor Who audio products.

The story sees the Fifth Doctor and friends visit a fairground in the 1920's. Where the Doctor meets an old friend. The legendary escape artist Harry Houdini. Houdini [just in case you don't know] also made it his business to investigate mediums and debunk fraudulent ones. As a result of a promise made to his mother before she died. That they would speak again. Trying to contact her was a passion of his. But he was constantly disappointed by those who promised him results, and turned out to be frauds.

Houdini knows a lot about Tegan. All things he has deduced. Or so he claims. He needs the Doctor's help to investigate a fortune teller who seems to be using alien technology. But when the Doctor and friends visit the fairground at night, they find terror awaits...

Janet Fielding narrates very well. She doesn't do too much with the voices of the characters who aren't Tegan, but you do get used to her style. This thought ties with the Third Doctor story for being the best in the range so far, because of several excellent factors.

It makes it clear that the Doctor and Houdini have met before. You do get a great sense of the friendship and relations between the two.

It fits it's era superbly well. You could easily imagine that the tv show of the time could have made this one without much difficulty.

There are a couple of very good surprises.

The plot has a few good twists and this keeps it moving right to the end.

It's very spooky at points.

And it really does capture the character of the Fifth Doctor superbly. The seemingly harmless young man wanting to be taken seriously, who is also a wise and ancient alien and very clever with it.

The linking theme - that regular listeners to this range will be getting used to - crops up once again, and once again avoids being repetitive by being quite good fun.

The final scene is really great also.

A superb recreation of it's era and a good story with it. Well worth a listen.
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on 2 September 2013
The fifth Doctor has been called to a 1920s fairground by his old friend Houdini, to help with an unusual problem. However, not all is as it seems and soon the Doctor and his three companions are fighting for freedom and their very lives...

Like most of this Destiny series, Smoke and Mirrors has been written with a strong eye on fitting into/celebrating the era of the series in which it is based, and as such, one should not expect startling revelations or stunning originality in plot or villain. But, with this caveat in place, one can settle down to what is actually a really good story.
Steve Lyons has written a fairly straightforward yarn, splitting the companions from the Doctor fairly early on, giving the separate threads time to play out effectively. The characterisations deserve particular mention, for while no one slips out of character, we learn a great deal of detail we hadn't really considered: how and when has the Doctor actually met Houdini, how Nyssa and Tegan feel towards the murderer of their loved ones, and to a tiger, does fresh Adric taste good? Of note is the attention to detail lavished on both Tegan and the Doctor, the former gets to show her human side more, helped by Janet Fielding's outstanding performance, while the latter's mannerisms, tone, attitude and pretty much everything else are all captured and described perfectly.
But best of all, the 'Destiny' element has been perfectly handled: it fits into the story exactly where it needs to, neither intruding unnecessarily or forcing incongruous plot points onto the adventure.

Overall, if you enjoy the fifth Doctor, you'll enjoy this. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2014
Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor is one I’ve always liked. The youthful exuberance, the way he was dressed, his demeanour; this was a Doctor younger and more energetic than his previous incarnations, and the results were both popular & spectacular.

So I was looking forward to this particular chapter of Destiny of the Doctor, and like previous episodes, this is colourful & deep, and is replete with moments of tension & humanity. But whereas previous Destiny episodes dabbled with bizarre phenomenon, alien menaces on Earth & other planets (for the Doctor’s previous incarnations), the Fifth Doctor’s adventure involves a dive in history…and a threat from an old enemy.

It’s England in the 1920s, and the Doctor is travelling with his companions; Adric (the ill-fated Alzarian), Nysaa (the aristocratic Trakenite) and of course, Tegan (the Australian-stewardess). They arrive at a fairground, and bump into none other than the Doctor’s old friend, the one-and-only Harry Houdini. Unfortunately, Harry’s in a spot of bother, and the Doctor and his friends are only too happy to help. But is Harry all that he seems? Is the fairground for that matter? And what dangers await them?

Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka) reprises her role as that gal from Brisbane and makes for a fine narrator throughout, with her Australian accent providing a refreshing change. As Tegan, she remains golden and although she doesn’t really offer much variety when impersonating Adric and Nysas, her Fifth Doctor impersonation is a fine one. Tim Beckmann is in the supporting role as Harry Houdini, and my word does he shine! His voice gives such warmth & colour to the legendary escapologist, who in this tale is a complicated and multi-layered character.

Here, Houdini is an old friend of the Doctor’s. They’ve traded secrets and learnt much from the other. They’ve shared adventures (other stories in Doctor Who media that are alluded to here), and the real-life historical-figure knows of the Doctor’s previous incarnations. However, Houdini has troubles going on in his life and fears for the future, and while he’s a good man, he’s vulnerable to the path of darkness. It’s a grey area which writer Steve Lyons portrays excellently, along with everything else.

Smoke & Mirrors follows the usual ‘Destiny’ trend in recapturing the magic of what made the Doctor & Companions in-question so special, and doing so in a way that’s enlightening for newer fans of Doctor Who. But Smoke & Mirrors is one of the strongest entries of the Destiny series for being dark, thrilling and Down-to-Earth. Here, the dangers to the Doctor and his companions lie within the circus and fairground, and it’s most refreshing for Tegan, Adric & Nysaa to outwit & survive things like tigers and leopards, and for the human Tegan to explain Earth culture & nature to the alien-humanoids Adric & Nysaa. The same can be said for the Fifth Doctor, who’s escapologist skills are put to the test here.

The story develops nicely, there’re plenty of twists & turns to keep you on-edge and each of the companion’s characters shine throughout. There’s no duds whatsoever, and the revelation behind the antagonism is dark, sinister & shocking. Smoke & Mirrors is certainly one of the best chapters of Destiny of the Doctor (only behind the likes of Vengeance of the Stones and Death’s Deal), and even if you don’t decide to persevere with the whole series, this Fifth Doctor tale is highly recommended for all its individual merits. Terrific, must-own purchase!
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on 22 March 2017
Great as always
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