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on 29 April 2017
Everything.good! Thanks
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 19 April 2016
This is the twelfth story in the Main Range series by Big Finish, first released in 2000. Written by Steve Lyons, this story features the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), travelling with Mel (Bonnie Langford). This is the first story that features the return of Mel as the Doctor’s companion, and it is a refreshing thing to find that she has been allowed to develop as a character. She remains the compassionate and loyal companion that we saw on tv, but she has been allowed to become a ‘real’ person, without the affectations that her character sometimes seemed to be written to include in the tv stories in which she featured. Bonnie Langford sounds as though she’s never been away, and she and Sylvester McCoy appear to have a wonderful rapport, as their characters get on tremendously well throughout – there’s a real friendship and strong loyalty between the two characters which shows.

Right at the start, we know something is going to go wrong, as we are treated a prelude where what we know to be the Tardis is discovered during archaeological work at the ruins of Pompeii in 1980. UNIT are quickly on the scene, and Professor Scalini is not happy to be told that he had best forget what he’s found.

As the Tardis materialises, and the Doctor realises where they have landed, he is eager to leave straight away. Something is bothering him, but Mel has no idea what it could be. The Doctor quickly finds himself on the wrong side of an angry gladiator (wonderfully played to the hilt by Steven Wickham), and Mel finds herself trying to save the Doctor despite himself, and her, from a fate that they both know is coming – Pompeii is doomed, but can they find their way out of there first?

I really liked this story. Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford play their roles admirably. Steven Wickham is wonderfully larger than life as Murranus, and Lisa Hollander as Eumachia and Nicky Goldie as Valeria Hedone are really great in their roles. Andy Coleman as Popidius Celsinus, and Robert Curbishley as the Legionary are also very good in their parts. I did feel a bit taken out of the story by Gemma Bissix’s performance as Aglae, which didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

The story is well written, and I felt it was very historically evocative of Pompeii, and the times and the people. There was nothing that felt out of place or wrong about the story, and the lines given to the characters were really well put together. I liked that the writer had given real ‘flesh’ to people whose names we know from the fate of Pompeii, and given them tantalisingly possible lives during those fateful days.

The story itself is intriguing, and I had no idea how it could be resolved against what we had already heard happening in 1980, but the resolution was delightfully Doctor Who-like. A really good story, and one I would happily listen to again.
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This is the twelfth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Sylvester McCoy as Seven and Bonnie Langford as Mel. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some notes from the author.

The Doctor's TARDIS lands in Pompeii, the day before a certain natural disaster. The Doctor believes he has foreknowledge of his own future and his place in the events of the city's destruction, but Mel refuses to believe that fate cannot be changed. They plunge into a series of adventures in the city in the run up to the eruption involving gladiators, demented priestesses and other standard Roman fare.

It's a nicely done story, with a bit of meat to script. I especially like the culture clash - Mel's inability to accept the Roman's attitude towards slavery in particular. The story sets up quite a knotty problem for the Doctor to solve, and though the resolution seems a bit tacked on at the end it is nonetheless quite clever. The side characters are fun and well drawn, especially Stephen Whickam's totally bonkers gladiator. McCoy gives a very dark performance, full of foreboding. Bonnie Langford is still annoying as Mel, but nowhere near as bad as her TV persona, and is almost likeable by the end of the piece.

As usual another excellent production from Big Finish. 4 stars.
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on 4 September 2007
I am a person who likes the historical Doctor Whos. Some people dont seem to get along with historicals, but i do. William Hartnell's historicals were some of the strongest stories in his time as being the doctor. And its good to have a revival of just a historical for an audio story. This story manages to be exciting and action packed without having to rely on aliens or robots. Really entertaining actually. Deserves good reviews.
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on 11 April 2006
"Two thousand years ago, a cataclysmic volcanic eruption wiped the Roman city of Pompeii from the face of he Earth. It also buried the Doctor's TARDIS...
"Arriving in Pompeii one day before the disaster, the Doctor and Mel find themselves separated from their ship and entangled in local politics. With time running out, they fight to escape from the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. But how can they succeed when history itself is working against them?"
Who'd have thought that Bonnie Langford's Mel could ever be anything but an annoying screamer? But with The Fires of Vulcan, writer Steve Lyons achieves the remarkable - he writes a well-conceived story in which Mel stays true to character but doesn't scream once. It makes you realise how badly put together much of Season 24 really was while the series was still running on television. Instead, Mel becomes a plucky soul who refuses to give up even when a depressed Doctor believes them to be doomed. At the end of the day, it's due to Mel's tenacity that the duo manage to escape Mount Vesuvius without being buried in the pyroclastic explosion.
Astonishing transformation of Mel aside, The Fires of Vulcan is an enjoyable Hartnell-style historical with a variety of suitably decadent but also human characters. Apart from the rather pointless addition of the gladiator Murranus, the characters and performances all hit the right notes (with the best support coming from Gemma Bissix as the slave girl Aglae). The portrayal of Pompeii as a thriving Roman city is interesting to hear and there is, as ever, excellent and atmospheric sound design and a decent score.
Historicals can be dull, but The Fires of Vulcan keeps the listener interested and to hear Mel as she should have been written is refreshing.
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on 24 January 2015
This always gets rave reviews & I don't know why. It's credited with great pacing even though Mel is locked up & escapes twice for little apparent reason and there's a pointless fight with the gladiator in the arena which is resolved by a rather corny deus ex machina.
Mostly though it annoys because Mel is constantly pushed in the role of Worst Anthropologist Ever, wasting no opportunity to be appalled by the alien culture she has dropped into. In an ancient culture every opportunity is taken to damn the misguided religious faith of the Pompeii residents in ascribing the geological phenomenon of the eruption to the wrath of their gods. In the end Eumachia condemns herself and her servants to a potentially avoidable death by her blind faith. To be honest here Steve Lyons is sounding like a bit of an evangelical rationalist
For a sensible depiction of the motivations and shortcomings of unswerving religious faith, Jaq Rayner does a much better job in The Marian Conspiracy
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on 1 November 2007
This is everything a good a Doctor Who should be. It was riveting and enjoyable from beginning to end. Time passed swiftly as I listened (in stark contrast to 'Dust Breeding' which I would not recommend). The characterisations were good; Sylvester was very reminiscent of his t.v. persona and Mel (thankfully) was very different and very good. It was also very atmospheric throughout and the incidental music was appropriate and evocative. It even had a strong educational aspect as per the original (long forgotton) tv remit. Heartily recommended.
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an audio adventure for the seventh doctor who, accompanied by his companion mel. the former is played by sylvester mccoy and the latter by bonnie langford.

The story runs for four episodes of approx twenty five minutes duration each, and is spread across two discs.

In the present, archaeologists at pompeii call in UNIT because they've found something strange buried in the ruins. a blue police box..

In the past, the tardis arrives in pompeii shortly before the eruption of the volcano. the doctor thinks time has caught up with him at last and won't leave. Can mel save the day?

The two actors in the leads here were not popular on tv in these roles, but that was down to the quality of the material they had. bonnie langford in this is a revelation for anyone who saw her tv appearances. mel is written to her strengths - honest, determined, won't quit - and she turns in some superb acting as a result. There's a good cast of well drawn supporting characters and you will care about what happens to them as the story unfolds.

And you will not forget their final scenes in a hurry.

This was released a long time before the current tv dr who story set in pompeii and the two have no connection other than the location. There are no science fictional elements in this other than the tardis, but that doesn't matter. It's a gripping audio, and a really engrossing story, and it's worth 5/5
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on 30 November 2016
Very good.
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