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This is the hundred and fifty ninth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as Five, with Mark Strickson as Turlough, Sarah Sutton as the older Nyssa and Janet Fielding as Tegan. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with cliffhangers and original theme music between each. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are some interviews with cast and crew at the end of the second disc and a few minutes of the soundtrack at the end of disc 1.

This is a difficult story for me to review in some respects, because it totally played with my preconceptions of what it would be like. I have detested the previous two trilogies for this particular TARDIS crew for a variety of reasons, mainly the horrible character of Tegan and the sidelining of companions for long periods as there are too many of them to get a decent slice of the action each. Also some of the plots and ideas have been poor and poorly realised. I was dreading listening to this, expecting the run of form to continue with a seventh execrable release. But WOW!!!! I never thought I would say it, but this story is amazing, and I am forced to reassess some of the harsh words I have previously uttered regarding this TARDIS crew – given the right material they can really shine! Tegan, previously my least favourite companion (except of course for Adric...) is totally redeemed here, and finally Big Finish do for her what they have previously done for Mel, Peri, Nyssa and to some extent Adric (in ‘The Boy That Time Forgot’) and reinvigorated a previously little regarded TV companion into a potential fan favourite. Look at this! I am praising Tegan! Usually my thoughts regarding her character are reflected in the quote in the review title, but following this adventure I am reassessing my opinion and becoming a bit of a fan. I never thought that would happen.

Anyway, enough of my gibbering ramblings about stories past, what about this story? It’s a delicious Rudyard Kipling/ H Rider Haggard/ Conan Doyle pastiche with nods to EM Forster and others in a particularly literate script. The story opens jarringly with a naturalist’s expedition not far from Calcutta in the late 19th century. There is a short and shocking incident then the story fast forwards several years to the arrival of four travellers in Calcutta to watch the cricket. Soon Nyssa is infected with a strange virus, the TARDIS lost and the companions split up. There follows a desperate race across India to find a cure, the TARDIS and each other. The chase ends up in a mysterious sealed valley, with even more mysterious wildlife. Along the way we meet some great characters, the sage and humanitarian Professor Narayan, the dastardly Major Haggard and the enigmatic Lady Forster. Combined with an excellent premise, the curse of the Emerald Tiger, this makes for a thrilling tale, well told. As well as the excellent and memorable supporting characters, the regulars all get a fair amount to do, and as I have previously mentioned the subtle recharactisation of Tegan from merely annoying to a more likeable and useful yet still sarcastic and abrasive character is very welcome. It’s a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride, 5 stars. This is now the eighth story in a row that I feel has deserved the highest possible mark, an unprecedented run of form from Big Finish. I hope it continues!
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This is the 159th story in the Main Range series by Big Finish, first released in 2012. Written by Barnaby Edwards, this story features the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) travelling with one of my favourite Tardis teams, Tegan (Janet Fielding), Turlough (Mark Strickson) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton).

The Doctor has landed the Tardis in Calcutta in 1926, wanting to take in a cricket match that he knows will be a great game. His Tardis companions are not so keen, but happy to go along for the experience. But their trip to the game is interrupted when a man, Kimball who appears to be infected by rabies attacks the people at the train station where the Tardis has landed. The Doctor strikes up an acquaintance with Professor Naryan, Kimball’s employer. But elsewhere at the station, Lady Adela Forster is hurrying to board the train which she has booked to take her and her goods on a private journey. And Major Cyril Haggard is in a hurry of his own. Soon the Tardis crew are separated and must try to survive their own journeys, to the land of the Emerald Tiger, where a fate worse than death awaits them.

This is a story that starts off really well, and the first two episodes are filled with great and terrible events, startling revelations and fascinating characters. The third and fourth episodes, however, seem to me to dwindle off into over-stuffed self-referential circles that were full of literary and cultural references, and where the core of the story seemed to get rather lost. The cd extras include a discussion with Barnaby Edwards, the writer, who discusses his use of the many references within the story, and unfortunately, I think those got too heavy in the third and fourth episodes to the detriment of the story itself. Without spoilers, I felt that some of the references used in those episodes became rather silly to the point where I was unable to suspend my disbelief sufficiently to really appreciate them. A shame, as the core of the story, and the characters, were wonderfully realised to start with. Lady Adela Forster’s story was sad and tragic. Major Haggard was a delightfully nasty piece of work, and it’s a shame that more use was not made of his character in the latter parts of the story.

Good, but not as great as it could have been.
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This is the 159th story in the Main Range series by Big Finish, first released in 2012. Written by Barnaby Edwards, this story features the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) travelling with one of my favourite Tardis teams, Tegan (Janet Fielding), Turlough (Mark Strickson) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton).

The Doctor has landed the Tardis in Calcutta in 1926, wanting to take in a cricket match that he knows will be a great game. His Tardis companions are not so keen, but happy to go along for the experience. But their trip to the game is interrupted when a man, Kimball who appears to be infected by rabies attacks the people at the train station where the Tardis has landed. The Doctor strikes up an acquaintance with Professor Naryan, Kimball’s employer. But elsewhere at the station, Lady Adela Forster is hurrying to board the train which she has booked to take her and her goods on a private journey. And Major Cyril Haggard is in a hurry of his own. Soon the Tardis crew are separated and must try to survive their own journeys, to the land of the Emerald Tiger, where a fate worse than death awaits them.

This is a story that starts off really well, and the first two episodes are filled with great and terrible events, startling revelations and fascinating characters. The third and fourth episodes, however, seem to me to dwindle off into over-stuffed self-referential circles that were full of literary and cultural references, and where the core of the story seemed to get rather lost. The cd extras include a discussion with Barnaby Edwards, the writer, who discusses his use of the many references within the story, and unfortunately, I think those got too heavy in the third and fourth episodes to the detriment of the story itself. Without spoilers, I felt that some of the references used in those episodes became rather silly to the point where I was unable to suspend my disbelief sufficiently to really appreciate them. A shame, as the core of the story, and the characters, were wonderfully realised to start with. Lady Adela Forster’s story was sad and tragic. Major Haggard was a delightfully nasty piece of work, and it’s a shame that more use was not made of his character in the latter parts of the story.

Good, but not as great as it could have been.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 January 2017
A thrilling audio blockbuster ride through India at the height of the Raj, where the best traditions of Rudyard Kipling and Rider Haggard (and more) meld with Indian myth plus the Doctor reimagined as ‘Indiana Jones’. Gripping, endlessly surprising and packed with literary references, this is ‘Doctor Who’ at its most ‘popular’ *and* literate. A dazzling gem of the Big Finish range. 5* (2 CDs, 4 episodes, 117 minutes + extras)

Barnaby Edwards’ ‘The Emerald Tiger’ is a simply stunning audio experience, directed by the author as an old-style ‘Saturday matinee’ epic with superb music and sound design by Howard Carter. I was expecting a great story after enjoying the author’s ‘The Wreck of the Titan’ with the Sixth Doctor and Jamie and (to put it mildly) I was not disappointed by this adventure for the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and the older Nyssa.

Arriving in Calcutta, 1926, the Doctor is hoping for an exciting day at the cricket, watching an historic match. But events take their usual turn (usual for the TARDIS crew at least!) and soon the Doctor and friends are embroiled in a life-or-death chase across India to the fabled Temple of the Emerald Tiger. It’s a non-stop story right from the dramatic pre-title sequence, setting the scene firmly in the India of ‘The Jungle Book’ plus – something else… something fabulous, impossible – and deadly…

The writing is excellent, weaving allusions to one classic after another into a story where characters’ names reference authors, literary creations and more, but the central concept is very original and (typically for ‘Doctor Who’) out of this world. Peter Davison plays his Fifth Doctor as a full-on action hero in this story, especially in the first half, with some nail-biting scenes and great cliffhangers.

All three companions are very well written; Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding have excellent and involving independent storylines for Nyssa and Tegan while Turlough is a voice of cool logic when the Doctor needs it most. Mark Strickson always plays him very well and the ongoing Tegan / Turlough war of words is entertaining as ever!

The cast is unusually large (for these audios) and very strong, with well-written characters populating a story which has more complex, mystical elements to keep track of behind the enjoyable tale of high adventure. The genres being referenced all had their familiar character types and here they are well used and balanced out by opposites.

So, while Major Cyril Haggard (Neil Stacy) is a daring but villainous Raj officer, adventurous Lady Adela Forster (Cherie Lunghi) has been deeply interested in the secrets of India for many years. Professor Naryan (Sam Dastor) is an erudite Indian academic (with a past) but the true villain of the piece is also an Indian; Major Haggard is a mere amateur when compared with Shardul Khan (Vincent Ebrahim).

The first two episodes are an exciting chase through the India of 1926 with ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ – well almost, the ‘plane’ uses hot air for lift, with a good comic cameo from Trevor Cooper as Colonel Burroughs, as full of hot air as his balloon. Then comes a stunning cliffhanger and the story plunges into the mystical world of ancient India, the Kalabar Caves and the secret jungle beyond. Vineeta Rishi is perfectly believable as the remarkable Dawon, linking the two worlds - as do other characters, although you won’t realise that at first…

Here in the secret jungle, we meet Djahn (Gwilym Lee), who (typically for this wonderful story) blends two different characters from literature; I think even his true Christian name is a clue, as are the names of most of the guest characters. The spirit of ‘The Jungle Book’ is strong in ‘The Emerald Tiger’ and I enjoyed that; if some of the minor character names referred to by Djahn seem familiar, remember that Kipling used the Hindi names for animal types to name many of his individual characters.

This world of the secret jungle is splendidly imagined and it’s here that the (inevitable) alien influence fully manifests itself. It’s not another ‘alien invasion’ story but something quite different, something that transforms life in ways that make for wonderfully visual images (even on audio) and gives this very, very memorable story an unforgettable final twist.

Most highly recommended to every ‘Doctor Who’ fan, “Good hunting all”! 5*

(Thanks for reading,)

(The episodes on Disc 1 are followed by a 10 minute suite of the excellent music, which is well worth listening to. The trailer for the next story and 15 minutes of interesting interview tracks follow the episodes on disc 2. The CD booklet has cast photos and Writer / Director’s notes.)
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A new Doctor Who audio play. Start of a new trilogy of three stories which feature Peter Davison as the Doctor, plus Janet Fielding Sarah Sutton and Mark Strickson as his companions Tegan Nyssa and Turlough.

This follows on from two previous trilogies to feature this TARDIS crew. There is an ongoing story arc to them which involves Nyssa, who has just rejoined the TARDIS many years for her after leaving it, searching for a cure to a disease. But this is barely touched on here and the story stands pretty much on it's own. Thus casual listeners should be able to get into it quite easily.

It runs for four episodes, which vary in length from twenty six to thirty two minutes [approx] and is spread across two cd's.

It's set in India in 1926. But before the Doctor and friends arrive, there's a pre credit sequence which introduces us to some of the characters and the main threat. Some of the elements may seem a little familiar at first but it becomes a very scary scene that uses the audio medium to it's best to scare the listener.

When the TARDIS crew arrive, they are there intending to see a cricket match. Fun banter ensues as some are more interested in the game than others. This and good sound design and music really create a great sense of setting and make the episode very absorbing.

Various characters who are all well written and played then come into the story, which sends all of the participants off to a remote area where strange things lie in wait. All of the people involved have their reasons for heading there. But how will they cope when they meet the legendary Emerald Tiger?

This draws inspiration from adventure stories of the time at which it is set - and there are some clever homages to that kind of thing throughout. The first episode is superb as it really gets you involved in things and sets it all up superbly. The second isn't quite as good because it's a little overlong and contains a lot of exposition, but a superb action sequence does then make up for that.

After which things are pretty good, although the pace of the story does mean a lot of interesting things about the setting are only just touched on. Some of the main plot may feel a little over familiar but the characters do drive the action along nicely.

The aforementioned story arc of this run is touched on at the end. It develops in a very interesting manner. And it's not one that would confuse casual listeners.

It's not quite five star material but it's an enjoyable and original adventure. There's a lot to like about it. And it's a fun listen all in all.

You can hear just under ten minutes of the music from the story on the final track of disc one.

A trailer for the next story in the trilogy The Jupiter Conjunction (Doctor Who) on the track on disc two after the end of part four.

And fifteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew right after that.
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on 19 November 2012
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it was one of the nearest experiences to Davison era television that I have had.

The story is rich in characterisation, diverse in themes explored, very intelligent with dialogue, particularly Davison's and well structured.

Barnaby Edwards is one of the most talented contributors to Doctor Who full stop. Here he both writes and directs a story and I believe that his vision of the story cannot be that dissimilar to how I have interpreted it.

This is the 159th monthly Big Finish audio and I am still constantly surprised and impressed at the originality of these adventures and the passion of all those that contribute.

It has a very strong Indiana Jones feel to it; probably hard to avoid given the settings and themes. The Doctor is perhaps more of an action hero than he might have been on screen, but I think that audio is a good opportunity for such things and the said action scenes were quite easy to visualise.

I am quite taken with this product. It would be in my top 10 monthly titles. So better than 150 before it; that's quite an accolade. Well done to all those involved; this was for me a very rewarding 100 minutes.
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on 17 October 2012
A welcome return for the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his triumvirate of youthful companions: Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa, sees the TARDIS crew arrive on the Indian sub-continent on the cusp of 1927; what follows is a boys-own style yarn featuring the titular crystalline feline, a dastardly British officer, an elegant Lady and another opportunity for Nyssa to become infected with a potentially life-threatening condition...
With characters named as homages to British writers scribing at the height of Empire (Major Haggard anyone?), lost worlds hiding weird and wonderful creatures, hot-air balloons, nefarious natives, and perilous train journeys, this adventure has it all - not to mention a great performance from everyone concerned; not least Neil Stacy's moustache-twirling villain - great stuff.
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