Top positive review
One person found this helpful
on 12 August 2014
This is a full-cast audio drama featuring the Fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, with his companions Peri (Nicola Bryant) and Erimem (Caroline Morris).
This is only the third story to feature Erimem, so she is still new to the ways of travelling with the Doctor, though she and Peri have already struck up a strong friendship. Erimem’s cat Andronak is also travelling with them, not altogether to the Doctor’s delight as Andronak keeps jumping on the Tardis console. Peri and Erimem find an interesting artefact in a market, and feel drawn to find out more about its origins. The Doctor agrees, but when they land fears he may have made a “grave mistake” – he seems to have landed them in a room full of corpses. Meanwhile, we have heard the death of a great space fleet sent by Chairman Wendle Marr under Commander Harlon, and the slaughter of the crews by cannibalistic sadistic witches – all very unpleasant.
There is great stuff hidden in this story, but it falls flat because of a few things that it’s hard for the listener to get past. Firstly, there is a great “elephant in the room” in this story, which everyone finds distasteful – the scene where Erimem is subject to sexual violence. I personally feel that this scene was completely irrelevant to either the plot or to Erimem’s character, and should have been left out of the final release. So, that’s got that one out of the way.
There is lots of good in the story; I like the character of Wendle Marr (who is very remiscent of Morgus in Caves of Androzani. Commander Harlon and Lt Cochrane are well portrayed, and the Pakhar in the market are very clever.
Where the story then fails to be a great story in my opinion is because of two other factors. One is the over-the-top rendition of the character of Jal Dor Kal by Gilly Cohen. I get that the character is the head Witch, head of a coven of horrible witches who perform blood sacrifices and worship the relic of the great god Shara. But the witchy-poo cackling and shrieking that the character employs just makes her sound silly, and annoying. Given that in the last few scenes with Jal Dor Kal she uses a much more normal voice and is clearly a perfectly intelligent character in her own right, I fail to see why the producer allowed the character to be voiced in this way.
The other issue that I have is that there an awful lot of extremely short scenes. The cutting from one scene to another (necessary, given that there are a lot of set pieces and characters to bring together in the story) is too quick and the scenes are not given time to develop. As a result, it sounds choppy.
I’ve listened to this story twice now, and I had forgotten much of it from the first time I heard it. Listening to it a second time I understand it much better, and I can see the very good story that lies behind it, once you can piece it together as an accomplished narrative. Putting aside the factors I’ve mentioned above which let it down, it is very good. Putting those annoying factors into the finished product unfortunately stop it from being a great story.