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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Lost Classic? Not quite..., 31 Mar. 2010
This review is from: The Nightmare Fair (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories) (Audio CD)
'The Nightmare Fair' kicks off Big Finish Productions' The Lost Stories series, a collection of 'Doctor Who' tales written in the 1980s, but never produced for various reasons, chief among them being the cancellation / enforced hiatus the show underwent in 1985. Effectively, the series is supposed to represent the original Season 23, whose stories were written off and ultimately replaced by 'The Trial of a Time Lord' in 1986.

First up is this tale, which sees the Doctor and Peri taking a trip to Blackpool's Pleasure Beach, only to find themselves caught up in the warped games of the Celestial Toymaker, who originally appeared in the series in 1966 - a mysterious being with extraordinary powers, a penchant for games, and a grudge against the Doctor. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the problem with resurrecting these lost tales on audio is that they weren't necessarily great stories in the first place. 'The Nightmare Fair' isn't bad, but a fair chunk of the television version would have entailed location filming in Blackpool, so the appeal of the setting is somewhat lost in the audio medium. Even without that, though, the script is a bit of a muddle. Even immediately after listening to it, the overall impression is of a collection of really interesting ideas in search of a story - there's some good stuff here, but it doesn't quite fit together, feeling less of a plot than a collection of set-pieces.

The saving grace of this production lies in the cast and the sound design - after several years playing a somewhat mellower take on the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker deliberately recreates his more abrasive television persona for this series. And actually, it's good to have this version back, even if only as a novelty. Meanwhile, David Bailie steps into Michael Gough's shoes as the Toymaker, and does so wonderfully, with every scene in which he appears a joy to listen to. Sound-wise, there's been a real effort to make this sound like it was made in the 1980s - the score is closer to the kind of synthesised incidental music of that period than Big Finish's usual compositions, and where appropriate, the sound effects feel similarly 'period'.

I'm still not entirely convinced that resurrecting some of these stories is a good idea in the first place - it does feel like some of them are being revived for the sake of it, rather than because they're actually any good - but 'The Nightmare Fair' has taken on a legendary status among 'Doctor Who' fandom, and it's nice to see it enter production at long last. There's a lot to enjoy in this production, but it's not quite the lost classic some might imagine.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Jan 2014 15:25:08 GMT
Fair review of a above average audio.
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A. Foxley
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Location: UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 48,712