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Horrifyingly Awesome *General Plot Details Included*
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!”