This is the sixty ninth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as Five, Nicola Bryant as Peri and Caroline Morris as Erimem. There are 4 episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs.
The series of releases featuring Five, Peri and Erimem have been a mixed bunch. With some great stories, some real duds and all point in between. I am happy to report that after the disappointing `Roof Of The World', this story is a real return to form, mainly because it goes back to the classic old `base under siege' formula that has served Who so well for over 50 years.
In a very traditionally structured story, the three travellers find themselves on a colony planet with only a few colonists and some unexpected visitors in an orbiting space station. It soon transpires that the colonists have spent years locked in their own rooms and have extreme agoraphobia, and that there aren't nearly as many as one would expect. And just what do the alien interlopers upstairs want with them?
It's a well structured tale, with some exciting moments and good cliffhangers. Davison is his usual excellent self as the Doctor, full of panic, prattle, righteous indignation and wiliness. Deborah Watling (Polly in the TV series) makes a good impression as the colony leader who has had to make the hard choices. Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris acquit themselves well as the companions. All in all a very satisfying slice of old fashioned Who. 5 stars.
"On an almost lifeless planet in a remote star system, Earth Colony Phoenix is struggling to survive. The colonists, utterly dependent on transmat technology and unable to leave the security of their Habitat Domes, have developed severe agoraphobia... not to mention an inability to deal with visitors... "The TARDIS crew arrives on an apparently abandoned space station in orbit above the planet and soon discovers that they and the remaining colonists are in the gravest danger. "To survive, the Doctor, Peri and Erimem must uncover the colony's darkest secrets before it's too late. "Something inhuman is stalking the colony... "...and it's hungry!"
"Three's a Crowd" is scripted by Colin Brake, who might have become "Doctor Who"'s next script editor had the series not been cancelled in 1987. I liked a lot of the ideas Brake injected into his play, including the severe agoraphobia of the colonists, who have grown up never leaving their habitation cells due to delays in terraforming the planet, and the troubled leader who has made a deal with an alien race for what she believes to be the good of her colonists. Said leader, known as Auntie, is played with considerable (and surprising) aplomb by Deborah Watling, who played Victoria alongside Patrick Troughton's Doctor in the 1960s, and whose performance is one of the play's highlights. The regular cast are well-served by their dialogue and put in good performances to match it, and the play takes a few welcome minutes to deal with the aftermath of rookie companion Erimem's horrific experiences of the previous few plays. Unfortunately, the "Three's a Crowd" is compromised by slightly tiresome performances from the rest of its guest cast (which must to some degree be blamed on Gary Russell's direction), in particular Lucy Beresford as Bellip, whose panic attacks feel very forced and occur rather too frequently. The play is also, unusually for Big Finish Productions, seriously over-produced: if my living environment suffered from such loud, insistent ambient noise as that inhabited by the colonists, I'd go insane pretty quickly. The endless high-tech, space-age rumbling distracts from the dialogue and makes the play, at times, unusually tiring to listen to. It endures in my memory much more than David Darlington's score has done, and that can't be good. It's also a little unconvincing that the colony's wily leader, Auntie, should have been so easily deceived, as she ultimately turns out to have been, by the play's monsters-of-the-week, the one-note, brutish-sounding Khellians, only one of whom is actually given a voice for much of the play. As slobbering humanoid reptilian monsters go, the Khellians are definitely up there amongst Doctor Who's least interesting. After two disappointing outings for the Fifth Doctor / Peri / Erimem team in "The Axis of Insanity" and "The Roof of the World", I genuinely enjoyed "Three's a Crowd" despite its shortcomings, and I wanted to give it a good rating; but, eventually, I decided that the play's weaknesses were too signficant to realistically rate it any higher than average.
This is the kind of story i could listen to again and again. Peter Davison is on brilliant form. Nicola Bryant is brill as Peri. And I love Caroline Morris as Erimem, shes such a good character. And its nice hearing Deborah Watling again!
Big finish certainly seem to know which writers to get in to write cracking good stuff, and Colin Brake is certainly no exception. I actually havent heard an audio i really dislike yet, and I do currently own 77 of them! I really like the acting on this one. Especially Auntie's granddaughter, Bellip. So believable, and just nice sounding!! And the aliens are believable and gross. Having a larder of humans...yuck!
This is another of my real favourite audios of Doctor Who, which i think are even better than the new and old series of telly adventures, and i like them quite a bit too! More please!
Episode one starts in an interesting setting for a doctor who story: a human colony with more buildings than people, and those who do live there are so agrophobic that they stay indoors all the time. The colony leader makes regular cheery broadcasts to them all. But does she know more than she's letting on?
The fifth doctor and companions arrive, and do indeed find there's more to the place that meets the eye.
The threat comes from rather conventional although quite well characterised aliens, which is a bit of a shame as the potential for some more psychological horror was here. Nevertheless, whilst this is a conventional doctor who story in many ways, it's a pretty strong one, as the supporting cast are great, and the companions are very well written. The latter doesn't always happen, so that makes this worthwhile.
Don't expect great drama from this, just a decent bit of conventional doctor who, and you won't be disappointed