This is the eighth story in the 11-story arc of the Destiny of the Doctor, tales which were released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. The stories are stand-alone tales of each of the eleven doctors, as told by one of their companions, and there is an interlinking arc within the stories which, hopefully, will all come together in the eleventh and final story, featuring the Eleventh Doctor.
This story is quite unusual in that it features the Eighth Doctor, who never appeared on the BBC tv program, and his companion Charley Pollard, who also never featured in the BBC program, but who is an original companion created for the Big Finish audio productions. So it is quite a feat for this to have all come together in a way that allows the eleven-story arc to continue, using a companion not known on tv, but who is an important Eighth Doctor companion to those familiar with the Big Finish Eighth Doctor audio stories.
The Doctor and Charley get a message from one of the Doctor’s other selves, but there is interference in the message, so they are left with a somewhat cryptic warning. Attempting to make sense of it, they land in London in 1935 and search for clues based on what they think they know. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong and much mad mayhem ensues before it’s all sorted out.
This is a story that is performed tremendously well by India Fisher, narrating the story, performing Charley’s part, and also playing other parts as required; with support from Michael Maloney who performs the part of Hilary really well. The performance is good, the characterisations are very good and ‘true’, the presentation of the story is good in the time and context of that story, but the story itself is rather lame. A pity; there was great opportunity for a great story, even given the outcome that is obviously required in the arc, but this story was rather forgettable as a Doctor Who story.
on 29 July 2013
The Destiny of the Doctor series reaches the 8th Doctor with this release, written by Alan Barnes and featuring Charley Pollard from the Big Finish 8th Doctor audios. Alan Barnes was the obvious choice to write the 8th Doctor's installment, seeing as he wrote the first ever 8th Doctor audio (Storm Warning) and created the character of Charley. Don't worry if you've never heard any of the Big Finish audios though, there's enough information given in Enemy Aliens for you to understand who Charley is and where she comes from. There's also the booklet which comes with the CD of course, which gives a short summary of the 8th Doctor and Charley's travels together. For those of you who are familiar with the Big Finish audios, this adventure takes place sometime before "Time of the Daleks" and fits seamlessly into that wonderful period of adventures spanning "Storm Warning" to "Embrace the Darkness".
The story itself is rather a good one. Essentially Alan Barnes has taken this opportunity to write the Doctor Who version of John Buchan's "The 39 Steps". If you're familiar with Buchan's novel then there are plenty of things which should feel familiar to you here, from a memory man being assasinated on stage to the main character fleeing to Scotland after being wrongly suspected of murder. Of course this being Doctor Who there are aliens involved behind the scenes, and this is perhaps the one point on which the story falls flat. The aliens don't really put in an appearance until very near the end of the story, so we never get to understand much about them or what their motives are. Luckily the rest of the story more than makes up for this.
India Fisher puts in a superb performance as the narrator and gets to play far more than just Charley. Enemy Aliens tasks India Fisher with playing everything from two incarnations of the Doctor to a Scottish Priest, a task which she rises to admirably. It would have been nice to have heard the 11th Doctor contacting the 8th Doctor in a full cast audio, but it's such a wonderful idea that it's still a joy to listen to even when there's only one person providing the narration.
This was the first Destiny of the Doctor audio I listened to, so I can assure you that there's no need to have heard any of the other releases in the series to understand Enemy Aliens. It's not a story that's going to set the world on fire, but it is a cracking good Doctor Who story.
on 29 August 2013
Charley never lets us down, does she?
And in AUDIOGO's eighth `chapter' of their 50th anninversary series, DOCTOR WHO - DESTINY OF THE DOCTOR, the heroic Miss Pollard is unceremoniously hauled into another space:time adventure with the velveteen swaddled Time Lord following aural breadcrumbs scattered across the eons by his Eleventh self, and, to be honest, it's the best of the releases so far (sorry `Chapter Three'!).
Dynamic in pace, eruditely intelligent, meticulously researched and adroitly observed by writer, Alan Barnes, consummately acted by India Fisher (Charlotte `Charley' Pollard) and the always value-for-money Michael Maloney (the manipulative yet dashingly suave Hilary Hammond), ENEMY ALIENS rattles along with the uncompromising momentum of the Flying Scotsman, and as the action is as relentless as the pistons of that greatest of steam engines you hardly notice the infrequent punctuation of Paul McGann's evocatively delineated Doctor; this is Charley's story with the Doctor attempting to hang on to her Russian Military tunic's tail.
As a long-time writer for BIG FINISH and the `creator' of Charley, the Edwardian stowaway on-board the ill-fated dirigible, R101 (see 2001's DOCTOR WHO - STORM WARNING - the first audioplay to feature McGann and Fisher), Barnes' dialogue and character motivation is as fresh as day that the Time Lord stumbles across her behind a set of drapes, attempting to hide from the odious, halitosis-afflicted Chief Steward (Mr. Weeks). Sparkling repartee - and, if I didn't know better, it maybe `improvised' - that has only ever been matched by Russell T Davies' writing for the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble. If ever there was a partnership that deserves to be on-screen revisitation - so to speak - it is that of Eighth Doctor/Charley Pollard if the Twelfth Doctor/Oswald fails disastrously.
"...a menacing Cox's Orange that she's ever seen..."
Drawing its core inspiration from John Buchan's THE 39 STEPS - with minor alteration in its linear narrative mapping - ENEMY ALIENS (...an intelligent linguistic twist linked to the period within which it is set...) forces the Doctor and Charley to hardly draw breath from that last adventure before being catapulted into a plot to invade Earth, starting, as the majority of aliens seemingly do, with London, and it's all linked to a musical tune.
And that's the only spoiler that I should tease you with.
Along the way, Barnes litters the story with welcome back references to Charley's past and her adventures since meeting the Doctor, in addition to those relating to CLASSIC SERIES (Foamasi) as well delivering a gloriously researched canvas upon which ENEMY ALIENS is painted. Reference to North London's notorious Friern Barnet Hospital for the mentally infirmed (now a luxury housing complex and VIRGIN ACTIVE gym), and the LMS Railway linking St Pancras to the Highlands of Scotland ), and, strangely, Piccadilly `rent boys' (a raft of sailors on shore leave) loitering with intent to... well, ... moving swiftly on. This is Barnes' talent; he gives the science-fiction fantasy a context within reality for the listener to adhere to, and that leads on to the question, "Why has he being ignored by the NEW SERIES Producers as a story writer for them?"
And did I, Mr. Barnes, spot a reference to THE SMITHS in the script?
Adding gravitas, guest star, Michael Maloney excels with every script line delivered, taking the seriousness of the story with the professionalism that he brings to every role. He's not an immediately well-known actor, frequently cast as a character that is intelligent, mildly manipulative, sly, cunning yet very ordinary and real, and, here in ENEMY ALIENS, he performs that same and he's very convincing. But, of course, this is DOCTOR WHO and his character is not whom we think he is. Yet another actor that deserves to be in the televised NEW SERIES.
The `third actor' is a stunning, eclectic array of special sound & incidental music. Simon Hunt's `electronic performance' is elevated to a new level of appropriateness; errant yet annoying cooing Pigeons, to musical hall tap dancing canines, to horse & trap travelling over damp beaten earth, to a Time Lord tamed white steed being pursued by bloodhounds.
Directed by John Ainsworth, DOCTOR WHO - DESTINY OF THE DOCTOR: ENEMY ALIENS is a lavish and thoroughly enjoyable `chapter', and, as I said, is the most outstanding of the series to date and whets the aural appetite for the final three `chapters' as DESTINY concludes in November.
In contrast to all other incarnations of the Time Lord, the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) has by-far made the least visual appearances on Television, starting only in 1996's Doctor Who: The Movie (Paul's surprise appearance in the excellent Night of the Doctor last year was shown exclusively on the web). And on the other side of this coin, is the fact that the Eighth Doctor has made more AUDIO-appearances & in other tie-in media than all the other Doctors.
Despite the hugely-enjoyable 1996 TV Movie failing to lead to a new series (at the time), life did not end there & then for Paul McGann or the Eight Doctor. His era would live-on in another medium entirely for Doctor Who. His adventures and own companions would be told through more than 70 audio-dramas! The fact that this would be honoured and mentioned in The Night of the Doctor - the first time ever that Big Finish adventures were acknowledged as part of the main-canon for the official BBC continuity - was truly major, and makes the Eighth Doctor's life (both in TV & Audio) of historical importance.
Really, we should be all-the-more thankful for Big Finish, what they've given us and what they'd done for the character. By developing the Eighth Doctor in such a way, this particular Destiny of the Doctor outing (focusing on No. 8) really benefits from it. Without Big Finish's contributions (specifically those of Alan Barnes), this tale would've been restricted and impeded by a severe lack of source material.
Alan Barnes understands the Eighth Doctor better than most, which is why he's best suited to write Enemy Aliens, a thrilling and somewhat-romantic chase story featuring the Eighth Doctor and beloved companion from the audio-adventures, Charley Pollard (voiced as ever by the wonderful India Fisher).
Fellow reviewers have noted that Enemy Aliens draws heavy inspiration from The 39 Steps, to the point where it virtually mirrors said-tale. And I agree entirely with that analysis. Barnes is clearly influenced by the notion of writing another interpretation of The 39 Steps, only this time with a Doctor Who twist. But strangely, it suits Enemy Aliens beautifully, particularly with the Eighth Doctor being as enthusiastic, encouraging, so immersed in various culture and in love with life itself as he is.
For Enemy Aliens, the Doctor and Charley intercept a mysterious message in the TARDIS. It leads them to 1935 in London's West End, where the Time-Travellers are caught-up in a dangerous conspiracy between insidious spy-rings and imminent alien invasions. The Doctor & Charley soon find themselves on the run from the authorities and enemies from all-sides, with their only clue to solving the mystery (and possibly clearing their names)...is to listen carefully to a particular piece of music.
Alan Barnes has written many a fine tale for Who over the years (including the wonderful 2007 animated serial The Infinite Quest), and he works his magic for this eighth chapter of Destiny of the Doctor. Like (say) Babblesphere or Night of the Whisper, this is a fun-filled escapade that celebrates the wonders of this primarily audio-based era for Doctor Who. Instead of celebrating the various TV series, Enemy Aliens pays homage to both the Doctor Who movie, and all the spin-off material it generated. Nothing has been overlooked in the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Doctor Who, which is gratifying.
Going back to The 39 Steps inspiration, it's faithfully recreated through a beautiful soundtrack and sound-effects to recreate the splendour of the tale in this environment. The steam-train, the bullets, the bombs, the airplanes, the cars, the screams etc...it really does come into play here (which I know is typical Destiny). And India's narration here is full of enthusiasm and charm, with her voice adding to the overall beauty of Enemy Aliens and the whole Destiny tapestry.
For those who are unfamiliar with Charley, she's one of the most prominent companions of the Eighth Doctor in the Big Finish audio-range, with a loyalty to the Time Lord, and possessing the same courage and love for life & culture as he does. However, this aristocrat from the 1930s has a tragic story (which is thoughtfully explained to make it clear to those who don't know of Charley's origins & situation), and her altercation with the mysterious Hilary Hammond (deliciously voiced by Michael Maloney) develops Charley's character splendidly, making you care about her even more. The Doctor also takes a backseat in this story, allowing Charley most of the spotlight, which is another positive boon for newcomers.
Admittedly, Enemy Aliens isn't a masterpiece. While Barnes has written a wonderfully-artistic production, Enemy Aliens is like Babblesphere in that it starts out predictable and drags in places, until a major plot-twist in the third act shatters all expectations. The choice of human-antagonists for Enemy Aliens - along with the political/espionage stakes - is inspired, but somewhat tarnished by the alien revelation. This chapter deserved to be perfect, especially with the `Destiny' recurring theme coming into play right at the start and being a strong plot-element for this adventure. As it stands, Enemy Aliens turns out flawed, but otherwise highly enjoyable. Better Eighth Doctor adventures exist out there, but this is still worth a listen. More so for Charley, and the ongoing Destiny of the Doctor that's just waiting to come to light.
Eighth in the 'Destiny of the Doctor' series of Doctor Who talking books. These are a range of monthly releases that feature a new adventure for a different incarnation of the Doctor each month.
They're read by an actor who played a companion to the particular incarnation, and they narrate in the third person. Plus do all the voices save one which is performed by a guest actor.
This one runs for one hour. It's basically one long episode, and the only breaks in it are the usual cd chapter ones.
There is a linking theme to all these which will all come together in the eleventh Doctor story. The theme is starting to drive the stories now rather than be a small part as it was at first. But everything is sufficiently explained enough so that casual listeners who haven't heard the preceding seven releases in this range shouldn't have any trouble getting into this one.
Which is a story for the eighth doctor. Who of course only had one television appearance, and didn't have any companions at the end of it. Rights issues would actually prevent any further usage of the original characters from that story as well. But he has enjoyed a long run in the mediums of audio and the printed page. Thus this release features his companion from his early audios. Actress India Fisher as young adventuress Charlotte 'Charley' Pollard. A girl who should have died in the wreck of the R101. But if you don't know her story read the inlay for the full details.
Enemy aliens sees the Doctor and Charley in 1935 London, when they receive a cryptic message which sends them off in search into the west end for some enemy aliens. With only one clue as to what they're looking for. But danger and murder await, and soon the time travellers are running for their lives...
This was written by Alan Barnes, who created Charley for audio. And he clearly knows the character very well. The dialogue and narration really does make her a product of her time. This, along with some nicely rich prose at points and a pleasant reading from India Fisher makes it a delight to listen to. There is also a lot of superb period detail.
The plot does threaten to sag slightly in the middle third, and the Doctor is also absent from this for a little bit too long. But that's only a minor complaint. Because everything is brought together in the final third very nicely in a way that will have you gasping and saying 'of course!' when certain revelations are made.
Perhaps though there is one too many plot strand here, which means that the enemy aliens of the title don't quite get as much attention and detail as they should.
So not quite a five star release, but a fun and entertaining listen. Also for those who did hear Charley's audio adventures with the eighth doctor back in the day, a delightful piece of nostalgia also.
Just be warned that you will have a certain piece of music stuck on your mind for a while after.
on 19 August 2013
A very good chapter in the destiny series performed by India fisher who was excellent along side the 8th Dr in the big finish audio`s and later the 6th Dr.
India fisher does an excellent job performing this tale which I found great listening too.
Looking forward to the next installment
on 14 August 2013
The Destiny of the Doctor series started well: the first few releases really captured the spirit of the early Doctors, and had stories which were in-keeping with the TV episodes of the time.
Enemy Aliens is by far the poorest release (so far).
Most of the plot is sufficiently close to John Buchan's "The Thirty-Nine Steps" for this to be called a remake starring The Doctor as Richard Hannay. Anyone who knows this book, or the film adaptations of it, will get an immediate feeling of deja vu.
The remainder of the plot of "Enemy Aliens" is mostly unexplained, and feels shoe-horned in just to make a joke about the word "Aliens".
In a word, disappointing.
on 11 October 2013
`Enemy Aliens' is easily the worst of `The Destiny of the Doctor' series so far. Whereas the previous instalments have faired relatively well in capturing the feel of their respective eras whilst offering something somewhat new and innovative, this story/episode fails to do either. The performances are lacklustre and lacking emotion. It feels as if India Fisher couldn't really be bothered. The story limps along with tenuous connections between events before reaching a suddenly hurried and rather too convenient conclusion. Attempts at humour that are often tasteless and flat. Furthermore, the plot appears to be some poorly constructed take off of something like `The Thirty Nine Steps' or North by Northwest', but totally lacking in intrigue.
This is one of the poorest characterisations of the Doctor. Admittedly I have never really been very keen on the Eighth Doctor, finding his characterisation to be rather random over the various media. But Paul Mcgann has done a fine job in defining his particular incarnation during the various audio stories, especially in the later ones. This story does not capture Mcgann's efforts and do them justice though. It is a very poor representation of the Eighth Doctor. In this story he is portrayed more like the Sixth Doctor at his most obnoxious or as some very amoral, callous un-Doctor like character who is, quite frankly, unlikeable.
The biggest flaw in this story is the general callous attitude towards death and tragedy. There is a sequence in the early stages where the fate of four minor characters is referred in a very incidental off-handed manner. It almost feels as if their deaths, etc are something to smirk about. The tone is utterly wrong in this circumstance. The Doctor and Charlie both frequently adopt a very cavalier and uncaring attitude, especially at the play's close. They seem to lack any sympathy or empathy and there is virtually nothing to endear the listener to these characters.
on 27 April 2016
I found this for a quid in a charity shop. Don't buy this CD! The story is stolen from The 39 Steps. It's disgusting how someone can steal other peoples work and get away with it.
on 22 July 2014