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Kamelion, Dominators and Cybermen

The King’s Demons is an odd little two parter which had the misfortune of ending a season by mistake and features the Master’s machinations as he tries to scupper the Magna Carta. Yeah, I know. Even the Doctor calls it “small time villainy”. We get all the Master’s greatest hits on this, his rubbish disguise, an anagram for a name, lovely Ainley chuckles and his phallic TCE, and a decent cast being all “forsooth” and “hey nonny nonny”. Gerald Flood mugs it up wonderfully as King John and Kamelion, and the little ditty he sings has stuck in my head for all these years!

The main cast are functionary as usual, and Davison as always seems to walk through even bad dialogue effortlessly. With Tegan and Turlough, though, we have too of the most pointless, unpleasant companions of all time, and one wonders why the Doctor put up with their shiftiness and moaning.

Not a bad episode, just a bit pointless.

EXTRAS
Extra wise we have a commentary with Peter Davison, Eric Saward and Isla Blair, and it’s a pleasant enough listen, with what you’d expect. Peter being ironic, Eric bemoaning production and saying “it’s not my fault” and Isla going “oh, I forgot that”. Again, nothing wrong with any of that.

There’s a decent wee documentary about the Magna Carta too, which is one of those things which helps Doctor Who fans think they know about everything. Which we do, of course.

Finally, there’s a potted history of the Companion-who-sat-in-a-cupboard, Kamelion, with everyone going “it’s not my fault!” reminicent of the recent Creature from the Pit extra on Erato. Good stuff though.

Planet of Fire
Planet of Fire is as close as you get to a follow-up of The King’s Demons and is Turlough’s exit story (hurrah!) and Peri’s entrance (fnar!). Set in Lanzarote and Sarn, or Lanzarote, it’s a tale of, well, em… how to describe it… sort of… ah! Loads of people standing around talking, mostly. It looks lush. Oh, and the Master get’s shrunk, the schmuck, and uses Kamelion to rescue himself, to the point where the Doctor (to an audible cheer) turns the dreary robot into an action figure. The direction by Fiona Cumming and the locations give it quite a modern air, and the Doctor out of his cricket uniform helps with that, but there’s very little substance to it. Nicola Bryant is very pretty as Peri, but her voice grates and her dialogue is shocking, and other guest stars, including a very cool Peter Wyngarde are all clearly thinking “jolly to Lanzarote, and paid, shut yir face and do the job”. It’s all a bit flat.

EXTRAS
Commentary on this is the joyous reunion of the naughty schoolboys Strickson and Davison, and indeed there are many derring dos as they snigger their way through a lively commentary. Nicola chips in too with some new girl observations and Fiona Cumming makes four with some technical observations and the odd anecdote.

Three very competent vignettes on the making of, including sending Cumming and designer Malcolm Thornton back to Lanzarote helps with a before/after comparison give the impression that this episode should have been a lot better than it actually turned out being, and a poignant mini feature on Anthony Ainley completes the haul for this DVD.

There is also an odd remix version of the serial with a Special Edition, given the dolby/CGI/Widescreen polish similar to Enlightment beforehand, but it all seems a bit pointless. Like that previous story, it wasn’t, visually, that ropey to begin with.

The Dominators

The Dominators followed in July and again the cry, as one falls to ones knees is “Why????” Why is this released and Terror of the Zygons isn’t, for instance? It’s an awful, flat story of the Dominators taking charge of a planet of pacifists. I know, big men, eh? Don’t see them taking on Skaro anytime soon! With their dodgy turtle uniforms and even dodgier Quarks – what were they thinking? – the story does actually feature some decent, thought out design, some not bad location work (albeit another quarry) and, of course, fine, fine performances from the governor, Patrick Troughton and his ever reliable sidekick, our very own Frazer Hines. What would this era have been without them? Wendy Padbury makes three, in typical Zoe stylee, but there is a distinct feeling that this era had run its course. Pity really.

EXTRAS
A bonkers making of where the blame-game reaches new heights, a decent “what the papers said” era-specific look and an affectionate but honest commentary from stalwart Hines and Padbury along with a couple of guest stars and the make up designer.

Revenge of the Cybermen/Silver Nemesis

Now, these two adventures are probably the nadir of Cyberstories, so it makes sense to lump them together in one “I don’t have to buy it, you can’t make me” DVD boxset.

Starting with Revenge of the Cybermen, a story where the remnants of the Cyber Race attack the legendary (!) planet of gold, Voga, in an attempt to destroy it once and for all is actually not as bad as you remember. Maybe I’m looking at it through five-year-old-tinted specs, but I’m really pleased this is now available to complete my Tom Baker’s debut season collection. There is much to like in this episode. The leads – Ian Marter, Elisabeth Sladen and Tom Baker – are universally brilliant, and the sets, a rehash of Ark In Space‘s Nerva Beacon (not the last time this was done! The New Series makes a habit of it, with the biggest parallel being Satellite Five/The Games Station) and Wookey Hole (fnar #2) are great. Lighting too, is, mostly, well done, especially on Voga. Of course, the Cybermen are awful, although classically designed, and it doesn’t help that in the extras director Michael Bryant says – and I promise you he says this – “In Cyberland, there are many types of Cybermen, with many types of accents.” – showing that, despite his technical skills with CSO and gadgets he really should have done his research. Cybermat’s too, get a make over, and not for the better, and the Vogan masks are either brilliant or awful. Dialogue for the most part is Brian Blessed-shouted at each other, too, but the crew of the Beacon are calm and cool for the most part and manage to get away with it. You can see the clash between Gerry Davis recycling of plot and Robert Holmes dragging it into the 70s. I have a soft spot for this story though.

EXTRAS
A commentary featuring Lis Sladen, Philip Hinchcliffe and the legendary David Collings is a polite but honest interpretation of events, which Lis being uncharacteristically critical of herself, and Hinchcliffe being honest in his frustration of the episodes execution. Collings too makes some funny but rather more “there’s me!” observations.

Documentary wise, there’s a couple of little nuggets, with Michael E Bryant off on a ghost tale (not the only one to do that, as Lis Sladen recounts the tale of the missing scenes in the commentary), Hinchcliffe again bemoaning the production and an absolutely wonderful little location report in which a reporter looking for “Doctor Who” finds a spectacular Tom Baker in full flow. Was he acting? Is he really just like the Doctor? It brought to mind just how much Matt Smith is as his character too.

Silver Nemesis
On the other hand, Silver Nemesis IS as bad as you remember. I spoke to Andrew Cartmel recently about this (two part interview coming soon!), and, as he does in the commentary, he bemoans the things which don’t work in the story as much as the things that do. Plus side, well, Sylv and Sophie are very Sylv and Sophie and if you like the Seventh Doctor and Ace, you’ll like them as always. The rest – well, the plot first – Neo Nazis, Jacobean Satan worshippers, Cybermen and the Doctor and Ace all go looking for the Nemesis, an ancient Time Lord weapon – is just about it. In the end, of course, the Doctor out foxes everyone, and everyone dies, except one guy, who decides he’s a thoroughly decent chap. That’s about it. It’s very “bitty”. There’s lots of pointless parts in it though. Lots of walking around, the occasional confrontation, and then walking around again. Geography doesn’t work either, it makes no sense, and there are a couple of pointless, and in one case quite cringing cameos with a lookalike queen and Broadway star Dolores Grey (nope, I hadn’t heard of her then either, but don’t worry, neither had Andrew Cartmel!). All in all, a bit confusing, a bit pointless and a bit of a waste. Cybermen look awful, no one is trying to act, and the story starts no where and heads up a culdesac.

EXTRAS
The writer, Kevin Clarke clearly had no clue what Doctor Who was (again, see my up coming interview with Andrew Cartmel), and as such is adamant in the Doctor is supposed to be God! He says as much in conspiratorial tones in the Making of doc, which again takes all the usual suspects and asks them to be as honest as possible about the serial. Which they are, to be fair. Sylvester, Sophie, Kevin, Andrew and director Chris Clough along with Gerard Murphy, who’s like a big eager-to-please labrador, all appear to give their opinion, and do so again, sans Murphy in a lively commentary in which Clough shouts louder than anyone else.

Another little doc featured discusses the blackmarket currency of Doctor Who on video through the early years of the VCR, and is interesting, for many, many reason.

Identity: Series One: Review

Identity

Series One

Reviewed by Eddie

Hot on the heels of Ashes To Ashes, Keeley Hawes regenerates into her third high profile cop show (if you count Spooks, and I do), as DSI Martha Lawson in ITV1’s new crime drama Identity.

The new Identity Unit is a close knit, elite section, a bit like Spooks, which investigates the modern crime of identity theft using good old fashioned police methods as well as ultra-modern surveillance techniques.#

In a series of six separate adventures, linked only by one of the character’s story arc, the team tackle a former terrorist who has gone missing, a witness protection programme gone wrong and a clever cyberterrorist with a disliking for infidelity amongst other crimes. The team pool their resources and intrude on other departments because, it seems, everything is about identity.

Unfortunately, even more so with the lack of procedural police drama on ITV, Identity only partly works. There are a few glaring faults in not so much its concept but its execution.

Keeley Hawes is a pretty girl, and a fine actress, but her motives in this series are a little confusing, and we get to see nothing of her private life or why she is how she is. Particularly in relation to the real star of the show, DI John Bloom as played by Queer As Folk‘s Aiden Gillen. Hawes is all doe-eyes and arched eyebrows around Gillen’s insipid tortured action hero, who has the wrong face, walk and demenour for the role, and the relationship, with the exception of the last episode, doesn’t ring true.

A decent cast of supports, too, is wasted, with Casanova and Doctor Who’s Shaun Parkes almost completely devoid of personality so still and measured is his performance. A Ruth-a-like techie in the form of woefully underused Holly Aird squints at screens and suggests things just a moment too late and Casualty’s Elyes Gabel makes five with a pointless role as DC Jose Rodriquez. Look for him doing actually anything in the six episodes.

The stories are clever and thought provoking – although the plot and dialogue is awful – and the cast do exactly what it says on the tin, but too much rests and falls on Gillen’s Bloom, and he just isn’t good enough. For the most part he looks tired and shifty, not very tough, and the relationship between him and Lawson makes no sense.

By episode six however, the show shows some promise, with emotions eventually being shown and relationships starting to work. Whether it makes up for some of the ludicrous silliness and leaps of faith over the previous five episodes, however, remains to be seen.

Musically it’s all a bit draining too, with John Lunn creating an energy sapping score with very few cues and a really tinny theme tune.

Director duties are split between Andy Hay and Brendan Maher, but they are virtually indistinguishable from each other, and go for a shiny, polished, slick style which wants to be Spooks or, more likely, Torchwood, but doesn’t have the meat to back it up.

Created and written, for the most part, by Waking The Dead’s Ed Whitmore, he’s gone for “sexy” and ended up with “hangover”, and somehow we’ve missed the night in between.

This isn’t bad, as such, but with the credentials it holds it could be much, much better. Corrupt cop Bloom’s ability to fall on his feet makes no sense, Lawson’s motives are unclear and her ability as a leader unfulfilling and the rest of the team terribly underused.

More character study, an ep each and some simpler, cleaner and better thought out scripts – hang your head Whitmore, you’re better than that – and ITV may just have a hit on there hand.

That’s if it gets to another series…

 

Hornet’s Nest Episode 4 and 5 Audiobook Reviewed

Plot wise though very little happens… the Doctor meets some warrior nuns and an apparent deux de machina is set up before a race through the TARDIS and the inevitable destination.

Again Richard Franklin is relegated to the odd “mmm” and “oh” and the Doctor reminds us who he is talking to with the occasional “as I mentioned, Mike”, but gloriously Tom Baker takes centre stage yet again, and revels in the Fourth Doctor with once again some fabulous language, some wonderful asides and razor sharp changes of direction.

Musically this time round though, for once, it seems slightly intrusive. Ramped up maybe to make up for the lack of plot, it seems a little cinematic and perhaps too frantic, and I’d argue with Tom’s acting, particularly near the end, it really isn’t needed to convey that sense of panic.

This is the least filled episode of the five, but it is also the most “Doctorish”, and as a result works, if you like the Fourth Doctor. There’s also a very neat little segue into the dilemmas facing the Doctor in Waters of Mars, with a similar conclusion. You just can’t beat Time.

Episode five – The Hive of Horror – brings events back up “to date” (but I have to say, rubbish cop out with the cliffhanger there! What a con!) – and as such allows Richard Franklin to return to narrating duties, as least for a while, as Mike Yates again tells a “someone else” what exactly is going on as he, the Doctor and the Doctor’s cantankerous and thoroughly unlikeable housekeeper Mrs Wimmsey take the Hornets on head on, confronting their sly Queen – in the form of a very vicious sounding Rula Lenska – and in their own backyard – the Hornet’s Hive itself!

How they get there will remind you of The Invisible Enemy – in fact, it reminds the Doctor of that too (something else the Fourth Doctor seems to be doing a lot of – reminiscing!) – And it’s an odd vista for the finale, but it makes perfect sense and anthropomorphizes the Hornets for the Doctor to take on head to head.

This episode finally allows Mike to take the lead, and his conversations with the Queen are very well written and acted by Rula and Richard. Mike himself has to confront his own demons for the big showdown, and it’s nice to see them be addressed again. Captain Yates was in danger of being a cipher, but at last gets to chomp his acting chops into something a little more meaty.

The finale is a little confusing though. It jumps from Mike’s to the Doctor’s narration from present to future, and, as always, narrating things which have happened kind of takes the immediate danger away from the characters, and, for me, Mrs Wimmsey is just a moany irritation throughout and not necessary. The actual denouement too, whilst not what you think it’s going to be – another sign post acknowledged by the Doctor – is a bit schizophrenic too – the Fourth Doctor verbalizing the Tenth’s moral outlook whilst going ahead with a nice simple solution.

However, the final words of the Fourth Doctor, by a Tom clearly beaming from ear to ear, is a wonderful, Christmassy, feel good thing worth the whole series, and, again, will echo with aficionados of days past.

All in all, this series has been a success, I think, and an experiment worth repeating. I’ve already told Tom I’d write a follow up for free! The Fourth Doctor does need another outing, and the lessons to be learned from Hornet’s Nest are few, but important. In my opinion, the narration detracts from the danger, we need more immediate action, and the Doctor has to feature more prominently. It’s important to, I believe, that even in narration, the characters speak like the characters, and not in the flowery prose of the earlier episodes.

I salivate at the thought of the Doctor returning for an adventure with Leela and K9!

Hornets Nest Episode 2 Audiobook

Tom recounts the tale – and I say

Tom because not once do I hear the fourth Doctor in the dialogue – with the same eloborate and clever dialogue as Mike did in the first, using a thesaurus of a vocabulary best left fort he Sixth Doctor. Although Tom is clearly having a ball, and making the odd aside which is so typically, and brilliantly him, it makes for a frustrating listen, because again we are keen to hear the fourth Doctor, and only get the odd, spectacular flash of him. The story itself is a piece of a puzzle, and one wonders whether Hornet’s Nest may be better listened to as a whole, and as such, and due to the nature of the narration, makes the peril less than immediate. with the two main other characters unsure as to whether they are friends or foes, it makes it difficult to engage in them, and therefore the whole episode relies on being on the Doctor’s side, and one wonders whether more than goodwill for Tom is needed to create this.

The cliffhanger – and look away now if you if you don’t want the spoiler – isn’t one as such, just the promise of another recounted adventure, which seems to me to be the way these stories is going.

This isn’t a bad story – it’s clever, well written, fast paced and intriguing – but I’d argue it’s not very fourth Doctor, and there seems to have been a trick missed here – by setting the adventure as recounted tales the peril is gone. Maybe by now people may say “well, I’ll wait on the final episode” rather than sit through some more “this is what happened, but as you can see, I’m fine”. Also there is an argument that, of course Tom is different because thirty years have past – however – he is playing the fourth Doctor, a fourth dDoctor who’s just left Leela and is about to meet Romana and therefore should be playing THAT character, not himself thirty years on. It’s frustrating for a fan of this character to only hear him in echoes. Episode one worked better because much of the story happened in “real time”, episode two loses that momentum wih the protagonists stuck in a cellar.

I’d urge people to stick with this though, it is full of very good things, and I have the feeling Tom is abut to burst into the Fourth Doctor at any minute. I for one want to be around when that happens.

Hornet’s Nest is available from the 8th October.

James Moran EXCLUSIVE – Girl Number 9

Vincent Boylan has just been arrested, the prime suspect in a series of brutal, serial murders. But the evidence is all circumstantial, and they don’t have enough to charge him. If they can’t make him confess, then they might have to release him. Time is running out, and the twisted mind games begin, as the detectives realise that this isn’t going to be as easy as they thought… That’s the setup. But we’ve got so many twists and turns, even by the end of the first episode things have taken a massive detour, and a whole other story tangent has kicked off. We wanted to make this as exciting as possible, so every episode has several twists, and a big cliffhanger. You’re going to have the rug pulled out from underneath you every night, as we take you on a dark journey.

And it *is* dark. Very dark. Both in the subject matter and the direction the story takes. The show is really for mature audiences only, it’s quite shocking and scary in places. There’s no age restriction on it, due to the open nature of the internet, but we recommend that viewers be at least 15 years old or more. We’re not stopping anyone from viewing, just warning that it’s a serious crime thriller that contains some disturbing scenes. The victims were dismembered, and the killer was extremely sadistic – he dismembered them while they were still alive. A lot of the disturbing moments are off screen, or in dialogue, but are still unsettling. Stories about serial killers don’t have too many fluffy moments…

Being on the internet means we can have some fun with the medium. So four of the main characters have their own Twitter accounts, and you can follow their stories right up to the start of the first episode. None of it is required to understand the show, it’s a self contained story – I never like films or shows that only make sense if you watch the 12 animated prequels, read the 27 crossover comics, play the video game, sign up for text messages, get the ultra rare trading cards, and buy three different types of breakfast cereal – so don’t feel like you’ll be missing out if you choose not to use Twitter. It’s just a fun extra for people who want to experience it. You can even say things to the characters, and sometimes they’ll reply. At the moment, @vincentboylan is taunting the boss of the department, @CJLYNDON, as she tries to hunt him down with the help of Detectve Matheson, @C_Weinberg, and @ryan_dunbar. Why isn’t Matheson on Twitter? Because his character wouldn’t do that – he’s not good with technology, he can’t even use predictive text on his phone, and has a huge email backlog because he’d rather talk to someone face to face. But the other characters talk about him a lot, so his presence is very much felt.

Future plans hopefully involve doing more web dramas, either a sequel/prequel to this, or a completely different story – we’re hoping to do a science fiction one next. A lot of people have asked if it will become a TV show. If there’s interest from TV companies, then that’s a possibility, we have a format worked out and it would star all the main characters from this original version (which would either become backstory, or reworked into a new episode). Right now though, we’re focused on this, which is our main priority. It’ll be streamed on the website www.canyousaveher.com at 9pm GMT. The episodes will stay online for at least a month, so if you miss one, you can catch up before the next, and even watch them all again once the whole thing is up.

This is an independent production, so we don’t have advertising on TV, or bus billboards, or any of that – if it’s a success, it’ll be because people like it and tell their friends. So please help us to spread the word, pass on the website link www.canyousaveher.com, become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/girlnumber9, and follow the Twitter account @girlnumber9 – we hope to make more like this, so if you like it, tell everyone you know! And thank you for everyone who has supported us so far, we really appreciate it. Here’s to October 30th, at 9pm GMT, when you’ll discover that all is not as it seems…

Hornets Nest Circus of Doom

Despite this being another recounted tale told to Mike as he and the Doctor are stuck in Nest Cottage’s cellar, it is a much more immediate tale, and although told from the Doctor’s point of view – a frustrating technique in previous episodes due to the lack of actual “Doctor” – this episode dispenses with much of the flowery descriptions of the past for good old fashioned and dare I say it Big Finish style action, with Tom finally getting his teeth into being the Doctor in the present. And wow, was it worth the wait. Tom Baker is a force of nature, you can hear the grin in his voice, and you’ll get a thrill of excitment at his odd diction and genius turn of pace as he rattles through fabulous Magrs dialogue.

The revelation made by a hypnotised ring master (Stephen Thornes Antonio) is a wonderful twist in the tale and really makes one want to know how events – the future for the Doctor but the past for the Hornets – are going to unfold. A clever conceit considering we KNOW the Doctor is back and (relatively) safe in the “present” with Mike Yates.

Franklin again is relegated to the odd “Hmm” and “But why…” top and tailing the episode, but this isn’t a bad thing. This installment is definitely about the fourth Doctor and, for me, for the first time, he steps forward to be not just a cypher in the tale but a character running the narrative and Tom is clearly having a ball.

Sound production, direction and music are as in previous installments subtle and fitting, and I recommend listening to it with headphones on…

This is easily the best of the three tales so far, and a nice way to seque into the finale.

Worth it for this episode alone.

Flesh and Stone Reviewed

This story works with two plots – the advancing – or should that be retreating – Angels, who, with the voice of Angel Bob, are sarcastic and playful and utterly menacing – and this new threat which promises to not only to be able to rewrite everything you ever thought you knew about Doctor Who since its return but beyond that. More straight forward and far less subtle than RTD’s Time War or even Lawrence Mile’s Faction Paradox, it gives reasons for Amy’s lack of knowledge of Daleks or why history doesn’t talk about giant CyberKings in Victorian London. As usual with Steven Moffat though, he gives us the solution to the episode at the start, but it’s the forehead slap at the end which really does work.

If I was to criticise this episode it would be to say it’s a little too quick. Things happen very quickly, people are despatched or removed cleanly and this story ends a good five minute before the episode does. It’s best to look at this second part as part of a whole. As an episode on its own, whilst thrilling, it’s a little disjointed.

Again direction is slick and inventive, and the use of light and dark and loud and quiet along with quick edits and odd camera speeds help create the fairytale world. And fairytale again plays a part – as River hints at the end. This episode more than most is beautifully framed and lit. Many of the images – particularly the TARDIS on the beach – will become iconic.

The guest stars are limited in what they can do, but they do do it well. The clerics are loosely drawn but do their job adequately. Iain Glen’s Bishop Octavian is underused, and, as the Doctor say “I wish I’d got to know you better”, and this is a sentiment I agree with. Alex Kingston’s River Song has a couple of nice moments, winks a bit about spoilers and makes some comments about the future, but is not the centre of attention, although her instinct to sacrifice herself for the Doctor is again on show.

Karen Gillan has lost some of the cocky swagger from her earlier episodes and plays Amy with a cute and endearing vulnerability. She has a terrifying episode, in scenes which will become much talked about in Wholore.

This is the first time Matt has been allowed to properly take centre stage as the Doctor apart from that tantalising glimpse at the end of The Eleventh Hour and it’s a fabulous performance from start to finish. Properly in charge the Doctor is manic and fast and brilliant in equal measures, but he allows some neat downbeat pulses in exchanges with Amy, River and Octavian. Again he channels other Doctors effortlessly. For RTD-philes, there’s lots of David, and he almost gets his “I’m so sorry” catchphrase out for an encore and, at one point, mimics his line to Sarah Jane…”My Amy,” he says touchingly. He does a mean Sylvester too and works out directions the same way Tom does. He is at times though a shouty and at once point a sweary Doctor. This works well in context, and gives Matt some meat to work with. I’m really enjoying Matt, particularly in this story. His reaction to Amy at the end (I won’t say why) is gawky and awkward, funny and touching, but he does manage a bit of Girl In The Fireplace too…

People might moan a bit about this episode, but it should be absolutely viewed as a whole with The Time of Angels. The quick denouement is to make way for something else… and something which will have your chins on the floor. I’m pretty sure you won’t see what happens five minutes after the Doctor and Amy left Leadworth coming. But, of course, ssshhh… spoilers…

Hordes of the Things Audiobook

Each memeber of the cast is clearly having a ball – in Paul Eddington’s turn you can plainly see his bemused face and it’s interesting to hear Maggie Steed here too.

Fans of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy will find much to enjoy – this is very much the medieval Hitchhikers – and fans of innovative, 80s sitcoms will also find things to enjoy.

Released in its complete form with some very nifty artwork and a handy map, this is a great way to spend two pointless hours

Doctor Who:: Remembrance of the Daleks Special Edition

The Daleks too continue to grow in menace, and work well, for once, without the focus being on Davros, and is a nice hark-back to pre-Genesis days. The grey/black, cream/gold look is very striking and the new Special Weapons Dalek is chilling in its ferocity. The edition of John Leeson and Brian Miller to the Dalek voices is also welcome, as is the return of the ring modulator. The reveal of Davros inside the Emperor at the climax is, indeed, a punch-the-air moment. Terry Molloy managed to instill in a head all the bonkers genius and desperation of Davros in those few short scenes brilliantly.

The supporting cast is universally superb, with Pamela Salem making a wonderful faux Barbara Wright-cum-Liz Shaw and Simon Willians is fabulous as Brigadier-in-waiting Group Captain Chunky Gilmore. Add to that a great cameo by Who stalwart Michael Sheard and this story has just about everything.

Being set on location helps too. The school is an effective back drop, and the few sets needed designed are straight forward enough. Being a historical neither lighting or costume can mess it up, and both do a good job.

It’s directed by Andrew Morgan like an action adventure, and the quick edits work well, and so do some of the OTT explosions!

it isn’t perfect – the Daleks wobble a bit, there’s a shot of some very modern looking flats in one scene, the sign on the door of the scrapyard is the wrong spelling, the Time Controller is a plasma lamp (they shoulda just used a lava lamp!) and again the story relies on Time Lords and a back story. You can see why RTD decided to do a way with that particular thread. It isn’t, either, the end of the rot – The Happiness Patrol and Silver Nemesis follow directly on from this – but it is a great indication of what is possible. A great story.

The Special Edition is packed wit features – including two lengthy docs about the making of and some great interviews with all the movers and shakers, all of whom seem very pleased to be associated with this tale. The commentary too as always with Sylv and Sophie funny, bubbly and easy to listen to.

This SE comes with a bonus disc about the history and evolution of Davros. It’s a wonderful documentary, and pulls in everyone from the world of TV, Big Finish and the written word to complete a “definitive” biography of the creator of the Daleks. However, this is where it let’s itself down – filmed in 2007, it desperately needs updating to including Journey’s End, and seems to suggest that, as BF’s Terra Firma does, Davros becomes the Dalek Emperor. We now know that isn’t the case, and it taints what is a wonderful journey through his life.

Doctor Who: The Wreck of the Titan review

The story moves on at incredible speed, which is sad really as it doesn’t give that much time for the listener to assess the situation. Each time you think you know what’s going on, it turns out to be wrong, which whilst amusing does frustrate those like myself who love to deduce things at a leisurely pace. However the conclusion of the play is extremely satisfing and was something I had not expected at all, even though the hints were staring me in the face. This is Big Finish at its best.

Full marks must go to Colin and Frazer who worked extremely well together. I am admiring this new mature Jamie who doesn’t depend on the Doctor as much as he used to in the classic series. Big Finish have clearly developed a more rounded figure that is exactly what we’d have expected Jamie to become, had he stayed on in the Tardis. It’s actually quite sad, knowing this is a trilogy, as the relationship between Jamie and the sixth Doctor is one of the strongest companion relationsships to grace Big Finish.

Additionally, all the additional cast put in fine performancees. I was especially fond of Alexander Siddig’s performance, and how his character “adapts” thoughout the play, allowing Siddig to show his full range of acting abilities.

Another excellent installment from author Barnaby Edwards. One of the most original and strong Big Finishes to date.

10/10

Available now from Big Finish

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