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Customer Review

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and sometimes creepy adventure..., 5 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who Hornets' Nest 1: The Stuff Of Nightmares (Audio CD)
I've just finished listening to The Stuff of Nightmares and was surprised to find myself having enjoyed it! I say I was surprised because of the amount of negativity this story has been receiving both here and elsewhere on the internet. I'd actually like to address this first.

There seems to be a huge backlash against this at the moment. Firstly, the BBC seem to have made a bit of a mistake in the publicity by indicating that this was going to be a full cast audio drama which people assumed would be in the same vein as Big Finish (who produce licensed Doctor Who audioplays with Doctors 5 through 8). It's not. It's closer to an Audiobook with several actors and some dramatised sections. Judging from other reviews you might think this format doesn't work. The thing is, it does. In fact I think it works very well, particularly for this story. Looking at the other reviews I believe a lot of the negative feeling is coming from people who wanted a full cast audio play and are lashing out because the BBC publicity machine made a mistake.

Secondly, this is a release that has had a ridiculous level of anticipation. Tom Baker is usually cited as the most popular Doctor. Big Finish were never able to persuade him to do something with them and most people assumed that Tom Baker would never reassume the role on audio. When news of this project came along people were understandably excited. And high expectations often lead to disappointment. Yes, he doesn't sound the same as he did in the 70's and 80's, and yes some of his dialogue is a little on the stiff side (particularly during his scenes with Mike), but not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the story and surely he can be forgiven for taking a little while to warm up to a character he hasn't played in such a long time?

The basic framework of the story is that the Doctor has invited Mike Yates to his cottage. Here he tells Mike of his most recent adventure. As mentioned above, Baker does sometimes seem a little stiff, but when he really gets his teeth into the part he shines. Richard Franklin and the other cast members also do excellent jobs.

The story itself is intriguing. Some fantastic ideas are included and some very visual elements are handled extremely well in the audio medium (the Doctors description of a "paper brain" for example). There were some genuinely creepy moments in this too and I recommend listening to it with the lights out. The sound effects when used are also very good (the hornets in particular). However, I felt the sound design occasionally could have been better. A discussion between the Doctor and Mr Noggins in a natural history museum cafeteria didn't work for me as there was a distinct lack of background effects, a murmur of voices and the chinking of crockery would have been very effective.

I can't say I was one of the people desperate to see Tom Baker return to the role. He was my favourite Doctor for a very long time when I was younger and I still love him in the role today. But I was happy with Doctors 5 to 8 via Big Finish. Now he has returned to Doctor Who I'm relieved to find that the negative comments about this play are, in my opinion, largely unfounded. I had cancelled my pre-orders of the rest of the series due to comments being made, but today I'm going to pre-order them again.

As long as you're aware of the format of this adventure and realise that Tom Baker is older and is just getting back into his stride I suggest you give this a whirl. At this price how can you not?
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Sep 2009, 08:06:04 BST
D. Wright says:
Nice to read an accurate, sane and sensible review of this product, well done.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2009, 20:56:49 BST
My pleasure! It just frustrated me that so many people were knocking this for what it wasn't rather than listening to it for what it was...

Posted on 25 Sep 2009, 15:16:07 BST
I think the problems are more ones of execution than scale: it could have worked as a fireside tale if it had a stronger finish, but it just fizzles out into a weak tease for further stories, while Yates has nothing at all to do in the story and Noggins is too overplayed. It's not the disaster many are complaining of, certainly, but it feels like an under-developed first draft.

Posted on 28 Oct 2009, 01:05:46 GMT
Gary says:
It would be nice to hear Tom Baker do a two-hander with Liz Sladen. No one would be bothered about a full cast then.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2009, 11:14:25 GMT
DL Evans says:
A good review. I agree with Trevor that the tale doesn't conclude - but this is a five-part story, so it's natural that the first part leaves several questions unanswered. I've just finished listening to the third story in the series and can't wait to hear the next one!
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Simon McMahon
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 361,033