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Standard Doctor Who

What:Fiesta of the Damned (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 24 April 2017
Rating:   7

In this second adventure with the Doctor - Ace - Mel team, we visit Spain during the Spanish Civil War. A bombing raid uncovers an ancient alien device that converts all living things on a planet and starts turning people into Gothic demon monsters. Apart from the setting, not much is new here. The Doctor gets it wrong, then gets it right. The companions spend most of the story separated on their own little adventures. The story is surprisingly talky for the first two parts. We get some OK Spanish accents. The best thing going here is the Ace-Mel combination. They work very well together, and do much to tone down Doctor 7's darker side.



Gatiss and Genre Culture

What:Nightshade (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 22 April 2017
Rating:   7

"Nightshade" is an audio adaptation of the novel by Mark Gatiss. The story takes place in a small Yorkshire village where the retired actor who once played Professor Nightshade on TV now lives and where a new space research station has been built on top of the remains of an old castle and quarry with a spooky history. Something is invading people's dreams and recreating their fears. The Doctor and Ace arrive and The Doctor tells Ace over breakfast that he wants to retire. Much of part one, then, revolves around repeated incentives for The Doctor to get involved and The Doctor's agonizing quandary that if he does get involved, then he cannot retire. Professor Nightshade is not meant to represent Doctor Who as much as it is Professor Quatermass. The story of "Nightshade" has very much the sensibility of a Quatermass adventure. It is all part of Mark Gatiss's love affair with genre media of any sort. And typical of Gatiss's writing, there are many winks and nods to fans of the things he is a fan of. It's not deep.



Treading Old Ground

What:The Crimes of Thomas Brewster (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 22 April 2017
Rating:   7

The Big Finish people really like Thomas Brewster. I'm not sure why. I don't find him all that interesting a character. Nevertheless, here we go. To continue the Big Finish nostalgia piece, we get the return of DI Menzies. To add some complication to the story, Menzies has already met The Doctor, but he has not yet met her. The story starts in medias res with The Doctor and Evelyn being menaced by some giant robot insects shooting lasers from their noses. The Doctor is mistaken for some person calling himself "The Doctor" and running a crime gang of pensioners and teachers. The story hinges on Brewster's doing what he has done before, which is try to be The Doctor. He assumes The Doctor's name, his clothing affectations, and tries to save an alien world by using time technology. Of course, he is pretty much a failure at this because his means are not The Doctor's means. The story has some entertaining parts, such as David Troughton's turn as the gangster boss Gallagher, and DI Menzies' snappy sarcasm. The story itself is rather routine and overplays the nostalgia factor.



What a wonderful send off for A Legend!!

What:The War Doctor: Casualties of War (Miscellaneous audio)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Wednesday 19 April 2017
Rating:   10

It is with more than just a twinge of sadness that one comes to review Big Finish's final box set in the sublime War Doctor series. With the passing of one of the finest actors ever, in the late great Sir John Hurt, the whole of the acting profession is a distinctly colder place without the man who was once the Elephant Man and Quentin Crisp and a crewman on Alien, and to all fans of Doctor Who, the War Doctor.
The War Doctor as a character has been ground into the dirt by the effects of the Time War. He has recanted his name, and can be severely rude and distant. But despite the burden of all the universes on his shoulders, we still can glimpse the man who wants no more than to help the oppressed and tend to the sick. And Sir John was the perfect choice to become the Doctor. His whole incarnation is one of bone weary tiredness, but also fierce determination in the face of overwhelming odds. His acting as ever, is intense and moving and really makes you feel for his Doctor!
The final set of the War Doctor has a plethora of hugely enjoyable moments. The true feel of futile and costly war is at the forefront of these astounding tales. The final arc begins with the battle intense PRETTY LIES by Guy Adams, which is a totally down to the nail exploration of the full horrors of war. One is instantly driven to route for the safety of the population of Beltox, and the dramatic tension and build up to a harrowing finale is so well achieved by all involved in this superb first story. Guys script is full of drama and terror and yet isn’t heavy handed or repetitive at all.
And then we are taken on to hear the return of Leela, as ever superbly portrayed by the wonderful Louise Jameson. This reviewer always has been a great fan of any female character who is shown to be capable of looking after herself! But here Leela is known as THE LADY OF OBSIDIAN, and it’s a joy to hear her in scenes with John Hurt. One strongly gets the feeling that she works just as well with John as she did with Tom Baker all those years ago. And throw in a reliably devious Cardinal Illustrator, played to perfection by the wonderful Jackie Pearce, then you’re bound to get a story to remember. Andrew Smith has surely risen from the lowly seventeen year old who wrote Full Circle to a reliable and robust pair of hands that Big Finish have utilised so well.
And from then we come to the thrilling conclusion of this immense saga. THE ENIGMA DIMENSION by the ever reliable and gifted dalek voice maestro himself, Nick Briggs, is good and appealing and unforgettable grandiose as a finale. But this reviewer is so saddened by the War Doctors extreme self loathing. And this story has him thinking he may even be the worst warrior in all of Gallifrey history. To this reviewer, he is far too hard on himself. Thrown into any war no one can emerge from it without being forever changed. And the War Doctors despair and grief is palpable throughout the whole of this epic and unforgettable saga.
The sound design and direction are also spot on and highly polished and one is breath taken at the scope and the scale of these stories, considering they are only in the audio format! But these stories have maintained a cinematic and massive scale that makes them an indelible contribution to Who lore. Together with the ever present threat of the insanely evil Daleks all these elements blend together to make a splendid banquet.
So, from the building up of his character on The Day of the Doctor to his immediately awesome induction into the Big Finish universe with ONLY THE MONSTROUS, and rising to the sublime CASUALTIES OF WAR, this is a set of twelve adventures any Doctor Who fan can relish and enjoy as a showcase of just what made Sir John Hurt an absolutely formidable Doctor. We may well be very saddened by his tragic parting, but at least we can remember him fondly in this incredible series that has certainly captivated this reviewer! Sir John will never be forgotten.



Truly Novelized

What:City of Death (Miscellaneous book)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Thursday 13 April 2017
Rating:   8

It is probably best that City of Death was not novelized in the Target paperback series, which by that point was mostly Terrance Dicks' repeating the script with a few fillers to make it look like a book. James Goss has done an excellent job of turning one Doctor Who's most beloved stories into a real novel. Using shooting scripts, drafts, and other material, Goss has fleshed out the story, added explanations that give the plot more sense, and still incorporated everyone's favorite lines, in fact nearly all the dialogue of the original TV broadcast. He has adopted a narrative voice similar to Douglas Adams', as expected, but has not gone in for either total imitation or pastiche. The result is fun to read, nostalgic, and generally better than most novels featuring Doctor 4. Though the plot and main characters remain true to the TV broadcast, there are a few notable differences in some of the side characters from the TV version. Duggan, for instance, is big, burly, and overweight, in contrast to Tom Chadbon, a pretty dapper figure in those days. The two art aficionados (John Cleese and Eleanor Bron) become recurring characters moving along in their own little side plot. Kerensky, the Countess, and Hermann are also noticeably different from their TV counterparts. My one complaint about the book is that parts seem to be padding. Nevertheless, there is not too much padding, and the whole is well worth reading.



Another that is probably a 7 1/2

What:The Lost Stories: The Macros (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 2 April 2017
Rating:   7

The Macros has many interesting ideas, and takes a distinct approach on the Philadelphia Experiment conspiracy. The TARDIS gets trapped in a time conundrum involving the USS Eldridge trapped between dimensions and a micro-universe leaching energy from it. The story at this point moves along as a fairly typical "technical problem" kind of science fiction story, the kind that Doctor Who could successfully do more of. This part of the story works well. What drags down the story to some extent is the travel to the micro-universe, which plops us into a routine "mad dictator" plot, and a not very interesting or compelling one at that. There are also some conceptual problems not worked out, such as that time flows at different rates on board the ship versus in the micro universe. Therefore, it would seem that in the space of a conversation, the entire society of the micro universe would have been and gone. The only time this time difference seems to have relevance is for some artificial aging. So, we have a conceptually intriguing story marred by some clumsy plotting.



Really 7 1/2

What:The Lost Stories: The Song of Megaptera (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Thursday 30 March 2017
Rating:   7

The Song of Megaptera is tough to review because it gets so much right and so much wrong at the same time. The story itself is an ecological parable about saving space whales from rapacious corporate whalers. The Doctor and Peri are both rightfully upset by the proceedings and seek to disrupt the taking of one whale. This, of course, gets them on the wrong side of the ship's captain, a has-been on his last mission and out to prove that the company is making a mistake by retiring him. His "damn the rules" attitude is only barely held in check by a wimpy corporate monitor, eager that the captain does not get the corporation into trouble. There are some witty scenes with the Doctor pretending to be the representative for a non-existent environmental lobby. At this level, the story works reasonably well. However, it would not make 90 minutes of material at that, so there are some complications added that drag down the main story - an alien "native" on board the ship that uses the whales for "religious" purposes, which amount to the same thing as the corporation's mercenary purposes. There is also a freaky hippie commune living inside the great whale. The writers try working these elements into a tight plot, but it still comes off as padding. The program also has a hilarious bit with a delirious Peri. So, pluses and minuses add up to an entertaining if not fully satisfactory story.



Big Finish Chrsitmas Special

What:Relative Dimensions (Eighth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 27 March 2017
Rating:   7

Big Finish enters the Chrsitmas special category with one for Doctor 8. The Doctor takes Lucy to future Earth to pick up Susan and her son Alex. Everyone is to have Christmas dinner in the TARDIS. The Doctor insists that whatever strange noises and sudden temperature happens, he's going to ignore it until later because he wants nothing to spoil the occasion. This story has everything that the usual Christmas special has - the Christmas theme and setting, some mild danger, the Doctor left on his own, and of course a giant flying fish. We get some fun, we get some pathos. Nothing too deep or serious happens. It's just Christmas enough and just Doctor Who enough.



Marred by a Poor Ending

What:Spaceport Fear (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 27 March 2017
Rating:   7

Spaceport Fear has much going for it. This entry into the devolved society genre works the trope well. 500 years ago, the spaceport went into lockdown. The survivors devolved into two rival societies - Economy and Business. This setup is the source of many jokes about airports as the societies turn the ordinary into the irrationally important and stock phrases become maxims. The two societies both fear a monster, the Wailer, living in the control tower. There is much to say about why devolved societies of this kind would never come about, but the fun of it in this episode and the conviction put into it by the actors make the listener almost forget how preposterous the setup is. The excellent Ronald Pickup is marvelous as Elder/Director Bones, an unrepentant villain whose justification is that he is only doing what is practical and necessary. What drags this episode down for me is the last 20 minutes or so. We get introduced to an alien culture whose communication can only be described as a torture to listen to given the torture that must have gone in to creating the voice. There is a failure of conception as well. Given that a baby Wailer is huge, just how big are adult Wailers? Certainly they must be too big for several of them to chase people down hallways. While we get a good idea of the Wailer's sound, we get little information on what it might look like. We also get the false dilemma of an impending nuclear meltdown the failsafe for which can be turned off by mere touch of a button and the stoppage of which can happen merely by unplugging the cord. Clearly, the writer had no sense of engineering. So, very interesting and entertaining first three parts, disappointing fourth part.



Old War Stories

What:The War Doctor: Agents of Chaos (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 20 March 2017
Rating:   7

It is easy to get overtaken by the cast for this. Great actors turn in some great performances. Of that, there is no doubt. Honeysuckle Weeks is especially good, wresting nuance out of a less-than-nuanced part. The set itself follows along the lines of the previous two, with a general theme binding all the stories, while the first story seems almost standalone compared to the other two, which are more tightly bound by plot. The theme this time is traitors, and the reference point for the drama is Alistair MacLean. The Doctor is now fully, if very reluctantly, an agent for the Gallifreyan War Council, with Ollistra as his handler. Try as he might, he just can't wriggle out of it. Part one, The Shadow Vortex, has the Doctor chasing down a humanoid agent working for the Daleks, who, for some reason, has gone to 1961 Berlin. The Cold War setting plays counterpoint to the distant hot war going on light years away. The story sets the general style for the series and acts as prologue for the next two. The Eternity Cage finds the Doctor leading a band of soldiers under cover to rescue Ollistra, now captured and held by the Sontarans, who want in on the Time War, the side mattering nothing. The Sontarans have somehow gotten hold of Time Technology. But, there's a traitor in the band of daring Gallifreyans, revealed at the end, and leading to... Eye of Harmony, which attempts a kind of submarine at war story inside a battle TARDIS.

It seems to me that, as I said in my review of War Doctor 2, the Time War backdrop is going to be a limitation on the kinds of stories the War Doctor series can do. This set, as I see it, proves me right. The Daleks seek an ultimate weapon, supplied with a dubiously pompous name and an unconvincing description of what it does. In The Eternity Cage, the Sontarans apparently have another of the same. The Doctor gets to make some speeches about the futility and horror of war. The stories follow predictable war story patterns. All in all, it's a very mixed level. The acting is first rate, the writing not so much.



Good Job of Interpreting Hayles

What:The Lost Stories: Lords of the Red Planet (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 14 March 2017
Rating:   8

This story began as two treatments that would have been scripted had they been accepted. The producers at the time, 1969, chose Seeds of Death, over this one. One can only surmise why, but the most probable reason is cost. It would require quite a large number of extensive costumes and several quite different sets. John Dorney has chosen to write this very much in the Hayles style, melding the two treatments and fitting together a complete story. In this case, we get an origin of the Ice Warriors story, sort of. The last remnants of a Martian civilization are holding on, just. In charge is the cold Zaadur, a benevolent tyrant who turns out to be not so benevolent. She is forcing her father to perform genetic sculpting on some of the local fauna so as to produce the next generation of survivors, seemingly. There is, of course, more to it than that. The story draws attention to the ethics of animal experimentation and the sad truth about both time and evolution - all things must pass. Given this, the story is rather dark, sombre at times, and intense in a way in keeping with the series after Zoe was introduced, recalling such stories as Wheel in Space and The War Games. It is also in keeping with the 1960s Doctor Who to have an out and out bad guy (or girl in this case) bent on destruction for dubious psychological reasons. This is probably the weakest area of the script. Another is the choice to have this in narrated audio-book form rather than full cast drama. The casting is a family affair, with Patrick Troughton's son Michael Troughton playing the beleaguered Martian scientist and Wendy Padbury's daughter Charlie Hayes playing the vain princess. This one is definitely worth having.



Light and Trivial

What:The Gallery of Ghouls (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 13 March 2017
Rating:   6

Alan Barnes in the 2010s seems to want to go to the funny really, really badly. Gallery of Ghouls has much of the schtick that we found in Doctor Who of the Graham Williams era. The story is of rival waxworks operations in Brighton, 1833, being used as a send-up of Madame Tussaud's. Each is a fake in its own way, though one with more deadly implications than the other. We also get rival fake French accents quite outrageously out of kilter. The script has some unreserved punning, such as Goole's hous of ghouls, and the planet located in the Slough of Despond, making some jokes at the expense of the city of Slough. The story never quite leaves this level of trivia. It's fun, but not particularly memorable.



Amusing, Nothing More

What:Suburban Hell (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 13 March 2017
Rating:   6

Suburban Hell has many of the features of a typical Alan Barnes script. One is placing Doctor Who into a non science-fictional environment and having the audience relish the "fish out of water" consequences. Another is to turn that non science-fictional environment into a science-fictional one. In this case, a 1970s themed dinner party provides the occasion for the Doctor and Leela to be in one of those dinner party plays so common to the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, Leela is utterly perplexed by the language and customs of such events, and describes her cocktail as "poison." There is much amusement as people mistake what the other is saying by trying to place it into their own context. Again, this is quite amusing. Another commonality of Barnes' writing is to be fairly loose on the science, so loose that it is more or less just magic with some science-y words flung at it. One of the most annoying aspects of Barnes's writing is his constant turning to "it's all the Doctor's fault" as if each time this were a new discovery. Couple this cliché with a reset button ending that often goes with the timey-wimey stories, and Suburban Hell simply fails to hold all its parts together.



Gothic Horror

What:The Lost Stories: Point of Entry (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 7 March 2017
Rating:   7

Very reminiscent of Masque of Mandragora, Point of Entry heads to London in the 1590s and involves Christopher Marlowe working on his Faust play and imitating Faust in selling his soul, more or less, to gain knowledge, which in this case would allow him to create his masterpiece. The Doctor accidentally contacts an alien entity of some kind and gets diverted to this period, which, as with Masque, accidentally allows the aliens access to Earth on the night of an eclipse. We even get an evil magician as in Masque, this time being the disgraced Spanish nobleman Don Lorenzo Velez. It's a decent enough pastiche piece more in line with Hinchcliffe Doctor 4 stories than with Nathan-Turner Doctor 6. Still, Colin Baker makes it work for his Doctor. A problem area in this story is Peri in the first half, who spends most of it in "save me, Doctor" mode. She does get better in the second, with a comic impersonation of Queen Elizabeth, only the wrong Elizabeth. All in all, it's an entertaining if not particularly original story.



Stylish but Pointless

What:Heart of TARDIS (BBC Past Doctor book)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 5 March 2017
Rating:   6

Because Dave Stone has a distinctive style and voice for narrating a story, his works can be offputting to those who like a plot delivered straight. Stone's style is of a certain kind of narrator in modern British fiction, one who maintains a long distance between the narrator and the story, commenting ironically on events, stepping in with whimsical observations and seeming non-sequiturs. It's the style of Douglas Adams, Gwyneth Jones, Ford Maddox Ford, and others. A reader looking for some style in the narrative, however, finds this approach rewarding and probably, in the case of Heart of TARDIS, the best thing in the book. The main problem dragging this novel down, though, is the plot. It's as though Stone paid so much attention to the style that he ignored the fact that a novel in a popular genre needs a plot.

The premise is promising enough. Doctor 2, Jamie, and Victoria are having one adventure while Doctor 4 and Romana (K-9 gets only briefly mentioned) are having another, but even though these are at different times and different places they are in some way happening simultaneously and each is affecting the other. The concept is daring, but it requires a writer skilled in maintaining the connections, one who knows at each point what the link is. This is where Heart of TARDIS falls to pieces. We learn that the connection has something to do with a prototype TARDIS gone haywire, and that the proximity of Doctor 2's TARDIS accidentally landing near the anomaly created by the prototype TARDIS sets off a kind of chain reaction. Had the story been left at the level of just this problem, it would have been fine. However, Stone heaps on top of it some extra-dimensional demons acting like Cthulu mythos monsters, a possessed Aleister Crowly with extended life, a secret US military base in England, and a secret government agency infiltrating UNIT. Early parts of the novel work well, keeping the reader guessing as to what is causing events and how they are connected. However, about 3/4 of the way through, Stone loses control of the plot. It becomes "and then reality went all crazy" and "look, an elephant in pyjamas, isn't that weird?" and a giant human pyramid of 250,000 people creating a human analog thing of some kind. Adding to the catastrophe are dozens of off-hand references to popular television scattered throughout the novel - The Simpsons, The X-Files, Queer as Folk, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and on and on. Finishing with an ending that isn't an ending, just "and then it was all over" more or less, the last 1/4 of the book is one of biggest disappointments for a Doctor Who novel. It's sad because given the premise, Heart of TARDIS could have been one of the best Doctor Novels.



Entertaining but Flawed

What:The Lost Stories: Paradise 5 (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 5 March 2017
Rating:   7

Paradise 5 is another of those should be a satire but isn't quite one stories. The Doctor and Peri go to visit an old friend of the Doctor's, but he's disappeared. The Doctor then springs into action, volunteering Peri on an investigation of the luxury holiday space station Paradise 5. Peri makes her way on as an employee, while the Doctor works behind the scenes. Something is definitely wrong here as tourists go in, but never come out. The script is both interesting and infuriating. The story has many holes in it. The elaborate plot to steal people's essence as fodder in a war in the "higher dimensions" does not make much sense. On the other hand, the performances are excellent. Particular standouts are Alex Macqueen as Gabriel and James D'Arcy as Michael, one of the best double acts in all Big Finish productions.



Heart of darkness.

What:Fear of the Dark (BBC Past Doctor book)
By:Trevor Smith, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Date:Saturday 4 March 2017
Rating:   9

I really, really enjoyed this. A cracking tale, told at a terrific pace. It has a real sense of dread all the way through with echoes of Alien/Aliens films. Loved the way Nyssa and Tegan are used in thus book, so much better than in a lot of the TV stories and the fifth Doctor feels very vulnerable. All in all a superb novel.



Don't Know Quite What to Make of It

What:The Lost Stories: The Hollows of Time (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 1 March 2017
Rating:   7

Christopher H. Bidmead's strength as a writer was in really interesting ideas from the edges of science regarding warping reality. This is probably the best element of The Hollows of Time. The worst element is the boy Simon (Susan Sheridan), one of those annoying brilliant, lonely kids who seemingly end up in every family-oriented program. One of the repeated elements of the lost season seems to be "get Peri to be a babysitter," as we see in The Nightmare Fair (Kevin's not a child, but certainly acts like a young teen who needs to reigned in by the more level-headed Peri), Mission to Magnus, and now this. Leviathan even had a child part. Simon in this story is mostly a needless distraction. The story itself is curiously structured, told in flashback with the Doctor and Peri after the events trying to remember what happened and telling each other bits of the story. It is not quite clear why the story should have been told in this way apart from Prof. Stream's apparently magical ability to mess with people's memories. Another curious aspect of the story is that for long stretches there is not much action. Part 1 is mostly in the form of a slow investigation of a mystery. The action picks up in Part 2, but then slows down again as the story reaches its climax. Also, curiously, all the conversations between the Doctor and the Gravis happen off stage. The only reason I can think of for this was that Big Finish did not want to replace the voice of the original actor for the Gravis. The choice is another element slowing down the action, so that we get characters fretting, "what did he say?," and the Doctor reporting on the conversation. Apparently, in the original TV version, Prof. Stream was to have been revealed as the Ainley Master. With Ainley unavailable, Big Finish got David Garfield (from The War Games and The Face of Evil) to play the role very Master like, while the Doctor keeps saying "He reminds me of someone." The takeaway: interesting villain, intriguing bent reality concepts, but clumsy plotting and strange writing choices.



Strange Mysteries

What:The Lost Stories: Leviathan (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 1 March 2017
Rating:   8

Leviathan works a clever variation on some old SF tropes. It starts as sort of classic Doctor Who historical, with a medieval setting. Things really aren't what they seem, however. The story works a nice slow reveal as the Doctor and Peri gradually find the clues leading to what is really going on. Peri works well in this story and the way she is written shows how the character may have developed before Trial of a Timelord scuttled things. It's difficult to write about this story without giving away too much of the plot. Suffice to say that the Doctor gets some really choice lines, while Peri shows her brave heart and sensibility. Some elements do not work wholly well. The large cast of characters requires that some actors perform several different characters, leading to some one-note acting with some characters. Eada (Beth Chalmers) and the Baron (John Banks) particularly suffer from this. The medieval accents are bit overly Mummerset. Once again, in trying to recreate the 1985 television experience the soundtrack composer goes a bit overboard on the simplicity. These are minor compared to all that works well in this story.



Clever Time Twist Tale

What:The Wrong Doctors (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 25 February 2017
Rating:   8

The Wrong Doctors takes the troubling tack of trying to work two of the same Doctor and two of the same companion into the same story. In this case, Doctor 6 saddened from saying goodbye to Evelyn decides to "meet" Mel and thus sync the timeline with the end of Trial of a Timelord. However, he gets the date wrong and arrives at the same time as another version of himself is dropping Mel back home right after the events of Trial of a Timelord. As if this wouldn't cause enough trouble, something is decidedly wrong in Pease Pottage. Anachronisms pop up all over the place, young Mel has no tech skills at all, and a strange man named Petherbridge seems to be running everything happening in the village. This supplies many chances for combinations, Doctor talking to Doctor and each Mel talking to each Doctor, and even Mel talking to Mel. Both Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford bring this off rather well, making clear, yet subtle distinctions between the two versions of their characters. The villain at the center of all this, Petherbridge, is, however, not all that interesting and what he is seems to be contrived for convenience and simplicity. There could have been much more regarding him. It's an enjoyable story with some pathos and some humor.



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