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just over five years ago now, big finish audios released a series of plays under the banner: doctor who unbound. these were audio doctor who stories that stories that had no connection to established doctor who continuity whatsoever. they could tell whatever stories they liked, often twisting the past of the show to tell new tales, and allowing actors who never played the doctor before to get a chance to take on the role.

one of them was called doctor who: sympathy for the devil. this had david warner playing the third doctor. the scenario was that after he was forced to regenerate and exiled to earth by the time lords, he didn't land in the 1970's [or whenever those stories were set] and end up working with UNIT, rather he landed in hong kong in 1999, there meeting up with retired UNIT head alistair gordon lethbridge-stewart. at the end of that tale alistair and the doctor, who had regained control of his tardis from the time lords, set off travelling around the universe.

It's been a long wait, but finally the third doctor who never was is back!

david warner would always be top of my lists for actors who would have been great in the role of the doctor on tv. the doctor he plays here is smart, impatient, always eager to cut to the heart of the problem, and has a feeling that he's got lost time to make up for. he also has a quiet but determined sense of moral authority. this version of the brigadier is a man looking for a change in life, but still a consummate soldier.

the story is spread across two discs. the first disc starts with a trailer for the forthcoming third season of eighth doctor and lucie miller audios, and ends with a track containing twelve minutes of the score for the story.

in the middle of all that on disc one is part one of the story, which runs for roughly one hour and four minutes.

disc two contains part two, which runs for one hour and twenty minutes. so these are very long episodes, but they do manage to justify the length and keep you hooked.

so what's the story about?

the tardis lands on skaro. homeworld of the daleks. but a very different skaro from anything we've seen before. the thals, the other native race of the planet, live in a city and are slaves to dalek control. some of the thals are plotting rebellion, and thus the doctor is soon caught up in their plans. the daleks though have an agenda that is only gradually revealed as the episode goes on, and it's really quite surprising. they broadcast film of their long lost creator davros teaching people moral lessons. but what happened to davros?

and what deadly threat lurks nearby?

skaro soon becomes a battleground, and everyone involved has difficult moral choices to make. especially the daleks.

the first episode sets up the plot, keeping surprises coming right up to the excellent cliffhanger. and the second is best described as being a war movie, with different factions vying for control of the planet. and having to make the difficult choices mentioned.

in the middle of all this is action, food for thought, and some superb moments for the main characters, the doctor and the brigadier in particular having powerful moments when they stand up for what is right and do the right thing. these are scenes that will make you want to stand up and cheer.

a very long audio, and one that will doubtless repay repeated listenings.

and you probably wont have much trouble getting into it if you don't want to worry about continuity, and just enjoy a good story.
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on 26 January 2009
I loved the way David Warner played the Doctor in the previous play, and he's taken it to the next level. The Third Doctor's dedication to pacifism is shown right at the start, berating the ex-Brigadier for causing insult to their meglomaniac host, while admiting that he had neutralised a dangerous weapon. Equally, his ability to fight his oldest foes with great virulence are also displayed. Warner's Third Doctor comes over as being more combative than Pertwee's. The skewing of the show's timeline is defeated by making Davros a mythical creature at first, then making him the saviour of the Thals, but only so that he can as ever gain control over the Dalek's. Terry Molloy's portrayal of Davros is always at it's best when rational and logical. That is so here. The nazification elements of ''Genesis'' come out in the destruction of 'defective' Thals, the Dalek occupation of Skaro, curfews, resistance cells and such like. Nicholas Courtney never lets the side down, he's the perfect companion, while also being able to drive the plot when seperated from the Doctor. Hopefully Big Finish will bring the pairing back in the future.
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This is the eighth of the ‘Unbound’ series of audio adventures from Big Finish. Released between 2003 and 2008, this was a series that asked a lot of ‘what if’ questions about the show and produced a range of fascinating stories. It ran for 8 releases, and is some of the best work to have come out of Big Finish productions. The original series was released in 2003, this release was released in 2008 and the second of two specials that revisited characters from the original run. The story is in 4 half hour episodes on two discs.

This episode revisits the alternative third Doctor played by David Warner in ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and his friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart played by the ever reliable and much missed Nicholas Courtney.

The Doctor and his friend are travelling the universe having some fun adventures when they land on a planet named Skaro. What follows is a sort of alternative ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’, as the Doctor becomes aware of the legend of Davros (played by Terry Molloy, who was clearly relishing the script and giving it his considerable best). Suddenly the tables are turned and the Doctor is forced to make choices that would usually be unthinkable, while the Brigadier really comes into his own and finally finds his place in the Universe.

The three leads are superb, Warner convincing as an arrogant yet compassionate alternative third Doctor, Molloy on excellent form as the eternally crafty and scheming Davros. It is Nicholas Courtney however who steals the show, as this alternative Brigadier is finally given the chance to be the man he should have been. His arguments with the Doctor about how things should be done recall the Pertwee era without being too overt, and the final scenes are a powerful end to the tale that will bring a lump to the most hardened of throats.

It’s a superb story, with lots of action and big battle set pieces, but at the heart is a series of very personal stories. It’s up there with the best material Big Finish have released. 5 stars.
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This is the eighth of the ‘Unbound’ series of audio adventures from Big Finish. Released between 2003 and 2008, this was a series that asked a lot of ‘what if’ questions about the show and produced a range of fascinating stories. It ran for 8 releases, and is some of the best work to have come out of Big Finish productions. The original series was released in 2003, this release was released in 2008 and the second of two specials that revisited characters from the original run. The story is in 4 half hour episodes on two discs.

This episode revisits the alternative third Doctor played by David Warner in ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and his friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart played by the ever reliable and much missed Nicholas Courtney.

The Doctor and his friend are travelling the universe having some fun adventures when they land on a planet named Skaro. What follows is a sort of alternative ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’, as the Doctor becomes aware of the legend of Davros (played by Terry Molloy, who was clearly relishing the script and giving it his considerable best). Suddenly the tables are turned and the Doctor is forced to make choices that would usually be unthinkable, while the Brigadier really comes into his own and finally finds his place in the Universe.

The three leads are superb, Warner convincing as an arrogant yet compassionate alternative third Doctor, Molloy on excellent form as the eternally crafty and scheming Davros. It is Nicholas Courtney however who steals the show, as this alternative Brigadier is finally given the chance to be the man he should have been. His arguments with the Doctor about how things should be done recall the Pertwee era without being too overt, and the final scenes are a powerful end to the tale that will bring a lump to the most hardened of throats.

It’s a superb story, with lots of action and big battle set pieces, but at the heart is a series of very personal stories. It’s up there with the best material Big Finish have released. 5 stars.
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on 27 September 2015
Masters of War’ was written by Eddie Robinson and directed by Jason Haigh-Ellery. ‘The Unbound’ has dealt with alternate Doctor’s and what if scenario’s, and has been one of the most entertaining Big Finish ranges with its many highs and lows. ‘Masters of War’ is the sequel to ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. This is my favourite of the ‘Unbound’ range, it’s more balanced than either ‘Auld Mortality’ or ‘Deadline’ and has the same inventive story telling that made those titles so great.

The Doctor has decided to take his new friend Alistair on a trip and after have a time of it they end up on Skaro. After agreeing to help the Thals fight the Daleks the Doctor discovers the existence of Davros the long lost Dalek creator. The Doctor and Alistair capture a Dalek and re-programme it to think it’s Davros causing infighting between Daleks that can’t decide whether Davros has undergone full Dalek conversion. While the Daleks squabble and fight our heroes strike, but there is a surprise visit to the planet from the Quatch. The Quatch are beings from another dimension.

Nicholas Courtney is the Brigadier, doesn’t matter which version he just is. David Warner on the other hand feels like an archetypal classic series Doctor even though he never was. Davros played by Molloy is an alternate version as are the Daleks. These versions are ostensibly the same but with differences. The casting is faultless, not just the main characters who are mostly played by their original actors but also the supporting actors. The music and production values are consistent with the rest of the range but the Quatch voices are ridiculously quiet at times. The Quatch grew on me over the course of the story.

Each story of the range has tried to present us with a moral dilemma, what if scenario or perhaps both. In this one Davros has had a problem with his creations. If he removed all pity his creations turned on him or turned away from him, but with pity they lacked the killer instinct and became in his eyes weak. There is some great dialogue because of the philosophising, and the story has more depth because of it. The Doctor realises he may have misjudged the Daleks who reinvaded Skaro to try and protect the Thals from the coming Quatch invasion.

So the Doctor creates a divide in the Dalek society then allies himself with the Daleks to stop them allying with the Quatch who have formed a union with Davros. Groups are splintering everywhere. Lots going on and some nice ideas, but still the writer fall back on the human strength of acting illogically defeating superior logic as a battle strategy although that isn’t the final resolution. I have enjoyed this series very much; this one is definitely epic and very good indeed whilst retaining a lot of familiar facets of a Daleks story it also allows us to see things in a different light.
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2010
David Warners unbound alternative 3rd Doctor and the retired Lethbridge-Stewart return to take on the Daleks - the moment I heard of this story I was so up for it. This version of the 3rd Doctor was a favourite from the original unbound season, seeing his reaction to the Daleks as he takes his contempt out on them early in the story and to see him regain composure as the story moves on is a treat.

Where the original series was pretty much single CD's lasting an hour to 70 mins this is a full length story of a couple of hours (thats not counting the 8th Doctor season trailer and music score on the first CD). This gives the story plenty of time to breath with the first episode being full of twists and curve ball - the cliffhanger is outstanding. The second episode features more a tactical war story plus the debut of an unbound pivotal character.
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on 20 June 2011
I really enjoyed the first 'Unbound' story featuring David Warner and Nick Courtney so was looking forward to this one. It is an enjoyable story once again and poignant following the recent death of Nick Courtney. Casting is great once again with Terry Molloy as Davros doing a superb job too. The story loses a star because of 'the Quatch' who I find it difficult to take seriously because... now this is an obscure reference but they sound like the spoof 'World of the Strange' characters devised by Trev and Simon on Saturday morning TV all those years ago. I also preferred the first Warner story as it was shorter and tighter but there is no faulting his performance as the Doctor. It's a shame we never saw him in the role on TV.
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on 16 April 2009
The wonderful double act of David Warner's delayed Doctor in a hurry to make up for lost time and an aged, battle-scared Brigadier following in his wake is given another Unbound outing. With two beautifully nuanced performances of wonderfully written interpretations of the Doctor and Brigadier, the icing on this treat becomes the strength of the supporting cast - especially Terry Molloy showing us as a very different side or six of Davros. All minor niggles about plot - do we really believe there is a special gravity hole at the centre of Skaro's core? - can be overlooked for such a glorious and imaginative romp.
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