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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Shadow of the Scourge (Doctor Who)
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 29 April 2017
Great book! Thankyou
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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 March 2012
This is the thirteenth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Sylvester McCoy as Seven with Sophie ALdred as Ace and Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield. 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.

Seven, Ace and Benny arrive in a hotel in Kent, which is home t a cross stitch convention, a psychic convention and an experiment in time travel. It is also about to be the focus of an alien invasion, a fact of which the Doctor is more than aware and has planned for. But things soon go wrong and the TARDIS crew have a desperate fight on their hands.

The first few episodes crack along nicely, propelled by McCoy's dark yet slightly flippant portrayal of Seven, Sophie Aldred's fun loving Ace and Lisa Bowerman's sarcastic yet compassionate Benny. The Scourge are an alien race from another dimension that feeds off negative human emotions, and it is this concept that leads to a disappointing finale, which descends into a hippie `feel the love' embarrassment. So a few stars off for that.

In all some decent ideas, some good characterisation and a good realisation into audio, but a weak ending, so only 3 stars.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 2 April 2016
This is the thirteenth story in the Main Range series by Big Finish, first released in 2000. Written by Paul Cornell, this story features the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), travelling with Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Cornell’s own creation Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman). This was the first story in the Main Range released by Big Finish that teamed these three up. How they came to be travelling together was not explained in the story, and I felt that the story could well be considered as continuing on from somewhere within the New Adventure range of novels released during the hiatus of the tv series after 1989, where Benny first appeared. Ace has travelled widely with the Doctor, and has matured in her characterisation, and she and Benny get on well with the Doctor, who trusts them implicitly.

The Tardis has travelled to the Pinehill Crest Hotel in Kent, where the Doctor seems to think that something of great import is about to happen; what, he’s not willing to share with his companions. But the fact that there are three different conferences going on at the hotel is of significance to whatever’s about to happen, so the three each set off to investigate. Soon, all three of the Tardis team find themselves in rather desperate straits; this time, even the Doctor may have outwitted himself.

I liked this story; Paul Cornell has written a story that has remained true to the three main Tardis characters, and has added a great atmosphere and environment in which to tell this tale which is, ultimately, one of very human proportions, for all its global epic feel. The Scourge are a great creation, and I’d love to see more stories with them in. A great support cast, with the three mainstays, and others including Holly King, Caroline Burns-Cook, Lennox Greaves, Michael Piccarilli, Nigel Fairs and Peter Trapani really make this a great audio experience, and one which I would happily listen to again.
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on 3 October 2015
‘The Shadow of the Scourge’ by Paul Cornell had the working title ‘The Summoning’ and was recorded on 29 and 30 July 2000 at The Skylight Studios. Alistair Lock's soundtrack to the story was released on CD on Music from the New Audio Adventures Volume 2, alongside the scores for two other Seventh Doctor stories, Last of the Titans and The Fires of Vulcan. There is a spooky atmosphere and the Scourge voices seem to start quite natural but become more modulated as people transform more. The crowd scenes were recorded at the PanoptiCon Doctor Who convention between the 2nd and 3rd of September 2000.

The Doctor, Bernice and Ace (dressed in Leela’s clothes complete with knife as a fancy dress costume) arrive at a hotel in Kent where three conventions are happening simultaneously. It’s not long before multi-dimensional beings, known as the Scourge; turn up with an eye to taking over the planet, the bodies of its inhabitants and using them as a food source. The Doctor has a Scourge shadowing his soul as insurance, having apparently sold out the human race, so who will save the day?

The Scourge are emotional parasites who exist in a hellish dimension where people are eternally tortured without being allowed to die so that the Scourge can feed off their pain, despair, depression and horror. They have the ability to hypnotise and resemble Black Mantises. They apparently made contact with the Doctor while he dreamed on the Astral plane.

This is the best Big Finish performance I have heard from Sylvester yet. Frankly some of his others have been a bit lacking at times. Like Tom, I get the impression that McCoy would rather be acting on screen and being more active. Although, I don’t think he always been given particularly good Big Finish scripts. The highlight of his acting here is the cliff hanger to episode two.

At times there is a tongue in cheek element that is genuinely amusing at times. However, Bernice just seems to dish out smart arse remarks and comes off as rather glib. The biggest problem I have with this production is that most of the characters aren’t fleshed out particularly well. It’s somewhat overcrowded and this after Paul Cornell was asked to remove the Police man character that was in an earlier draft because the character was deemed superfluous. I don’t think there is really room for two companions in all this with Bernice being removed from the action by being taken into the Doctor’s mind in the third episode for a discussion which is nothing more than padding. The dialogue does resort to techno babble and can be clunky at times. Towards the end it even gets quite mawkish as the characters try to combat self-doubt.

Overall, despite at times sloppy writing and poor characters, the acting is mostly good with an interesting narrative, good production values and the Scourge are a great idea. All very enjoyable.
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on 10 September 2007
Doctor Who the new adventures seemed to me to overall make the Doctor a miserable git, ace a murdering lunatic and Benny just a load of rubbish who never got that much to do. Thank Goodness that Big Finish werent made to do this when they took a side step into virgin territory....

Paul Cornell wrote the few decent stories in the virgin range, and so its good to see him here writing this story. This i feel has to be one of the most intense and best directed of all the big finish audios. And the scourge are a very scary monster, even if you only hear them by voice. And of course Sylvester Mccoy gives another polished performance as the doctor, not being sad and dreary as in the bulk of new adventures novels. Sophie Aldred and Lisa Bowermann seem to get on very well together and the audio is great. A lot of nasty and emotional moments infused into a story that is genuinely creepy.

So, an excellent play that sustains menace from beginning to end...
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on 8 June 2007
It's great fun - don't bother listening to the last reviewer. The "New Adventure" feeling is there, of course, but for most of us, that's nothing short of a joy - finally hearing these characters as a trio come to life. Benny's great, Ace likewise, and the Seventh Doctor is every bit as dark and whimsical as he ought to be. The Scourge are not particularly memorable, fair enough, but they do the job. And the mixing of the mundane and the extraordinary (which, it has been said so many times, is something Dr Who does so well) is right at the heart of this story. Buy it and let yourself be absorbed by this TARDIS crew that never was. It's a treat.
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on 21 March 2006
Paul Cornell is one of the most lauded writers of Doctor Who fiction and created the character of Bernice Summerfield. This is her first Doctor-led audio and it should have been a triumph.
Unfortunately Paul Cornell is an extremely variable writer and sometimes produces some of the worst nonsense ever to be inflicted upon the Doctor Who mythos. His novels are full of continuity for nerds, idiotic extrapolations and a desperate desire to appear hip and trendy.
This audio recalls the original Virgin novels range that Cornell helped to kick off but it seems he thought he was actually writing a Virgin novel because this audio is difficult to follow, brazen, pointless and utterly out of character with both the characterisations of the main protagonists and one of the most boring storylines ever created. It's pompous, ridiculous and not worth your time.
Which is a shame because the actors give their all and Lisa Bowerman is the embodiment of Bernice Summerfield. Well,except for the always awkward cries of "Goddess!" with which the character has been saddled for twenty years. It always sounds false, it never has the impact or the strength it should possess and the reason she says it has never been explored.
The actors get the one star. Paul Cornell should stick to Casualty. I still have doubts about his 9th Doctor TV episode too, not in the characterisation and emotional content but in the sci-fi idea/time paradox that seems to propel it.
Paul Cornell: unjustly lauded. This audio: rightly forgotten.
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