Latest in the series of doctor who audio plays that adapts scripts which didnt make it to the screen during colin baker's era in the role on tv.
This follows the format of the two previous ones by having two long episodes, fifty five and fifty nine minutes, with one to a disc. Both discs end with fifteen minutes or so of interviews with cast and crew. And these tell the story of how this script wasn't as well known about as some of the other lost ones, and how the son of the man who wrote it discovered the existence of this range by chance and how he came to adapt it to audio as a result.
And thank goodness he did. Because this is a very pleasant surprise, being a story of high quality.
It begins with the doctor and peri landing in what appears to be medieval england, as a young man from a village is being hunted. Amongst the hunt is the mythical figure Herne. When people of this world reach a certain age, their time is up. And that's what the man is running from.
What follows would appear to be conventional doctor who in many ways. Doctor and companion discovering oppressed people and getting separated and making new friends whilst helping the rebels free themselves. But the pleasure is in the details. The setting is original - some of the plot may remind you of a certain famous science fiction film from the 70's, but it throws in a twist on that - the supporting characters are well written and well played, and the plot does manage some excellent twists and turns. An excellent cliffhanger at the end of part one throws in an interesting new element.
At the heart of it though we have the sixth doctor and peri how they should be written. The former brusque at times but determined and csapable when fighting the moral evil of tyranny, and the latter a more than capable foil who never gives up and tries to do her best. She has one great rabble rousing speech in part two.
Added to which, there's some excellent incidental music, and a final scene that succeeds in getting the mood that it strives for.
We lost something by not getting to see this story on tv - it's unclear why it never happened but it was possibly down to budgetary concerns - but we have gained something by getting to hear it now.
A trailer for the next in this range csn be found at the start of disc one. Hopefully it will be as good as this
This is one of the series of Lost Stories produced as full cast audio dramas by Big Finish. These are stories which, for various reasons, were written, or had story ideas drawn up for various Doctors in the tv series, but were never made. Big Finish have released nearly 30 of these Lost Stories so far, and they’re a brilliant chance to hear stories that we might have seen on tv, had circumstances been different; and a great opportunity to hear stories of their time, written for the Doctor of the time. This one is the third story in the first series of the Lost Stories.
This particular lost story is from a story commissioned for Season 22 (1985) by Brian Finch, who wrote a lot of tv serial stories, and who died in 2007. His son Paul Finch tells the story on the extras of cd1 of this Lost Story, and explains that the story, though commissioned for Season 22, was never made. For what reason is now not known, but Paul read one day in a magazine how Big Finish were making some of the ‘lost stories’ into audio adventures, and he got in contact with David Richardson, a BF producer. The story had been almost fully developed, even to the script stage, and when Big Finish saw what Paul Finch had, they immediately commissioned the story to be adapted for audio and made. I can imagine that some of the reasons why this story never made it to the small screen are the sheer size and scope of the story. It’s a huge tapestry, over a very broad time and place and would have required outdoor scenes, large cast, space ship scenes, and very expensive special effects, especially for the 1980s. Thank goodness with the magic of audio we can experience all those special effects for ourselves, without the large budget requirements, because this is a fantastic story, and we are very lucky to have it to hear.
The story begins with the Tardis landing; the Doctor is having some trouble with it, and while he tinkers, Peri brings up the scanner to see what’s outside. The view appears to show an English landscape – unspoiled, and the hint of a castle over the top of the trees in the near distance. It seems they are in medieval England, and when Peri then spots a young lad running for his life, and apparently being hunted by a monstrous figure on horseback, accompanied by huge hounds, the Doctor and Peri try to help. From there, they find themselves in a world, and a landscape which seems immediately familiar; and yet, somehow, not quite so familiar as they had thought. Why are the villagers so isolated in their community? Who is the Baron and why does he have the Herne hunt down those whose ‘time has come’? And how can the Doctor and Peri hope to save anybody, if they are in danger of being executed themselves?
Fantastic stuff; this is one of those stories that starts off quite categorically as one thing, and suddenly, without you noticing, you find that it has become something quite different, yet so seamlessly that you don’t even feel the subtle transition. This gives the whole storyline a total ‘reality’ that feels utterly authentic. The characters, the landscapes, the environments, the motivations of all involved are totally wrung out of each and every aspect of the story, aided spectacularly by a tremendous support cast. There are only 7 actors (including Colin Baker as the Doctor, and Nicola Bryant as Peri) in this story, yet there seems to be a cast of hundreds. The support cast of Howard Gossington, John Banks, Beth Chalmers, Jamie Parker and Derek Carlyle each play multiple roles, and you simply cannot fault their performances. Absolutely topnotch from beginning to end, this story has you desperate to find out what’s going to happen next for the whole 100 minutes. There are also extended extras at the end of both cds, with great interviews and discussions on the story from many members of the cast and production team.
Expectations for the Lost Stories may have been high amongst old school fans, however I'd wager few others have been particularly excited. Scripts abandoned from one of the shows shakiest eras? What a terrible idea I hear you say... only here is an absolute gem of a script, abandoned not due to quality of writing, but due to the budget required to produce such an imaginative piece. A budget which would most definitely have been beyond the resources of the show at the time.
The acting was superb, music and sound effects were brilliant, as was the post-process work on the voices, but most of all this was just a wonderfully imaginative script, dare I say it one of the best the show has ever had to it's name, right up there with the work of Robert Holmes and Steven Moffat.
As is stated on the CD extras, we should probably be glad this came to audio instead of TV, the production quality was superb and likely would not have worked so well on a 80s DW budget.
It's simply a shame Brian Finch didn't survive to hear the realisation of his vision, a greater shame still that nothing came of his attempt to become a regular writer for the show. Fortunately his son, Paul Finch, has done a fantastic job adapting it for audio; despite this being a television script the listener is never confused or disoriented, nor is there clumsy dialogue explaining events that can not be seen.
It's not unheard of for Big Finish audios to be adapted for Television (Dalek, Rise of the Cybermen), however there has never before been a story so begging for this treatment, with an absolute minimum of changes. I would dearly like to see that story get a retelling on the new series, if only so that it manages to reach a size of audience it deserves. Not only does the script not share the problems of it's era but much of the dialogue, pacing and ideas would feel very much at home in say Series 6 of NuWho.
The verdict, for those who tend to skip to the end: Absolutely fantastic. Buy it, now.
on 19 March 2010
Comparisons will be inevitably be drawn between this audio story and the others in the 'Lost season' series - on this note I have to say that I found it to be far more entertaining and well-written than the disappointing Mission to Magnus (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories) but not quite as effective as The excellent The Nightmare Fair (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories). This is based upon its enduring script and great interplay between the actors; whilst well-worn 'Who' themes such as android replicas and the harvesting of human bodies are sufficiently well written and acted to still be welcome, despite the lack of originality. I'd imagine though that a 1985 BBC Doctor Who budget would not have done this story justice - and the impressive setting would also have been tricky to realise in any decent manner. With this in mind it's probably for the best that this has become an audio drama rather than a television serial; as such it's an atmospheric and eerie adventure which has stood the test of time admirably.
The CD has the usual interviews with cast and crew, however this one is particularly illuminating as writer Paul Finch tells how he basically finished and fine-tuned his late father's abandoned script; Finch comes across as an unassuming but personable chap , who is genuinely thrilled to be involved with Doctor Who, and even more delighted that his father's work has now seen the light of day. This makes the production all the more poignant, and suffice to say that Finch Junior (and Senior) can be justifiably proud of what they have created.
Death rides in the greenwood, doing its lords' bidding and hunting souls whose Time has come. But now a Time Lord is hunting Death... 5* (2 episodes, 2 CDs, 100 min)
An emergency landing brings the Doctor and Peri to a very Olde English landscape; the baron in his castle, the priest in his church, peasants in the village, a few outlaws in the forest - and Herne the Hunter, huge, skull-headed, antler-crowned, riding with the hounds of hell in chase of those who defy the Way. Something is definitely not right in this `merrie' land and the Doctor intends to find out what...
This is a brilliant Sixth Doctor `Lost Story' by Brian Finch, originally written for television and now cleverly adapted for audio by his son Paul. It would have been a superb adventure to watch, but, as Nicola Bryant says on the enjoyable documentary tracks, it would have cost a season's budget to make!
It's a clever, complex story, with echoes of one or two other science-fiction stories but making a very original adventure with many twists and multiple layers; every time you think you've guessed who is who or where the plot is heading, there's a turn and a new vista is revealed - four times in all. This makes it practically impossible to say *anything* about the plot, because it's far too good to spoil. However, if you've come to this story hoping for the Doctor in a `Robin Hood' style tale of swords and villains and more-or-less valiant outlaws, you'll get it - and that's just the start.
The story is divided into two long episodes in the style of the mid-1980s. Episode 1 unfolds in and around the village of Newhaven, where young people never grow old... they never have the chance; the baron gives life and, when their Time has come, the baron takes it away... As the Doctor and Peri are drawn into helping the `pariah' (the young people who don't accept their time is up) the exciting action hides various well-scattered clues to the mystery before the cliffhanger and a thrilling reveal that opens out a whole new vista... Episode 2 is even more action-packed than the first half of the story, peeling back the layers to show that class is no guide to honesty or quality and that even a feudal society isn't always ruled as you'd expect!
Colin Baker gives a really excellent performance and makes the most of a very well-written Sixth Doctor. He's compassionate and up for the fight against evil, certainly, but part of the strength of this incarnation is that he goes into the fight without apology for it and even with a secret sense of enjoyment in the adventure for its own sake. When he wields a sword or a rather special crossbow at some evildoer, the villain never, ever thinks he's bluffing!
Nicola Bryant has a good storyline for Peri; sometimes separated from the Doctor and in trouble, of course, but also with spirit enough to stir the outlaws' courage and revive the nerve of their leader Wulfric (Jamie Parker) when things look bleak. The guest cast are kept very busy in this production as the characters in the cast list on the back of the CD are only a few of them; most of the actors are playing two or more characters and doing it so well that I was unaware of this until I read the CD booklet afterwards.
The sound design and music is extremely good, creating atmospheric worlds in a story which needs a lot of `action acting' from the cast and suitably spectacular sound effects to back them up. The result is an exhilarating adventure in the classic style; highly recommended.
Herne and its overlords should be very afraid - sword in hand, genius at the ready, the Doctor is hunting THEM! 5*
The CD booklet has brief notes, a cast photo and a good CGIed picture of the Doctor and Peri in deep trouble (as usual!) while the documentary tracks are particularly good on this story, enjoyable and informative about the background of this lost classic.
on 11 July 2014
This wasn't ever going to be part of season 23, but the script appears to have been fully developed for season 22 and then abandoned, perhaps in favour of the historical settings of Mark of the Rani. It is a shame as this could have been a cracking piece of Doctor Who. JNT seemed to have an aversion to older writers (see the making of Varos on the Special Edition DVD), but it is also possible that the presence of Herne the Hunter would have put it at odds with Robin of Sherwood appearing on the other side at the same time, while the fate of the chosen is too close to some of Revelation's darker moments.
Plot: An intriguing plot with the `Leviathan' of the title not turning up until the very end of part one and providing a suitable cliff-hanger. In the meantime we are treated to medieval villagers, rebels and a Baron who is not quite what he seems. The presence of Herne at the beginning, signals that this isn't going to be a plain historical and the revelations come thick and fast in the first half of the story and each time you think you may have gotten to the bottom of the mystery, something else comes up to keep you guessing. It is an incredible shame that Brian Finch never wrote for the series as this story shows that he has an understanding of what makes a story interesting. The Sentinels of the New Dawn make an appearance... sort of. In fact their presence seems superfluous to the plot, and they are given a bigger role in a Pertwee Companion Chronicle. If I were to guess, this feels more of a set-up for the Sentinels, with a pay-off to come in a later story.
Script: This has been rewritten (in a hurry by all accounts) by Brian's son Paul, mainly to convert the visual moments into something that can be heard instead. The whole thing comes across really well, but has possibly been informed by modern audio Colin, rather than the original season 22 version, unless of course that was the intention. Either way a good script.
Other: Once again kudos to the supporting cast. I didn't realise until after the event that all of the actors doubled up in some way, such is their talent at providing different voices.
One of those near perfect audios that keeps you guessing and is highly enjoyable
on 17 May 2010
Re-written by Paul Finch from his father's original script, Brian Finch's Leviathan's loss from the series can only be explained from one point of view. Lack of budget. The location work that would have been required extensively for the forest and castle scenes, let alone making the village exteriors, combined with the extensive model work which would have been required for certain sequences, and you would have blown the budget for an entire series.
Thankfully, Big Finish have no such problems, and are able to paint a vivid painting in the listener's mind. First of all the plot works as the best of the Baker era stories should have done. In two distinct acts. The whole of the first fourty five minutes has you guessing whether someone is tampering with medieval England, or whether the future of this country lies in a kind of Dark Ages revival before the plot twists on the neat cliffhanger at the end of the first episode, leading to some very well written characters on the salvage ship.
The performances from all the actors are convincing, and for the first time in this Lost Stories series, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are able to play the role more comfortably, as the parts have been more suitably fleshed out for audio, enjoying a semi comfortable bickering relationship with each other that is entirely in keeping with the television series. Baker in particular is having a whale of a time in the role and enjoys exploring further the very alien moral compass which his Doctor in particular had, and Nichola Bryant as Peri gets to be much more active than in precivious stories in this series. The suporting characters, are also well fleshed out, and there is none of the hallmark of Eric Saward script editing years; any character that dies in this story serves the furtherance of the plot.
I won;t say too much about the plot, don't want to spoil it for the rest of you who haven't heard it yet.
Rest assured an enjoyable romp!
on 12 November 2015
A lost story adapted from Brian Finch’s original script by his son. It just goes to show what difference good quality writing makes. If an episode of this quality had been aired during the 6th Doctor’s era, the outcome may have been entirely different. Overall Leviathan has a strong plot, a great villain and at its heart feels very much of the Sixth Doctor’s era. An exciting first cliff hanger, after which the plot takes a completely unexpected turn. Overall Leviathan’s concepts kind of loosely reminded me of the ones used in new who’s “Robots of Sherwood.” A story not without flaws but enjoyable non the less.
Okay, hands up in defeat, I take back some of the things I said about Peri. It’s clear that back in the TV series Nicola Bryant was simply given very little to work with, and we all know how much lack of character development effects the actors performance. She’s still very much the same companion who complains and lumbers into traps but she has also been given more depth and has a story of her own rather than just tagging along in the Doctor’s shadow. Bryant seems to have slipped naturally back into the shoes of her younger self.
Colin Baker is once again brilliant. His performance seems to be somewhere between the rude Doctor we saw on screen with an ego as big as the TARDIS and the calmer doctor we see in his later adventures with Evelyn, I rather like this version of Sixie because it kind of reminds me of the 12th Doctor. The Doctor and Peri have a similar relationship to onscreen only the Doctor is much calmer towards her, well when they’re not bickering anyway.
on 24 September 2014
This the third release in the lost stories series and is quite good. It features a good monsters a great guest cast and Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are great as The Doctor and Peri. All in all is a good little story.
This is the third in the series of lost stories from Big Finish, where scripts originally intended for Colin Baker's sixth Doctor that were never made for various reasons have been resurrected and made in audio.
In this tale the Doctor and Peri land in a medieval forest, and spot a local peasant being tracked by Herne the hunter. It soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems, and we are soon involved in an entertaining tale as the Doctor and Peri struggle to work out what on earth is going on.
There is a meaty script here, with plenty for the two stars to do. The Doctor gets to fight a duel with the local evil Baron, and Peri has fun getting involved with and inspiring the local rebels. This is one that I really wish had made it to the screen! The production is excellent, and really recalls the Dr of the eighties, especially Baker's performance.
A decent tale, with some interesting ideas behind it that works well as an audio. Full of cracking performances and a great sound production from Big Finish, this has been the best of the series so far for me. Five stars.