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on 11 May 2015
Destination Nerva, as it may have been for many of you, wasn’t the first 4th Doctor Adventure I listened to. I got into the range whilst season 2 was underway with Season 1’s ‘Energy of the Daleks’ being my first trip into Big Finish Productions and I absolutely loved it! Hence, I listened to 3 more stories from Season 1 and also the Lost Stories boxset. After that, I finally got round to the first ever 4th Doctor story with Big Finish, namely Destination Nerva and despite what other reviews may say, this is a genuinely great gripping, scary tale.

The story takes place just after ‘Talons of Weng Chiang’, where the Doctor and Leela follow a distress signal back to Earth, where soldiers of the British Empire have clashed with an alien species in a manor house. The departing spacecraft leads our heroic duo to a familiar setting for Doctor Who, namely Nerva Beacon as seen in ‘The Ark in Space’ and ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ but before those adventures occurred. What follows is an intense, enthralling and down-right frightening adventure! Let’s just say it involves body horror…*chills*

This season opener kicks off as it means to go on; at full pelt with never a dull moment within its hour long, 2 episodic format. Some may argue that this is a sacrilegious deviation from the format of the time, which was a mix of 4 part and 6 part stories. However, I’d argue that this allows for a more streamlined adventure, as any fat is trimmed. Also I’d furthermore say that it doesn’t really matter since Doctor Who changed its format many times in its original 26 year run, sometimes for just the one story. The closest example of course would be ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ only shown a couple of seasons earlier.

Production-wise, this drama is exceptionally well executed with wonderful acting, a well-written script as well as extraordinary sound effects and direction, allowing you to vividly imagine what’s occurring. Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are absolutely stellar. It’s like they never left the TARDIS. The supporting cast, including Raquel Cassidy from the Matt Smith Series 6 two parter ‘The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People’, also give it their all. As for the sound effects, they are so convincing, they genuinely terrified me, making this the second time a Dr Who story has actually scared me after the exceptional lost story ‘The Foe from the Future’.

My only gripe with ‘Destination Nerva’ is the somewhat lacklustre, abrupt ending á la the Matt Smith era Series 7 story ‘Cold War’ but overall this is an excellent return for Tom Baker playing the Doctor and marked a phenomenal start to his Big Finish tenure. I simply don’t understand the number of negative comments levied at this serial. I assume fans had built up such high expectations, that they were disappointed with the result since it’s not on the same level as ‘Robots of Death’ or ‘Talons of Weng Chiang’. This is a common occurrence among fandom. I too have fallen victim to it with the Matt Smith era Series 7 opener ‘Asylum of the Daleks’. You simply have to realise that whatever your imagination conjures up, the reality will never match up to it. I urge those who have a lesser view of this tale to revisit it with a fresh start and those who have yet to hear it to ignore the negative opinions and go in with an open mind.

Just thank your lucky stars that “It’s Saturday Night Tea-Time in 1977 all over again!”
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 January 2015
Even though the Fourth Doctor has had three years of audio adventures during his stay at Nest Cottage with Mrs. Wibbsey, this is Tom Baker’s first foray into Big Finish.

The story takes place immediately after the close of ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ and, despite a quick trip in the Tardis, the earlier stages are still set in Victorian London, where British forces are clashing with another alien traveller with disastrous affects for the future. Via a warp distortion the action soon leads to a return to the eponymous Nerva Beacon.

Nerva was in some way (including Transmat or Timelord abduction) used almost as a base of operations through most of Tom Baker’s first year as the Doctor; serving as the main locale for ‘The Ark in Space’ and ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’. It does, therefore, seem somehow apt that this first Big Finish audio for the Fourth Doctor should see him return here. The use of Nerva is, perhaps, a bit of a gimmick, although a welcome one. It isn’t really relevant to the story what particular space station events take place on.

As with the previous visits to Nerva this is the station from another time period. It is earlier in its life where it seems to be little more than a space docking station rather than the Beacon that serves as a race bank for the human race. It is a Nerva in a state of decay. Its technical systems are failing and its human crew are succumbing to a strange infection.

As might be expected there are the inevitable references to past Fourth Doctor adventures. These are enjoyable nods which don’t distract from the plot, rather adding to it. Interestingly the Doctor announces at one point that he once knew a butler named Butler. I’m not sure if this is a reference to the unmade script from the Fourth Doctor’s third year, ‘Foe from the Future’, which was, strangely, made as an audio during the same year as this play was produced.

Tom Baker seems to effortlessly slide back into his version of the Doctor and despite character developments in the ‘Gallifrey’ series Louise Jameson provides a Leela much like that of her first few appearances. That both come straight from ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ helps this immensely, providing great continuity.

The Drelleran aren’t perhaps the most interesting of aliens. This is because they aren’t actually present for many events in the story and thus very little is to be learned about them. Rather the focus of the story is upon issues concerned with the evils of empire, which the Drellerans are essentially victims of.

Even though there are some nice ideas that provide the listener with plenty to contemplate, the story, perhaps, isn’t that involved or gripping. It is more of a vessel for re-introducing the Tardis team of the Fourth Doctor and Leela; and for that it works very well.
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on 3 March 2012
This does not feel like the natural canonical continuation from The Talons of Weng-Chiang, because Horror of Fang Rock is far more serious as it still has the Hinchcliffe feel, so I feel that Leela is very well judged but the Doctor lesser so, because the script lays on a little too heavy the dialogue style from many stories on.

The story is quite good, but not brilliant. There are nice characters although the resolution perhaps not ideal. The crew seem too keen to run away. Picking up on hints of Talons (costumes and initial time period) and Nerva (Ark and Revenge) are a good idea but perhaps underused as Nerva was a key element to season 12, so it may as well been any station.

Tom Baker sounds marginally different to the 1970s which is understandable. Relaunching the mid-4th Doctor period is comparable to the relaunch of Blake's 7. Both have been done by Big Finish recently, and I think the B7 one is better. I am more convinced it is the same people and period-fitting scripts with B7 than I am the mid-4th Doctor period.

Big Finish over the last 10 years have bettered the 5th, 6th,7th and 8th Doctor eras over their television counterparts. Following the trend with the 4th Doctor era will be tricky, perhaps impossible and setting this story between two of the best classic Who stories (Talons and Horror) only draws attention to the fact that Destination Nerva is a weaker story with the wrong era dialogue.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 13 April 2012
This is, I think, the first of the full cast audio dramas that Tom Baker was enticed back for (as opposed to the series of Fourth Doctor stories starting with Hornet's Nest). As such, there were great expectations for the re-teaming of Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. Would it live up to those expectations? Well - yes, and no, in my opinion.

Firstly, it's great to hear the Doctor and Leela back again - the story picks up when they leave Victorian London after helping Professor Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago against Magnus Greel and the Peking Homunculus. Still in their Victorian garb, the time travelling duo end up in the middle of a rather unexpected situation - what are the Drelleran doing and why are they warning the Doctor against "the humans"? And how is this linked to a future which holds the newly built Space Dock Nerva (another nod to the "classic" tv series - The Ark in Space)?

This starts off really well - action, aliens, mysterious ailments and even more mysterious humans - and the anticipation is growing - and then it's all over! And that's where it all went wrong - the story is only two episodes - one cd - it built itself up in the first episode, kept building up in the second episode - and then all ended with a fizz and a few convenient quick fixes. The story fails only because of this - it needed to be at least three, preferably four episodes with the same pacing - building up, more explanations required, and more threads to be tied off without the convenience of just having them go away, as they seemed to here.

A shame - a great start, but slightly let down; I can't wait to hear more of the Doctor and Leela - the Fourth Doctor has always been my favourite and I am really wanting to hear more stories with him in it - let's hope they get even more exciting from now on.
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on 19 February 2012
Not as good as the recent Fourth Doctor Box Set, but still not bad. I do have one big gripe however! The story is only two episodes long, so the format and pace is rather forced. Don't get me wrong; I really do welcome this new Fourth Doctor range, however if you were measuring value for money by minutes you might think these new audio plays expensive in comparison to the usual four episode stories of the other Doctors in the Big Finish range. I hope Big Finish will reconsider the format for future Fourth Doctor stories to allow for story development whilst keeping the price in line with other Doctor stories, so as not to take advantage of their customers. Looking forward to the next one though.
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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2015
The start is confusing seems to have little connection to the main story and the Nerva beacon isn't really used in any useful fashion.
The story seems to be a standard horror possession story but as we don't really care about the characters the threat is diminished.
Basically it's a nice try but not quite firing on all four cylinders, nice to get the Doctor and Leela back and hopefully in future episodes there will be a decent story to back up the actors.
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on 13 February 2012
Destination Nerva has been an enjoyable listen, and my first proper Big Finish audio I bought and I wasn't at all disappointed. Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are on fine form, but the plot doesn't seem to go anywhere as if it is neither here nor there. Normally that would bother me, but as the cast is so strong and it feels like a performance out of 1977, it doesn't detract from the story too much. I have a feeling that the story is part of an arc, so hopefully Nerva should make more sense.

Well worth the £7 I paid for, I could justify paying £11 per audio if they are all as good as or better than this.


Roll on The Renaissance Man!
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on 4 May 2013
A great start for Tom Baker's Doctor on big finish, and much better than I have heard people say.

It really feels like it takes place mere seconds after Talons of Weng Chiang, however, a little imagination is required, as Tom does sound older.

Don't get me wrong, he sounds great, but does come across as being an older Doctor. While this may seem like a bad thing, it isn't, you really have to understand that different and worse are two very different things.

As for the story itself, the music is very fitting and compliments the 4th Doctor, the monster/s thoroughly menacing and the cast all very good at their respective roles, but don't be fooled by the bright cover, this is a dark story. I imagine the corridors and the metallic rooms of early Nerva (some gaping vast, some tight like those of a submarine) to be dimly lit in military blue. A must buy.
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Although it's fantastic to hear the mighty Tom Baker playing the Fourth Doctor again rather than just being a narrator, it's a shame that he has so little to do here and ends up just making the odd quip really. The story itself is mildly diverting and Louise Jameson is excellent as Leela, however I just hope that the next adventure in the series puts Uncle Tom back where he belongs - firmly in the driving seat.
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on 11 March 2013
Having listened to Tom Baker's Hornet's Nest/Demon's Quest and Serpent's Crest from BBC Audio Go I wasn't sure what I was going to expect from Big Finish? And WOW yes the previous were good and worth getting but this story felt like the whole audio adventure's with Tom Baker just got a more gloss of paint. Infact I would go as far to say one got a bit tense listening part way through, something that not happened since I was a child watching the Alien in the 'City Of Death' ripping off his false human head at the end of an episode.The story is great and there is a feel to 'The Ark In Space' with the destination being on Nerva and an Alien race consuming humans.
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